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Beyond $10K Months: Redefining Small Business Success

When you started your business, I’m sure hitting your first $10k month was one of your first big goals – I know it was definitely one of mine.

But why? 

How did we get to the point where everyone agreed that the $10k month was the magical money milestone all business owners aspired to get to?

And why do we place so much value on hitting that milestone when, in reality, nothing really happens when you get there?

I see so many business owners get so caught up in achieving the $10k month that they often lose sight of why they started their business or what’s really important to them.

In this episode of the How I Do Content Podcast, my guest wants to support business owners (especially mums in business) to redefine success beyond the $10k months – I’m excited to speak to the magical Lauren Hogan.


Let me introduce you to Lauren Hogan

Lauren is a small business online business manager (OBM), and mum to two boys plus a beautiful doggo, who lives in Perth with her partner.

She works with small business owners to reduce overwhelm in their business as their right-hand wizard (aka their VA / OBM), supporting them through her 1:1 done-for-you service, biz brain dump calls, and her Behind the Biz Membership. 

Having run both a product-based and service-based business herself, and doing it while raising her kids, she knows success isn’t just about hitting a specific revenue target, and wants to show other mums in business that they can find fulfilment and joy regardless of the numbers.

In a world where everyone is talking about their $10k, $20k, $30k, $50k and $100k months – this is such a needed conversation.

Things You’ll Learn in this Episode of How I Do Content

  • Why Lauren believes that success shouldn’t be solely defined by hitting a specific revenue target
  • Lauren’s advice for navigating the external pressures and “Instagram expectations” regarding success, and how to redefine success on your own terms
  • How Lauren maintains a healthy work-life balance while growing her business

TL;DL version:

Many small business owners have their version of the ‘American dream’ around what business is, and what being a business owner is all about.

The idea that if we’re able to go full-time in our business, or hit a certain financial goal, then we’ve made it – but, the reality is, not everything will go to plan.

There’s more to business than what we see all over Instagram.

As an OBM, Lauren sees a lot of what happens inside a lot of businesses, and the ones that look really successful from the outside don’t necessarily have all of the aspects of actual success on the inside.

Sometimes, the businesses we think are killing it might not be.

Everyone’s version of success is different.

Together, Lauren and I spoke about some of the most common misconceptions surrounding small business success.

New Levels, New Devils

When I asked Lauren if her business feels different now from how it did when she started, her answer was “yes and no”.

As Lauren says, many small business owners start out with a belief that ‘when I’m bigger, I won’t have to deal with these problems anymore’. And then their business gets bigger, and there are new, and sometimes even worse, problems to navigate.

As we grow, our businesses evolve. And so do our challenges.

Many small business owners will work and work and then hit a ceiling – to get through it, you’re essentially going to repeat all of the steps from your lower levels, just with different challenges.

You might think that, if you hit a certain point in your business, you’ll be able to just sit back in Bali sipping cocktails… when, in reality, you might still be slaving away at your kitchen table – just earning a little more while doing it.

This is why sharing another perspective, and pulling the curtain back, is so important. It’s helpful to know that no matter how long you’ve been in business or how much you’re making, we’re all going through it.

There’s no one right way to do business.

When you start out in business, and compare yourself to someone who’s five years into their small business journey – it’s not a realistic comparison. You simply can’t compare yourself completely.

The right way for you to do business will depend on your life, the season you’re currently in, and your goals.


“Once I hit $10k months, I’ll have made it!”

There’s a lot of buzz around these $10k months, but Lauren is very passionate about not defining success by a $10k month (or $30k, or $50k… or any other specific revenue target).

Lauren often sees her clients feeling really disappointed about where they’re at in their small business right now. So she’ll always ask the question: 

Why are you in business?

Usually, small business owners start their business to gain the freedom, flexibility and lifestyle they couldn’t achieve with a 9-5 – more time to spend with their kids as they grow up and more time for coffee with friends, for example.

The $10k month metric might not actually align with what it is that you’re really working towards.

While it’s obviously still important to be making money in your business (and to know exactly how much), and to accept that we all want and need to make money – instead of focusing on a numerical figure, focus on what it is that you really want.

If that $10k month is the sole do-or-die goal for you, then that’s great!

For Tahryn, the idea behind starting The Social Bolt was not to make $10k months but to stay at home with Ned. And, as she says, “I don’t remember first reaching a $10k month and fireworks going off, and cheering and chanting – just ‘okay, what’s next?’”.

It’s easy to get caught up in the marketing and messaging buzz around $10k months as the one and only indicator of success, though. And it’s natural to get caught up in it – possibly without even noticing it.

Many of us find ourselves working towards a goal just because that’s what everyone else is doing.

If you started your business for more flexibility and not to make $10k each month, what’s the point in working really hard and missing out on the things you wanted the flexibility to enjoy?

It’s human nature to always want more.

This is why Lauren makes a conscious effort to romanticise the life she’s living right now, and urges her clients to do the same.

When her clients are feeling disappointed or disheartened, Lauren will ask them what good thing they experienced today as a result of being in their own business instead of a 9-5. Whether it’s being able to enjoy a long lunch outside, or not starting work until 12 pm after a rough night, it’s a chance to look at what you’ve created and a reminder of what you do have instead of what you don’t.

Starting and growing a business is hard, so you deserve the acknowledgement.

High achievers easily get caught up and forget this: it’s okay to be where you are right now if you’re happy with it

Many of the business owners who are achieving those big financial goals each month are burnt out and totally unhappy in their small business.

If you want to achieve big, just remember that you’re no less successful if you don’t have a $10k month.

It’s also important to remember that it’s fine to be financially driven.

Beyond $10K Months: Redefining Small Business Success with Lauren Hogan

Other ways to measure success outside of the financial milestones

For Lauren, who became a mum to be a mum – to be there for her kids, to go to every school carnival, to not have her son crying the entire way to daycare – success looks like:

  • Being able to do the school drop off and pick up each day
  • Enjoying dates with her partner, even if it’s just an extended lunch break
  • Working flexible hours

For Tahryn, success looks like working the job she loves while:

  • Not getting stuck in peak-hour traffic
  • Not feeling stuck in an office surrounded by lots of people (because introvert)
  • Setting her own hours (her best work is usually done in the afternoons and evenings, and sometimes on weekends – not between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm)
  • Having the financial means to live comfortably and do the things she loves

Work to live, don’t live to work

Many business owners, including Lauren and Tahryn, being able to tick off personal goals is when they feel most successful.

Align your business with your values, and don’t lose sight of why you started it in the first place.

The importance of realistic goal-setting

When you start to focus on something you can’t or won’t necessarily realistically achieve, you enter slippery slope territory. 

There’s an immense amount of overwhelm that comes with trying to reach the point that you perceive to be where you should be. And the more overwhelmed you feel, the less clarity you have.

Can you keep pushing through?

The reality is, in small business, you will get knocked down and knocked back. You’ll get told “no” a lot. 

It’s what you do when you hear “no”, when no one’s replying to your DMs, and when you have a quieter month, that counts.

Use the ‘why’ behind starting your business as your anchor, and keep pushing through.

Making mindset shifts

There’s a lot of noise and a lot of people talking about their $10k months – but the how is very often missing.

Start with what’s actually involved

If your goal is to reach $10k this month, put that figure into the number of customers or clients that’ll help you get there.

How many people would you get to work with and help, how many lives could you change, if you were to make $10k this month?

Coming back to the number of humans you can support is a grounding mindset shift to make.

Often, when Lauren asks her clients this question, they start to investigate

  • How many hours…
  • How many clients or customers…
  • How many sales…
  • How many offers…
  • How much marketing…

…it would take to reach $10k this month, and they realise they’re already at their capacity.

It’s times like this that small business owners need to review, reconsider, and be realistic.

This is why Lauren will start with a structure and strategy review, looking at the foundations her clients have in place within their small business to support them in achieving that goal: their profit and loss, the structure of their business, and the time they actually have available.

Feel the feels

Getting emotional about your business from time to time isn’t a bad thing – your business should mean something to you!

If you’re struggling to pull yourself out of it, though: remind yourself why you’re in your business, and why it’s important to you. 

You are your brand, and people should want to work with you because you’re you. Be okay with saying no to the things and people (yep, even clients and customers) that don’t align with you, or that would make you have to sacrifice the parts of your business and life that you love.

Your business should look different to everyone else’s. You shouldn’t be building a business that’s a reflection of someone else’s life and goals because it looks like they’re killing it online.

Dealing with societal pressure and the expectations from Instagram

Just like many small business owners, Lauren feels it too: she gets bummed out when things don’t work out as planned despite putting in all the hard work (like with a recent launch of hers).

We’re all human.

When the self-doubt feels loud, that icky feeling kicks in, and you start opening Seek too often – take a moment to reflect.

Jacqui will go for a walk, play in the park with her sons, do the things she most loves to do, and write some long lists to aid her reflection. 

Stop the scroll

Consuming too much content – especially content that’s not aligned with your values or your ‘why’ – can force you into a comparison trap. It’s so easy to think that people on social media are killing it.

Pause, and consider your purpose: are you scrolling with intent, or to feel like shit?

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance while growing a business

This is how Lauren maintains her work/life balance while she’s growing a business and a family:

1. Be aware of your time

Lauren puts EVERYTHING into her Google Calendar – her kids’ stuff, her business stuff, school holidays, launches, AND the things that bring her joy and fill her cup back up (like reading, and dates with her partner).

Lauren’s also not a morning person work-wise, so she tends to spend her mornings doing household ‘mum’ things (like the washing, shopping, and cleaning) or enjoying a coffee and a slow start, and then working solidly in the evenings where she’s able to focus solely on her business.

2. Reminder: the current season of your life is temporary

Lauren loves being a mum and knows that as her kids get older, she’ll have more time to work on her business then (if she decides to!).

There will always be ebbs and flows in business and life – you’re only letting yourself down if you think things can be magically different – so focus on what works for you right now.

Oh, and seasons of hustling? Fine – but, as Lauren says (after seeing so many of her clients burning out so often), it’s not sustainable to always be hustling.

3. Set boundaries (and stand by them)

This has been Lauren’s biggest lesson in business so far. 

Setting boundaries, communicating them to your clients, and sticking to them will prevent you from letting yourself – and your clients – down.

You’re far more likely to regret not putting boundaries in place than facing the discomfort of putting them in place. Boundaries will save your soul!

Beyond $10K Months: Redefining Small Business Success with Lauren Hogan

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