Building Your Business: What Worked for Me Will NOT Work For You

In Chronicles of a CEO by Rebecca Liston

So this is the article I have put off writing for a really long time because it requires me to admit that I made less-than-ideal choices. And that’s not always easy. But it is necessary if one truly wants to evolve and grow as I do.Here’s my story: for many years, I invested tens of thousands of dollars (and I do mean tens of thousands!)  into learning a business-building formula that I then went on to teach to my own clients.

There is a ton of value in this formula. A mountain of value! There are marketing basics, and instructions on how to manage money, descriptions of how to write a sales page, and the best ways to sell from the stage. And then there is the mind-blowing information on how to change one’s mindset: the ways to master one’s own thought processes such that you can break through barriers to success and achieve you goals.

And this formula worked. Beautifully. I built a huge practice very fast…my foundation was in place. I knew my stuff. I taught it well to others. And I crossed that magic “six-figure line” within months.

And then it all began to slowly but surely unravel.

Like a drowning swimmer, I gasped for air and grabbed at the nearest life raft: a coach that I was sure would know just how to help me and to keep me from drowning.

I threw over $30,000 USD at her and stood there shaking, terrified that I was going to lose everything I had built, and desperate for the “fix” to happen.

But it didn’t.

That year my net income was the lowest it had ever been. I lived on credit and borrowed time. It was a nightmare.

Now, do please note that at this point in my story, many people will want to jump in and say things like: “If only she had done everything her coach told her to, that would never have happened.” Or “She must have some serious blocks around success for that to have occurred.” Or even “Clearly she just isn’t coach-able…” And to all of them, many of whom I adore because they really are great people, I say: “Baloney.”

So what really did happen?

I simply out-grew the One-Size-Fits-All business model that my coach’s coach’s coach had taught her. And therefore my coach had absolutely no idea what to do with me.

I no longer “FIT.”

What I have come to understand is that One-Size-Fits-All in anything will get everyone so far…but only SO FAR. Know what I mean?

We all need the basics in place. We all need a money plan. We all need a solid foundation of understanding of our own worth and our own value. And we all need to wrap our heads around what it really IS to be a business owner. And I learned all of that from my coaches and I am eternally grateful and heck, I still teach all that to a portion of my client base: it is just that important!

But after the foundation is laid in your business and the momentum is building?

After that, my friends, there isn’t a cookie-cutter business model out there that’s going to fit. Period. 

At a certain point, you must let go of models and boxes, cookie-cutters and formulas. Do you still need advisors and mentors in your corner? Yep, you bet. But it’s a different type of mentor you need at this point in the game. At this point, you need someone who gets YOU and understands what makes YOU tick..what makes YOU unique…and someone who understands that if the business you are building is in any way counter to Who You Are, then it will simply not work over the long-haul.

The key to building a sustainable business is to build a business that resonates with Who You Are. And since you are a unique individual, there cannot be a cookie-cutter in sight.

What worked for me will not work for you.

Because you are not me. And I am not you.

Now given this experience that I have had, you can likely see why I myself changed my own business model so dramatically three years ago. Why my own Way of Coaching has shifted so much. Do I still teach the basics of marketing and time management? You bet. But now, once my clients reach a certain point, I can begin relying on my skills as a business intuitive which allows me the freedom to set aside any pre-conceived notions of What Needs To Be Done in a particular business, to let go of any idea that I Know Best, and instead focus on the business itself and its owners to find the solutions that make the most sense for them.

I’ve never felt so good about what I do in my entire life. The business that I have built matches Who I Am perfectly. And the businesses I am helping my clients build? I grin just thinking about them! Because the more of us who are doing What We Do in alignment with Who We Are means the more of us who are building sustainable businesses. And the more of us who are building sustainable businesses, the more opportunities we are creating in the world. And the more opportunities we create, the more the wheels of the economy turn, and in the end, the more we all benefit in every way. 

Big love,


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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit to find out more.