Feb. 2, 2021

My $23K Mistake, and What I Learned From It

My $23K Mistake, and What I Learned From It

In this episode, business systems expert Courtney Elmer reveals the $23K mistake she made during her business growth, and the personal growth and lessons learned from it.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of lessons learned during my time as an entrepreneur.

What I can tell you is that the speed of your business growth — and your personal growth — depends on how well you learn these lessons.

In today’s episode, I’m sharing a big lesson learned (and one I paid $23K for) that was necessary to propel me to my next level of growth.

I’m sharing it with you so that hopefully, you can take this same lesson and apply it to your business, without the hefty price tag. 


  • The $23K mistake I made that kept me stuck for almost three years and the lessons I learned 

  • The reason personal development alone wasn’t enough to avoid this mistake

  • How I wound up turning this $23K mistake into a profit 

  • The secret ingredient you need to avoid a major mistake like this

If this episode inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.





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© Copyright 2022 | The EffortLESS Life®


You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode #55, which is all about business growth, personal growth, or lessons learned! At the time of this recording, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and the lessons I’ve learned from it. One of those lessons was an expensive one, but one I needed to learn. It took me $23K to learn it though, and I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. That’s all coming up next, so stay tuned!


At the time of this recording, we just closed the doors on another year, and we're entering into the new year ahead. The space in between Christmas and New Year's is the time that I love to sit down and take a look at the year in review, and see what lessons were learned? What AHAs, did I have? What am I taking with me into the new year… and what am I letting go of? What am I leaving behind? 

Recently I sat down with a friend of mine, who is one of my dearest friends in the business world, Jess O'Connell, you've heard her on here on the podcast before. We were talking about this beef that I had with a program that I was enrolled in over the previous year. And she, like any good coach would do, started asking me some really, good, questions. 

Now, let me give you a little bit of background here, this particular program was an $18,000 investment. The promise of the program was to help me set up my programs using an evergreen model. So start to finish, top to bottom, inside and out, all the ins and outs of setting up an evergreen program. And in the course creator world, that essentially means that that program is out there working for you 24/7. You don't have to do anything, everything is automated, people can enroll at any time on an ongoing basis. 

So I made the investment to experience business growth, I was excited about it! I was ready to shift my business and change things. I thought, this is my golden ticket. This framework, that this person was going to teach me, was going to help me have the success that I wanted to have in my business, without me having to have the time and energy and effort devoted every day to continually launching this program on “peat and repeat,” as my dad used to say. 

So I enter the program, I start doing the work, I start setting it up, I spend almost an entire year doing this work behind the scenes, getting the email funnel setup, getting automations created, getting all of the programs integrated and talking to each other and working together, getting the course modules updated, getting everything in place to “launch” this program using this evergreen model. 

I thought wow, this is fantastic. This is the last time I'll ever have to launch this program. It'll just be working behind the scenes for me, creating recurring revenue in the background. So I launched the program. And it was crickets. Crickets. Whoa, so many lessons learned.

All of a sudden, I felt every emotion imaginable, even after doing all the self mastery work that I have done over the course of these years. Even though I knew that this was happening for me, that it was teaching me a lesson, it was a lesson I didn’t want at first. So I resisted learning it. I got angry. I got angry that the course didn't work. I got angry at the person who had sold me this program and this framework, who had promised me something that didn't deliver. I was angry at myself for making the foolish mistake of investing this money into something that didn't pay off. And more angry at myself for not knowing if I had messed things up somewhere along the way, or if I didn't do it right. I’d spent all this time and money and energy taking that time away from my family, away from my business in other areas, away from creative projects, and away the things that I really wanted to devote my time and energy to, in order to get this system set up. And then it didn't work. It didn't pay off the way I expected it to.

Now, a couple of weeks went by with me feeling down on myself, and I tried to distract myself with other things. I said you know what, I'm just gonna let it run. Let's give it some time. Let's see if it works. We did have one person come through the program while it was set up on evergreen like that. And we continued to give it another six months to see if maybe it was our traffic sources that weren't working, or to figure out what part of the funnel wasn’t working. 

But in hindsight, I was going about it totally the wrong way. I was going about it from the perspective of what is this going to do for me and my business? vs. how is this going to serve my people. That was my first mistake. So after six months, I made the decision to turn the funnel off, to go back to the drawing board and to say, you know what, we're going to take a different angle, we're going to take a different approach, we're going to look at this a different way, and to look for the lessons and to look for what we missed. 

So fast forward to a couple of months ago when my friend Jess and I were sitting down having this conversation and she said, “Courtney, where did you give your power away in that situation?” And my mind was blank. I didn't know how to answer that question.

Because initially I didn't feel like I had given my power away, I thought I had done an empowering thing by investing in this program, which I thought was going to be my ticket to the next level. That by making this big investment, I was putting my money where my mouth was and saying I am showing up, I am doing the thing that I said I wanted to do. And it took me a while to find the answer. I had to just ask myself that question and let it marinate for a while (which I highly recommend, by the way, if there's ever a question that don't have an answer to, ask yourself, and just give it some time and space to marinate, because the answer will come and trust that it will.) 

And eventually, the answer did come. I realized that I had put my success in the instructors hands, not my own. So many lessons learned -- never do that. I was completely living in effect, I wasn't taking personal responsibility and being the cause of my life and the results that I wanted. And I gave my power away when I expected that my success would be inevitable, because of the framework I was following. And then I blamed the program, when it wasn't working like I expected it to. I gave my power away to the instructor. By putting my success in their hands, not my own. I made it mean that because the system didn’t work for me, that it meant my program would never be successful, that all my work was wasted, that all that money was wasted. And that if I couldn't figure out how to make this course successful, then my business was doomed. Because I thought if I'm not making money, then I can't grow. And if I can't grow, that means I'll fail. There are so many themes here such as business growth, personal growth, or lessons learned.

And once I realized where I gave my power away, I took it back. I drew my line in the sand and decided that my success was inevitable simply because I declared it to be so. And I started looking at my business through a different lens. And owning my own decisions, not doing things in my business because some expert told me that I should do it that way, but looking at what was best for my business in light of my vision and where I want to take our company. 

And as soon as I did that, it was like the floodgates opened, and the inspiration started flowing again. I started feeling alive in my business again, I started having fun in my business again. There was a lot of business growth. There were a lot of lessons learned. And I got all of these new ideas that started flooding into the forefront of my mind, new programs that I could launch, new ways that I could support our community, new insights that I was finally making the time and space to listen to, because I had let go and gotten rid of the other voice in my head of that expert who had been commanding my thoughts and who had been controlling me in that sense because I was afraid to follow my heart. And certainly this person is a wonderful person. I don't say anything against them and their program has worked for many people. 

But it was easy to let someone else be in charge of my success, because then if I wasn't successful, I could blame them. Which would prevent me from feeling the pain and the guilt and the frustration of blaming myself. But guess what? I felt the pain and the frustration and the guilt anyway. And I created my own demise, by giving my power away in that manner. . Your mind is a tricky thing.

So I took it back. And as soon as I did that, I went out and launched one of these new ideas, something completely different. Something that generated $17,000 in revenue, plus the $2,000, I had from that one sale for the hot minute that the program was on evergreen. So looking at it that way, I actually turned a profit. And as I was processing through this, it hit me that I had actually had the exact same experience with another program a couple of years before. Except that was a $5,000 program. At the time that felt like a lot of money. And it was the same thing, me giving my power away and blaming the person teaching for not getting me the results I expected. For not getting my $5,000 worth. 

It took $23K all in for me to wake up. And looking back, I came away with a lot of lessons learned including business growth and personal growth.

I realized that the program I was putting on evergreen needed me. It’s deep work. And it is a big program. And the students that go through it need the guidance and accountability. So by me putting that program on an evergreen model, it wasn't the right fit, because it didn't serve my community in the way that they needed. 

Secondly, I didn't ask for help, as much as I could have. Now there was a group where we could ask questions as we went through the program, and they hosted live calls where you could hop on and chat with a coach. But there were many times that when I asked a question, I felt stonewalled, I felt like I wasn't given the time of day. Now that was entirely my interpretation. But instead of speaking up more to get what I felt I needed, or what I was looking for, to get what I had paid for, I started hiding out. And I blamed it on the program, I blamed it on the instructor, I blamed it on the coaches. Again, most of the lessons learned involved business growth and personal growth.

And ultimately, the biggest lesson I walked away with was the way in which I’d given my own power away by not taking responsibility for getting the results that I wanted. I sat there in blame mode, looking at what felt like a colossal waste of time and money. But really, it was the $23,000 lesson that I needed to get me to the next level in my own mindset and in my own inner being, so that I could get to the next level in my business. I learned so much about business growth and personal growth so it was a good thing. 

And how many times have you experienced something like that in your own business where you invest in something and you didn't get what you felt you should have gotten for the money, the time and the energy that you invested in it?

Will it help to blame the person teaching you for not getting the results you expected? No. Yet how often do we do this in our business? How does this hinder business growth? What are some of the lessons learned here? 

How many times have you blamed an instructor for the lack of business growth? The coach you're working with, the program, you're in the book you're reading, the podcast you're listening to, for not getting you the result that you wanted for the lack of personal growth. 

But, my friend, who’s whose responsibility is it to get the results you want: your coaches, or yours? This is the thing that I don't get. so many entrepreneurs complain about not getting results, they complain about not having the business that they want, the income that they want, the lifestyle that they want. They're working so hard for it. Gosh, it breaks my heart to see them slave away, give away their life, their time, their energy, their resources, their money, and not see a return. I know what that feels like. But the real question you need to be asking is: Where are you not taking responsibility for the results that you want? Where are you sacrificing your life for the sake of success? Where are you giving your power away? Where are you hoping for answers but not asking the questions you need to be asking?

And how would you act and operate differently, knowing that you had all the power in the world, knowing that you had everything you needed within you already to succeed? Knowing that sure, when you hit a roadblock, or you get stuck, you can certainly ask for guidance. Get the help and the support that you need to keep moving forward on your journey. And also at the same time knowing that it is not anyone else's responsibility to get the results you want in life but yours. How much more freeing would it be to live that way? 

Knowing that your success is inevitable simply because you declared it so and trusting that everything was working in your favor? No matter what, every life hurdle you experience, you trust that it’s happening for you, not to you--those are valuable lessons learned.. Just like this $23,000 lesson happened for me. Because in those lessons learned, I was able to take my power back, to run my business again on my terms, and to lead my business as the visionary leader to the vision that I hold for my company, for my family, and for my life. 

And I'm going to challenge you to do the same. You can hit the reset button right now, and start again. You can take your power back. You can step into your role and be the visionary leader that your business needs to succeed and you can do it starting today.

If you’re looking for guidance on how to do that, then join me for my next live virtual workshop where I’ll show you step by step how to own your power and step fully into your role of Visionary Leader your business needs to reach the next level. You’ll learn business growth and personal growth. I’m going to help you get the structure and systems in place in your business that you need to get out of overwhelm, and step away from all the behind the scenes busy-work so you can experience more freedom, get your message out into the world in a bigger way and be seen as a credible leader in your industry. I’d love to have you join me live for this workshop. It’ll be by invite only, so you’ll need to add yourself to the waitlist so you can get notified via email as soon as my team puts together the dates and times for the training. You can do that right now at theeffortlesslife.co.

And! If you’ve ever got a question you’d like to ask me on business growth or personal growth, come follow me on Instagram and send me a DM @theeffortlesslife.co.

Coming up next week on the show we’re talking about the fastest, most effective way to create, launch, and leverage your message in a way that positions you as a credible leader in your industry. Oh, and, it’s free. Want to find out how to do it? That’s coming up next week; until then, go live YOUR EffortLESS Life®.