Case Study: Most Financially Successful Year Ever

Case Study: Most Financially Successful Year Ever

with Sherry Quam Taylor

My client Sherry Quam Taylor went from being overloaded with 37 clients to making dramatically more than she’s ever made before (and experiencing a ton of joy) doing longer engagements with fewer, ideal clients and getting stunning results.

She’s a consultant who shows nonprofit CEOs how to raise millions more in gen ops dollars so they can fund their strategic plan and increase budgets by 2 to 10x. With Sherry, their teams break free from the limitations of transactional fundraising and reimagine their entire approach to revenue generation, attracting investment-level donors who want to fund their work.

She practically doubled her business and had her most financially successful year ever from working together – and in this episode of Profitable Joyful Consulting, she shares how she did it.

Key areas discussed in this episode

  • 6:02 Why Sherry started working with Samantha
  • 8:20 Looking to take her business to the next level with a longer view, more confidence, and more consistency

  • 10:10 Only offering to clients exactly what they need
  • 11:50 The key thing Sherry did that made a huge difference for her business

  • 13:30 What it was like for Sherry to work with me
  • 14:40 The secret sauce of the groups I bring together

  • 16:08 How she’s had her most financially successful year ever for her business working with clients she really enjoys
  • 18:18 Decreasing her number of clients and getting clear on her ideal client
  • 19:17 Becoming her own biggest client with better boundaries and more control over her calendar
  • 21:44 Not doing all the things (and why that’s okay!)
  • 23:22 Getting more confident in the deep value she brings to her clients

  • 24:36 Investing in yourself as a leader
  • 27:25 The value of slowing down through the discovery process

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, it’s Samantha Hartley of the Profitable Joyful Consulting Podcast. This season, we have been talking about the drivers of success in a consulting business. Today I want to showcase one of my clients and share a case study about her work with me and the results that she has gotten. She’s going to tell it in her own words, because I think it’s really the most exciting thing when we can hear from someone who is actually doing the work that we’re doing, and hear what they’ve been doing to grow the business.

Her business has grown, I think it’s doubled pretty much year, after year, after year. She calls this year, the year that she spent working with me, the most successful year ever in her business. If I were in your shoes, I would want to say, “What did you do to make it happen, and how did you change yourself in your business?”

So you’re going to hear Sherri share with you several things. I think it’s amazing the amount of time that she will spend talking about mindset. I hope that you will find that as fascinating as I did because it really seems odd that something like confidence or boundaries are going to be as important as they are, but they are transformational. 

Sherry Quam Taylor, founder and president of Quam Taylor LLC, shows nonprofit CEOs how to raise millions more in gen-ops dollars so they can fund their strategic plan and increase budgets by 2 to 5 times. She breaks their teams free from the limitations of transactional fundraising (events) and helps them reimagine their entire approach to revenue generation.

Sheri’s clients learn how to attract investment level donors that want to fund their work, but the biggest transformation they experience is knowing the exact strategy, path and team that will propel them to generate 2 to 10X dollars their strategic plans require. Sheri attributes the success of her business to her passion for modeling radical confidence to the future CEOs in her house, her two teenage daughters. 

I want you to listen to Sherry make a bold claim about the results that she gets for her clients here. When you do this kind of work and you really develop the confidence and what you can deliver repeatedly, then you’ll be able to articulate a bold claim like that as well. Check it out! 

I decided to start working with Samantha because one of the key factors in the success of me growing my business has been objectivity. Frankly, it’s the same thing that I provide my clients, which is always hard to sell. To say that, “I’m objective, I can see the solution. I can lead you somewhere where maybe you’re struggling to see.”

So I am a big believer in investing in myself. I’m a big believer in having a coach even if my whole business is right on my spreadsheets. I’ve consistently worked with coaches and I’ll put a little mark on that revenue growth and be like, “That’s why I invested in that coach.” It reminds me when I get in those moments where I’m being irrationally frugal and thinking, “I don’t need that objective outsider coming in.”

I do, I have to consistently invest in myself. I’ve been very conscious of leveling up my coaches, which is a wonderful thing, right? I get to the point where I say, “Oh, I need the next level, I need the next level.” When I first heard Samantha on a webinar, I was like, “Oh, she’s next level, I need that next level, I need what she’s talking about.”

I needed the next level and the value of looking for that person who’s going to help you think bigger, help you think more abundant, help you think in more confident ways. That puts you in the room with other people who are in that mindset of getting to the next level of their business.

That’s critical to be sitting on a group call with amazing other professionals going, “I think I think I can do that, too, and that’s a pretty wild number that that person just quoted.” It really helps you see yourself in others. So to me, it was, all right, now it’s time to go to the next level. It was really a no-brainer to say, “This is who I want to be around and want to work with.” 

At the time when I first heard about Samantha, I would say that my business was growing. It wasn’t like, “Oh, no, what are we going to do?” But as an entrepreneur, I’m hungry. I always want the next level. That absolutely drives my husband crazy. I’m like, “Oh, well, okay, we hit that. Let’s raise the bar.” So I was just continually growing my business year after year. But there was always a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “It’s going to be a lot bigger.”

I didn’t need to completely shift the whole way I was running my business, but I was thinking, what are the things that maybe I can’t see because I’m too deep in? So I was looking for somebody to really say, “You need to do this and it’s just these three things.” And it’s actually not that scary to take those steps.

My business was scaling, but I think that one thing I wanted or wanted for my business, which is way better now, was the consistency of building that long term work. I had a lot of those clients, but I wasn’t always proposing that. I like to look far out. I like to look on the horizon and say, “Great, I know what I’m billing in six months.” I was looking for just a longer view and confidence in how to get to that longer view.

If I didn’t sign up, I think I was like, “Okay, yeah, where do I sign up?” It was a no brainer, you know? I think if I hadn’t, I would have just tried to grind harder. Like I said, I invest in coaches. I feel like I have a lot of resources. Same reason, my clients come to me. It’s like, Oh, we’ve gone to all your webinars, we’ve listened to every podcast, we’ve taken every course, every workshop, but I still need someone to link arms with me.Lead me through some of those steps.

Can I do them? Yeah, but I like to do them quicker and more efficiently and I suppose I’d say I’d like to have a little bit more guaranteed results. I really thrive with accountability. I’ve realized as I’ve worked with coaches, that’s been a big part of the strength. Frankly, it helps mirror back sometimes what I am to my clients. Sometimes my clients will say, “Oh, no, I knew I had a call with you this week and so I had to do that one thing I’ve been putting off.” If that’s what gets it done, great. I have no problem with that. 

The biggest difference The Path to $2 Million™ program made for me was really owning the fact that I should be only offering my clients what they need. Oftentimes people come to me and say, “Hey, I needed this, I needed this.” I said, “I can do that.” But to myself I’m like, gosh, but those are maybe addressing symptoms. Sometimes I would find myself saying, “Well, let’s start here and maybe it’ll move to that.”

I know what they need, I am the expert at scaling, in this case, a nonprofit’s general operating support. Samantha helped me see there’s power in telling someone that this is the process you need to go through to get results, and we need to work together for a full year to get those results. This is what it looks like and really, I guess reflecting on my own business and saying, “Look, I need you to get results too.” My business isn’t going to scale if your nonprofit’s revenue isn’t going to scale. Therefore, I do need to offer you what you need and something that is a guaranteed solution. That seems so practical, right? But sometimes you get in your mind and think, well, we’ll start here or well, maybe they do really need this. So just owning that and being confident in that meeting to say, let me share with you what I’m seeing is real. 

What really made a difference was: what I stopped doing. Sometimes we really have to be reflective and say, Do I need to stop doing one-off engagements? Do I need to stop working with clients who are under this dollar amount of annual revenue? Do I need to stop working with leaders who are amazing leaders but are maybe a little more scarcity minded?

I want to work with people who are scaling and growing and want to learn. I want to work with A-plus students. I want to work with people who teach me. I want to make a change. I’m scaling my business and I really want to pivot and serve the people I want to serve. It’s a win-win relationship. I love getting on calls with my clients. When they’re an ideal client and you say, Oh, my gosh, I get to talk to Sarah today. Cool. I just hung up with her and that is joy in my business. That’s why I’m doing this. 

I would say working with Samantha is fun. Personally, I’ve been accused of putting a lot of emotional energy into decisions. I drain myself overthinking. I need a coach who says, “No, you need to do this.” I need us to be able to laugh about it and know each other well enough to be like, I know you’re right.

What I value from Samantha is it’s like, take it or leave it. This is what you need to do because you don’t have those filters or all that kind of baggage that I might be wading through. You have been quick to the decision or quick to the question of like, why are you doing it that way? Honestly, that is some of the most powerful directions you’ve given me. 

I’ve been in a group coaching program before and was really gun shy about not knowing who people are so speaking up wasn’t easy. I think the secret sauce or the magic of the group you’re bringing together is that there are opportunities to meet in person. You go to fun places and gosh, does that change the relationship when you come back to the group and we’re all virtual.

I really feel like the group that you’ve created gives great advice, there are great discussions, and great perspective to hear from other people who maybe are struggling with something that you really weren’t able to articulate. I feel like there’s so much value in a group setting like you do, but also having the opportunity to then have some one-on-one time as well. It’s a great balance. 

As a result, I can say right now I’m in my most financially successful year ever for my business, but I would say even more important, or just of equal importance, I really enjoy the people I’m working with. I enjoy my clients. I think you’ve given me a pass to say, not everybody I talk to is going to be a great fit, and so do I love that. My clients are scaling the size of organizations I’m working with. I think part of that is the abundant thinking that you’ve led me to and led me to really embrace. 

It’s just remarkable to look back even 18 months ago, the change in approach, the change in positive outlook that I have.

Even my teenage daughter came home after co-leading something in her class. She was like,” Mom, the feedback the teacher gave is that I wasn’t speaking confidently.” I said, you have to really think about it like that’s a mindset where you’re worried about what your classmates are thinking. Then I said to her, I’m still working on that with my coaches and I’m in my mid-forties. And it was true, I will say, “Samantha, give me your confidence, I’m going into a meeting.” It’s true, you have to keep investing in yourself as a business leader.

There are probably two main outcomes that came as a result of our work together. One outcome was that the quantity of clients went down, which is actually a really good thing because I would have like 30-50 clients, and that’s too much. I cannot serve people as well as I want to serve them.

One of the big shifts that you’ve really helped me see and make is: Yes, I’m doing longer engagements because that’s when my clients get results. I’m offering that, but that also means I need to be working with less organizations. I am really passionate about being available to my clients when they call and when they have an emergency meeting, or when they have an opportunity with a donor that has landed on their plate and it’s on Friday. I need to be able to pick up the phone and I cannot do that if my entire day is booked.

You’ve helped me not only hone my ideal client. I think one time you even said, speak only to that ideal client in a way that you’d be repelling everybody else. Really speaking to them in making that shift and owning that shift. So I am speaking to the ten people I want to be working with this year because I want to have really changed ten people’s nonprofits deeply for the long term. That has made a huge shift in my business. 

The second biggest thing is that you helped me to see that I am my biggest client and I wasn’t spending enough time on my business. I didn’t have really great boundaries. So I’ve really grabbed hold of my schedule and said: Today, I’m not doing client meetings because I need to be thinking, how can I get my clients better results? How can I invest in myself today? There’s always the business stuff I need to be doing, too.

A big shift for me has just been to recognize that I really can’t spend five days a week on client service or I will burnout. When we started working together it was a rough couple years in 2020 and 2021. I needed to gain that back and get control of that. I think a really practical exercise we did was to get my calendar up and see where I’m blocking time. How am I color coding? What does that look like? I do it to this day. What I’ll say when I get weak and I book a client meeting during that time I almost regret it.

One of the biggest takeaways: It’s actually okay not to do all the things. Samantha has this concept of selling one thing. Sell one thing for a year. I don’t need to be customizing offers, or have offerings all over the board. That lesson of focus to say: You have a result that it’s scaling organizations by millions. So let’s just keep selling that, if you will. I think that’s so important because every single day we could go online, on social media, or anywhere and people are telling me you need this, you need a passive revenue. Download this. It’s like, I can’t do all of that? It can really make you feel guilty like, Why am I not doing that? So I think one big takeaway was, it’s okay to sell one thing every day. 

The second biggest takeaway: Keep that core messaging at the front. We may feel like a broken record repeating ourselves, but today is that one time that one new person is hearing you for the first time. So we have to be speaking to that ideal client. We’ve got to be speaking to that client’s pain points and really helping them understand that I understand their problem and can help them solve it.

The third thing would be a more confident understanding of the deep value I do bring to my clients. They raise millions more when they work with me. This is not a time to be humble. We’re not just going to be brash about it, but there’s no time to be humble. There’s only one person who can share the results. So Samantha has given me some practical tips on how to share a case study. How do I articulate the changes that have happened in my clients’ organizations in a way that really has attracted new clients, attracts a tribe, even on LinkedIn, which I’m on all the time.

It’s amazing to me, any time I have a discovery call, LinkedIn comes up every time. It’s really built that know, like and trust factor in that consistency of commenting or liking posts. You really have to understand your value to do that day in and day out. 

If somebody was considering, should I do this, or not? I’m a person who actually was never skeptical about the process. I wonder if people are skeptical of starting with a coach because they’ve never done it before? I literally remember the first time I invested in a coach, my fingers sat on the hover button like, do I submit the credit card? That feels like a big number to invest right now. Now I invest so much more in coaches because as a leader, you have to invest in yourself.

My biggest message when other consultants call me, or for friends who are starting their businesses: This is the 10th year of my business, and I started investing in myself and in my business around year seven. The one thing I would have done differently was to invest in myself sooner.

You need the wisdom of others. You need the partnership of others. The sooner you realize that as a leader, the sooner your business will scale. I would say any type of coaching or investment you make in yourself, if you commit to doing the work, it will pay off. I want clients who are going to do the work because I do the work when I have coaches. You will make your money back and probably tenfold. Don’t make it about the money. Make it about the investment in yourself.

Samantha helped me see that I was going too fast through the discovery process. You really helped me understand the value in slowing down the discovery process, even though that felt super counterintuitive.

We want to take time and make sure it’s a match. I usually have a full client load and now we’re booking clients for next year, so let’s make sure this is an ideal client. That was an issue before because I would say yes to anyone who needed help. That wasn’t really wise. So slowing down the discovery process was critical. It should happen in multiple calls, who cares if it takes four or five? That actually might be the best client because they’re really trying to make a great decision. Frankly, we’re trying to decide, do you like me, and do I like you? There’s some of that going on which is great because if we’re going to link arms together and scale their nonprofit, we’re going to be spending a lot of time together so we need to like each other. 

Another big takeaway was that I don’t have to get on the phone with everybody who reaches out. To really just take a second and qualify by asking: What did your organization raise last year? What are you raising this year? Then say, you know, I’m actually not working with organizations of that scale, or of that type, or who’s out of the country.

If I had to count the number of discovery calls that I’ve gotten on, my mind would be blown by how much time I was misallocating by talking to people who are not ready to invest in the services, or not ready to invest in themselves. They are in a different part of their business. That seems so simple, but gosh it’s saved me. I don’t know how many hours a week that saves me from being choosy on who I am getting on the phone with to investigate, is it a good fit?

Another critical thing I’m beginning to own came up when Samantha brought up the archetype concept. I had never heard of it. I probably even Googled it before our first in-person retreat. So as I process, how does this work for me? How does this integrate into me running my business day to day? There’s probably two archetypes that still resonate with me.

One of them being this hermit archetype, when everybody meets me they’re like, “Oh, you’re such an extrovert, you talk all day long.” I am on all day coaching and encouraging. The only reason I can do that is because I’m a hermit on the other days. My husband even says, do we need to leave you alone for a day? He knew I was a hermit before the archetype exercise.

Having her reflect back and say, actually enjoy that, embrace that. Taking that Friday to say, Okay, this is the day, I’m not zooming, I don’t want to be on. I might be in my yoga pants and I’m in my zone, or I might not even be at my desk. Maybe I’ll go work at the dining room table. That’s why I can’t be on all day long. That’s why I can serve my clients and be energetic and encouraging and frankly, be what Samantha is to me. The one who says, this is what we’re going to do, and really channel that confidence and give that to them. So that hermit archetype, I have completely and utterly embraced. It’s on my calendar. It says hermit time. I love it. 

Then the other one is Father Archetype. I personally kind of resonate with it. I’m way more like my dad than my mom. This concept of when does my confident father show up? When does that part of me need to show up in a meeting? Lack of confidence is bringing something else into a meeting and really letting that keep me from being my best. So I remember when I got a little emotional, I didn’t know what I should do in this situation? Samantha said, What would the father archetype do in this situation? He’d have a solution. Here’s what you need to do. You need to do this. Fathers are a solution. Here’s what you do. It’s black and white.

That little mindset shift can really put you in another place to say, I’m an expert at this. I can do that. I love that reframing because it just resonated so much, especially with that archetype.

As I look ahead to next year, I’d say my perspective is just bigger. I’ve never been so brave to set such a big goal. You know why? Because I did the work. I want to be an A-plus student. So I’ve done the work and have been consistent in the work. Just like my clients who say, “Oh, gosh, I think we can have more revenue, we can have bigger budgets for our nonprofits.” I think the shift Samantha has given me is that I actually have the tools to do something greater and bigger than I ever thought this business could do when I started it. One of my colleagues always says, “Oh, Sherry, October is your rough month.” I know because you’re like, “What’s going to happen next year? What does it look like?” And this October when she asked, I was like, “It’s pretty good, actually.”

I have never felt more confident because I’m able to look out longer. I know I’m doing the things that actually yield results. Even if something feels a little slower, it’s busy. With the holidays, I can really sit way more confidently and say, “We’ll have the results because I’m doing the things that yield results.”

Again, if all of us could take the same advice, we give our own clients and do it internally and have it reflect our own businesses, I suppose we wouldn’t need coaches, but we can’t do that. We all need that outside objectivity, that guidance and that partnership. That’s just what I really found with Samantha.

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