Why Lean Into the Service Side of Business? Re-Visiting with Angie Trueblood

Angie Trueblood came to me years ago when she wanted to go all in on her idea. She’d learned how to pitch herself to podcasts as an interview guest and had the idea to do the same for other entrepreneurs. As someone in the podcast space who was in the target market for her services, she was the first person I saw talking about something like this in 2019. So, of course, I had to have her on the show (and immediately hire her after)!

Now, Angie’s back to give an update on what’s happening in her business now and how it’s changed since she’s become part of The CEO Collective. In this episode, she talks about the service side of her business and why she’s making the choice to do the opposite of what so many other service-based entrepreneurs are doing.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

6:20 – What was business like for Angie in the summer of 2019 (before life as we knew it shifted drastically)?

12:02 – Angie reveals how the rinse and repeat process of the 90-Day planner impacted her business that year.

14:49 – Angie talks about what it’s like for her to have both group programming and a service up for offer in her business.

19:48 – Resistant to growing an agency for so long, Angie is leaning towards the service side of her business more. Why?

25:54 – People worry that growing a service-based business means more time and energy spent in the business. How does Angie find balance?

28:51 – Here’s something you need to know as a service provider looking to create and launch a course or membership.

33:42 – What excites Angie the most in this next stage of her business?

Mentioned in Why Lean Into the Service Side of Business? Re-Visiting with Angie Trueblood

Racheal Cook: Have you ever met someone who became a client and you just knew that they were in the right place at the right time and you could see how quickly you could get them to their goals? It is amazing when that happens. It's like all the stars align and you can see the path so clearly for them. It just gets you excited thinking about working together. That's exactly what happened when I connected with Angie Trueblood years ago when she first came to work with me inside of what was then called The CEO Accelerator.

I'm so excited to bring her back onto the podcast, yes, she is a repeat guest, to share a little bit of where she has been over the last few years, a little where is she now, and share some fun updates about what's going on in her business and in her industry. If you are someone who wants to get more visibility for your business, you want to pitch yourself for more podcast interviews, and you're curious about what a pro behind the scenes is seeing, you're going to want to listen in.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there, CEO. This is going to be such a great conversation to listen into. If you ever wanted to be a fly on a wall with one of my conversations between me and a client as we're masterminding about what they are doing next in their business, this is a great conversation to listen to because Angie came to me years ago when she was ready to go all in on the idea of pitching people for podcast interviews. That was something she had learned how to do in her business and she was really one of the first people to come out and specialize in pitching other entrepreneurs, business owners, experts onto other people's podcasts to grow their own authority, credibility, and visibility.

When we first connected, I instantly knew she was onto something. I was someone actively doing a lot of interviews so I could totally see the value in having someone like her. Not only did we blow her business up in a good way, growing it very quickly, but since then she has tried so many different things and has iterated several different times in her business. It's been such a fun journey to watch.

I do have to say, one, I did hire Angie, I hired her pretty much as soon as we finished working together through The CEO Accelerator, I hired her to pitch me for a full year and it was incredible. She is hands down one of the most talented people and knows how to get you in front of amazing audiences. So if you want to pitch yourself more, I highly recommend checking out Angie and all of her work.

Two, it was really fun to see and to talk about some of the different things she has tested, tried, and iterated over the last couple of years. Like many entrepreneurs over the last couple of years, things are continuously evolving and she's tried out a few different offers and now has gotten more clarity on what feels best and what's going to be the right next move to grow after trying a few different things. Lots of great insights, lots of great lessons. I hope you all enjoy this conversation.

If you want to know more about how I work with clients, come learn more about The CEO Collective, go to theceocollective.com/apply. There are all the details about how we are working with people to grow their businesses just like we worked with Angie, just like we worked with the other amazing CEOs I have been going back to and interviewing in this series. It has been incredible just to see the growth that they've had, but also one of the things I really love is when I get to come back to them, I see and I hear from them how the principles they learned from us, these principles that are the foundation of what we do inside of The CEO Collective, having that clear vision, having their values, having a 90-day plan, having those rinse and repeat systems, learning how to hire, manage, and lead a team, learning how to lead themselves, these are the things we work on inside of The CEO Collective.

If you know you're ready for that breakthrough success, you're ready to sustainably scale your business, I encourage you to come check out the details. Okay, without any further ado, come on into our conversation and I'll see you on the other side.

Hey, Angie. Welcome back to Promote Yourself to CEO. I'm so excited that you're joining me so that we can do a Where Are You Now and honestly just to catch up because you're one of my favorite people I've ever had the pleasure of working with and I'm so lucky you're here in Richmond, Virginia so I get to see you every once in a while. I'm just excited to talk.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. It's so good to see you, Rach. This is so sad that it's been months since we've caught up and it's bananas since we are so close to each other.

Racheal Cook: That's because life, kids, families, back to school, and all the things that everybody's juggling as we're doing all of it and running businesses. I wanted to bring you back because as I was pulling together this group of previous clients and current clients, I love going back and seeing how people are doing. Maybe it's just a nosiness of my personality but I'm always following along and seeing what people are doing. It's been really fun for me to watch this full evolution of your business over the last few years. Let's go back to when you were really getting serious about your business and you approached me to come into work with me in what was then The CEO Accelerator. Tell everybody a little bit about what was going on for your business at that point.

Angie Trueblood: It's interesting because back then, it was the summer of 2019 before life, as we knew it, had shifted dramatically. But I was really in a point of I had been in this business, at that time it was Angie Trueblood, for about two years, figuring it out, freelancing, pitching clients to be guests on podcasts, and I was really at a point where I thought I got to figure this out from a revenue perspective and a paying myself perspective or I'm just going to go get a job. I just really knew I was at a pivotal moment of needing to figure out what my business was going to look like and not for 10 years out.

I think sometimes that's a myth of entrepreneurship that gets pushed down our throats, so we have to have a 5-year and a 10-year vision. That's not what I needed. I needed the vision to be able to bring more money home to our family and that was my impetus really for investing in The Accelerator of I knew you, I was really familiar with your work, so I felt super confident in you would be the coach and that would be the program that could help me figure it out if it was figureoutable.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. I remember when we were first talking about where you were in your business and it was very much a “Look, I've either got to make this happen or I just got to give up and do something else.” I think that's something so many women entrepreneurs go through because it's like finding success the first time isn't that challenging, it's doing it again and again and again and making it something that you can actually grow and not feeling like you're hustling for every single thing. But I knew that when you came to me, I could see so clearly the path even though you couldn't see it at the time.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. I remember our conversation because I knew some of the other women who were enrolling and I was not at a point in my business that some of these women were in terms of revenue and I think that's also another mind F that gets with us to where we don't feel worthy of being in particular rooms based on maybe our revenue. I'm not a fan of that but that is definitely what was plaguing me then.

You and I were on the call and I said, “Rach, I'm not even making six figures now,” and your reaction to that, you said, “Yeah, that's going to happen in no time.” It didn't even matter, it was like I didn't even need to say it, it was such a given in your mind. To have someone on my side who could clearly see the trajectory was really important to me right then.

Racheal Cook: Well, and I'll have to say this, I'm going to put a big fat caveat on me saying that to you because I don't say that to everyone so I really want people to know that I'm not just going to be somebody who blows smoke and says, “Yeah, you'll get there in no time. No problem.” I think because you are in the space of helping entrepreneurs get visibility, you're pitching people for podcast interviews, you were on the front leading edge of something that hadn't really been tapped into, and because I'm also in that world, I also have a podcast, I also and do a lot of interviews, I had a lot of inside knowledge about what was going to happen and the opportunity you were stepping into.

For me, looking at your business, just because I had so much experience in that world and I knew exactly what the challenges are from the clients you were trying to attract and the people you were going to start pitching, I could so clearly see how you fit in there. I think there's something really powerful about being able to step into a space right before everybody starts jumping into it. That's where you were. Not everybody was talking about how being a guest on a podcast was a great strategy to grow your audience and you were like, “Hey, guys, hi, this is an amazing strategy and I have a whole process to help you so that you're not stressing out or dropping the ball with it.”

I could just so clearly see the path for you because it was the perfect time in an underserved niche. I personally saw the need because I also had the need. I'll also say I ended up hiring Angie as soon as she wrapped working with us, I hired her right away. I was like, “Okay, now that you're not a client, I need to be the client because I knew how amazing you were at this.” I could see already the path was there, it was totally possible. The timing was possible. It was really fun watching you that year because as you started gaining that momentum, things started to shift really quickly.

I'd love to ask you, you were in The Accelerator the year that we were doing a lot of CEO retreats and you got to join us here at the Cork for the CEO retreats, and then at the Broad, this was before I opened my space here in Richmond, Virginia, how did that process, like doing the 90-day planning and doing this rinse and repeat process impact your business that year?

Angie Trueblood: For me, it was really the accountability of knowing that we were checking in that at that point, I had calls with you and I had other women supporting me and really invested in my business. I think that was the most impactful part for me just knowing that I would be showing up and expecting to have made progress, that is goal setting has always been really challenging for me and I think it's back a little bit to my time in pharmaceuticals because we used to get our quarterly goals a month and a half into the quarter, so there's not a ton of action you can take if where your targeting isn't in line with your goals. That part had always been challenging.

The way that you broke it down for me was really actionable and especially figuring out where I needed to be spending my time. I would say that coupled with being surrounded by people who were also working for similar goals was really empowering and impactful.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. Oh my gosh, and I saw you take off so quickly once we put that game plan in place. You started taking action and you put your head down and just got to it, a lot of putting up the like you have the little guard things, the little things to keep you focused because it's really easy to come up with more ideas as you start getting momentum.

Angie Trueblood: Or as I wake up every morning.

Racheal Cook: Yeah, and so it's like always a process to rain everybody in and make sure they're still staying focused towards those goals. But that's part of having those ongoing check-ins and accountability built into the way that we run our experiences is making sure that you're staying focused.

Angie Trueblood: Well, and the beauty for me was because we had that VIP day at the beginning of our time together, what I have now come to realize is I hit moments of plateau when I can't see the vision past where I am. For that day that you and I spent together mapping out “Oh, well, you're doing this thing now to get you to this next point, you're doing this type of client work that will free you up later,” that was really empowering for me because then my daily actions and those rinse-and-repeat actions that I don't always love doing, I knew what role they played in my growth, and having come up against that again recently, I'm recognizing what I need to push through in business.

Racheal Cook: Well, so let's fast forward a few years. We wrapped your group, literally your group was wrapping up June 2020 and March 2020 hit about 10 days before we were supposed to have a retreat, we ended up pivoting very quickly to take that retreat online, and then the last two months we were all adapting, adjusting, supporting each other through a lot of uncertainty. But in the two years since that, you've gone ahead, made some big changes, and made some big moves, most significantly switching away from only services, so only doing podcast pitching, to also adding in some group programming.

Can you tell us a little bit about what's happened for you and what you've learned as you've played in both options? Because I think a lot of people feel like the only way to grow your business is either you scale an agency or you go all in on online programming. What's your experience been like?

Angie Trueblood: Well, it was interesting because, during The Accelerator, we were really tightening up my services because we were underpriced, it was definitely not priced to be able to scale to have team support so I felt like most of the time I spent with you was really focused on services but I did have the Go Pitch Yourself program. I launched the podcast specifically to attract people to this course where I would teach people how to pitch themselves but it was really just getting it off the ground. The year after we worked together was where I really focused on how am I going to launch this thing.

It's great that the people are getting incredible results but how do I make it not be a one-and-done offering? So I played with a couple of different iterations of it. It started off as a course. I actually in 2021 launched a high-level group program, high level relative to pitching which is a part of your business, it's not a large group business-coaching program. I sold a good amount of those, made great revenue, but I felt like I wasn't helping the people that were in it as much as I wanted to. Then we shifted the course to a membership about a year ago now.

To me that made sense because the podcasting space, the podcast guesting space is changing so rapidly that a program that was built in 2020 doesn't align with what hosts are looking for in 2022 and beyond. We shifted into that model which really fit me and the members who are a part of it. Now, you and I were talking, it's like I've done the services side as a freelancer but also as having someone on our team who helped deliver the services and we've done the program side. Now at year five, because I've been in business five years now, it's okay, well what is this going to look like long term?

Because candidly, there are challenges to having one toe in each side of the business, especially in the early years. I just hired an operations team to come in and help and it's been really eye-opening and I would highly encourage people if you think your ops are a hot mess to have an eye on them because they said, “Angie, you're running two different businesses. You're literally running the service side of your business and the program side. They attract different people, the delivery is very different,” so that has been a big aha to me probably over the last three to four months of “Okay, we gotta figure out what's this going to look like moving forward, what's the next vision of this business going to be.”

Racheal Cook: I think this is so good because I'm actually working on a presentation right now that I'm giving this week and I think this is one of the things that happens when people start hearing about scaling their business. A lot of us, yes, we want more revenue, yes, we want a business that's going to be more substantial for our own personal needs, but also we don't want to do it sacrificing our life, our health, our families, our well-being, all the things. It really is one of those challenges I keep seeing over and over again, is people here to scale their business, it's about adding more and more and more.

I'm on a mission to tell people it's about narrowing your focus because it's really hard to scale basically two separate businesses at the same time. I would love to hear from you how do you feel now that you're grappling with this, like agency side versus online membership side, what are you feeling on either side of those?

Angie Trueblood: I'm really leaning in making moves towards the agency side. It comes with a couple of ahas for me because I've always been resistant to growing an agency. I'm a quick start, you know this, I'm very focused on the future, ideation, all of those visionary type things. So in my mind once I figured out pitching, like how to pitch clients, it was no longer challenging for me and I need challenges. That has always been one of the reasons that going the course model or the membership model made sense because to me it's just more figuring it out.

I realized I haven't figured out how to grow a profitable agency. It's like I just had to focus on the challenges, something different and bigger. As a freelancer, sure, I have figured out how to pitch clients. But as a CEO, as a business owner and leader, I have not figured out how to run a business, scale the revenue, and all of those things. To me that makes more sense for where I am in life and what my goals are. We rebranded in 2021, the end of the year to get my name off of it. I didn't want people always thinking Angie was going to be the one who delivered everything. To me, I love that piece of it.

We're also looking at innovating in the space a little bit more because, like you said, three years ago, podcast guesting was a newer thing, especially getting support in that, but there's been a lot of softwares that have been launched that help with matching. There are a lot of things that have happened in the space. One thing that I'm recognizing is there might be a bigger opportunity for us to help people, not just who want to be guests but who have a show, a podcast as a part of their business because there are not a lot of folks out there helping do both. What's the strategy of your podcast also married with the outreach and the different things that you can do to grow your own visibility.

Racheal Cook: What is making you lean towards this kind of model more, leaning into more services? I'm asking simply because so many people are put off by that or think that that's not the way they want to grow their business. I love that you're leaning in this direction.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. For me, I envision what my life is going to look like as the leader of a company. Whereas right now with the membership, I'm doing a lot of the delivery, I would need to build out a team to really support me. Candidly, as much as I love sales, marketing, and connecting, launching to keep that membership alive and fresh blood is not super appealing to me.

But running the agency and being the leader that can see opportunities, even today, we've got two particular clients right now where we're running into some roadblocks and I looked at a couple of options in this space and we’re trying different things with them and approaching different hosts in a different way. It lets me take on more of that strategy space. I always have a need to coach and teach, and I think for so long I've always thought, “Oh, well, if you're a teacher, then you go the course model. You teach people.” But as the leader, I can coach and teach my team to execute on behalf of clients.

Racheal Cook: I really think this is such a huge thing for people to be hearing because so often, I think there's just a lot of emphasis right now on online courses, online memberships, all of that and there's no talk about what it actually looks like or the downsides. There's so much that an agency model can offer. You don't have to work with as many people, you get to work closely with the people, you get to actually see the results of what's happening.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah, well when you get to work, you also get to choose the types of people that you want to work with. We've also made the shift, I'm on Instagram-ish but really focused on LinkedIn. Finding our people and the people that we love to work with and support, that's been really refreshing to play more of an active role in connecting with the people that I would want to work with rather than just seeing who shakes out.

Racheal Cook: Well, I'm just so excited to hear that that's the direction you're going because in the space we're in, I tend to see people who are great service providers start shifting into the course or membership model and it almost feels like they're not truly giving their service-based business a shot to really grow and thrive. When there's so much opportunity to stand out with that and there's so much need for a done-for-you service, I feel like it's just a huge upside.

But I think one of the things people worry about is that they're going to have to do so much of the work themselves and that growing a service-based business means more of their time and energy. I'd love to hear how that has shifted for you, because like me, you're a busy mom. You've got kids going a million different directions. How are you balancing that side of it?

Angie Trueblood: For me, it's all about finding the right team. We have had a core team for probably the past two years and one of our teammates is leaving, which I always thought, “Oh, my gosh, if she ever leaves, we are not going to be able to figure this out.” But I really put my head down as a leader and a hiring manager and had a very well-thought-out plan for who I wanted to hire and where I looked for them. I found someone. She just accepted the offer last week.

She has PR experience at a previous agency, which really made me feel at peace with the idea of focusing on the agency growth because I had this glimmer during one of the interviews of “Oh, she might be better than me. How amazing would that be to have someone on the team who could really take some ownership and evolve us into an even better place than we are?” For me, it's all about the team and systems.

Candidly, the times when I have been a little bit more plugged out from the course or the membership when it just hasn't been as active, there are times that I have felt almost bored in my business because some things do run along very well without me. It's like you said, “Don't makeup stuff in your business just because you're bored. Go find something else to do.” If I get bored, I'll go figure out something else to do in my free time. It doesn't have to be my business's responsibility to keep me energized and always implementing new ideas.

Racheal Cook: That's such a huge lesson. I talk about this all the time, like don't drop dopamine bombs on your business hoping that you're going to get that rush, that high of starting something new because when we're constantly chasing something new, we can't really grow. I love that you shared that you had to learn that lesson, and it's hard because, like you said, you're a visionary, you are a quick start, your personality is very much like there's something exciting and new, you want to be the first person to go try it or go do it.

But when it comes to growing a sustainable business that you can scale, in a lot of ways we've got to get used to the idea that a sustainable scalable business is often a boring business with lots of systems and processes that our team can follow and it can run without us, and then we can go do things like get a hobby.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah, I know. What is that? For me, it'll allow me to sit in the business development space, in the places that I really like to be, I can still sit in those because they're energizing. I think it's important for your listeners who are course creators or they're thinking of launching a course, they're thinking of launching a membership and they’re service providers, it is hard to earn the revenue, so think about my business as podcast pitching, that is not the focus of someone's business, that is a part of their business, so there's only a certain amount of money you are going to invest in joining a course or a program when it's a part of your business.

I think sometimes when you see business coaches that are running these giant masterminds that are super expensive, we compare, “Oh, could we deliver something similar around podcast pitching to that type of program?” and it doesn't always fly because there's really a certain amount of money you're going to invest in parts of your business if that makes sense.

Racheal Cook: Yeah, exactly.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. That's where for me too, it's like how much larger do I have to grow an audience to make it be the profitable part of my business, and for the role that it plays, it would have to be a pretty significant audience.

Racheal Cook: And that's a huge realization there because growing an audience of any size is a lot of time and energy. There's no getting around it. It's going to take you time and energy to grow an audience. Even if you have a massive budget and you can throw it all at ads, it's still going to take time and energy to grow that. I think that's something a lot of people don't realize is how much it takes to grow an audience to support a business that has lower price point offers, which is where your course fits in.

I won't say it's low, it's not like under $100, it was a good program at a reasonable rate, but it would be along the lines of investing and learning how to pitch yourself for podcasts, investing and learning how to do social media, investing learning how to do any of these components of your business. I think you're really, really smart to acknowledge that that's a huge thing to consider. I've seen a lot of people who then just start creating more and more and more small things and it's just the complexity. The complexity of it makes me like, “Why are you making business so hard? Why don’t you just streamline it and do one thing really, really well?”

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. I think a lot of it is like what you mentioned, the dopamine hit and we don't realize it. We fell into entrepreneurship or chose it and it was something that suited me really well and then you get to the point where you do want to promote yourself to CEO and you have to start putting boundaries on yourself. It's not always the other people on your team and clients that need boundaries, it's you. That's such a hard grown-up thing to do, but it feels good when you do it.

Racheal Cook: It is so hard and it is definitely one of the things where you have to say, “This is where we sit in the market. This is what we're focused on.” I think the beautiful thing about that is when you double down on that, it only accelerates that momentum because now people truly understand what you do. It makes it so much easier to point to you and say, “Angie is the go-to for all things podcast pitching. I follow her. I listen to her. I hire her. I work with her,” and you're not also trying to do a million other offshoots.

I think there's a lot there that people need to hear more often that it's okay to go really narrow and strong in one specific thing. You don't have to keep expanding your business and adding more and more and more.

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. Candidly, even for my own visibility at super Meta, but I get booked on podcasts because it is a very specific conversation that we have. It's podcast guesting. I'm stepping more away from the idea of it being podcast pitching because we want to be thought leaders in the space and how do you use guesting to step up both your visibility and your authority. But if I was just someone who was an expert at visibility, that's a little bit more vanilla and no one really knows what that is. But when it's podcast guesting, you know exactly what that conversation is so it helps also for us to grow, get referred, all of those things.

Racheal Cook: Well. I'm so excited for you. What is coming up next as we're looking towards the year ahead and where you're going in this next season of your business, what are you most excited about?

Angie Trueblood: It really is being able to serve our clients with our new team member. One thing we've never really done is niche the type of client that we work with. We have been really lucky in that we have attracted people that we love working with, but it's really figuring out who is it that we best want to serve. Likely it's going to be someone in the professional service-provider space, so people that are growing their own service-based business, they own an agency, or they serve clients of some sort, like a doctor or attorney. But I think it's really honing in on that and what's our messaging look like around it.

Racheal Cook: I love that. Well, I can't wait to see what's next for you. As always, I will be following along.

Angie Trueblood: Yes. You can't get away from me.

Racheal Cook: I can't get away from you and I never want to because I truly count you as one of my favorite clients and also now a dear friend. I'm just so glad that you came into my world and that I get to continue to see this journey unfold for you as you're continuing to grow. Thank you so much for joining again. How can people find out more about you and what you're doing over at Podwize?

Angie Trueblood: Yeah. You can check out what we offer on the website at thepodwizegroup.com. I am most active on LinkedIn at Angie Trueblood, and the podcast is still going strong at Go Pitch Yourself. You can find that in your favorite podcast player.

Racheal Cook: Awesome. Thank you so much, Angie.

Angie Trueblood: Thanks, Racheal. So good to talk to you.

Racheal Cook: I hope you enjoyed this conversation. It was so much fun as always to connect with Angie again and talk about all of the different stages of her growth journey, what she has learned, the different things that she has tried out in her business. Seeing her on the other side of that now with a lot more clarity around what her business is going to look like moving forward is really exciting because I think often, we start businesses, we might have one idea of how we want to grow, and then you get into that path and you realize, “Well, maybe I can do something different,” or you get an idea and you want to try different things.

I'm a big fan of trying things on to see if it fits you because often you don't know unless you actually take that step, unless you actually try out that new model in your business or try out that new offer. Not everything's going to work. Not everything's going to be easy. Sometimes you'll find things just aren't aligned. They're not a fit for you, where you are in your business, or where you are in your life, and that is all okay. It's better to make an intentional decision to try something knowing that you can always change your mind, you can always wrap something up, and move in the path of what does feel best and what is most aligned for you.

I think Angie's done that particularly well over the last few years, just really being intentional about what she tries and then once she's clear about what fits, letting go of whatever doesn't fit anymore. I hope you enjoyed that conversation. Make sure you connect with both of us on Instagram, tag us, let us know your insights, your ahas, and of course, go check out all the great things Angie has over at Podwize.