How to Survive Biz Puberty (It’s a thing.)


Since my “back to school” launch of A Course About Copy in August, and really since the launch of my rebranded site last May – I’ve noticed people – friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike, seem to ASSUME I’ve got my stuff together.

That I’m organized. That all this create + launch + write emails + blog posts stuff comes pretty easily to me.

Or that I have a lean, mean team of support handling ALL the nitty gritty details while I purely focus on driving the ship.

That would be an H to the NO, my friend.

I do have a vision to create that reality this year, but in the meantime, things are a bit messy ’round here.

Every time someone assumes I’ve got allll my stuff together, I feel a bit like a 12-year-old early bloomer trapped in the awkward “not a girl, not yet a woman” phase.

(Because everyone assumes she’s 16 and knows everything that comes along with that.)

Do you tell the truth? Smile and nod? Go home and write in your diary about the conflicts of being a tween?

I call it biz puberty.

It’s uncomfortable. And while its expression is unique in each of us, it’s something we all have to go through at one point or another. (Then over and over again as we reach new levels. JOY!)

Let’s talk about how to survive it, shall we?

In today’s special edition video, you’ll learn:

  • The truth about biz puberty (+ how it’s affected my second year)
  • My super-simplified two-step strategy for launching just about everrrything
  • The simplest way to find + connect with potentially great biz buddies
  • One thing you MUST to do (+ I’m SO glad I did!) to make the most of this particular phase
  • An open invitation to take this metaphor and RUN with it ;) #rememberitsafamilyshow

Click below to watch (or take a listen):

Click here to watch directly on YouTube.


Maybe you’re a slow bloomer, and you don’t know WHY your (biz) body won’t catch up already.

Or maybe you’re an early bloomer just trying to manage your assets that seem to have showed up overnight.

Either way, the transition phase (as let your potential + your reality sync up) can be just plain awkward.

With a side of growing pains. And occasional stretch marks.

Biz puberty is real. But you can totally handle it.

  1. OWN IT. (“It” being whatever phase you’re in.) Don’t ever feel like you have to pretend you’re further along than you are. As long as you’re delivering great value, people appreciate transparency + honesty. It makes you even more endearing! When paired with attention to detail and a thoughtful brand experience – watch out, honey.
  2. DON’T COMPARE. I know it’s hard and kind of human nature. But at least TRY not to measure your success by someone else’s story. Truth is, that “colleague” who seems to have everything you want may very well wish she had YOUR super-engaged (cozy) community to hang out with at the end of the day. And if she doesn’t, that’s fine too. Mind YOUR business.

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” – Jon Acuff (Tweet that!)

  1. FIND BIZ BFFs. If it weren’t for my “cabinet of friendtors,” I would’ve lost my last marble months ago. Great buddies help the solopreneur thing feel not so solo. If you sense a genuine connection with someone who’s running your speed (or a bit faster), make the first move by reaching out with a sincere compliment and common ground. If she’s feelin’ it, she’ll reply.
  2. FIND ANSWERS (AKA useful resources). You used to consult Seventeen magazine to find answers to the Qs you were too embarrassed to ask. Now you can google. Check YouTube. Or follow consult your fave blogs. There’s no excuse to stay in the dark these days, dude. You’ve got the WORLD at your fingertips.
  3. DOCUMENT IT! This is a phase. It won’t be like this forever. Keep a “growth chart” and/or journal of sorts to track what you learn + feel as you go. Track your numbers. Six months to a year from now you’ll be SO glad you have documentation of all this. It’s a great way to really SEE how far you’ve come!

Overall, know that if you feel like your POTENTIAL + your REALITY don’t quite match up just yet, you’re not alone.

This is NORMAL. And a great sign of things to come!

It’s gotta happen at every new level as we stretch and grow.

Late bloomer, early bloomer, or totally normal bloomer:

As long as you listen for hunches and do the work, trust that your biz WILL blossom in divine timing.


In the comments below, share:

How do YOU survive the growing pains of your business?

Got an awkward biz puberty metaphor to throw into the ring? ;) LEMME hear it.

Cheering you on from Honolulu!

To the awkward examples to come in the comments below,


P.S. If you liked this post + want to help me spread the word by using the links below to share it with your buddies, I would greatly appreciate it! You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to see new videos before I’ve had time to turn them into blog posts ;)


How Running a Business is Like Breastfeeding (my first video blog!)

15 Rules You Don’t Have to Follow in Your First Year of Business

Just Keep Going (a tale from my starting line)

The Truth About My First Year in Business



  1. Carrie Geeen

    I love this video Nikki and I’m sooooo glad you said it. It’s so true, no matter what stage you’re at! The word I use to describe last year is frantic (but amazing) and in a coconut shell…messy! But I loved it because it was an adventure and I think that’s the point :)

    1. Lauren Caselli

      Oh my gosh it’s so nice to hear that others feel frantic sometimes. I felt frantic this week and it just makes me want to take a nap!

      But it’s all good! Good frantic!

    2. Nikki Elledge Brown


      Michael Hyatt asked what type of movie genre we’d use to describe the year…and with all the ups and downs, I would say DRAMA. This year I’d like to order up a light-hearted rom com with bouts of smart adventure ;)

      Befriending YOU, my lovely, will always been considered one of the bright spots of 2014!

  2. Kaye Putnam

    Gosh, it is LATE hst time but I couldn’t resist clicking the video to see the latest from you, Nikki.

    For me, biz puberty has been a lot of experimenting. Back in the day it looked more like, “I’m going to try out for diving! And math counts club! And now track!” Now, it’s more like, “I’m going to start a business for military spouses! Now, I help run an agency!” … and now shifting a bit more to a slightly different focus in 2015.

    Internally, it feels like the shifting probably confuses people and the branding nerd in me hates this process (is she a jock or a nerd?) but every step gets me closer to where I belong. Cheers to puberty!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Pahaha YES, Kaye! That is such a perfect extension. MAHALO ;)

      Can’t wait to walk ‘n’ talk next week!

  3. Alexis

    I love your videos, Nikki, and this one especially resonated with me. I’m preparing right now for my first launch, and am inspired by all you shared today. Thank you for helping me feel less alone and more confident about feeling completely together yet completely out of my mind!! (Awkward teenage phase, land of the unknown, primarily the tech world:).

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Go get ’em, Alexis! Nope, never alone. Thanks to the magic of the internet :)

  4. Jess

    I just love the metaphors you use Nikki, such a great video! One of the most helpful things has definitely been having “biz buddies”. Being around such lovely people that know just what you are going through has been so helpful and we have all been able support each other along the way :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Cheers to biz buddies, Jess! Glad you appreciate my word pictures ;)

  5. Kristel Kayser

    Love the video and analogies Nikki! I think the #1 thing that’s helped me succeed in growing my business, is that I remind myself every day of my mission in the world. As long as I stay clear on what *I* want to do and accomplish, I’m less tempted to constantly look at what “everyone else” is doing – and that leaves so much room for me to be creative and to keep developing my own voice & message! xx, Kristel

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great point, Kristel. We’ve only got so much time and energy to do what we want and/or feel called to do. When we focus on other people’s business(es), we’re burnin’ valuable daylight!

  6. Maria

    Love this Nikki, it was the perfect video for me this morning! My business (self-employed graphic designer) has gone through many stages, not always upward. I feel more like a late bloomer, since I took some time to focus on the mom thing. I’m looking forward to 2015 and focusing on growing my biz… but I am really in that awkward place of shifting rolls. Thanks for being so real and for reminding me I should do the same.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Cheering you on, Maria!

      The mom thing is THE most important roles we’ve got. In case you haven’t seen my take on the whole work-life balance thing, check out this post:

      (The main point: Some days we’ll work too much. Some days we’ll play too much. As long as our work-too-much days pave the way for more play-too-much days, I think we’re headed in the right direction.)

  7. Zoe

    Aaaaaahhhh YES!!! Total biz puberty! I can SO relate to this. Fantastic analogy. I am very much the quiet, weird kid reading in the corner or hanging out with my 4 friends by the sweets machine… Lol.

    It’s so great to shine a light on our unique biz personality in this way and realise we DON’T have to be like ‘the cool kids’, that the rules ARE open to interpretation, that we can absolutely find our own way, in our own time…

    Awesome, thank you Nikki!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      And those four friends are GOLDEN, Zoe!

      To your dream clients (the only ones worth your time + quality energy), you are and will always be a cool kid…likely because you don’t TRY to be.

      (I meeeean…it just happens. You can’t help it.)

  8. Julia

    Oh my god Nikki! Biz Puberty! I laughed so hard. That’s awesome.

    I’ve definitely been feeling the growing pains recently (and I’m not even sure I’ve hit puberty yet!). And I love all your tips. They’re just spot on.

    For me, the worst I think has been the comparison problem. We all just wanna grow into those dreams so fast sometimes all we can do is look around and then feel crappy about where we are. But, I’m learning to “mind my own business.”

    However, I’ve also been blessed with being the half of a duo-team (duo-preneurs?), and not having to go it solo. I have to say, there were many times when I’ve turned to my partner after an uplifting heart to heart and just said “how to people do this alone?” I really really think EVERYONE should have at least one really close biz buddy to talk things through with. SO very life-saving!

    1. Brenda Barbosa

      Duo-preneur is such a heartwarming thought. I really crave it. How did you find your pea-in-a-pod? I live in an itty-bitty retirement town in Florida and struggle so much to find like minded people :(

    2. Nikki Elledge Brown

      AWW love that, Julia!

      A few of my buddies are part of biz duos and I often wonder what that dynamic would be like. (I think I would drive a partner crazy because I’m so picky. Actually, I know I would…we can ask my husband ;))

      So happy you’ve got a built-in support over there!

  9. Michele

    LOVE how you keep it real. Just starting my 3rd year in biz and I still find myself in the puberty stage! Always learning and making it better. I’m so happy that I’m not the only one!! Thank you so much for the useful tips as it’s hard not to “pretend” everything is so perfect and easy or not to compare to others who appear super successful (because let’s face it ~ maybe they’re pretending…). You just found a new follower/admirer:) Thank you! Michele

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      You are SO not the only one, Michele!

      And really we’re probably ALWAYS in transition – always stretching and growing. I just know I am READY for my back-end systems to match the front-end polish so that I can get a little more sleep and know that my business/revenue doesn’t depend on ME pushing it along.


      Great to “meet” you!!

  10. Jacqueline

    What a great video! And I can so relate to the curly hair issues!! I grew up in the Marcia Brady era and wore a winter hat to bed to try and straighten it before I discovered product:)

    You mentioned that you were going to be investing into systems this year and I was just curious as to what systems you think were most valuable to have in place your first year – or what ones do you wish you had in place your first year that you didn’t.

    Love the “listen for hunches and do the work” – I think I might put that one up on my wall. Thanks for sharing – as always.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Hi Jacqueline! If you’re interested in starter systems, you’ve GOT to sign up for the replay of the call I just did with Natalie MacNeil Wednesday. We talk about this in depth!

      Quick cheat sheet – scheduling appointments, getting payments, and nurturing new subscribers with a welcome freebie and/or sequence :)

      I couldn’t have survived my first bout of free sessions with a welcome, prep, and follow up system either – simply a spreadsheet and a checklist to be sure I sent each email to each client.

      Hope this helps!

  11. Sara

    Thank you for this! Just drafted a similar blog post, but was nervous about publishing.

    The other day, I heard someone say “it’s gonna be awkward before it’s elegant” and it rang so true with me. I think in the online business world, there’s such a huge pressure to be the best of the best and people feel the need to put on a front. So refreshing to hear you keep it real. In love with the puberty reference – genius!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Haha YES glad you liked it, Sara! And I’m here to say – even when it’s elegant, it can still be awkward :P

  12. Heather

    LOVE this video. I don’t think any of us have it all under control. We are learning and growing!

  13. Susan

    Desperately need to start tracking growth I don’t do this AT ALL. Goal for the year. I’m ready for my boobies!!! xo

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      The fact that I say “boobies” in this vid probably should’ve been one of my teaser bullets. (Apparently that New Year’s game of Cards Against Humanity affected my filter.)

      AND what?!!? You don’t track things yet, Suze? Don’t you know what you focus on EXPANDS? ;)

      Once you start jotting stats down (in an easy, peasy, fun way)…you will LOVE watching those babies grow.

      (Also, I wish I had a gold seal to stamp you as a certified friendtor right here.)

    2. Jaclyn

      Best comment ever Susan! It truly made me laugh out loud.

  14. Melanie

    Great video, Nikki, once again. Feeling the puberty in “REAL YEAR 2” and I really resonate with the hunches and action…that is a little how I operate too. :)

  15. Renae Christine

    This makes me feel sooooo good after my crazy launch this week. I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes through this.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Definitely not alone, Renae! (And from what I’ve seen + heard, even those who have GREAT “mature” systems still deal with *some* launch craziness. It’s part of the thrill ;))

      HUGE congrats on your growth this year, mama. Loved reading your wins in the CAOC FB group!

  16. Brenda Barbosa

    “She may be even stuffing her bra…” HAHAHAHAHA!! I laughed so hard after that, Nikki. I’m still laughing :D

    Thanks for the chuckles, and all of the “boobie” references. It’s true, we do forget how far we’ve come and how awkward it feels when we’re stretching beyond our comfort zone. It takes a while to get comfortable in our own skin. Same is true in busines

    It’ll always be a work in progress. At 42, I’m still learning and growing! I doubt it will ever end. And honestly, who wants it to? It’s the spice of life :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      AMEN, sister Brenda! And thanks for saying boobies again. Makes me giggle too. :P

  17. Jen

    What an awesome analogy and breakdown of tips! Just started following you recently and am so glad I did :-). Plus you are a fellow mil spouse, that’s just awesome!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Woop! High-five for mil spouses, Jen! Great to have you here :)

  18. connie Curtis

    Great stuff. I am creating meeting my business BFF’s and a mentor. I am moving forward but right now I have a coach but not anyone really anyone else. I do have a website going live and I am in action to find my potential clients.

    Clients, Business bffs and mentor.. making money those are my goals.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Way to go, Connie! It will feel SO great to have all your info in one spot.

      Now to get out there and connect with those potential clients so they know what you’ve got to offer! :)

  19. Natasha Vanzetti

    So nice to know that we’re not alone in this awkward phase. I thought puberty was far behind me but now I’m getting to live it all over again with my business. This time around I’ll be kinder to myself and stop the comparison game. Love how you reminded us that we’ll blossom in our own divine timing. Mwah to you and all your awkward wisdom xxx

  20. Marsha from

    Nikki Nikki Nikki!! If I could leap through that little Youtube window and hug you I WOULD!

    This was so wonderfully honest and refreshing – and full of helpful ideas. I especially love the reminder to JOURNAL THIS SHIX! Not least because my new trick when comparing myself to people, is to switch and compare myself to Me A Year Ago (hat-tip to Trudy of for that idea!).

    My very awkward and slightly gross metaphor, which assumes that I’m the kind of silly teenage girl who thinks that this is desirable is that sometimes I feel like….

    ..I have discovered Wonderbras before anyone else. And everyone’s all like, “WOAH, Marsha, your boobs got BIG!” And I’m mumbling, “mmm-hmmm”, while secretly thinking, “Well, I see that they *will get big, all signs point towards that… but right now, they’re really not as big as everyone thinks….”

    (As a second disclaimer, I would like to iterate that I am a fan of boobies of ALL sizes :) )

    1. Jaclyn

      Marsha, you’re the reason why I’m watching this–love you for that! And for your tip to go back to where we were a year ago. MAJOR importante for those of us with boobies or in my case, a booty! hahahaha. (couldn’t help myself).

      1. Nikki Elledge Brown

        YES that tip a la Trudy is priceless. I’m so glad you shared it here!

    2. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Pahaha YES, Marsh – that’s totally it.

      And it reminds me of ANOTHER glorious biz/boobie analogy, courtesy of the lovely Sarah Ancalmo:

      A good brand is like a good bra – it lifts and separates you from the competition.


      Also – I love that you added the second disclaimer.

  21. Kerri

    What a great topic! I’m probably more of the early bloomer – I’d only had my artwork online for a couple of months, when I was lucky enough to have Martha Stewart magazine ask for paintings for a magazine story. I honestly thought it was a hoax at first, but I managed to get my paintings from Australia to New York in 5 days. Long story short, I had a massive influx of orders that I was soo not prepared for. Luckily, my family were fantastic and all helped to pack and post hundreds of orders – my hubby can now tie a mean bow :) But now, it’s time for me to get my systems in place so I’m in a similar position to you Nikki. Thanks so much for a great post, and thanks for the reminder that we all face the same awkward challenges – no matter how it looks from the outside :) x

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ha! Teamwork makes the dreamwork, Kerri – love that your husband was able to jump in.

      Congrats on the early bloom and on recognizing the neeeeed for systems. I’m feeling it like a craving these days. Can’t wait to get started!

  22. Lauren

    Nikki this was the first video of yours that I have watched and I would just like to say thank you for being so honest and encouraging! I’m only 6 months into my business and most of the time I feel lost and confused and out of my depth – it’s so nice to have a cute little name for that experience now that reminds me that it’s a totally normal part of the process. :-)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great to have you here, Lauren! And heck yes – totally normal part of the process. We’re all just figuring things out as we go. (Which is a lot more effective than trying to figure things out while we sit still ;))

  23. Rev. Kerti

    I remember a few months ago I asked you this and you basically said you *didn’t* have it all together. News to me!!! It made me feel better then because it meant I too could be successful (whatever that means) without needing to have it all together. Aaaaaanyway, since that time, I was able to double my email list. Of course, my hustle and expertise made that happen, but so did hearing I didn’t have to “figure it all out” first. I could just go. BAM.

    Sending love,
    Rev. Kerti

    PS – Can’t wait to hear how THIS is going to help people several months down the line.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love that, EA. And heck NO I don’t have it all together. Even when I finally have some real-deal, big girl systems in place, I will stretch for a new level or project and have to grow into THOSE new sea legs. (So many mixed metaphors…)

      Thanks for sharing your spin and WIN!

  24. Mallie Rydzik

    Ha, I’ve called it “the toddler years” of business, but I think puberty makes wayyy more sense for these particular issues. :) Also, I think more people are getting comfortable “owning it” these days, which is why that’s also the title of my upcoming book!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Fabulous, Mallie! Owning it is what makes the journey fun, relatable, and helpful to others. Takes the pressure off of EVERYBODY.

  25. Alexis

    I love this metaphor! It’s so on point! I have found solace in the Biz BFF rule. It’s saved my biz life! It’s so important to connect with someone else who’s going through what you’re going through. It’s really helpful! I loved your other tips too. So right on point. :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Glad you enjoyed this one, Alexis, and high-five for biz BFFs!

  26. Nadia Hosko

    Wow!!! “God is my business partner” I LOVE this!!

    Also – ‘Get the hunch, do the work’ – sadly, I get the hunch and get distracted (by what I think I should be doing – a bridge biz, which I’m now moving away from to pursue what’s truly in my heart)… And this concept is helping me to know that it’s ok to still be in a awkward phase and not have it all together… to get the hunch and even though it’s a little scary, to do the work.

    You’re such a Goddess!!! Love to you Nikki. This is so helpful. I actually had a hunch I should head on over to your site :) … xo

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Aw glad you came by, Nadia! I am SO excited for you to follow this big hunch…can’t wait to hear more about it :)

  27. Elizabeth

    I have been saving this video in my inbox for a couple weeks, and just now had the time to watch it. Yay for inbox zero and Fridays!! If you don’t have it all together, then there is hope for all of us :) Thank you for your wise words and making me smile, also thank you for being a mentor to other military spouses and reminding me that divine hunches are worth following! I hope your business continues to grow in 2015. Keep up the good work. Xo.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Totally honored that you saved it for a good time, Elizabeth :)

      And uhhhh NO. I so don’t have it all together. EXTRA glad I shared this post if that was a more general assumption than I…assumed! #hotmessalert

      Happy hunch-following, sister ;)

  28. Elizabeth

    I have been saving this email in my inbox for a couple weeks, and just had the pleasure of watching it. Yay for Fridays and inbox zero!! You make some great points, also if you don’t have all for your stuff together then there is hope for all of us :) Thank you for being such a bright light and mentor to other military spouse business owners. Looking forward to watching your business grow in 2015! Xo.

  29. Wambui Githire-Mburu

    Nikki thanks I am going through those puberty years in my business but I am encouraged when you say it won’t always be like this. I will start keeping a journal.

  30. Kathrine

    Great stuff! We all go through it. If you haven’t, it’s because you haven’t been doing it long enough…
    Quick note: My gift is organization and operations… so let me know if I can be of assistance. ;-)

  31. Lauren Scalf

    I almost think #bizpuberty is worse than growing up puberty!! It’s so good to see I’m not alone in this! Thank you for putting yourself out there and telling it how it is <3

  32. marion

    Oh my god I LOVE this, and so needed to hear it isn’t just me,my businesses have been up and running since my son was a baby (he is 7 tomorrow) and we have the website design side of the biz sorted but Ive just relaunched my own website that is really what I love and I have been all over the shop juggling that being mum to a 6 and 9 year old with better social lives than me and yet people think i must be organised and Im always left thinking if only you knew that today I put my jeans on over my jammy bottoms and didnt realise until lunch, I sent my son to school with my daughters pink lunch box , and sent out a list of emails wishing every a great Monday on a blooming Friday! Now I have a great word for it!

  33. MaryJo

    Whoa, Nikki! I’ll be 70 this year and I’m at the Biz Puberty stage! How pathetic is that! Well, when seniors lose their savings and must work, that’s what happens. But it’s also a conscious choice that I (we = my hubby and I) have chosen to work together in our own business for the rest of our lives — or as long as God grants us the strength. We have more experience, knowledge and wisdom that we’ve ever had about our “product/service,” but the tech stuff and finding our best marketing methods without training in that area have been and continue to be our biggest challenge. Thanks for being here and sharing your story. Your tips help and we’ll keep on keeping on!

    1. Elle

      Mary Jo, I’m not sure if you’re still checking these comments, but yours caught my eye, and I had to respond. I attended a seminar yesterday and the speaker was about 70 years old. His lifetime of study and knowledge was mind-boggling! I was in awe and it was a gift just to listen to him talk for 8 hours. I wanted to soak it all up like a sponge. All this to say…keep going! Your years of experience will be a gift and inspiration to others earlier in their business journey. Consider how much you already know—you will figure out all of the tech stuff as well. Keep moving forward. Here’s to quickly recouping all of your savings and much more!

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