Leonie Dawson: A Conversation on Life, Business, & Organization

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I recently had the chance to chat with THE Leonie Dawson, and it was so flippin’ lovely!

It can be really intimidating to interview someone who has as much experience and success as Leonie, but even though I had to overcome a shit-ton of anxiety to make this happen, it was an absolute joy and worth every ounce of energy it took to make this happen.

Leonie is full of amazing ideas and mindset shifts for online business owners. If you enjoy this, I highly recommend joining their Brilliant Biz + Life Academy. The value is insane and I’m constantly learning new things from them.

If money is tight right now, she also has a page full of “free shit” to help you.

Check out the video below for the best bits of our chat:

*This script has been lightly edited to make it easier to read, while also retaining the essence de Leonie.

Q: What are the top three actions that have had the most impact on your business growth?


Leonie Dawson: Oh, I think… Sales emails are awesome. Having really long sales pages. Also awesome. Um, and having a real commitment to nurturing my list as well by sending them free shit and making free shit to give away in exchange for getting on the mailing list.

It’s a fairly simplified business model really, like just give away free shit, get people on the mailing list, and then just love them up. And then when the time’s right, hammer them with sales emails and send them to a sales page that converts.

Q: You talk a lot about copywriting, and you even teach it in your courses. Do you recommend that business owners, and people just getting started, learn to do their own copywriting?


Leonie Dawson: Yeah, absolutely. Because I think it makes such a massive difference to your results. Also, copywriting, in my experience, is one of the hardest things to hire.

For one, it’s really expensive to hire a copywriter and they don’t necessarily convert better than you. Like, I’ve never had a copywriter that converts better than me, no matter how much I paid them and how well regarded they are in the industry, because they don’t know the relationship you have with your customers. They don’t know your target market as intimately as you do, and I think it’s just the best skill set that I’ve learned in my business.

Check out Leonie’s Sales Star Masterclass to learn more about copywriting and sales pages!

Q: You’re an expert at showing up authentically in your business. What would you say to someone who is struggling to be authentic and share more of themselves?


Leonie Dawson: So for me, I just think it is so much easier to be authentic and be who you are. It’s a real treat.

It also means that I, and the people that I have in my business, whether it’s my staff or my customers, they’re the same kind of people. They’re just beautiful humans. It’s not really a hassle to deal with anyone because they already know who I am.

And I also think like, you don’t have to do everything right out of the gate. There were some parts in the early days where I didn’t share because I didn’t feel like I was able to. I didn’t share parts because I was like, oh, that’s that’s not acceptable. Um, like, I didn’t used to swear on the internet. But, you know, I warmed up to it. I’ve been doing this for 20 years

So, you can just take little bits, even like every single time you write a sales email or create something, how can I add just a little bit more of myself in here,” just a little bit more, and that will create more… you’ll discover that it’s safe for you to do that and that it’s joyful and eventually it becomes very organic.

Q: What systems have you put into place as your business has grown to maintain a 10-hour workweek?


Leonie Dawson: You know, for me, it’s always been like this external boundary, like this external thing that’s prevented me from really working that much more.

So when I started my business and was growing it, I still worked for the public service, and so I had limited hours in order to grow my business. And I didn’t actually leave my government job until I gave birth to my first daughter. Then I had the blessing of a high-needs baby who didn’t sleep and cried the moment she was outside of my arms.

So, I had just no time and I also had to make bank. I had to bring in money. So I had to build my business in a way that didn’t require a huge amount of hours from me… From the early days of just starting, and moving up into six figures, and now doing an average of about seven figures since 2014. 

So it’s helped to have that organic, external container of like, you know, you actually have very limited hours here. And just being really clear on what’s the important things in the business that actually drive revenue and what’s just the busy work.

In Tim Ferriss’s 4-hour Workweek, he talks about Pareto’s Principle in that 20% of your actions create 80% of your results, and the rest of the 80% of your tasks only create 20% of your revenue. So I always want to try and kill off the 80% that is like a minimal harvest and that really helps.

I prefer having a much smaller team. So for the vast majority of my time, I’ve just had one part-time VA. I have had a much, much larger team like 20 plus staff, but when you have more staff, you actually have to work harder. You have to work many more hours trying to catch up with all of them and manage all of that. So having a smaller, more aligned team really works super well for me.

And then we use Asana for our project management system. All of our tasks in there have a Loom video explaining how to do the tasks step by step. So if at any point in time, I need to get somebody else to do the task, I can either pick it up or somebody else can pick it up.

Q: Having SOPs/workflows/checklists/videos for tasks isn’t sexy, but it’s necessary for long-term growth. How has having them in place impacted your business?


Leonie Dawson: You discover the importance of it when things fuck up.

So I’ve always had a priority to do that, like in the past it’s because I’ve had VAs quit without any handover period or whatever, and I’m like… oh shit. So I’ve always been like, okay, we need systems.

My assistant has been really good at putting them together. She had to take emergency medical leave for a month this year. And it was really useful in that we discovered where the holes were because we had like 85% of her tasks documented, and now we have the 15% that weren’t documented or systematized in those ways. 

I just kept a document of all the little holes I found. And I think I did a very poor job while she was away. I feel like I was running a launch at the time, and because I was having to do the operations on top of the launch, the launch completely borked. So, you know, it was an expensive mistake for me. 

That and also I didn’t have any backup happening either. So now we’ve got some more team resources available to us. So they work for us part-time, but potentially in an issue like that, we could have them do more hours and take on a little bit more of that load and prevent burnout and that kind of thing.

Q: How important do you think it is to be organized in the backend stuff of your business?


Leonie Dawson: So when you’re a solopreneur, it’s actually really useful for you to have all that in place, because then you don’t have to remember it all. It’s like you’ve got this little checklist.

And even now I’ve been doing this for 20 years, every time I go to do a launch, I forget shit. Like there’s like little things that I don’t turn off, turn on. I have fucked it up in the past a few times. 

Now we just have a template in Asana so that whether I’m launching a course or somebody else is launching the course, it goes through step by step. You gotta tick off every fucking bit in there to say, yes, I did that. I prevented a fuck up from happening. And so that’s been really useful.

Like there are complicated parts of our business. And because I only launch maybe 3 or 4 times a year or a little bit more, you know, I’m not going to remember every single piece of that puzzle.

So even just being a solopreneur, doing it, all the checklists really useful.

And then when it comes to having a team, it’s so fucking easy to onboard them.

We have two part-time assistants working for us. And we were talking to a consultant to help us with our systems and things like that. And she’s like, “All right, well, how many questions does Zeta, who’s managing the staff, have to answer per day?” And Z is like “Maybe it’s like 3 to 5 per week.” And she was like, “Oh, that’s really good.”

Well, it’s just all documented, like everything they need. It’s already pre-answered for them. They don’t actually have to ask me questions on how to do stuff. It’s already in there.

So it just ends up saving an enormous amount of time. And it means we can really easily onboard staff and have like a minimal training period. And then our staff also feel like a new team member. They feel really empowered. They’re like, oh, it’s all here for me. This is so great. This is so organized.

Yeah. It’s beautiful. And like if I was managing the team, I would get driven crazy if I got asked questions all the time. So this is just a brilliant way to not get talked to.

Q: At what point in your business do you feel like you had that stuff really ironed out, and maybe not perfected, but set up really well for your team? Like, how long did it take you to get there?


Leonie Dawson: I think I just really started to about 2012. So I started my business maybe 2002-ish, so maybe ten years. That was kind of building it up on the side, and it was two years of being full-time when I started to build those things in because I just felt crazy.

I just felt like, oh shit, this is all so disorganized and I don’t know how I’m going to keep everything in my brain. And so I read some books about stuff and started implementing those systems.

Leonie Recommends: The Entrepreneur’s Trap by Tina Forsyth

Q: Do you find it more important to be organized as you have grown? Or do you think think/wish there had been more of that in the early days when you were getting started?


Leonie Dawson: I think in the early days. I had to. It was more of like an experimentation lab, like you’re just trying out all the fucking things to see where it works. And until you can get some wins on the board and go, oh, okay, that lever worked. That lever didn’t. There’s no point in being that organized. 

You need some systems in place, right? But in terms of, like turning it into a whole standard operating procedure, I wouldn’t bother until you know that it’s a lever that you’re going to use long term.

If you’re just experimenting and testing something, it’s sort of like, I’ll just fuck around with this and see if it ends up being something that we’ll continue investing our time in.


Becky Moffit: So it’s more important as you kind of get focused and figure out maybe like your funnels, like what your lead magnets are and what they’re going into, and you’re starting to build on those instead of just starting to create those sorts of things.


Leonie Dawson: Yeah, definitely get organized. But you also need to be organized in terms of, okay, where are you putting all your tax receipts? What’s your system for answering emails? Because those things you’re always going to be doing forever in your business, whether it’s you or a staff member and having things like organized email response templates and things like that will make an enormous difference to your day.

Q: If you were starting again as a brand new business owner, what would you do differently to help you scale?


Leonie Dawson: I don’t know if it would work for my little creative mind anyway, but it might be useful for me to consider who my target market is and have, like, map out a full funnel of free stuff to paid stuff that would help them, and then like create emails that would guide them through that process. Because I like I’m 20 years in, I still don’t know. I don’t have any funnels really set up.

Q: Is there anything else you would recommend for people who are just starting?


Leonie Dawson: Test and play and experiment and just see what works for you. See what resonates with your people. See what lights you up, what lights them up, and what brings you in money. And then keep on carrying on with that experiment.

It just feels like this enormous playground, this enormous, like test ground of the things that end up feeling like a really good fit for you and for your people.

And then sometimes there’s going to be just like total fails, like just things that you absolutely fucking hate or things that don’t really land with your people or the things that don’t make any money. And you need to create some mistakes along the way, like you’re not going to have a home run every single time.

Like, I look throughout all my career and there’s never, I’ve never been able to accurately work out what’s going to make cash and what’s not. The only thing you can do is just try it, put it out there and see what works and see if you love it and if people love it.

I have like a goal for myself because I found that I was getting too, um, up my own arsehole about trying to determine whether something was going to be a hit. Like preemptively and then realizing like, oh, I actually, I’ve never been able to preempt like, I have a random idea sometimes, but I’ve never been able to preempt. And so I have a goal to create two duds a year. Like, okay, on my way to creating those two duds, I’m going to create some home runs, right? Like I’m going to have made some good shit.

So it’s helpful to remember those mistakes are well, and the things that don’t necessarily always, you know, payback paper like make money are still an important part of the process.

Q: What project are you working on right now that is bringing you the most joy and excitement?


Leonie Dawson: At the moment, it’s the art of laughing. It’s not a business thing.

I think to myself, how can I turn up with more love? How can I be softer and be more open? How can I be less rigid? How can I invoke the loving kindness of like God, great Spirit, all that is, you know.

How can I do that with my children? How can I do that with my husband? How can I do that with caring for aging parents? Caring for an extremely elderly dog. How can I do that more with my friends?

How can I, you know, when I turn up, how can I be more of that energy wherever I go, whether that’s in my business, my family, my life?

I just got a new tattoo. I’ve only got two tattoos. Every ten years I get a tattoo. And it is just little words wrapped around my old tattoo. And the words say “I love life as it is.” 

And it just feels like this very big and holy quest like, how we can all love life when it’s beautiful and easy and joyful and like everything’s going well, but… How can I love it even when it is hard and difficult and challenging and tight and sad and grief-stricken? How can I love it when not everything’s going to plan? How can I love it just as it is? And it feels like just the right next mission for me. And it feels good.

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