Suzanne Culberg had struggled with her weight for decades. When she finally decided to dig deep to understand her tendency to binge eat and self-sabotage, she started a personal development journey that uncovered how people-pleasing and deprioritizing herself negatively impacted both her physical health and her overall happiness. And because she documented everything on Facebook, she found herself with an audience that was not only inspired by her progress but also sought her help to get healthier and happier, as well.
In this interview, Culberg tells us about her accidental entry into the world of coaching and entrepreneurship and the people and tools that have helped her start and expand her business. Read on to learn about her time management strategies, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and her recommended Read-Watch-Listen list.
Table of Contents
- Culberg’s Background
- Culberg’s Leap Into Entrepreneurship
- Early Business Days
- How Culberg Grew Her Business
- Culberg’s Advice to Entrepreneurs and Handling Burnout
- How Culberg Overcame Her Biggest Challenge
- Culberg’s Read-Watch-Listen List
- Wrap Up
- More About Suzanne Culberg
What does your business do and who are your customers?
It’s so easy to say “Yes” to others: family, friends, work. So why is it so hard to say “Yes” to ourselves? Because saying “Yes” to ourselves usually means we have to say “No” to someone else. And that can make us feel like a total b*tch.
Why W8? is a 10-week group coaching program designed to help over-doers become intentional action-takers. With a blend of butt-kicking and empathy, I’ll show you how small, consistent steps build momentum for a whole-hearted boundaried-AF you.
So why wait? It’s always the right time to take care of you.
What first got you started working on your business, and what motivates you each day to do what you do?
For years, I was an exploding doormat, saying “Yes” to everyone else but myself! My people-pleasing ways may have kept the peace externally, but inside, a war raged. I would be good all day, then devour the pantry all night, ballooning to over 330 pounds. I tried every diet I had heard of, and many I wished I hadn’t! Eventually, I quit dieting, stopped saying “Yes” to everyone, and reinvented myself. Along the way, people asked if I could help them, and so I became an accidental entrepreneur!
I now have a daily podcast called The Nope Coach, and what motivates me each day to turn up to the mic is knowing how many decades I spent in a self-sabotage sinkhole and knowing if just one person takes one action step based on my teachings, then I have helped that person and the ripple on effect of that is incredible.
How long have you been in business?
Culberg’s Leap Into Entrepreneurship
How did you decide to start your business and take the leap into entrepreneurship?
In 2017, I created a FB page and started documenting my personal development journey. It wasn’t long before people were messaging me, asking if I would coach them. So, I did my first coaching certification and began a 1:1 coaching business.
I did that for two years, and then, when I was at capacity, I decided to launch a group coaching program.
That move nearly took me out of business! I ended up hamstringing my income. It was a totally different format to sell group coaching as opposed to 1:1 coaching, and the learning curve was steep.
I will own my privilege here, I was so fortunate to have my husband’s income to rely on in this turbulent time.
I persevered and kept reiterating and relaunching my group program, and now, Why W8? is my primary income source, and it keeps going from strength to strength.
People: Primarily just me. However, I do have subcontractors that help me with the tech side.
How did you manage your time during the transition to entrepreneurship?
In 2017, my children were two and four years old, so I enrolled them in daycare three days per week. My husband worked FIFO (fly in, fly out), and my family lived interstate, so I worked when they were at care and in the evening when they went to bed.
Now that they are enrolled in school, I work first thing in the morning before they wake up, then during school hours, and one evening per week.
Early Business Days
What were some of the challenges you faced in the first year or early on in your business and how did you overcome them?
The challenges I faced in the first year were articulating my offer, explaining what it is I actually do, finding clients, and handling my very first refund request (which I now celebrate as knowing I had truly made it in business!)
I always have a coach. I believe a coach without a coach is like a doctor without a doctor! We need the support of someone else to see our own blind spots, support us through tough times, and call us on our own BS when we’re getting in our own way!
People: First year, it was just me and a tech support person I hired to help me set up my scheduler. Before I hired them to set it up, I was booking clients via email back and forth – do NOT recommend!
How did you manage your time early on?
Early on, I moved from emailing back and forth to schedule sessions and bank transfers for payment to Acuity, which is a scheduler that allows clients to book sessions and it collects payments!
How Culberg Grew Her Business
Between your early days and today, what have been some of the challenges you faced, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have faced is balancing nurturing potential clients and delivering to current clients.
Initially, when my 1:1 books got filled, I spent ALL my time delivering to those clients, and then when they finished their packages, I didn’t have new clients in the pipeline.
So now, I have regular content going out (daily podcast, weekly newsletter), which attracts and nurtures new leads while I deliver to my current clients.
People: There is me, doing the client-facing work and content creation. Then I have a series of subcontractors I hire on an ‘as needed’ basis, including a website person who handles the website, a designer who handles the graphics creation, workbooks, cover art, etc. and a person who creates my reels.
How do you manage your time today or since ‘early business’?
Each week, I work Tuesday through Thursday from 6 AM till 10 AM, and 12 PM till 2 PM. Wednesday evening from 8 PM till 10 PM. One Saturday per month from 1 PM till 4 PM.
I typically do not work outside these times. The only exception is my podcast, which I record daily, and it goes for no more than 15 minutes.
I spend every second Monday with my husband as he takes this day off.
Culberg’s Advice to Entrepreneurs and Handling Burnout
What are the top three tips you’d give someone who’s interested in starting a business?
- Get REALLY clear on your why because when times get tough, remembering why you started makes all the difference.
- Get support, hire yourself a coach, someone who works with YOU directly, not one of these big names where you’re a nameless, faceless person in the crowd, but a coach who is a few steps ahead of you and remembers what it’s like in the beginning.
- Choose your audience about who you share with when you’re having a hard time. Your partner or family are likely to be traditionally employed, and they just don’t ‘get it,’ so share with people who do – find yourself a biz bestie! Game changer.
What is your relationship with burnout?
Hello burnout, my old friend! Oh Yes, I have had several rides on the burnout train. I overcame it by setting very clear boundaries, communicating them to others, reminding them when they forgot, and remembering to hold myself to my boundaries, too.
I prevent it by having very clear work and non-work times. So when I am working, I am ‘all in’, and when I am not working, I do not check my phone or computer. I also disabled all notifications, and I do NOT respond to DMs. I am very clear about how to contact me, which is via email, and I do NOT have email on my phone.
What is your gross annual revenue in US dollars?
On average, how many hours per week do you work? [in and on your business]:
How Culberg Overcame Her Biggest Challenge
What is one of the most difficult things you have overcome in your business?
The second launch of my group program flopped. After the initial launch, I expected similar numbers, and that was NOT the case. It was a tough time financially because not only was my income much lower than expected, but my husband had lost his job, so for a while, I was the sole income earner of the family. To keep showing up and trusting that what I was doing would work and the next launch would be better was very tough.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business or journey?
The Nope Coach Podcast because I 100% did it MY way. I initially had a podcast that I created the traditional way, with editing, a jingle, and show notes, and bios for my guests. It was ok, but it didn’t light me up.
I then created The Nope Coach Podcast exactly how I wanted it. It’s a daily show, one take, no edits, real, raw, and vulnerable, and I LOVE it. It brings me so much joy.
Culberg’s Read-Watch-Listen List
What are some books, podcasts, and social media accounts that you would recommend?
- The Nope Coach Podcast and The Beginning is Sh*t book (shameless self-plug)
- Kellita Maloof
- Heather Tobin
- Tad Hargrave
Are there any other tools, software, apps, etc. you use today that you haven’t mentioned?
Culberg was quick to outsource and get help from the start of her business. She tapped contractors to help on the tech side, hired a coach, and intentionally got her small kids into daycare to make time to work. Nevertheless, she admitted to burning out a few times, a reminder for all that boundary setting can be an ongoing process and system that needs to adjust over time depending on what’s going on in life. Her persistence in perfecting her signature group coaching program, despite the poor second launch, is a lesson in not abandoning an offer at the first sign of struggle but rather testing and tweaking to find what doesn’t work and what does. She leveraged the time and resources already invested in that earlier version of the group program to come out with something better, which has now become her flagship offer and main revenue generator!
More About Suzanne Culberg
Suzanne Culberg is an author and coach who helps over-givers and people pleasers learn to set boundaries and say “No” without feeling guilty.
Suzanne is known for her straight-talking and her wacky t-shirts. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two awesome children.
You can follow her work and get in touch through: