leonie dawson history background

Hi loves!

Due to popular request, I’m going to give you a run down on how I grew + evolved my little creative biz into the wildly successful company that it is today. Knowing the stories of others really, really helped me to get clear on what I wanted in biz, and still fascinates and inspires me today. I heart biz bios!

When I was growing up, I knew in my heart of hearts what I was destined to be. When someone would ask me at age four what I wanted to be when I grew up, I recited: Artist, poet, writer.


By the time I was a teenager, I still wanted to be all those things… but I also wanted to be someone who changed the world. It just seemed like the most obvious, true and right thing.

There wasn’t much career guidance available for someone who wanted to change the world though. And even with my definable dream jobs, I heard the same old story that most people do – that artists starved, that being a writer was hard, that it was all just a little bit impossible. I decided I wasn’t going to listen. I decided that I would find a way. That it might take some time – but that I could do it.

When I finished school, I worked in numerous office jobs – as a finance assistant, a receptionist, a database entry clerk, a personal assistant and a public servant.


As I worked, I studied at university as well. I studied fifteen subjects at three different universities, each one getting closer and closer to my dreams. I had so many passions – I was just trying to find one that really, really sung to me. I studied psychology, journalism, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, Australian Aboriginal studies + even economic history after I had a brief fantasy of becoming the Prime Minister of Australia.

I kept exploring, knowing I would find the How of making it happen. My path would present itself to me – all I needed to do was keep following the trail of my passions.

I landed a job working as an editor of www.business.gov.au – the Australian Government’s website for people starting and growing their businesses. It was so much fun that I ended up working there for seven years.


Left: A painting I made for myself when I was 22.
Right: One of my first commissioned artworks.

At night + on weekends, I made art, I took photographs. I shared them online – first on my favourite message board (Planet SARK), then on my own blog (which I started using Blogger).

People contacted me to buy my art, and to commission pieces from me. I was happier than a piggy in mud.


I quit studying at university as it was eating into my non-working hours + my potential art-making hours.
I started believing I could do even more. I self published a book using Lulu.com. I designed t-shirts + journals using Cafepress.com.


I blogged my little heart out – and have been doing it ever since 2004!

I tried out selling at art markets. For me, I didn’t find them as successful or fun as selling online, so I kept selling through my website and through Etsy.com. I signed with a licensing agent. I held my first solo art exhibition at 23.


I decided I wanted to start doing spiritual work as well. For a few years I had been a part of a women’s circle. The leader of the circle moved away and I really wanted and needed to have a circle in my life, so I decided the only thing to do was for me to start running one myself.

So that’s what I did. I started out doing them for free. It was an incredible growing time. I learned so many lessons along the way. I found that I needed to start running circles as paid courses so that I could continue running them. I needed to make them sustainable for me + my energy levels. I also found that women were more committed to going to circles if they had paid for them. This was one of my first lessons in sacred commerce!

When I was 24, I felt the calling to create a three-day women’s retreat – even though I’d never even attended one myself. So that’s what I did.


I just trusted that I would know how to teach and hold the space. It was hard work, and I was incredibly grateful for just how magically it turned out. Immense, powerful things happened along the way.

Then I followed my next passion + started photographing women as goddesses, weddings + pregnacious goddesses.

And all at the same time, I drew, journalled, kept growing in love with my love, travelled in India for a month, went to Uluru on a spiritual retreat, had adventures + a ridunkulous amount of fun.


I followed wherever my creative + spiritual heart led me. I chanted at the top of mountains at midnight while a storm blew around. I sung in teepees. I walked labyrinths in moonlight. I painted with my whole body. It was a time that was
totally wonderful + nourishing in my life. And FUN – oh my goddess – the FUN! And I kept working at my public service job and had fun there too.

After a while, I started working part-time in my office job so I could spend more time creating. I want to say something about my dear office job: I have never believed in the philosophy of breaking out of cubicle jail. Instead, I found a place to work that would give me an income while I played with my passions until I had a totally sustainable business.


As I explored my passions and dreams, I realised I wanted to do more than just have a gorgeous creative hobby that made me a little bit of money. I was making a little bit of money doing the things I loved – but nowhere near enough to do it full time. I remember going for a walk through the streets and fields in our city suburb one day, I decided to make a goal. I decided I was going to make $30 000 in the next year.

I went home, took out a piece of paper, and worked out how much I would have to sell in order to make $30 000 a year. As I played with the numbers, I just couldn’t make them add up.

I was frustrated – I wondered how on earth other people were able to manage it. It dawned on me that I had no idea about business.


I realised I’d been spending so much energy developing my creative and spiritual gifts, and no time at all developing my business ones. My creative and spiritual muscles were well developed and pretty buff-looking, but I didn’t have any business muscles and knowledge to support them. I decided that I needed to spend energy developing my business muscles. I needed to build a business vehicle – or a vessel – that was big enough to contain all my dreams, and strong enough to support me. So that’s what I did.

I began pouring over business and marketing books, studying, using business coaches and training. In the space of 18 months I went from earning around $3000 a year from my passions to being on track to earning $50 000 a year. A year later, I doubled again to do over six figures.


In 2012, it grew to close to half a million dollars a year.
In 2014, it grew to a seven-figure business. (A one million dollar business!!)
In 2015, we hit the $2 million mark.
I’ve continued to grow my business at a rate of doubling or tripling in revenue each year.

I’ve learned what I needed to know at each stage of the journey.


And I’ve done it all while not working full time hours. I still only spend about 20 hours per week working on my business. It used to be less, like 2-3 hours a day, but now that my sweet girls are a lil older, they don’t need me as much and I get to spend more time in my own biz world.

I didn’t think any of this was possible. Just a few years ago, I didn’t think $30,000 a year was possible. And then I made it. Then I didn’t think $60 000 a year was possible. And then I made it.

Then I thought:

What would it possibly be like to earn $100 000 a year? What would I change in order to make that?

And then I did it.
And then I did it again, and again and again, until I’m where I am now.


I now run a multi-million dollar company that has generated over $5m in revenue.

I have 75 000 people on my mailing list + a social media reach of 250 000.
I have financial security for my family for the future.
I still only work part-time.

It’s still my dream job and my favourite thing to do. I get to help more people, all the time, all over the world.


My huge secret to success is in implementing what I learned. As I learned, I made sure I acted on the lessons I was reading. They didn’t just sit in notebooks and texts on my shelf. I highlighted, committed to action, implemented.

My aim was – and still is – to build a world-class company based on excellence, integrity and spirit, integrating the spiritual and practical so that it could embody my highest intentions.

And each level of growth required personal growth too.

If I didn’t work through the lessons and blocks that came up at each stage of growth, I’d remain at that level until I did.

Therapy, coaching, intuitive healing, kinesiology… these are a big part of my success puzzle. I couldn’t have done what I have in biz without the support of these amazing healers who have held me through the necessary growth I had to experience to bring my company vision to birth in the world.


The utterly beautiful thing about my business is that it evolved and grew more real and true as I evolved, educated myself and grew my business muscles. I use a model – which has remained the same for YEARS now – that allows me to help as many women (and now men!) around the world as possible, while earning me abundant passive income that supports the life I love with my family and delivers incredible value to my customers.

My model includes the Shining Biz and Life Academy, and the Shining Biz and Life Workbooks and product range.

But the story of my biz model starts WAY before this point.


Long, long ago…. In 2009 I had the idea for the workbooks fall into my (pregnant) lap. I wanted to create a New Year planner for myself that was fun and interesting and that went deeper than the average year/goal planner. I created the workbook mainly to delight myself, and when I decided to release it into the world, I thought it might end up helping ten other women at most.

I thought I’d be happy with that – to have helped ten women to have a better, more successful year. That would have been amazing!

I was so wrong. It was amazing, and it GREW. Women LOVED the workbook. They bought it for themselves. They
bought it for friends. It changed lives. It took on a life of its own and expanded more than I could ever have imagined – and as it grew, it went through several different stages, each one furthering the reach and honing the efficacy of the workbook.


I first sold the workbook as an ebook for women to download and print for themselves. Then, in 2013, we started doing a print on demand service with Amazon Create Space. And we embarked on the self-publishing journey in 2014. Of course, the workbooks continued to be available as a digital download, always. We made the decision to self-publish for a number of reasons, but mainly because it gave us more control over every aspect of production. Printing, pricing, quality, profit. We wanted as much value for both us and our customers as possible, and we’ve honed our production process down and will continue to do so into the future.


The workbooks got completely overhauled for 2016, and we added the diary and the To Do List pad as well, to make it an integrated, strategic goal setting system for biz and life goals. We now have a team who work on the workbooks to create the best possible products each year.

Workbook sales have doubled each year, if not more. To date, more than a quarter of a million women (and men, too!)
have used the workbooks to create their own inspired, shining life.

It’s been a wild ride, learning how to be a responsible steward for this baby of mine that I totally didn’t expect to launch into the world in this way, way back when the idea first glimmered in my soul. I’m so glad it happened this way though. And I’m so grateful for where it’s taken me.


I started by first creating and selling e-courses and meditations and ebooks online for a couple of years. In 2010, I decided there was a better way for me to organise my offerings. I decided to pool all my resources into one membership
site and sell just the one product. It began as the Goddess Circle. Over the next couple of years, my online Academy went through several name changes, from Goddess Circle to the Amazing Biz and Life Academy to the Shining Biz and Life Academy.

Member-MockUp (1)

Over the six years, it has grown SO MUCH.

We’re now up to:

  • 114 biz, life, marketing, relationship, creativity, health & declutter courses
  • Masterminds of thousands of women across the world
  • Annual conference held in Canberra in February
  • Shining Discount Centre (giving you $2000 of discounts for essential biz-building services and software)
  • Bonus 2017 Goals Workbook collection delivered to your door (valued at $150)
  • Monthly group coaching calls (the only way you can get coaching from me!)
  • Weekly Ask Me Anything sessions from me and my range of social media, tech and business experts.
Shine2016_Ad6 copy

I’m SO proud of what we’ve created in the Academy… it’s unlike anything else on the market like it. It’s wildly generous and you get absolutely EVERYTHING you need to create a life and business that you adore wholeheartedly.

Up until now we’ve had it open for enrolments permanently, but I’ve decided to only open the doors once or twice a year for enrolments now. I want to be able to concentrate my time on all our members and making sure they get the best experience possible!

(Gentle reminder: enrolments close in just 5 days!)

Other things I’ve tried…

I felt deeply that I needed to have aligned branding – and realigned branding – whenever I went through personal transformations and revolutions in my growth.

At one point, I had a dalliance with selling high-end, one-to-one coaching for $1000 per hour, and also ran high-end business coaching retreats in my own home. I met amazing women and had huge amounts of fun, gigglesnorts and learning. But Chris and I found the retreats a huge energy drain, and the return on investment was not enough for us to keep them going. It just wasn’t a good business model for us to pursue.

Now I concentrate all my coaching time on my Academy members – through weekly “Ask Me Anything” chat sessions, monthly group coaching calls, monthly new courses and our annual conference!

I know that some biz owners thrive on the coaching and retreat-holding model, and I am super-excited for them! It’s so much fun when you discover the model that suits you and works for you!

And the most wonderful thing is that when you discover what works for you, you get to keep on doing that thing, and developing it further so that it grows and supports YOU.


One beautiful, breathtaking thing that has been SUCH a blessing on my business goddess journey is how it has supported me to do good in the world.

Philanthropy is built into my biz model, with a portion of money that comes in going to causes and organisations around the world that resonate with me.

  • My staff get to choose where their portion of the donation goes, too.
  • I love that we’re in the top 1% of Kiva lenders.
  • I love that me and some of my favourite business friends teamed up to pool our cash and build a six-room school in Ghana, West Africa.
  • I love that we built a library in Vietnam through Room to Read.
  • I love that we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of copies of digital licence and physical workbooks to around 2500 charities around the world.
  • I love going back to my old high schools to speak, and giving the girls workbooks so that they can learn how to set goals and live happy lives, believe in themselves and achieve their dreams. It is so hugely important to learn this as early as possible!

It is sacred work. Earning abundance means that you get to change the world.

You get to decide your own higher purpose and create the business to support it and the world you want to live in.
And that’s why I won’t be changing my business model anytime soon.

As my company continues to grow, I know the same lessons apply.

What would it be like to double revenues again? What would I need to change in order to make that? How many more people could I help?


I know that whatever my goal is, all I need to do is plan for it, learn new things and keep on growing.

That’s all I’ve ever needed to do, and that’s what has brought me here, right from the very beginning.

I so hope this has been helpful for you. I so hope you know your dreams are doable!

Big love,