Ever since I started my business in 2018, I’ve been carrying out regular reviews of my business. And, together with support from a couple of great coaches, I think this has been largely responsible for the frankly great progress I’ve made, from a side gig to a full time business, and doubling my income each year for the first three years- and this year still managing to increase it by 50%.
For the last three years I’ve written an annual business review blog post detailing what’s gone well, what’s not gone so well (and what I learnt from it), and my goals for the year ahead, and how I plan to make them happen. Why? Because I believe in transparency, and I also think my clients, potential clients, and even those who will never work with me can learn a lot from it, and I’m all about helping people to learn and grow.
So, let’s dive in.
What went well in 2022?
This has been a year of massive change and upheaval in my business, but, while it’s been exhausting at times (see challenges below), it’s also been really positive.
At the beginning of 2022, I changed the name of my business to Earn Learn Thrive Ltd (note the acronym), and completely re-branded, working with a branding coach, the talented Amy Manning. I knew I needed to do this because the direction of my business had already moved away from the life-coaching the original name referenced, but it was a huge job as I had to change EVERYTHING.
That said, I’m so pleased I went through the pain barrier, as I now have a name and brand that truly reflects what I offer and I think this has really contributed to growing awareness of my business (and ultimately more clients of course).
My group programme, Flourishing Foundations has continued to do well, and halfway through the year I changed the format somewhat to provide recorded training sessions and an increased amount of live coaching. This has proved to be a win win, as it’s less intensive for me, but provides more value for the participants.
I also opened a new membership, The Confident ELT Collective, and gained 113 members in the initial launch, which totally smashed my goals. This membership has gone from strength to strength, and I’ve added new members while maintaining many of the original ones. It’s going to be a big part of my business going forward, and I have lots of exciting plans- watch this space.
My word for 2022 was Focus, and I think, although I’ve been doing a LOT, it has all been pretty well focused on getting more widely known as a business and mindset coach for ELT freelancers, and steadily growing my business.
In terms of audience growth, I’ve also run a couple of very successful free events/challenges, The Festival of Freelancing (which will return in 2023), and The LinkedIn Visibility Challenge. Both of these really boosted my visibility on social media, my LinkedIn connections (now over 7000) and my email list. And, while my email list has not really grown this year, with lots of unsubscribes as well as subscribes, I think it now consists of people who do really want to hear from me, as my roughly 50% open rate can attest to.
What have the challenges been?
This is an equally important part of my annual business review, as we often learn more from the challenges than the successes. As you might imagine, with a lot of change and a big new offer, there’s been a lot of work. Simply recording my group programme took a lot of time and energy, for example, not to mention all the work to re-brand.
I also under-estimated the amount of mental space running a big membership would require. Although the amount of time spent with individuals is obviously lower in a membership, each and every one of them is still my client, and I know and hold in my head stuff about them and their businesses. It needs time and energy, and I needed to re-calibrate my business model to allow for this.
The first thing I did was to close my free group, Lightbulb Moments. I LOVED this group, and I know it had helped a lot of people over lockdown. But I wasn’t offering life-coaching any more, so it just wasn’t a good fit. It was a really hard decision, but I knew I needed to prioritise.
Later in the year I also decided to stop my 1-2-1 coaching offer, which had been a 4 month version of my group programme. I didn’t take on any new clients for this after the summer, and gave myself time to think about what could work both for me and them.
I realised that in most cases, the people I was working with 1-2-1 were business owners who already had quite a lot in place (so they didn’t feel they needed the business foundations course). They were benefitting from working with me over 4 months because we could work through EVERYTHING in their business and get it working smoothly, but this was incredibly intensive, and, to be completely honest, I wasn’t charging enough for what they got.
I knew that this kind of client could also benefit from picking just one sticky area and getting targeted, intensive help with that, and that this would be both more affordable for them, and less intensive and all-consuming for me. And so, my new 1-2-1 offer was born, Block Busters. I’ve just started offering this, but I can already see how it’s helping a specific kind of client make a lot of progress quickly.
In 2023 I’m also totally changing the offer I currently have for alumni of my group coaching problem. It’s often very hard making these changes because you don’t want to disappoint people, or even risk losing clients or money. However, I honestly believe that we have to be open to pruning or digging stuff up if we want our business garden to thrive.
What am I planning or working towards in 2023?
I have two main goals for 2023. Firstly, I want to grow my audience much faster than I have been doing. I have a few plans for this:
- I’ve created a tool (a kind of quiz) that will identify what stage of business you’re at, and then provide a detailed, tailored report with tips and strategies that will help you move forward. This will be available in the next few weeks, and I think it’s going to be super helpful, as one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
- I’m starting a Youtube channel, with tips and strategies for ELT Freelancers. Super excited about this, and I’m taking it very seriously, having invested in some really in-depth training from YouTube coach, Gulce Onager.
- Continuing to grow my LinkedIn audience with bi-monthly live interviews and a newsletter around business related topics, where you can learn from other freelance business owners
Secondly, now that my audience is growing (and as it grows further), as well as continuing to grow my amazing membership, The Confident ELT Freelancer Collective, I also want to develop more ‘passive income’ products, such as books and digital courses. This will help people who aren’t yet ready to pay for coaching to continue to develop different areas of their business, so another win win.
Final thoughts on my annual business review.
I mentioned that in my annual business review last year, I chose Focus as my word of the year, and, honestly, this is probably ALWAYS going to be important. However, this year I want to approach focus slightly differently, and take the pace down a notch. So, my word of the year for 2023 is going to be ‘Streamline’, or making things simpler, more efficient and, of course, ever more effective for my clients.
What’s your word of the year going to be?