2023 in Review: What Worked and What Didn't For Me as an Entrepreneur Last YearJan 05, 2024
What I Learned This Year
1. TikTok Was a Bust.
I thought since everyone is doing it so should I, but I don't use the app personally. It makes my head spin and the thought of posting 2-3 times a day with music and dancing gives me serious anxiety. I tried to like it. I even hired someone to teach me it. And it felt so hard. The lesson: stay authentic to you. You don't have to do something just because everyone else is. I covered this in this post if you want to hear the whole story.
2. I spent too much time on low ticket and hit a breaking point.
We were just coming off of the Crush the Rush Club launch and I had this brilliant idea to do free audits and try to sell some of our masterclasses. I was spending HOURS on email and DMs behind the scenes answering messages and helping people for free who had no interest in taking any action. I broke all my personal boundary rules and was working early morning, late nights, etc. just got get back to people with every question because I hate when people don't answer. After I hit my breaking point, we actually had a $100K month and it is because this exercise actually made me flip our entire business model.
Long story short, help those that want to be helped. You can't force a round peg into a square hole. (I covered this in this post talking about Leap Week, and how you can take challenges and make them work for you).
3. Paid Ads are Not Necessary.
I talked about this a lot last year, but in 2023 we spent almost $60K in paid ads. The result: not much. This year we focused on all organic. I switched up my email strategy which I will talk about below, opened my calendar, spoke at local events, and in some cases went very grassroots. How can I help you? And in the end, our business hit a lifetime earnings of 7 figures AND we increased our profit margins by 10%. I won't say never, but right now organic traffic has a way better lifespan than paid.
4. Remember the Lead and the Lag
This is something I say to my clients quite a bit but if you are consistent for a month, you might not see results for two months. It takes time. And if you are like me, I have the patience of a gnat so this is something I have to repeat over and over and over again. This lead/lag concept is actually one of the reasons we made the mastermind 9 months long. Because by the time we strategize, implement quick wins, get through a launch, and then regroup, it takes a minute. And I want my clients to be able to see the benefits of the lag. If you are consistent for six months with someone holding you accountable, month seven, it clicks. You see results faster. You can pivot. You can launch faster. Everything starts to pull together.
But also, remember this: Your worth is not tied to your launch results. In the first couple of years of business, I would live and die by the Kajabi dings. I still do, but I have to remember that I am a person that is multi-faceted. And business isn't everything. I had to intentionally remind myself that I am a business owner and CEO, but also a friend, mom, and someone who has a hobby! Don't forget that. In times of frustration. Go out and do something fun!
Wins of 2023
1. Email hands down was a clear winner in profit strategy and visibility, and doubled our revenue.
We ended the year with 50% more revenue and a 60% profit margin. I talk through this more in this blog post, but also walk through the exact emails we send. I tell my clients every week in our mastermind: send the email. And when you think you can, send another and another. This has not only allowed us to be really visible offline, but also to streamline my schedule. I can work ahead, schedule emails, individually set aside time to respond, and more. On average, we have sent 3-4 emails a week since May. And our open rate currently at the top of the podcast is 40%. The click rate is around 1.5%. We have some funnels that average an 80% open rate. It works. Email is still the #1 thing I would focus on. Be intentional. Niche down your message. Ask questions and get to know your audience. Tell stories.
#2. We invested in streamlining our backend.
I think this also contributed to increasing our profit margin, but we really spent some time building out click-up (the software we use to manage our team and project management), and also streamlined customer experience. When someone signs up to work with us, the entire onboarding and offboarding process is automated (and I hope a very customized experience). I also started tracking every single thing I did in the business with multiple time audits this year and then started delegating more smartly. Is that a word? Every single I month I have a reminder in my calendar that asks these questions... What can I delegate? Delete? Defer? or absolutely has to be done.
Introducing a new private podcast series that’s just for you if you’re sick of all the Instagram BS! (or insert social channel of your choice). You can build a business without being a slave to the social engine. Grab the free series.
In addition to ClickUp, we set up a workflow in Calendly and streamlined it even more, making sure to stick to my theme days (for example, podcasting Wednesday and client call Tuesday) and asking for feedback. Another example: We re-did all our testimonials (that are also automated) so we could highlight more of you in 2024. We are using Planoly more to streamline content. I am learning to embrace automation even more, which creates more capacity and more space for fun!
#3 The goal to create more whitespace than I ever thought possible.
For this entire year, I didn't have meetings on Mondays or Fridays, (unless they were fun or Holly approved!! Think photoshoots, lunches, etc.). AND I took the last week of every month off to just be. This means if I wanted to have meetings I could, if I didn't (which most of the time, I did not), I was able to focus on projects behind the scenes. We also traveled as a family 5-6 times, which exceeded our quarterly goal, and for 2024 booked a trip to Paris for spring break.
I share this because the only way that this happens is to be intentional about it.
#4 Watching Linked In and YouTube.
Personally, I teach and preach to do something that is going to expand and educate your audience every day. This is client attraction. I made it a focus in 2022 and two years later it has paid huge dividends. If you listened to the Ditch the Social Drama Private Podcast Series you can get the whole framework, but recently I have been working behind the scenes on how to leverage our content more on YouTube and LinkedIn. LinkedIn specifically as my entire corporate career and all my network sits there.
What you don't see on social is organic search is our #1 driver of web traffic.
Last but not least, walking changed everything.
My goal is five miles a day, which is about 90 minutes of walking. I share more about this habit here, but in addition to losing some weight, it forced me to really be mindful of my calendar, going back to that whitespace, but also prioritize myself. Over everything. Which feels like a really good way to end this recap.
The more you pour into yourself the more you can pour into others. You have to make yourself a priority because no one else will.
- Get more grassroots marketing tips from my friend and client, Carin Hunt.
- How taking care of yourself impacts your business- learn more
- All of the tools we use to save time - get the list
About the author
Holly Haynes is a business strategist who loves a good plan and flow chart. She is crazy passionate about teaching women like you how to build your dream job and scale to 6-figures without sacrificing your weekends or priorities.
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