Have you ever wondered about the ins and outs of my business? What works and what doesn’t? The wins and losses? I think it’s so important to hear the real truth about someone’s business in order to get the whole story and the full picture.
After an unplanned hiatus at the end of 2022, I am back and thrilled to share new content with you this year! To kick off this year, I’m taking a step back and letting you have a peek inside my business with a full Year in Review for episode 100 of the podcast. I did this last year and I know that most people enjoy hearing a bit of the “behind the scenes” kind of content.
And as you know, I am pretty honest about business and don’t want you to get false ideas about what it’s like building an online biz. I know a lot of the stories that we hear in the online space are all about the wins and celebrations, but I also think it’s important for people to be honest about the hard work that they put in, the money that they invest, and all the other things that go into running a business online.
So today I’ll share what worked, what didn’t work, some lessons I’ve learned, and what’s going to be both changing and staying the same in my business this coming year.
What Worked / My Wins from 2022:
- I continued to run my upLIFT Mentormind, and it is still my absolute favorite part of my business
- I hosted 2 mastermind retreats this year in March & September. These provided space for incredible relationships, business growth, and time to be refreshed and renewed for the women who attended. God was definitely present with us for both of these events.
- I revamped my Shine Online Course into Focus to Fund to provide more specific support for business owners who want consistent income
- One of my goals was to take a percentage of my profit from my business specifically and donate it to causes that I care about. I was able to do this, and I donated to a local cause that supports foster care and adoptive families here in Maine. I also was able to donate to a missionary family serving in Moldova. If you’re not aware, Moldova borders Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled into Moldova due to the war. I wanted to give to someone that I knew was serving in an area of the world that could reach the people impacted by the Russian invasion. Click here if you’d like to learn more about this organization and make a donation.
- I was able to be a guest on 5 podcasts and/or YouTube shows
- I grew my biz email list and my IG accounts
- I was able to complete my book proposal (finally!) and I had meetings with a couple of agents who both agreed to review it
- I was able to be on stage at the Hope*Writers Conference in November to share a 3-minute tip
- I spoke at Digital Insiders Mastermind also in November, sharing a 20-minute talk about podcasting
- I connected with a few potential book publishers
- My business continued during the last few months of the year when I was going through a personal crisis. The support I had from my team as well as some of my biz besties, AND from the women in my upLIFT Mentormind was such a blessing to me.
What Didn’t Work / Challenges from 2022:
- I launched my course Shine Online in January, and then revamped it into Focus to Fund and relaunched it 2 more times later in the year. Overall, I had less students than I had hoped for in this program this year. There are many factors to that, but I did love working with the students I had and helping them make progress toward consistent income with the course.
- I also did not have as many women join upLIFT this year to hit my goal, however, I absolutely loved working with the women that are a part of the group. And, the majority of my members choose to renew and continue participating in the program, which is incredible.
- I had a big goal for my email list, and I did not reach it. That is likely related to the fact that I did not get on as many podcast spots as I had wanted to, and I also didn’t run ads to grow my list as much as I could have.
- I wanted to streamline some of my processes and create SOPs for some of the repeating things in my biz and we didn’t get that done.
- Also, I had some goals related to my finances that I didn’t reach. I wanted to hit a certain amount in my business savings as well as start a scholarship fund for women who might not be able to afford to join my programs, both of which I did not do.
- Finally, I did not hit my goal of getting a book contract. So while I did make progress on that by finishing the proposal, I didn’t reach the bigger goal of getting a contract.
I don’t really feel that these things are failures. However, I did learn from these experiences.
2 big factors to why I believe I didn’t hit some of these goals that I had in 2022:
- 2022 was a tough year overall for many people in the online business. In 2020 and 2021, many of us experienced growth at some pretty big rates. But the economy shifted in 2022, and online businesses experienced that shift as well. I believe that some of my launches were not about me having the wrong offer or the wrong marketing approach but rather just reflective of the overall business environment of 2022.
- The second factor is that this year was, for me personally, the most challenging year of my adult life thus far. There were several difficult things that happened throughout the year, and in the last quarter, we had a significant and unexpected change that impacted our family deeply. That meant that I paused almost everything in my business aside from upLIFT in order to take care of myself and my family.
- Sometimes bigger is not better. When I created Shine Online and then revamped it into Focus to Fund, I wanted a course that someone could go through if they were newer to online business and/or not yet hitting consistent income. I wanted to provide that clear, step-by-step path that would give them exactly what they needed (without all kinds of unnecessary stuff). Now, I do believe F2F is a solid program and can give someone that roadmap. But I also found that some people want smaller, more bite-sized, or targeted teaching rather than a comprehensive program.
- It’s vital to be intentional about how you structure and design your business and your programs. This becomes really important during times of personal crisis. When Q4 hit and my life felt upside down, I was able to keep things going because of how I had structured my program(s) and my time. Now, obviously, I did not get here overnight. I’ve been building my business for many years. But I am SO grateful that I have been intentionally designing my business according to my personality, my strengths, and my goals over the past several years. Because when I needed it to support me, it did that.
- Relationships are key, always. Another lesson learned in 2022 is that building relationships is always the #1 thing you can do in business. When you pour into others and show your care and true support for them, you’ll find that you are on the receiving end of that when you need it. I received truly an unexpected amount of support from my business friends and community during the past several months. To any of you who supported me through prayers as well as practical things and sweet messages – thank you! This also reminded me of just how powerful a simple text message or note in the mail can be, and it inspires me to do better at encouraging others.
- Don’t count yourself out. So often we don’t go after opportunities because we think we won’t get it, or the deadline has passed, or we don’t have the qualifications. And what I learned this year is not to count myself out. I submitted something AFTER the deadline and I still got chosen! And this is a reminder to just put yourself out there, even if you think the chances are very low. When I did this, I said to myself ‘what’s the worst that could happen? I could not get chosen. But if I don’t submit, I don’t even have a chance of being chosen at all!’
- Know what is most important to you, and do not compromise on that. When I had the realization that my capacity was incredibly low and I had to focus on caring for myself, I had this moment of knowing pretty quickly that several things would have to come off my plate. And thankfully, because I knew my priorities, I was able to make those decisions fairly quickly. I knew that first and foremost was being there for my husband and daughter, along with taking care of myself. Next, I knew I needed to serve my clients in my upLIFT Mentormind. And basically, everything else came off my plate for a time. I cut out both podcasts, I didn’t publish new social content (although I showed up minimally on IG stories), and I didn’t even really focus on sending any emails until late November. If I hadn’t already figured out my priorities and what I value most in life and business, then I might have had a hard time discerning which things to cut and which to keep.
What’s Changing and What’s Staying the Same:
- upLIFT Mentormind is staying. This is a mastermind and coaching program for Christian women who have established businesses and want to thrive. This might mean taking their business to the next level or making shifts in their business to allow them to be more aligned with their gifts and lifestyle goals. This program has a rolling enrollment, meaning you can apply and join at any point in the year.
- Focus to Fund is changing. In the past, I’ve run this primarily as a live group coaching program a few times a year. I’m shifting this and it’s currently available as a self-study course. At this point, I am not planning to run a live group coaching version this year.
- Courses such as Podcast in a Weekend, as well as Level Up Your Launch and Cultivate Your Community, which are collaborations with Christa Hutchins, are staying the same. They are available as self-study courses you can purchase at any time.
- Coaching – I have had one-off strategy sessions available up to this point. However, very soon, the only way to work with me 1:1 will be within the upLIFT Mentormind or in a VIP capacity. The VIP option will roll out at some point in the next few months.
- Retreats – This year I will be hosting a mastermind retreat for Christian women in March. This will be the only event of its kind that I host this year. So if you’re interested in joining one of my retreats, now is the time to get the details and jump in!
- Challenges- In the past I’ve done challenges throughout the year. They’ve been free, live challenges, and sometimes I’ve sometimes done a paid challenge. At this point. I don’t know if I will be running any challenges this year. I will keep you updated on if I will offer any.
- New Things – There will likely be some new things coming this year such as ways to learn from me and get some strategic marketing guidance on specific topics or projects. I’m excited about these ideas but I’m not ready to share all the details yet, so keep your eyes open!
- My team – Currently I have an operations coordinator who helps manage a lot of what goes on within my upLIFT Mentormind, as well as other aspects of my business. I also have a marketing assistant who supports me with writing and graphics and social media. In addition, I still manage a couple of clients’ podcasts and I have a podcast editor (for my own shows and my clients’ shows) as well as another team member who does some show notes writing and uploading of the podcasts. Right now, I don’t anticipate any big changes with my team.
- I love the women I serve! And while there are no major changes in the people side of my business, I am making a small shift in who I am speaking to. Moving forward, I am focused on working with women who are experts and want to leverage that expertise as they build thriving online businesses and live their ideal life.
Podcast & Social Posting:
- Podcast – The podcast will continue as a seasonal podcast, with a mix of solo episodes, guests, as well as spotlight episodes with members of my community.
- Social Media – I’m planning to show up as consistently as possible on IG and FB, providing free content to support you in leadership and business as a Christian woman.
Right now, my plan for the full year is a bit uncertain, given my husband’s current job situation. So I’m making high-level plans for the year, but holding ALL of this loosely, as these plans may need to shift. I’ve created more specific plans for Q1 so that I could kick things into gear and get things moving in the first few months. I do have big goals for this year, but my top priority is having a business that remains flexible to fit my family’s needs.
Quotes to Note:
“It’s important when reflecting on your year, to not just look at the goals you didn’t hit, but actually to think about WHY and to consider what could help you in the future as you move forward.”
“We have to be willing to recognize that sometimes not hitting our goals is not something that we need to have any shame or blame about, but it’s just a reality. And then we can step forward and move on from there.”
Connect with Esther:
If this podcast was helpful, consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or your podcast app.
Subscribe to my other podcast, The Christian Woman Leadership Podcast