I’ve always enjoyed when small business owners publish a year-in-review and go in-depth about what happened behind the scenes at their business. It’s exciting and inspiring to see what kinds of goals people set, what they achieved, and what changed for them in the last year of business.
So today, I want to share my 2022 year-in-review with you! Overall, this was an amazing year for me. My business grew a ton, and I learned a few valuable lessons. I figured out how to scale my business (without having to develop a full-fledged team), how to be honest with myself about burnout, and how to let go of the belief that I wasn’t enough of an “expert” to help other people!
This post will dig into ALL the details of my last year: the successes, the challenges, and the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I’ll share my revenue and which investments I chose to make in myself and my business.
My big wins this year
In 2022, I made some significant life changes, took the first steps toward scaling my business, and spent plenty of quality time with my family! Here are some of the highlights:
Earlier this year, I launched my first passive income products: sales page and online course templates on Kartra’s marketplace. (Sneak preview into next year – templates will also be coming to my website in 2023!) Lately, my business has been completely booked out, so it’s exciting to have templates to offer people who would otherwise have to stand by on my waitlist. Even though these templates only made up a tiny percentage of my income, it was seriously the BEST feeling in the world to know I made money before I even woke up in the morning or while taking a beach day.
My husband and I traveled for three weeks to visit family. This past May, my sister-in-law got married in Omaha, Nebraska (my hometown!) We spent ten days catching up with our family and friends and participating in all the fun pre-wedding activities. After that, we spent a week visiting my sister and exploring Pennsylvania. Having the flexibility to travel for however long I want is one of the biggest reasons I love running my own business!
We moved to Tampa, Florida! When we heard the rent on our Orlando house would go up by $800 A MONTH if we renewed the lease, we regrouped and decided to move to Tampa. Our new neighborhood is fantastic, and our house is so calm and peaceful. Plus, the entrepreneurial community here is incredible!
I gained name recognition as an industry expert! Even though I’ve been freelancing for over a dozen years and a full-time entrepreneur since 2019, sometimes I struggle with imposter syndrome. A tiny part of me feels like I’ll never know enough, be good enough, or learn enough to really be qualified to help people and businesses launch online courses. But this year, a few brands I’ve admired for years reached out to work together because they had heard of me – I was floored! I also have phenomenal business friends who helped boost my confidence and reminded me that holding myself back doesn’t help anyone. I put myself out there to appear on podcasts and speak at workshops, local conferences, and virtual summits. It felt so satisfying to teach to larger crowds, and I’m excited to do that more in 2023!
My challenges this year
Most of my challenges this year were with work/life balance and making hard decisions that made it possible to focus on some longer-term goals! Some of my biggest challenges were:
I worked a LOT this year…probably too much! Don’t get me wrong – I love working and have amazing clients. I just did a terrible job of genuinely taking time off this year! I think I only took a handful of days entirely off. Over the summer, I said yes to far too many projects at once, leading to major business-owner burnout. (Pro tip: I wouldn’t recommend moving to a new town AND launching multiple online courses for clients simultaneously! 😅) There were a few moments in the year when I felt exhausted and wasn’t sure when I would feel “normal” again (spoiler alert: I do now!) Ultimately, it led to a lot of positive growth in my business – sometimes, the best lessons come out of the most challenging times!
It was tough to make time to work on my own business. I’m so dedicated to helping clients launch their courses that I’ll leave my projects on the backburner! Every single year this is a massive challenge for me. This year, I tried several different methods for prioritizing my projects, from going to a hotel and working alone for a couple of days (which was super fun and effective!) to working on my own business first thing in the morning. I’m still working on this, but the thing that’s helped me the most is setting my top three goals each day and dedicating one of those slots to my plans or projects!
I had to learn to say “no” to more things. When trying to grow a business, you spend so much time saying yes to new projects that it just feels wrong to turn people away. I know that being fully booked out for the year and putting new clients on hold is a GREAT problem, but that doesn’t make it easier to say no! I found it challenging this year to say no to things. I had to say to no to new clients, speaking opportunities, collaborations and at times family things. It didn’t always feel great, but the bigger my business grows the more selective I have to be about my time and the projects I take on.
How much money did I make?
As I’m writing, the final numbers aren’t in, but I’ve made over six figures – about $113,000 before taxes (future Mara here updating this and I ended up closing the year at $127,000) before tax and expenses! I’m proud of my income this year, especially since, in 2021, I cut back on a lot of client work. In 2022, the majority of my income came from one-on-one clients, but here’s the exact breakdown:
92% one-on-one course consulting & launching
4% sales page templates
2% speaking fees and in-person workshops
2% affiliate income from products and resources I use and recommend, like Kartra, Flodesk, or Dubsado
And since we’re talking money, I wanted to mention that I use Profit First Method in my business. The short version is that I pay myself 60% of what I earn, save 20% for taxes, and put 15% into my operations budget. The final 5% goes into a profit account. If you want to read more about it, I wrote a dedicated blog post on how to use Profit First!
What I invested in
The beginning of the year was on the lean side, so from January to August, I kept expenses to a minimum. But this fall, I realized I was becoming a bottleneck in my business! I had multiple projects that weren’t moving forward, so I decided to invest in some much-needed help and resources:
A professional website refresh: The last time I updated my website was in 2019, and as I pivoted and grew my business, a lot of the information and links became outdated. Stephanie Duke helped me customize one of Elizabeth McCravy’s Showit website templates, and EmilyWritesWell revamped all of my copy. This was the perfect combination for me. I love how much time a well designed website template will save you. It means you’re never starting out from scratch and can be a lot more cost effective then designing one from scratch.
A new brand photoshoot with Christina Jones Photography: My previous photos were from 2020, so it was time for an update. This is my third brand photoshoot; every time I’ve done them, they’ve had a HUGE return on investment.
Style and Clothing Help with Sophia Rodriguez: This is probably my most surprising investment of the year and not one I would have ever imagined making. After I booked my brand photos I spent months stressing about what to wear. I also feel stressed out anytime I need an outfit for an event (business conferences, speaking gigs, etc… I never know what to wear). Sophia worked with me to help refine my personal style and we went shopping together to choose items that went with my style and my body type. I loved this process and it was so nice to have someone keep me on track for the overall vision. Clothing and style in general just aren’t my zone of genius.
The Society of Women Business Owners(SOWBO): This year, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing connection with other business owners, so I joined this mastermind for coaching and support. It’s been incredible!
Liz Wilcox’s email marketing membership: Liz’s program is full of training and templates to help you write emails faster. Personally I love writing emails and have taken dozens of trainings ove the years, but I’m still learning so much from Liz. I ended up paying for the next year in full because I love it so much.
Online college courses: Continuing my education in the industry is a top priority, so I shoot for one course per semester to learn more about instructional design, gamification, and how people learn.
A subscription to Ubersuggest: This helps me take online content to the next level with keyword and SEO research.
The biggest lessons I learned this year
I learned that I like working…BUT I don’t want to work all the time. Moving forward, I want to find ways to scale and grow my business without constantly working or booking more billable hours.
There’s no magical time when you become “an expert!” Unfortunately, no one will give you a piece of paper that gives you permission to be successful. You have to decide that for yourself!
It’s essential to carve out time for my own goals. Otherwise, I’ll spend all my time on clients’ goals without getting closer to my own. It’s OK to have my OWN goals and to spend time working toward them.
What’s next for me in 2023
I’m still working on my goals for next year, but my primary focus will be to grow passive income as a percentage of my revenue and scale my business to help more people, even if I can’t work with them one-on-one. More sales page templates and my own course are in the works, and I’m even playing around with the idea of starting a podcast! I also want to take more time off in 2023 and find a better balance between working hard and having fun.
That’s a wrap for 2022! I hope hearing my progress and takeaways from this year help you as you look forward to setting goals for the next one! Thanks so much for reading and supporting my business – I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings, and I hope you’ll keep following along in the new year!