Who would have thought that being kinky would pay off and possibly earn me a six-figure income in my first year of operation? To be honest, it was a no-brainer for me. I still struggle with being a people pleaser and having imposter syndrome, so to say I have it all figured out would be a lie. But I do understand kink and BDSM and when I figured out that the layout of a business is no different than going to a dungeon party set up properly, it was a game-changer for me!
In this episode, I will talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2020 and how I almost hit my goal of six-figure in the first year of my business. You will find out about retrospectives; what went well, what didn’t go well, and what I learned from it all. You will hear about the things I struggled with the most and why it was so important for me to delegate and let go of control. 2020 was a wild one and because of that, I am more than prepared to face off with 2021 and hit all my goals with an amazing team backing me up.
Sabrina Torres of Be Truly Social.
Okay, I’m going to be totally honest, and I’m not sure how this episode is going to pan out. I’ve never done a year in review before publicly like this, so I’m not sure how to structure it. I wrote down some bullet points and things so we’re just gonna wing it. Usually, I’m not the type of person that likes to wing things but you know what, for this episode, we’re just going to keep it authentic. I’m pulling up ClickUp right now, so shout out to click up, my favorite project management app. I’m just looking through my goals, looking through what I wrote down, and holy crap! 2020 has been crazy, with everything that happened, the pandemic, my business, I felt really ambivalent. It’s really easy for me to sit in the center and be able to entertain opposite feelings and thoughts towards that subject, but to be honest, 2020 was an amazing year for my business. And at the same time, I can feel the pain, empathize with the people that have lost jobs and people who have lost loved ones. Part of me was not sure how I wanted to talk about this because I don’t want to be tone-deaf and not talk about the biggest thing that’s happened to us this year. But at the same time, it’s like, how do I not take on the world like this, and have it weigh so heavily on me, and just keep going, you know? So, yeah, I totally didn’t script this episode. This is what you get of me, just pure, unfiltered, and raw thoughts.
Now with the pandemic set aside, because there’s not much I can talk about there that we all don’t already know about or see on the news so much. I just have to say that it’s been so rough. I’m so fortunate that I was able to be in the situation that I was in terms of my life and my business, but my God! My heart just goes out to so many people and now, I’m crying. It’s a struggle and here I am, at a loss for words. So with that being said, let’s move on to something that I can totally chat about and within my realm of control, which is Business Laid Bare. Upon talking about this intro, I just had a thought. Maybe the easiest way that I can talk about the year in review is just to give you a summary of what happened and then do what I love when I’m teaching my clients what/how to do in their business. Kudos to my partner Curtis for teaching me about this and it’s called a retrospective. So in a retrospective, there are actually four key questions that you ask to basically problem solve and get an idea of the situation that’s before you so that you know how to move forward. You also know what wisdom and insights you need to hear or the pain points you need to hear so that things can move and progress. I’m only going to actually address three of the questions today because I’m going to address the fourth question in the next episode. It pertains to the next episode so much better.
Okay, let me open up ClickUp and look at my goals. So I had set one goal for 2020 and I also set one word of the year for 2020. The goal was the I wanted to make $100,000 gross in my business and the word that I chose for 2020 was JOY. The reason why I chose joy was because, in Q4 of 2019, I got to the point where I was struggling to make money and to get my message across to showcase the value of operations & systems, and processes to business owners. Q4 of 2019 was actually the time that I decided to just burned my business to the ground. Every single aspect that did not bring me joy, or that I had to fight tooth and nail for, and did not feel like there was ease, I- took- it -out. And I also made a promise to myself, like I drew a line in the sand and said I only want to do things that bring me joy. I only want to be with people that bring me joy. I only want to participate in events or what have you, that bring me joy. If it didn’t feel good and I was not ecstatically giddy about it, I was gonna say no. Because at the end of the day, I am such an “inch wide-mile deep” kind of person and you can see it with everything in my life. From my music choices to the food I eat, to the company I keep, so why should business be any different, right? I’ve always thrived at doing “less is more” or “quality over quantity”, so I’m going to apply this to my business.
I decided that 2020 was going to be the year that everything changed. Because for the two or three years that I was doing business before then, everything sucked. Everything was hard and didn’t feel good. And I felt like I was bending over backwards in a way that did not feel good whatsoever to me. So in 2020, I did not hit my revenue goal of $100,000. I actually made $92,000.There were some pennies in there but for the sake of this episode, we’re just gonna round to $92,000 even. Am I a little sad about it? Yes, because I set a goal for myself. And it’s like, I’m so close, I can almost taste it. But at the same time, if I was to only see my business in terms of success or failure, as it relates to a revenue goal, I would have to discount so much growth, progress, lessons learned and friendships made and call this year a wash because I failed, right? Even though I didn’t make my goal, and I’m very goal-oriented and results-oriented, I’m going to be okay with it. Because what got me really excited was that expenses-wise, I spent about $33,000, which netted me an income of $59,000, or a 64% overall profit, which I’m pretty excited about. I think I ran a pretty lean business and was averaging over 70% profit per month until about Q4 of 2020. This was when I started investing in a team, consulting, and outside services to grow my business in 2021. So it dipped my overall profit down, but I’m okay with that. I wanted to share this with you because I value being transparent. But if there are ways in which I could show you how to not make the same mistakes I did, I’m all for it. So this year, I made $92,000 and it felt so effortless in a way because I was focused on one offer and I only did things that excited me. I structured my business in a way that just made me so excited to be a part of it and it got my ideal clients excited too. I gotta call that a win.
Now, let’s actually jump into the retrospective. Because I’m such a positive and optimistic person, I like to ask the good questions first. You know how people are like: “give me the good news second after you give me the bad news first.” I’m the opposite. I’d rather just hear the good news first because maybe then the bad news won’t be won’t be so bad, right? Just me? Okay. The first question I like to ask and teach my clients to ask their team is “What went well?“. And the beauty of this question is that it’s pretty open-ended, which then gives people the chance to actually speak what’s on their mind. So if you’re just thinking about what went well revenue-wise, but their first thought is what went well productivity-wise, they’ll tell you. So by asking the question “What went well?” and stopping there gives your team the ability to bring up what’s important to them, or what wins were more prioritized than others and that’s insight for you. So anyway, let me go to my list and I’ve got quite a few so I’ll try to be as succinct as I can because they all tie together in terms of the retrospective overall, you’ll see.
1. What went well? I almost hit six figures in the first year of my business. Now while I’ve been in the online business space for quite some time, I burnt my business to the ground. I don’t want to be a parrot about this, but I feel like by starting over this year, I had a new ideal client avatar, new offerings, new everything. So pretty much the audience that I built up over the last few years didn’t really count because what I was doing was not in their scope of work. I’m targeting more established business owners when at the beginning, I was pretty much just targeting new entrepreneurs, new business owners, etc. And so I would like to say that, in my first year of business, I was able to make almost $100,000.
I was able to do that because I systematize the shit out of my business. So if I’m an operations agency, helping other people make their businesses feel more orgasmic with great operations, I have to walk my talk too. With me systematizing everything and creating processes and just making things easier, I was able to have more profits, more time, more ease, and I felt more productive. I remember in a Facebook message I sent to my friend, I said I felt like I’m making money so effortlessly, it almost feels illegal. Because even though I was working less, because I’m such a “quality over quantity” person, I chose to stick to the one-on-one space and had between three to four clients at any given time. The work that we were doing together just felt so easy to me because 1. I’m amazing at what I do and 2. it’s because it’s in my zone of genius. And I no longer said yes to projects, like designing a website (please don’t ever ask me to design a website or make your graphics because you’re just wasting your time). So I just stuck to what I knew and that in turn made the work easier. The quality of work that I was able to produce for my clients was above what I would have ever been able to produce otherwise. So yeah, huge win all because I was able to systematize the shit out of my business. I was also able to do everything faster, quicker, and of course, run a leaner business because then I was able to see what apps that I did or did not need, apps that could probably kill maybe three birds with one stone, etc. So by having a good operations strategy for myself, I was able to just maximize everything, and effortless was such a repetitive word that I kept mumbling to myself all the time because I had never felt this way before.
Okay, what else? Oh, yeah. My desire to only do things that felt orgasmic to me paid off. I never actually thought it would pay off for my clients as well but here I am, the numbers speak for themselves. I’m so excited for the people that I attract because I love working with my clients. It’s like, everything is just so dreamy and ideal. Oh, gosh, here’s a big one. I’m reading off of a list, so these little comments that I make to myself, I’m not gonna edit this out. But my next thing was, for the first time in my business career, I decided to play to win, instead of playing not to lose. So there’s a huge distinction between these two and I never knew that I was always doing the ladder of playing not to lose this whole time until 2020. I guess as much as I am adventurous, and into taking risks, I think having my own business really made everything more vulnerable because I was the face of my business. So me playing to not lose in the past, never got me anywhere so this year, I was just like, I’m going to go for it. I’m going to take the right risks. I’m going to put myself out there, shoot for the stars that I meant to shoot for, and see what happens. I’m just going to never play to not lose ever again because my worth and mindset switched this year. Because I felt worthy and because I knew the value that I could offer my people, it allowed me to play this way, it allowed me to play to win. With being able to get my messaging down and my mindset better, I was able to really just communicate and stand in my own power. So yeah, mindset, messaging, systems, big themes in my business for this year.
So I focused only on one offer. As someone who does systems & operations, and processes, I knew that every time I wanted to offer something else, for example, a low ticket offer; I’ve learned that you have to have a marketing system that goes with it. You also need an offer fulfillment system that goes with it, and a customer service system, so there are so many things that go into an offer and not just, “Oh, hey, I’m going to start a new thing.” So by focusing on one offer, I was really able to hone in on the aspects that go into it. The offer fulfillment part, which I productize the crap out of like, even though it’s a one on one offer. But what I do is so well lubricated, and frame worked, it almost feels like it’s a product in a way, even though it’s highly customized to each client, it’s a win-win. Working on the marketing side of things, working on offer fulfillment, on the customer service, and on the delivery, I just refined and focused on those because I didn’t have any other offer to take my attention away so it totally paid off. Plus, quality over quantity person, here I am. That one offer allowed me to pretty much keep shiny object syndrome at bay. So this was the first year that I didn’t feel like I was doing all the things or working so hard and not having anything to show for because I only said yes to one offer. I only said yes to things that made me feel good. And because I wasn’t tempted to try to do things that my ideal client didn’t need, I just felt safe playing in my own space and just feeling really good about it. I didn’t feel like I was lacking. I think for me when it comes to the “shiny object syndrome”, if I’m constantly starting new projects because I’m hearing people say, “Oh, Tik-Tok’s the place you have to be“, “You have to do a webinar“, “All the most successful businesses have some sort of a passive income revenue stream“. Yes, that totally makes sense and I don’t discount it. For me, in this present moment this year, all of that can come. But if they all come at the same time, nothing’s ever going to get done.
I’m the type of person that likes things to be done. The only thing that I like half-baked is cookies. So by focusing on one offer, sticking to it, and getting to know my ideal clients well, I was able to focus on what really mattered. I Solved their needs and why they came to Business Laid Bare in the first place. I was able to go from a team of just me to hiring two people. So shout out to Rachel and Rebecca for being on this crazy journey with me and being so amazing as team members. As someone who is such a control freak, I mean, hands-on person, I struggled to. So while I teach my ideal clients to let go and to delegate, it’s like, I also have to deal with the same shit too. I just go back and practice what I preach. I literally have to practice what I preach by creating good systems, good processes, having great communication because communication is the foundation of everything. I was able to get the three of us working so well together, that it feels like, “Oh my God!” If this is what it means to be a CEO, and this is what it means to have team members support you in all the best ways so that you don’t have to micromanage them, or if I’m sick, or I recently had surgery and needed Rachel to take care of our clients for like two weeks, it was all good. I was able to focus on getting well, I was able to take a day off because I just needed to decompress and nothing blew up. And then Rebecca really helped me with my marketing stuff. Because if there’s anything that I know, is that marketing is not my thing, and as much as I try to work on it, I would rather hire people who are experts and people who are better than me. This was something that I should have done in my business years ago, but I just didn’t have the right messaging and the right mindset about it. So by being able to hire somebody to be my assistant to help me with client work, internal workings of things I needed to do, and also hiring out creative direction & marketing, I get to just focus on the stuff that I do really well. We keep track of everything in Notion and Click Up (shout out to notion) so that the business runs well, information is readily available, and people can be resourceful to do the work, get it done, and just be really transparent about it. Being able to grow my team, slowly at a time, has been fantastic! I just can’t wait to jump into 2021, hitting the ground running because we worked out the kinks in 2020.
Then finally, from the curated list of what went well, I got to start this podcast. I literally wanted to start this podcast in January of 2020 but it’s taken me 11 months. Thanks to Rebecca for being able to help me get out my brand narrative, get my story out, and to actually talk about the things that my people want to hear from me, The Business Whip was born. I just wouldn’t be able to do this all by myself because I’m too close to my business. As cliche as the saying is, you can’t read the label if you’re too close or inside the bottle. So I was way too close and inside the bottle. I’m just so excited for what this podcast will bring because there is so much for me to say and I have so much to say. I don’t know why I didn’t start a podcast before. Oh, that’s right, it’s because I didn’t think that what I had to say was worthy enough of a podcast platform. So I would say that this is a good sampling of things that went well.
All right, so question number two, we asked in our retrospective is:
2. What did not go well?. And this is always a really interesting answer because what did go well, it’s always so insightful to me to see what are the first things that people bring up. It’s not just one thing like the positive, it’s the negative start to roll in and you see what is most important to people when they talk. So for me, when I started writing down this list, the first thing I wrote that did not go well for 2020 was that I’m a recovering people-pleaser so saying no was hard for me. As much as I focused on doing things that were orgasmic. I wasn’t perfect and I never thought I would be. I was disappointed in myself sometimes for saying yes to things that I didn’t want to do or just going “Oh, it’s no big deal, I can take this meeting at a later time” – when I should be spending time with my family, right? But I did it anyway and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you these things. So the first thing that I wrote was saying no, was hard, specifically to clients sometimes. The second thing that I wrote, I didn’t have good boundaries. Yeah, no shit. Looking back at my Toggle, because my team and I track hours, we have a really good habit of tracking how long it takes us to do things. Not because it’s how we’re paid or anything but to me, everything is information, everything is data and I could see that in my toggle report. All the days that I took meetings, I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. Context switching is not fun for me and as much as I like to say I’m a multitasker, I’m really not. I’m just gonna be real with myself, I’m really not a good multitasker at all. It’s just- this is what I had to do to survive, to thrive or to get through college. If I look at my daily breakdowns or the weekly breakdowns, it shows that on the days that I took meetings sporadically, I didn’t do the work that I was supposed to do, or they took a long time to get done.
Now speaking of work, the third thing I wrote about things that didn’t go well was that I was doing so much of the things that I could have delegated to my team. My default is to do everything myself, and it hit home one day when I was reading a Facebook post where they say that “Extreme independence is a trauma response” and I’m like, Oh my God, totally! I hate depending on people sometimes, but you know what? I’ve learned to do so because not depending on other people meant that I didn’t trust them. So poor Rachel, who is my integrator, has to constantly remind me to let her do things because sometimes, I don’t even think about it, I give her a list of all the things that need to be done and she’s like, “Hello, I could do these things, I could do a lot of these things. This is why you hired me, remember?“, so I’m really glad that she calls me out, and proactively takes things off my plate. The last thing that I wrote on this curated list of things that didn’t go well, is that for most of the year, I was doing my marketing, or rather, because I was in charge of marketing, marketing didn’t happen. I think that this is one of the biggest reasons why my business was very stagnant in the years before I burned it down in 2019, was because I was doing everything myself. And marketing is just not my thing, showing up on social media and interacting on social media, I like to do it when I want to do it and I want to share pictures and awesome videos of my dog Harper, or show Instagram Stories of the food that I’m cooking that day or meals that I make but not necessarily business-related stuff. When it came to business stuff, I think I was just hiding a lot because I wasn’t sure what to post most times, analysis paralysis, and all these mind trash things that are going through my mind. So up until about the end of October, I was doing everything myself, until I hired my current creative director, Rebecca. And I’m so glad I did because in the two quick months that we’ve spent together so much has gotten done, including this podcast, the brand narrative, and all that good stuff. And so what’s not going well is that I’m still sussing out my lead generation marketing visibility system. I want that to be so well lubricated in 2021, that it’s just going to blow whatever happened in 2020 out of the water!
I don’t want to be the type of business owner whose marketing efforts, console call requests, or visibility initiatives are dependent on me showing up. And if I don’t show up because I’m head down working on client work, I don’t want that to affect my business in the future and that’s exactly what happened. For a lot of the time during when COVID had just started, I’m talking February, March, April, I pretty much was working with my clients to come up with a whole new operation strategy so that they can ride out the pandemic, pivot, or do whatever it is they needed to do to stay afloat. So much of my energy was dedicated to them that I was pretty much MIA from any type of social media platform or any type of visibility platform. So instead of marketing my business, I basically had to choose and of course, I chose my paying clients.
After we talked about what went well and what didn’t go well, the next question in a retrospective is:
3. What did we learn? or What did you learn? It’s amazing how by going through the positives and the negatives, you start to analyze things that happened. There were reasons why you chose things that were positive and negative. For me, a lot of it was about showing up or not showing up, or being able to run a business on my terms without constantly having to make sure that I was on track with what the guru said. The first thing I wrote on what did I learn in my first year of business is; I learned how to be a CEO, I learned how to be a boss. First of all, I had to learn to be a boss for myself. I had to have the discipline and if I wanted my team to be as excellent as I have always imagined my team would be, I had to be the first one to set that example. I had to set up the systems for myself, I had to set up the boundaries that I actually did follow for myself. I had to make sure that I wasn’t going to be creating any (what I call) productivity whiplash for my team. Meaning; we’re working on this one project like a webinar or something and all of a sudden, the “shiny object syndrome” comes in and I wanna do a TikTok strategy. I don’t know why these two keep coming up in my examples, because I don’t do any of those but that to me is like whiplash, right? If I want my team to focus and we actually do things to make progress rather than spinning in circles and going nowhere, I had to have that discipline for myself first. So I learned how to be the CEO that I would look up to and what were the things that were important to me, how did I want my team to show up, how did I want my team to be valued? And so I’m really glad that by the time I onboarded my team, I had already put in place the systems, the boundaries, the needs and goals, and the way that I wanted the business to operate in sprints, down. And because I did all that, I learned how to delegate.
As much as I wanted to do everything myself because this was how I operated all through my life, I gotta let go of that shit. So I learned how to delegate. When Rebecca comes to me talking about my Instagram feed and all that good stuff, it’s like, we’ve talked about the Business Laid Bare brand narrative so much, she has my articulation guide (that my amazing copywriter Kailyn Aaron wrote, so shout out to you Kailyn for being able to articulate how I do my business and how I speak to my ideal audience), Rebecca has the tools to be able to create the content or the caption to my standards and needs. I also learned that I’m a pretty great problem solver. And sometimes when my team may work themselves into a frenzy and comes to me worried about something, we talk it out and we fix it. We come up with solutions that make sense. Sometimes I even challenge them, like, is this even a problem? Or is this the problem worth talking about now? Or is there something more important and this is just like, masking up the real issue?
I learned how to problem-solve, but I also learned how to help them problem-solve. And I think it’s been so rewarding to watch how this dynamic between all of us unfolds, it just makes me really giddy for what’s to come in 2021. And on a personal level, and how this relates to the business is that I’ve also learned how to give people space and how to hold space for them to feel heard. Sometimes clients just need to vent or sometimes we don’t talk about business at all because, in order for business to happen between me and my clients, or me and my team, we have to get what’s bothering them or what’s bugging them out of the way. And so I’ve learned to hold space, and to not only just hear them but to listen to them. It gives them that space to vent or that safe space to release whatever they need to release to move on. So with us, business is really personal at Business Laid Bare. The people that I work with and the clients that I work with are people that I would befriend in real life because that’s just the type of person I am. Relationships and connections are so important to me because, at the end of the day, we’re all human. So if for the sake of professionalism we’re not supposed to talk about sex, or things that are bothering us, or things that are affecting our ability to work is how somebody thinks or operates, that’s just not who we are. And I’m learning that by humanizing the experience of working at Business Laid Bare and how this concept just permeates so much of what we do, I’ve learned that it helps make everyone better, which in turn, makes the business better.
Ok, so I’m really excited to talk about these next two points. I learned to love selling and this is because I realized that selling and talking about my services tied so much to my mindset. It also tied so much to my messaging and so without Caitlin’s copywriting wizardry, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have to give things to my dear friend Sabrina Torres of Be Truly Social, she does amazing social media and does high ticket sales for clients. All of my sales savvinesses are from her training, her coaching, and from her showing me that sales does not have to be sleazy unless I want it to be. Sales can be a conversational low key relaxed component of my work and I don’t have to put so much pressure on it because, at the end of the day, it’s just a conversation. And then on top of mindset issues and mind trash, I also have money blocks that I’m still getting over. Like I have a lot of baggage when it comes to money and lack thereof and all the things that happened to me as a kid. I learned that my business started to thrive this year when I decided to look at my money every day, or almost every day. Even if it’s just for a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes or my bank accounts and further helped me to run my business really well when I did my bookkeeping. Instead of outsourcing my bookkeeping this year, I decided I wanted to be the one to do my bookkeeping because I wanted to see where the money was going each month, what I was spending money on, what was a good expenditure, what was maybe not such a good expenditure, and it allowed me to make better decisions. Yes, I can’t wait to outsource bookkeeping in the future but learning to address my money, deal with it, have conversations and often difficult ones with myself, really helped me be a better boss for myself and I think for the business. And in return, I’m actually starting to love looking at money stuff. Last year, I didn’t really do my books, except for maybe one, two, or three times a quarter. Yeah, I saved everything for the end too so I didn’t know what my numbers were, I never knew how much money I was making, I didn’t know what my profit was, and oh my God, it was just constantly a shot in the dark! But because I do my bookkeeping, and because I know how much money I’m making each quarter or each month, it allows me to tailor my strategies, or how many consult calls I need to book or how many upsells I need to do. So being able to do my money on my own, I learned how to run operationally and financially a business that is sustainable.
There is a final question in this retrospective but I’m not going to talk about it in this episode or answer it because the next episode that drops, I’m going to be talking about what my plans are, and what Business Laid Bare plans are for 2021. And that question is so much more applicable to that episode than this one. Yeah, I’m trying to be a tease here, so work with me okay. But there you have it, despite all the craziness, I can’t believe that my business took off in 2021. I was so afraid of what was gonna happen during the pandemic in the early months and even till now, but it just seems that Business Laid Bare is chugging along, and I am forever grateful for it because I am looking forward to building on it next year. I’m really, really grateful that I’ve been able to do this yearly review for you and retrospective style, at that. I also hope that this gives you an insight into what happened in my business, both the good and the bad, and even some rough numbers for you so I’m not just pretending that I’m better or a bigger deal than I really am. It’s just not who I am. So if this episode helps you, or if you are planning on using these retrospective questions for yourself, like “What went well, what didn’t go well? What did you learn?“, I want to hear from you. Reach out to me and tell me what are some of the epiphanies, lessons, or things that went well, or things that did not go well that happened to you. I want to hear from you because this stuff is important. Addressing the things that go well and don’t go on your business, it’s not just for shits and giggles, it’s for you to get better because you will get better and your business will get better if you set your mind to it. So, for me, 2020 was definitely the year of joy and it was because of my messaging, my mindset work, my systems that I put into place that allowed me to build an almost six-figure business in one year and also to hire two amazing people to help me grow the business the way that they’re helping me. It’s just unbelievable and I want that ease for you. I want that expansion and that excitement and you can totally have it because you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want it. So with that being said, here’s an end to 2020, and here’s to a kick-ass 2021!