Annual Review For 2016: The Year Of Grounding

Have you taken the time to review 2016 yet?

If not, I would highly recommend it. An annual review is a process by which you look back at the previous year as a whole and then apply the lessons you learned to your strategy for the new year. I've conducted an annual review every year since the start of my business and it's made a big difference for me.

I use four simple questions to structure my annual review:

  • What did I do well last year?
  • What didn’t I do so well last year?
  • What am I working towards this year?
  • What is this year's theme?

When you reflect on these questions, you get two big benefits. First, you get to feel good and acknowledge how far you've already come. Second, it really sets you up for a great year and helps you avoid making the same mistakes.

I focus mostly on my business during this review, but you'll notice that I include a couple of personal notes as well.

Let's get right into it...

What Went Well Last Year?

Published a book. Don't Let The Fear Win was released in August. Putting it together was a great experience because I was able to synthesize all of the best mindsets and strategies I had learned about business growth up to that point. It's already had 22 five star reviews on Amazon and I get excited any time I see a message from someone who was helped by it.

Don't Let The Fear Win  became the #1 Hot Release for Startups on the day it launched. Thank you to everyone who helped my write, launch, and promote the book and to everyone who picked up a copy.

Don't Let The Fear Win became the #1 Hot Release for Startups on the day it launched. Thank you to everyone who helped my write, launch, and promote the book and to everyone who picked up a copy.

Broke six figures in sales. This has been a goal of mine ever since I got my first client. Not just because it's great to make money, but also because it is a sign of progress. If you do things with integrity in your business, and you provide value commensurate with the prices you charge, then revenue is a pretty good indication of the impact you're having on people.

Here are the three things that allowed me to hit six figures:

  1. Constantly investing back into my own coaching programs and support. If you run a coaching business, the product is you, and so you have to invest in that the same way you would in a physical product in any other startup. I also outsourced a lot more this year through contractors: design, book editing, project management for my book and podcast launch, virtual assistant hours.
  2. Creating and filling group programs. After you fill up your 1:1 client roster, or start getting close to full, the next big bump in revenue for coaches comes from their group work. Done right, group programs allow you to really leverage your time while providing an even better experience for your clients (because they have additional support and accountability from people who have the same goals as them).
  3. See below...

Built business on results. This was a big focus of mine coming out of 2015. The truth is, most of the people in the coaching industry talk a big game but don't create real results for their clients. I'm not a fan of that and so I was really happy to see what my clients achieved this year.

These case studies, along with some advice from Charlie Gilkey, were ultimately what made me decide to narrow my future focus to coaches who want to get more clients.

Did more speaking and training. This was another goal I had coming out of 2015. I love speaking and so I felt really fortunate to be able to lead a workshop at Camp GLP, give a talk to young entrepreneurs at Occidental College (click here to watch), and help put on a live intensive with Emma at our property.

[Personal] Got engaged. I asked Emma to marry me during our five year anniversary trip in August. She said yes.

At Beauty Mountain (yup) Overlook in Edmond, WV

At Beauty Mountain (yup) Overlook in Edmond, WV

At the one year birthday of our  timber frame pavilion

At the one year birthday of our timber frame pavilion

Stats for 2016:

What Didn't Go So Well Last Year?

Subpar list growth. My email list only grew from 1,053 to 1,156 this year. In fairness to myself, I had decided this time last year that list growth was not a priority. This year it will become one of my main focuses. I have to say though - it's amazing what you can do with a small list if you know how to sell.

Launch inconsistency. I had some group programs this year that launched really smoothly and others that felt like a struggle. This is partially due to my list size and partially due to the next point below...

No lower-end offering. High-end is definitely the way to go when you start off as a coach. First, because it doesn't take a lot of people in order for you to make decent money. Second, because you can support a small handful of people intimately and figure out what works before scaling up. I've noticed recently that a portion of my audience just isn't ready yet for my high-end offerings and so I want to find a way to meet them where they are.

Lack of clear agreements. There were a couple of times when I didn't outline a client relationship clearly enough and got burned for it. I'm working on a better system now.

[Personal] Boring workouts. I've had a nagging injury for a couple of years now, and because I can't do some of the things I used to do I ended up falling into a rut with my training this year. I was still consistent, but I was doing the same thing most days. I've already solved this by creating a new weight routine and workout space in our basement.

As a side note, that simple workout that became boring is actually a pretty great one: pull-ups, pushups with your legs elevated, and bodyweight squat jumps in a circuit. Try it out.

What Am I Working Towards This Year?

Growing my audience. As I mentioned in the previous section, list size is the next bottleneck to my business growth. When you start off, it's my opinion that you shouldn't focus obsessively on your email list, but as you look to scale it becomes more and more important.

Some strategies I'm considering for 2017:

  • FB ads - I've gone back and forth on these in the past but have decided that they make sense for my business and will allow me to help more people. Just built a new FB page.
  • Five Minute Fridays - for now I'll continue my weekly emails, but I may switch to daily or twice a week if it seems like that would serve my audience better (let me know).
  • Funnels - This is a bit of an overused word right now in online marketing, but essentially I just want to focus on creating a few more automated ways to help people out.
  • Partnerships - I'm not a Connector, so this will never be my primary strategy, but I'd like to establish relationships with people who also serve my ideal clients, like a coach training school. If you had a training program that you really enjoyed, I'd love to hear.
  • FB live and video - I'll be continuing with these next year and finding new ways to amp them up as video has been working well for me and will soon start to drive the internet.
  • 30 day challenge or email course- I've done this in the past to grow my audience and I'm considering a new one either to help people clarify their niche or find their first clients.
  • Crowdcast - I used this service for my last webinar and it worked well. I'd would love to continue to put on live trainings and Q+As on topics that serve my audience.
  • Expert Panel - I've been throwing around the idea lately of getting a bunch of successful coaches together and asking them about what's worked best for them in the realm of getting clients. [UPDATE: I did this and it was awesome - click here for the replay]

Experimenting with new paid offerings. I'd like to offer an entry-level program for coaches who are earlier on or who aren't able to make a big financial investment yet in their business. This will most likely be a live event, but I could see doing something online as well. I'll be sending out a survey to my email list in the next month or so to learn what they want.

I'm also working on a new high-end offering called Fill Your Group Program. Details to come.

Creating better systems. I'd like to put the systems in place now that will allow the business to reach seven figures in the future. This includes things like what my on-boarding process looks like, how I outsource, and how I organize and batch activities in my week. For example I'll be using Mondays for marketing, Tuesdays and Thursdays for coaching, Wednesday for enrollment, and Friday for content and logistics.

Joining or creating a new mastermind. I've joined masterminds in the past, free ones and paid ones. They can be great if you get the right mix of people and the right structure. I'm on the lookout for people who want to scale to seven figures ethically by providing real value and transformation for their clients.

[Personal] Increasing daily movement. After reading this article from Outside Magazine, I've been reminded that it's not enough to work out daily, or even to use a standing desk, if you're not taking movement breaks throughout the day. I'm trying to find a way to make this goal more concrete. Right now I'm using an app called Move, which sends notifications to your phone with quick movement ideas. I'm also considering getting a FitBit. If you have any suggestions on how to effectively track daily movement, please let me know.

What is this Year's Theme?

2016 was the year of grounding. It was all about going back to the basics, establishing a great foundation, and focusing on client results.

I'd like 2017 to be the year of scaffolding, of building a structure that will allow me to scale with integrity.

What's your theme for this year?

[P.S. Here are my annual reviews from 2014 and 2015 if you would like to read those.]

Emma, Scout, and I wish you lots of success in 2017!

Emma, Scout, and I wish you lots of success in 2017!