Annual Review For 2018: The Year Of The Process


Every year, for the last 5 years of my business, I have conducted an annual review. It’s a chance to look back at the past year, answer a few key questions, and then set my intentions for the year ahead. I always find it to be enlightening.

Here's the basic structure of my annual reviews:

  1. What went well last year?

  2. What didn’t go so well last year (and what did I learn)?

  3. What am I working towards this year (and how will I make it happen)?

  4. What is this year's theme?

Let’s dive into my 2018 Annual Review...

What Went Well Last Year?

Started a fitness coaching business. In June of this year, I sent an email to my list announcing that I would be starting a new business. The crazy part is that when I woke up that morning, I hadn’t planned on starting a business - it just sort of happened.

I went through my own course, Coaching Business Bootcamp, and documented my progress along the way through weekly journal entries. Within 60 days of making the announcement, I had a full roster of 5 new clients. They each lost between 10 and 30 pounds during our 3 months together by implementing sustainable habits.

Here’s a video showcasing two of my clients:

Hired a wonderful Executive Assistant. I’ve worked with some great virtual assistants before, but at the end of this year I really got serious about finding the right person to help me with the operations side of my business.

I put together a detailed job description, received 123 applications for the role, conducted 6 interviews, and eventually ended up with one killer assistant.

I’m so grateful to have Jena on my team now and she’s helped free up a full day each week to focus on the things I do best: coaching and selling.

Had the best year ever with Emma. My #1 goal for 2019 was to make this the best possible year with my wife, Emma. We were in our first year of marriage and I have to say…we knocked it out of the park. We were consistent with our weekly reviews each Sunday, we went on some fun trips to Mexico city and San Francisco together, and we operated as a loving and powerful team all year. It was amazing.

Put together a live event from scratch. I’m not going to lie…this one was a ton of work. Fortunately, I had the help of Patsy Culp and her team at And Celebrate. We hosted a two-day workshop in Washington, D.C called Foster Your Roster. and it was a wonderful experience.

The event wasn’t profitable (most events like this aren’t), but I did get a high-end client from it. More importantly, this event was a chance to acknowledge all of the hard work that I’ve put into my business so far. We were able to do things like treat everyone to dinner on Saturday night at one of my favorite D.C. restaurants and hire a camera crew to record the full two-day event.

Here are some pictures from the event:

And here’s the highlight reel:

Stats for 2018:

  • 12 great trainings created for Circle of Champions, my high-end mastermind

  • 34 books read (3 more than last year - see my full reading list here)

  • 1,837 new subscribers added to my email list (increased list size by 138.4%)

  • 1,123 registrants for the on-demand webinar I built in April

  • 83 strategy sessions (sales calls) completed throughout the year

  • $133,271.49 in annual revenue for 2019

  • 3 deer harvested with my bow, all shots accurate and all deer found quickly

  • 163 miles biked for charity with my Dad during the two-day PanMass Challenge

  • 1,250 lb. combined total for Squat, Deadlift, Bench, OH Press (111 lb. increase)

What Didn't Go Well Last Year?

Missed my enrollment goal for Coaching Business Bootcamp. At the beginning of 2018, I had the goal to enroll 100 students into Bootcamp, my signature program. In a lot of ways this was just an arbitrary goal that sounded cool, but it did give me something to aim for. My strategy, since I had gotten pretty sick of big open-and-close-style launches, was to create an evergreen webinar funnel to promote Bootcamp. Basically, the course would be open year-round and people would get a discount for joining within 24 hours of watching the webinar.

And I did it! I spent weeks and weeks creating an updated webinar, setting up all the tech automation, and (finally) sending the registration page to my email list. Ultimately, I only ended up enrolling 54 new students into Coaching Business Bootcamp. This includes people who were already on my list, people who found me organically through my blog content, and people who we advertised to on Facebook.

WHAT I LEARNED:  So many learnings here. On one hand, even though it was a ton of work to put together the funnel, I did enjoy not having to deal with launching the course. It gave me time to promote my live event and it was pretty darn cool to see notifications pop up on my phone throughout the day telling me that people had just paid for the course without me ever being on a sales call. On the other hand, I noticed that people who joined the course were less engaged on average because they weren’t going through it with a cohort who had joined at the same time. My suspicion is that if I sell Bootcamp at a higher price point, I can keep it evergreen while offering better opportunities to engage with me and the group.

Facebook Ads were a challenge. A big focus for me in 2018 was to really explore the potential of Facebook ads to help me scale my business. I had dabbled with them in the past, and even hired an ads manager, but hadn’t taken the time to become well-versed in them myself. So at the beginning of the year, I invested in a course to learn the fundamentals and started testing different ads to grow my list.

And to a certain extent, it worked. I had some successful ads and was able to get my cost per lead down to around $4 (which is pretty good for the industry I’m in). But the return on investment just wasn’t there, and I noticed that my email open rate went down significantly while running these ads. So I decided to again hire a new ads manager and try driving traffic directly to the evergreen webinar for Bootcamp. I won’t bore you with the details, but the best we could ultimately do was break even.

WHAT I LEARNED: Facebook Ads are getting very competitive, especially in my industry. Everyone is seeing the same sorts of ads and it’s becoming very hard to sell online courses directly from a webinar. If I run Facebook ads this year, it will most likely be to a webinar that offers a complimentary strategy session, instead of one that tries to sell Bootcamp directly at a lower price point.

Didn’t increase profit significantly. One goal going into 2018 was to double my income, and that didn’t happen. While the business did continue to grow, I had a lot of expenses this year with the live event and Facebook ads. The lower Bootcamp price point of $997 made it hard to increase profit without dramatically increasing my lead generation ability. The live event, while it was awesome, took a lot of my energy away from offerings that would have been more profitable.

WHAT I LEARNED: The best strategy if I want to significantly increase my income next year will be to focus on selling higher-end offerings ($3k+) via strategy session. My Facebook ads are more likely to be successful this way, and I can fold a live event into my high-end offerings if I want that in-person connection. Anything that doesn’t result in me enrolling someone over the phone is likely a distraction.

What Am I Working Towards This Year?

Hit 200k+ in revenue and 100k+ in profit. It’s pretty simple: my goal in 2018 is to make more money. I have a nice business now that provides me with a lot of freedom, but I want to break through my current plateau so that I can provide an even better life for me and my wife and so that I can continue to learn things that I will eventually want to teach to my clients to help them be even more successful.

HOW I WILL MAKE THIS HAPPEN: Increasing the price and value of my offerings, then enrolling them solely via strategy session. This means enrolling approximately 33 clients into Coaching Business Bootcamp for $3k+ and enrolling about 10 clients into Circle of Champions for $10k+. These numbers may change slightly but they give me something to work backwards from in terms of the number of strategy sessions I need to book each week. I won’t be doing any more 1:1 coaching, and I currently don’t have plans to continue the fitness coaching business. Focus and simplicity will be key.

What Is This Year's Theme?

2018 was the year of the process. In my business, fitness, hobbies, and relationships, I did my best to focus on the process and then let my results come from that. I’m so grateful for everything I got to experience this year.

Instead of creating a one-word theme, I’ve actually done something new this year and created three words for 2019: Solid, Simple, and Elevated. I’ll use these words to guide my choices over the next 12 months, asking, “Does this feel Solid, Simple, and Elevated?”

Wish me luck.

In case you're curious, here are all of my previous Annual Reviews: