In 2020, I almost tripled my company’s turnover in one year. As the founder and owner of an online business coaching practice for entrepreneurs, I found I had the skills to adapt to a world that increasingly used digital platforms to stay connected during the pandemic.
Somehow, while raising my kids, running my business, coping with my own chronic health issues, and surviving day-to-day in a pandemic, I was able to strengthen my business and make it a flourishing success.
And on paper, 2021 is looking pretty good too. I brought in about $625,000 in revenue, which means I grew my business by 267% over the past two years. My audience grew, I launched new products and I earned more. My wife and I bought our first house.
But even though things were going in the right direction for my finances, the burnout hit me hard.
I realized that I had been in a sort of survival mode, and while my business reaped the benefits of this constant state of overwork I was in, it was not sustainable. I could not present myself, personally and professionally, as I wanted without some changes.
Here are the biggest lessons I learned from the experience.
I valued my time and regained control of my inbox
A big part of my business has always been about being accessible to my customers and having a meaningful online presence. But in 2021, I realized that I needed to prioritize my well-being over always being active.
The truth was that I had fallen behind in my correspondence, and the thousands of followed emails and unread DMs were overwhelming. So on my most used platform, Instagram, I shared what was happening, in the interests of sincerity and transparency.
In the end, I decided to just hit refresh. I made sure to convey in this message that I am not cutting off communication, I just need to reset my communication strategy and if anyone needs anything from me, please get back to me.
Realizing that people who really wanted to get in touch with me would read this message and get back to me, I regained control of my inbox.
Not only was this strategy emotionally and mentally liberating, it was also profitable for my business. I’m juggling so much in my life right now, that I’ve become extremely careful with where and how I allocate my time.
Video by Lauren Shamo
The decision was truly confirmed for me when I sat down and calculated what it would cost my business if I spent my time prioritizing these unanswered messages. There were over 500 emails I “should” have responded to directly, at least 100 Facebook messages and over 50 Instagram DMs, not to mention over 10,000 promotional emails to sift through.
I hadn’t calculated my hourly rate in years, so to get this figure, I took my annual income, divided it by the number of weeks I worked in a year, and then I divided that by the number of hours I work in a week.
I realized that if I had, say, 650 unread messages and it took four minutes to read each email, then I calculated the time spent based on my hourly rate, that gave a rough estimate of over $20,000.
This story is not to say that I did not suffer the opportunity cost of not responding to some of these messages. But in reality, I knew I was never going to make it through the estimated 43 hours it would take to get through. And honestly, the space it freed up in my head, making my mindset forward versus afterthought, is ultimately priceless to me.
I started to focus on developing multiple revenue streams
In my industry, I’ve found that many entrepreneurs who launch a higher-cost group program will focus all of their attention and energy on the one-offer, and that’s been my mindset for a long time.
In 2020, I decided to give up individual advice in favor of group coaching. I found this movement much easier on my time and energy. My group coaching program that I started, Profitable Playground, was a major driver of the success I achieved that year.
But in 2021, I was struggling to find a way to consistently sell the program. In the end, it was only 30% of my total annual income, which was less than the year before when it launched.
Video by Lauren Shamo
So I decided that rather than depending on something that no longer resonated, I would focus on developing other sources of income. Currently my business has a number of different sources of income including self-study online courses and my affiliate marketing income as well as a variety of other courses, training sessions and more summits small ones that I offer regularly.
I totally understand why and how people can get caught up in the sunk cost fallacy, because it happened to me. But remember, it’s not a failure because something doesn’t work the way it used to. Don’t be afraid to take what you’ve learned and try a new approach.
My ADHD diagnosis inspired me to let go of the things that don’t serve me
I had a major personal milestone in May 2021 when I was diagnosed with ADHD. For many years, I attracted a lot of neurodivergent clients who told me that my content and teaching style resonated with them. But despite having looked into ADHD many times, I just didn’t feel like I was neurodivergent myself.
An offhand comment made me realize that I had some of the traits of someone with ADHD. I ended up booking a private assessment and was diagnosed with ADHD (combined type). The official diagnosis didn’t drastically change my everyday life. I’ve lived like this all my life, after all. But it gave me more self-awareness and acceptance in my life.
Video by Lauren Shamo
Now I’ve allowed myself to let go of the things I’m not good at rather than “move on” and use my energy to do them. Whereas before I faced these challenges in private, I learned to open up to others, especially to a community of women entrepreneurs with ADHD.
I finally decided to let go of tasks and projects that no longer served me, and things that drained my energy instead of revitalizing it. I’ve handed this work over to others, hiring more part-time freelancers who specialize in specific areas for me.
I hired someone who supports clients in my group coaching program with advice and writing projects. I also brought in someone who takes ideas and tips I share in my coaching program and uses them as the basis for new content for social media and email marketing. I have hired an “assistant coach” who helps me provide more personalized support to my clients and improve their overall experience and results.
I find that my business grows and progresses when I spend my time doing things that only I can do. I tried to stick to this principle, especially after my formal diagnosis. Over the past two years, I have learned to accept the world around me and the limits I had to live in it. And I learned to prioritize my time and treat it as a valuable asset, a financial mindset that will help me move my business forward.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Godard is an online business strategist and educator for entrepreneurs looking to simplify their business for maximum success with minimum effort. A self-described email marketing enthusiast, tech geek, affiliate marketing lover, and mindset magician, she is committed to building an inclusive and intersectional business for her clients. , his team and the community at large. Lizzy lives outside Nottingham, UK, with his wife and two young daughters.
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