It’s that time of year again!
We’re starting to see the year-in-review posts go up around the internet as everyone mentally wraps up the past 12 months. They’re a ton of fun, because they typically give you a peek behind-the-scenes of someone else’s business, and who doesn’t love that?
My word for 2015 was growth, and that definitely happened across all my brands.
Note: Call me old-fashioned, but I choose not to give hard numbers for revenue to the general public. Or on consult calls (you know who you are).
My business is not based on the “look how much money I make! I’ll show you how!” model. I prefer to tell you how well my clients are doing under my watch.
But I will share some less specific numbers.
- I more than tripled my 2014 revenue
- I made more in my business than I had in my bridge jobs in all of 2014
- I launched and iterated the same group program 3 times
- I 5x’d my email list with Facebook ads, primarily, with the cost averaging out to $2/lead
- I went from solopreneur to agency in less than a month, hiring 4 contractors in the process
- I grew my Twitter following into the 5 digits, without buying any followers
No one is talking about expenses, because they don’t want to admit that their “6-figure launch” cost them 6.5 figures. Ok, so it’s probably not that bad, but it’s still a problem.
Revenue, in its many variations, is an important number for businesses, regardless of expenses, so let’s get that out of the way up front.
But profit is also important, and there seem to be rumblings within the online business community of people wondering how much the internet marketing superstars are taking home at the end of the day.
Again, I prefer not to give you my specific numbers, so I made a pie chart with percentages instead!
That’s right, I’m a scientist who is showing you a chart without a legend, because I just want to draw your attention to a few places.
That big old gray block? That’s how much I spent on professional services this year. From working with Halley Gray for a full 12 months to bringing Devon Smiley on to help me with pricing for my agency services, and everyone else in between, I spent a boatload on outside help. That doesn’t even include my agency contractors!
The next big block, that 20%, is any monthly subscription related to business. Some to membership sites, some for podcast hosting, a decent amount for tools like Edgar, and so on.
That means over 60% of my expenses went to outsourcing and bringing on outside help or services.
Is that a good thing? I don’t know. But it at least shows that I’m walking my talk when it comes to the importance of systems and delegation. I did a lot of things myself in 2014, and that worked fine for my first year in the coaching/consulting arena (in 2013, my business was freelance writing/editing with a side of ecommerce sites). In 2015, I hired people to move my business forward, and I more than tripled my revenue.
Oh boy, this was a wild ride, wasn’t it?
A strange thing happened this year. By the end of 2014, I had people coming to me for business and systems coaching/consulting (even though I was focused on digital marketing and Millennial coaching at the time). I decided to kick off the new year by offering some quick-hit business coaching sessions, and they went really well (and I met people who turned into long-term clients and others who turned into my own contractors). Everything was still housed under my podcast brand, The Off-Road Millennial.
But that brand didn’t make sense anymore for what I was doing. So I created Systems Scientist. It made more sense for what I’d been helping people with over the past year of coaching. Most people who hadn’t worked with me didn’t know I was offering systems help. I was excited to finally have a niche that felt right.
As I got more into my systems offerings (including various iterations of what became the Bionic Business Lab), another strange thing happened: more people came to me looking for “generic business coaching.” What was going on?! Here I was, trying to niche into the systems space (and eventually the operations space for my larger agency and consulting services), and people were wanting me to be a generalist.
So, by the end of the year, I had shut down The Off-Road Millennial and focused in on the following services (solopreneur-focused services on the left, with the equivalent services for larger companies on the right):
- Business coaching and VIP days : Executive coaching
- Systems coaching/consulting : Strategy and operations consulting
- “Full-stack” business systems services : Interim team/interim executive services
Notice anything in particular?
I actually got rid of my group coaching options that I spent all of 2015 building up.
The reasons for this could take up a couple of blog posts on their own. While I enjoyed the group coaching that I did, I found that my clients got more with even just one 1-1 session on top of the group program. When I offered BBL as a 3-month group/1-1 hybrid in the fall, almost everyone put much more energy into our 1-1 sessions than they did the group.
So I probably suck at the actual running-a-group-program part, but I also do really well 1-1. I plan to offer some in-person and online workshops in 2016 to fill the group void (it’s the maternal bloodline of teachers and my own tutoring/lecturing background calling out to me), but they won’t be a large focus for me.
“But Mallie, you can’t scale 1-1 services! If you’re going to do anything with your life you have to offer group programs/passive income/webinars/digital courses!”
^ Also a lie the internet marketers are feeding you.
I choose to scale three other ways:
- Starting a legitimate consulting firm
- Raising my 1-on-1 prices
- Taking on larger companies as clients with value-based fee proposals, not hourly rates
2016 will be all about quality over quantity. I’ve removed the sales buttons from my sales pages (feel free to call me out if you catch one) and replaced them with application buttons. I’m writing proposals to local and international companies who need services that my agency is offering. And I’m using my network rather than my email list to look for new clients.
My target audience and thus, ideal client, naturally shifted as my services did. They’re in the process of shifting even more now that Mydzik Media is moving into larger, more “corporate” online businesses.
At the beginning of 2015:
- I was working with any “service-based business” owner
- I was still targeting people less than a year into owning their first business
- I spent a lot of time building a generic email list made up of B-School types
By the end of 2015:
- I took on clients (plural) that went from small packages and low hourly rates to proposing and closing 5-figure deals
- My clients had small agencies or one-woman consulting practices of their own
- My clients were responding “that’s it?” to my rates, rather than “how much of a discount can I get?”
My intentions for the beginning of 2016 are to split my audience into two primary types:
- Solo founders and consultants
- Creative agencies with fewer than 30 team members
Each of those client types lines up well with the aforementioned services I intend to offer.
- Increased across the board
- Systems/operations coaching/consulting
- Business/executive coaching/consulting
- Agency/consulting firm
- Ideal clients
- Creative consultants
- Right-brained agencies
Looking Ahead To 2016
2016 is going to shake things up itself, no matter what plans I have in store. While I technically have “5-year plans,” they’re so ridiculously flexible they may as well not exist. I couldn’t have planned for 2015 to shape up the way it did, and it ended up working out really well for me. So here are my “best laid plans,” if you will:
- “Health” is my 2016 word. Get the services that are currently a bit anemic sustainable, and pay attention to my bottom line.
- Quality over quantity in clients. Fewer people, more intense services.
- An even mix of “corporate” and solopreneur clients.
- Offering more one-off free consult calls, with lower-cost one-off paid options quarterly.
- Restarting my email list from scratch. (Yes, this is happening. Click here to rejoin for higher quality emails.)
- Sending “thought leader” emails, not marketing emails.
- Writing more “thought leader” blogs at my personal site; going quality over quantity for blog posts on all sites.
- Quadrupling my revenue or more, particularly with agency services now being offered.
- Hiring more contractors, looking into physical office space and/or employees
So that about sums it up. I could honestly write another 1000 words on all of this, but I’m cutting myself off.
This was a useful brain dump for me, and I hope it was insightful for you. What changes will 2016 bring for you and your business?