2021… arguably worse than 2020? What do you think??
I skipped my year-end review in 2020 because well, FUCK 2020, right? But reading back on my 2019 one, I felt inspired to take myself through the same structure I used back then to do another one.
Click here to read my 2019 year in review post. Then make sure to come back here and keep reading!
YEAR IN REVIEW 2021 (10th year in business OMG)
THE HARD DATA
Revenue goal for 2021: $1M USD
Actual gross revenue in 2021: $750k USD
Revenue goal for 2022: $1M — why not keep trying!
List size end of 2021: 12k (we never seem to go any higher than 12k!)
List size goal for 2022: n/a — I don’t really care about list size as much as I used to. We have stayed the same for like 3 years! We go up and down, with lots of unsubscribes when we launch, then a slow build in between launches- I don’t think we have ever passed 12k and it doesn’t really matter, our revenue still grows!
Weekly hours worked in 2021: Because of being locked down for most of the year due to YOUKNOWWHAT, I actually ended up working more than usual. We also hired a new Operations Manager and I wanted to be around for her as she re-organized the business and picked up some of the things that were missed by previous team members. But I have no idea how many hours — maybe like 25-30hrs/week?
Programs/courses I sold in 2021: Uncage Your Business live and self-study, Your First Group Program, Pitch Bundle Flash Sale, 40th Birthday Flash Sale, Anniversary Flash Sale, pre-sale for our NEW Uncage Your Business program starting next year (SO excited about this! More details below!)
THE SOFT DATA
My theme word for 2021 was: I didn’t have one! Because going into 2021 was a bit of a blur for me due to some personal shit I had going on, plus I don’t really do yearly words – I am not even sure why I have this in my year in review! If I had to choose one retrospectively, it would be PIVOT. I had some major changes in 2021, with some huge last-minute shifts in my team, my beloved dog dying, eloping and planning my last minute wedding in 4 hours, and making some big decisions to totally change how we offer Uncage Your Business…. LOT of pivoting had to happen!
This year I accomplished: Launching a new program (Your First Group Program), and hiring my first full-time employee!
And… Finally seeing The Uncaged Life as a company that I am growing as not as a one-w0man show, and being willing to make decisions as a CEO versus a solopreneur. It took me 10 years to get here!
And… developing some true mental toughness with 90days of cold dipping and completing a solo 180km backpacking trip
I did not accomplish: Making $1M. This was my goal for a few reasons. 1) How fun would it be to say that my company brings in $1M a year?? SO FUN. Also, bumping up our revenue really allows me to bring in more support in the business, and I want to be able to hire more employees, and support our students SO MUCH BETTER. I am still excited to reach this goal in 2022 (or at least learn some lessons while trying!)
What got in my way was: I don’t know… Covid!? We had a great spring launch – it felt like it flowed and was easy for me. That’s the sign of a good launch for me! But fall was slow and from what I hear, it was slow across the board for this industry. Most of the folks I talked to were just exhausted from ALL OF IT, and with the world opening back up again (jkjk says Omicron), it seemed like a lot of people were just DONE thinking about their business. Oh, and FB ads also changed their shit around again and we lost a LOT of the traction we had with ads, which we rely on heavily at this stage in the business. It also sounds like that really affected a lot of businesses across the board — another HUGE reason why I teach what I teach in Uncage Your Business, so you learn how to build a solid foundation for organic marketing and not rely on ads! We are making a huge push back to organic marketing because of this.
I am most proud of: Sticking with my values of simplicity and not getting sucked into alllll the other things I *could* be doing in my business. I love how my coach this year Jadah Sellner always helped re-iterate that I wasn’t wrong, or lazy, or stupid for not building out a bunch of new programs etc in the business, but that I was CLEAR in my vision and what I wanted to do.
I worked hardest at: Making big-girl decisions about delegating! I hired a new content writer, someone to take over our social media and organic marketing, an Operations Manager, and I really worked on (and am still working on), letting go of it all having to be perfect. I am FAR from a perfectionist with my own stuff, but when someone else is creating content for me, oh boy — watch out. It better have ZERO mistakes lol. I feel great about loosening the reins on a lot of things in the business. I have been the bottleneck and I am excited to have other smart people on board helping me so that I dam no longer the one holding us back!
I failed most epically at: Firing people when I knew it was time. There was far too much time spent with my coach talking about whether we should let various team members and contractors go.
And what I learned from this failure was: My new rule is, if we even have to talk about it that much, the answer is probably yes, we need to let that person go. Also, seeds of doubt will grow into full blossoms, so listen to them early on to save yourself a lot of stress.
What I would have done differently this year: More organic marketing
The biggest lesson I learned was: Piece-mealing together contractors takes its toll on the business. I am SO excited to have a full-time employee who is dedicated to Uncaged.
The biggest risk I took was: Buying a house sight unseen!
This year I tolerated: Less growth for the sake of sticking to my boundaries and respecting how I want to be spending my time. EVERYONE has told me I need to be making reels for Instagram, and I flat out refuse to be pointing all around in the air lol. Reels might work great to get visibility for some niches (just is out on how well they really work for getting paying clients), but I just DO. NOT. WANT. TO . PUT. EFFORT into making them. So I didn’t.
I kicked serious ass at: Making fast decisions. I GOT MARRIED! And I planned my wedding in 4 hours. My dog Rhubarb got aggressive cancer (RIP sweet baby girl) and we wanted to do it with her there. I had to euthanize her 5 days later and I do not regret for a second that my wedding dress was from Facebook Marketplace and I only had 3 people (and 2 dogs!) in attendance. I also bought a house (in Canada) while on vacation in Mexico. I saw it, knew I wanted it, told my husband to go look at it, and we put in an offer while I was on zoom. We got it after a fight, and I finally got to see it last week! I am a fast action taker, and it’s one of the BEST qualities I will bring to you if we work together in Uncage Your Business. Most of our students are NOT as fast-action-y as I am, and we teach you how to take small, but impactful, actions in your business, and to make decisions about things way faster than you would on your own. It’s my superpower and I love helping you adopt some of it!
I became a different person this year: This was what I wrote in 2019: When I did a 5 day solo backpacking trip. I have dome solo trips before, but this was a tough trail and I mentally had to get over a lot of hurdles to do it. It made me feel invincible and I have some big hiking goals for 2020 and a flicker of a dream to maaaaaybe hike the PCT (Mexico to Canada – yes, just like that book lol), in 2021. I have a long way to go to prepare, but it’s on my radar.
My 2021 answer: When I did a 180km backpacking trip! It was supposed to take 10 days and I banged it out in 7. It was very cold and wet and I didn’t see very many people. It was a great introduction to long distance hiking and I can safely now say that I never want to hike from Mexico to Canada lol.
I learned this year that I am: Always better off when I trust my gut.
I am super grateful this year for: Oh boy. So many things. My health. The country I live in. The privilege I have to even have this business in the first place. My family. My friends. Doggie snuggles. Rhubarb. Walnut (my other dog who I am still learning to love but who saved my life when Rhubarb died).
If I remember one thing from this year, I want it to be: That I have it good. Really, really good. And not to take a moment of it for granted.
PLANS FOR 2022
My theme word for 2022 is: I actually hate this question because it brings so much pressure AND I always inevitably forgot it within a few weeks. So I will skip it this year! Sorry to all the word-of-the-year lovers!
This year I will commit to doing: Letting my team work in their zone of genius and getting out of the way
I will be most proud of myself if: My team is happy!
I will commit to accomplishing: A whole revamp of our Uncage Your Business program to make it even better than it is. We should have this up and running by March! (this will come with a price increase to $3500, so if you have been waiting to join UYB, soon it will be the last chance to get in at our current pricing — www.uncageyourbusiness.com
I will STOP doing: Asking other people what I should do in the business when I already know.
I anticipate my biggest challenge to be: Not letting fears and doubts creep in
I will make it easier on myself by: I already joined a high level mastermind for 2022 to help me as I restructure The Uncaged Life, from programs to team to my own mindset of what is possible
This year I will not tolerate: People who make demands of mine and my team’s time
This year I will take the risk of: Letting go of how I used to run the business
This year I will go to: With Covid, I have NO idea what travel looks like this year… so for now I am sticking around Squamish and enjoying the mountains in my backyard
This year I will have: A baby?
This year I will be: The CEO of a company instead of a solopreneur
I will have a relationship that is: Understanding,
I will have friendships that are: Reciprocal
I will have a body that is: Pain-free
I will have a career that: Makes me proud
I will hold myself accountable by: Using my mastermind group and coach as often as I need to
This year, I will never ever: Second guess my gut feeling
And I will always always: Be as helpful as I can within the boundaries that support me
I had a few people submit questions they wanted me to answer as well in this year in review:
- How did you make the decision to change the model of Uncage Your Business? And how scary is it to change something that from the outside looked like it was working? Biggest fears related to this and how do you overcome these mindset gremlins?
Uncage Your Business has been running in 2 different ways for the last few years — one as a LIVE 5-week group program twice a year, and the second as a self-study program that you can work on at your own pace. I just made the decision in November that we are RETIRING both of these programs, and turning Uncage Your Business into a year-long coaching program. I made this decision because I wanted to find a way to better support our students over the first year in their business. There are SO many ups and downs in your first year, you have good intentions, you fall off or get distracted, you get sick, you have a baby, you work full time and can only ship away at your business part time… not to mention that even if you are able to dedicate full time hours to your business when you’re new, there is still an UNAVOIDABLE process of testing and tweaking and refining everything from your niche, to your packages, to your prices and your marketing — nothing is one and done, ever, but especially when you’re new. All of this means that growth takes TIME in your first year, no matter how well-intentioned you are. And we want to be able to support your business through ALL of that.
The other change is that we will not be launching UYB again. The program will always be open for enrollment. Launches are stressful and getting more and more unpredictable with all the changes to Facebook’s operating systems. I am thinking of having a baby this year, and I need a business model that is more stable. I have LOVED live launching and it has served me extremely well. But it’s time for a shift.
This was indeed a scary decision to make. Especially because it comes with a price increase to $3500 for the new program! However, I am SO confident in how much better it is going to be for our students that even though I am sure it will take some fine-tuning in our marketing and delivery of the program, I know this will be better for EVERYONE in the end.
I overcome mindset gremlins and fears by looking around and seeing that MANY other people are selling similar programs (for much higher pricepoints!), which helps remind me that this model works AND that out students are going to be getting a great deal for this level of support!
2. What is your owner’s pay (not profit) and how has it evolved.
I am not going to share exact numbers, but I can say that when my business was smaller (just me with no team), I took home around 50-70% of my revenue. The bigger your business gets, the more it costs. This is normal and as it should be as you invest in delivering a better experience for your students, upgrading your marketing, and hiring a team to help support you so you don’t burn out. Expenses tend to be around 30-35%, team around 20-25%, corporate taxes 15%, and from what remains I take my pay and save a certain amount of profit to invest. Don’t be scared of these percentages changing as your business grows! you want to be able to pay team members and invest in the help you need – that’s a good thing!! They will help you increase your overall revenue, so even though the % is lower, you are still getting paid more as you grow!
3. What were the best strategies this year to grow your audience, nurture and sell, What will you focus on in 2022.
We relied heavily on Facebook ads this year, which are sort of a crapshoot these days (and I do NOT recommend them for new businesses). Other things we do that work extremely well — getting featured on podcasts, a week of free coaching so people can come see how we coach in our UYB program, a webinar that walks you through our UYB framework and mistakes you are making, with tips on how to improve your marketing (and then a pitch for UYB). All of these are tried and true and are what work for us to sell. I also do a lot of personal connection and email replies, live chats, etc, to answer questions during our launch.
For 2022 we are working on ramping up our organic marketing strategies (so basically everything other than FB ads). We will be getting back on Pinterest, trying a different strategy on Instagram (though I still refuse to make reels lol), pitching to be on more podcasts, and starting a podcast of our own!
4. I would love a deeper breakdown on the expenses…I am always afraid that I spend too much in courses and maybe not enough in contractors
If I can give you any advice for 2022, it’s this:
- Get started sooner than you feel ready (like, now).
- Get clear on your foundations FIRST (message, niche, packages, how to talk about it CLEARLY). No marketing will work til you have those pieces in place.
- Invest in getting help in your business. It’s SO worth it and will always pay off. There is no need to figure this shit out on your own!
A reminder that we are RETIRING Uncage Your Business self-study program very soon. If you have been waiting to enroll and want to get it before the price jumps to $3500, you should jump in now! Join Uncage Your Business now and get your 2022 off to the right start! If you decide you want to join us for the year of LIVE coaching in UYB, enrolling in the self study now and then paying our special student upgrade price is the cheapest way to do it (we will send you info about that option after you join the self study!)