End of Year Recap for 2023
2023 is nearly over, so it’s time for my annual look back at the year. In this episode, I will share my high and lowlights, what I really think about this weird year, and what’s on deck for 2024.
If you’ve listened to this show for a while, you know I used to do monthly recaps to share what was happening as it was happening. Those were some of my most popular episodes, as really, who doesn’t love a good behind-the-scenes?
As someone who’s super curious (or should I say nosy?) I absolutely do, which is why I’m wrapping up the show’s fall season with a year-end recap.
Let’s start with an acknowledgment that this has been a strange year for many of us. Which is probably as good a place as any to dive into this recap.
Creating Space Through Sustainability
Going into this year, I’d planned a year focused on sustainability for the business. No new big projects, no big changes, no big anything. I knew I needed space to rest and prioritize caring for myself. This was a non-negotiable after five years of navigating ongoing illness and end of life for both of my parents, COVID-19, sending my kid to university, moving, and more.
Over time, that had taken its toll on my mental and physical health, and I absolutely needed to have a very peaceful and restful year. I’m happy to report that’s exactly what happened. I feel better than I have in years thanks to getting medicated for my anxiety and depression, therapy, and having the space (and resources) to focus on managing my well-being.
This has been a major win for me, both personally and professionally, and it feels like a major luxury to have been able to do this after the personal shit show of the last few years. (And don’t even get me started on the state of the world at large.)
For anyone listening to this who’s going through it right now, I know how hard it is to keep showing up, especially as a business owner. I’m not going to give you any type of bullshit toxic positivity, but just know I’m rooting for you.
It’s the Economy
I always try to keep it real here, so I’m not going to sugarcoat it, 2023 has been a real asshole of a year with the economy. While we’re not in a recession, the unpredictability and inflation have been exceptionally challenging for many business owners.
Facts: Sales activity is much slower than normal for most people. (I say most people, as I definitely have clients who are bucking the trend, but they work in very specific niches.)
The result is that revenue is down for many business owners, myself included. I know that most people are NOT talking about this, so I will be transparent.
In my case, I had to make some tough choices regarding potential projects. One in particular would have filled the gap between our projected year-end revenue and where we were at the end of 2022, but friends, it wouldn’t be worth it.
In other years, we would have had another, better-fit client or two to fill that gap, which would have made saying no much easier. But our number of leads is down year-over-year. In my agency, this is the lowest number of leads we’ve had in at least five years. (As that’s when I started tracking diligently.)
I’m grateful that even with a revenue dip, we’re totally fine. We’ve carefully managed our expenses overall, and I’m cautiously optimistic that 2024 will have us bouncing back at some point.
That said, it’s been a great lesson not to assign too much value to revenue numbers as a measure of success. Not every business can (or should) grow revenue year after year after year; it’s not realistic or sustainable.
Now, I have a confession. And it will be weird for some of you to hear this. The state of the economy has been a relief for me. I’ve been waiting for this to happen since 2017, and now that it’s here, I’m ready to get through it and move on.
That’s not to make light of the tough financial situation so many people are in (blames capitalism), but rather there’s been this part in my brain that’s been like, “When is this going to happen? This won’t last!” for years.
Having been through multiple recessions as a Gen Xer, I knew it was coming, and now I can not have that part of my brain dedicated to figuring out when it would happen.
Maybe I AM a People Person?
This year, my other big lesson has been seeing people in person. In 2022, we held three our in-person retreats for our mastermind groups, and that was a good way to ease back into seeing people IRL. For 2023, we hosted four retreats (Florida, Ottawa and Montreal) and I always love seeing our mastermind members in person, but I also added some other business-related trips.
I attended a client event in October, and to say I was nervous about this would be an understatement. Having to be “on” for four straight days does not come easily to me, but I did it, and dare I say, I really enjoyed myself. After the event, I met up with two of my longest-standing business friends Jules Taggart and Megan Flatt. which was amazing. Then, in November, I went to a retreat hosted by Andrea Jones, the Savvy Social Retreat, and it was such a good way to reconnect with so many people I’ve known for ages and meet new people. Plus, I got to hang out in person with my friend and podcast co-host Michelle Mazur.
Creating these in-person opportunities for connection for my clients and for myself will continue to be a priority for 2024 and beyond. In the future, I would love to host some retreats for business owners beyond our masterminds, but there’s no rush on making that happen. I trust it will happen in good time.
Less is More
My final challenge and lesson is about managing my own capacity. As I’ve started to feel better and better, I’ve had to fight against my default programming which wants me to go full speed ahead. As someone with all the ideas and excitement for my businesses, especially BS-Free Business, I’ve learned to chill out and not rush anything.
I expect that will resonate for many of you as we’re all indoctrinated into the need to do more constantly and keep hustling. I just keep coming back to the idea of doing less, better.
That meant two longer breaks from the podcast this year, frequent breaks from social media, not putting my desire to do an international Staying Solo retreat into action, not getting on TikTok, and not starting a Substack. I’m sure I’m missing things, but less is definitely more.
With challenges and lessons out of the way, I wanted to share a few key highlights from this year that I’m definitely celebrating.
First of all, my sister and director of client services Sara, has continued to take on a bigger role with BS-Free Business, and I’ve loved watching her continue to grow.
Plus, the rest of our team is absolutely rocking it. We’ve got everything flowing nicely with both the agency and BS-Free Business with our small and mighty team.
The Duped podcast is going strong, and we’ve moved to having episodes twice a month. Overall, the show outperforms our expectations as it’s been in the top 100 on Apple for marketing throughout the year in the US and Canada. Plus, we launched our Patreon in February with no idea what would happen and we consistently have 80 members which helps cover production costs.
I’ve watched many clients do cool things in their service businesses this past year. I’m proud of all of you and am happy to play a small part in your successes.
In the spring we launched Sell the Strategy: Study Group and had 30 members join us. Sharing Sell the Strategy in a lower-cost group setting was a great proof of concept for future offerings.
Most of the year, I worked on pulling together Staying Solo, sharing it back in August with so much positive feedback. The reaction we got was exactly what I was hoping it would do. I’m currently working on the Staying Solo book, which will be launched. I have no clue when. I have 50k words right now that need help along with stories and more research.
Speaking of Staying Solo, we’ve also created the Staying Solo Squad which will start in January. This is an idea I just couldn’t quit, and now it’s happening! It’s a cross between a membership and a mastermind, and it’s at an accessible price point. This six-month group is going to be so good, so if you want support in 2024, you definitely need to join us!
What’s Next: Looking Ahead at 2024
When I sat down to prepare this episode, I looked back at my word of the year for 2023, which was practice. I absolutely see how it was a year of focusing on practicing over and over and doing the small things that add up over time.
I’ve not settled on a word yet, but I’m playing with the idea of being seen. Visibility and reaching more people like you will be major focuses for the year in preparation for the book. (Which I think will launch either in late 2024 or in 2025 to coincide with my 20th business anniversary.)
My plans for 2024 are in progress as I write this, and I know adventure is a big personal theme for me as I get outside more and travel to some new places. Professionally, it will be about connection and community as always. That’s why I do what I do, and that won’t change.
With that, we’re headed into our winter break so I can rest and recharge (and work on the book!) and we’ll be back in February with a fresh new season. I already have two timely themes picked out for you as a listener and topics I’m looking forward to exploring with you.