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  • Writer's pictureLauren Leopold

My first calendar year in business: The Annual Review

2022 marks the first full calendar year that I’ve been a full-time business owner. Something that 4 years ago was just a pipe dream for me.

And one of the biggest learnings I’ve had since starting my business is the power of reflection. It allows you to acknowledge your wins, reflect on learnings (to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again) and stay focussed on what you’re trying to achieve.


So this year I did my first ‘Annual review' to help me see how far I’ve come and to help me plan for next year. I asked myself 3 questions:

  • What went well these past 12 months?

  • What was challenging and most importantly, what did I learn from this?

  • What am I excited about in 2023 and how will I make it happen?


So let’s get amongst it.


What were my wins, challenges and learnings in 2022?


1. In August I got diagnosed with ADHD

On the surface this might seem like a challenge, but I can honestly say it’s one of my biggest wins, not just in 2022 but ever. The diagnosis helped me feel like all the frustrations and difficulties I’ve felt my whole life were for a reason.

I’ve embarked on a group coaching programe with other women who’d been diagnosed late in life and finally feel like I’m not alone. They all have the same worries, difficulties and amazing strengths that I do and it feels like I’ve come home. I'm also really starting to understand and harness the superpower parts of ADHD that I know are gonna propel me onto bigger and better things. I’ll talk more about this as I learn and understand what it means for me, but for now I just know that it’s finally making everything make sense.

Learning: If you feel like something isn't right mentally or physically go and find out what it is. It can literally change your life.


2. My habits & behaviours were up & down

Since I had my breakdown in 2019, I’ve constantly worked on my self care, with a fantastic morning routine that including journaling, yoga and meditation. But for the first half of this year that all fell by the wayside. I’m not sure why. I knew it wasn’t great that I’d lost all that goodness from my life, but I couldn’t seem to get back on track.

Until I got my ADHD diagnosis and promptly found out there was a potential 3 year waiting list for medication. This was the kick up the arse I needed to start doing everything I could to help my neurodivergent brain get back on track. Since that day I haven’t missed a morning of mediation or journaling and I’m clearer, happier and more focussed. I can’t recommend a solid morning routine highly enough. If you need inspiration, check out ‘The Mircacle Morning’ by Hal Elrod.

Learning: Never underestimate the power of priorisiting your mindset and mental health. I knew I ‘should’ be doing it, but ignored it until I found out I ‘needed’ it again.


3. Clarified my marketing positioning, learnt to sell on social media and found a whole new channel I love

After getting over my fear of social media since my breakdown, I hired an amazing coach Grace Lancer to help me find my brand voice on Instagram and really nail my positioning in the market. She helped me realise that the fact I’d grown my side business to 5 figures without social media was actually an amazing USP that I could use to attract people to my 121 coaching.


She helped me remember my love of writing and talent for producing powerful content that I’d learnt in my corporate marketing job and I started blogging and emailing my subscriber list more regularly as well.

She also helped me learn how to sell on Instagram without feeling the ick, resulting in 16 clients coming from that platform alone.

In the 2nd half of the year though - as seems to have happened to many people - my growth on Instagram started to level out and I realised I had to broaden my horizons to other channels. Namely LinkedIn. I took everything I’d learnt on Instagram and applied it there, which resulted in 3 clients from my content alone.

I did struggle at times with - what I now know to be - my creative ADHD brain constantly thinking up new marketing and content ideas. On the surface this sounds like a positive, but in reality a lot of the time it resulted in a ton of half written posts and unpublished reels because I’d get distracted by the shiny new thing and then get completely overwhelmed.

Learning: Sooner or later you're gonna have to get visible. Looking back over the year, I can see the dips in my income where I wasn’t ‘out there’ letting people know about what I had to offer.


3. I nailed my organic marketing methods

As someone who coaches clients to build their business without social media, you might wonder why it’s such a big part of my marketing now. The answer is because I have experience in it from my corporate days and I actually like it now.

But in 2022 I also made huge waves in my business using other organic marketing methods like market research calls (resulting in 4 clients and a shit-ton of insights) sending my offer to my network (3 clients) and asking for referrals as (9 clients).

Learning: If at any point 'visibilty' feels too much there are lots of ways you can get clients behind the scenes.


4. I launched my first group coaching programme

As much as I love working with women 121, I’ve always been passionate about making my coaching more accessible to more women. I also wanted to diversify my income streams as well.


But various excuses kept me from doing creating a group programme... ‘I’m too busy’, ‘I don’t have a teaching background’, How will I fill it?’ etc. Until March when I decided enough was enough. I busted through my limiting beliefs created and launched the BETA version of my first ever group coaching programme to help women get their first paying clients without social media. Not only did I manage to fill it from market research calls alone, but 1 of the participants then signed up to work with me 121, which was the icing on the cake.


I realised though, that the stress of launching wasn’t for me so I joined a group coaching programme with the amazing Gemma Gilbert to help me take it Evergreen. So look out for version 2.0 coming soon this year. A bigger, better version of Procrastinating to Paid that you’ll be able to join all year round.

Learnings:

  • Launching something in BETA is a brilliant way of getting people to trial your product at a discounted price. Not only do they benefit from a favourable rate, but you also get the chance to experiment as you go. Everyone's a winner.

  • The whole launch process can be super stressful and it’s OK to admit when it’s just not for you. There are other ways to run programmes like this and there are people out there who can help you do it.

5. My work life balance took twists & turns

As much as I’m borderline obsessed with my business, being able to spend time with my daughter Edie was the biggest priority for me this year. She was in nursery 3 days a week, which gave me 3 days to work on my business, including seeing my lovely clients.

Being the driven, goal-oreiented and money-motivated person that I am, I also set myself the audacious goal of making my corporate salary back this year. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that trying to accomplish a full time salary whilst working part time hours was never going to end well.

Annoyingly I didn’t clock that fact until about September. As disciplined as I’d been about never working on weekends, during the week my ‘3 working days’ would often seep into the evenings.


This meant I often missed out on precious time with my husband and the one vital: sleep. I also had crap boundaries with my clients, feeling like I had to be ‘on call’ for them on my days off with Edie, which made me feel like I wasn’t being my best self for anyone.


I realised I needed more time for my business, so we decided to put Edie into an extra day at nursery from November.



But in September, something made me realise that this full-time salary financial goal I’d set myself was not only totally unrealistic, but it was causing stress. So I prorated it to 3 days and saw what it should have been - much , much lower!

Ironically, I also realised that because I’d been working so hard, I’d already hit the prorated amount and this enabled me to ease up on myself for the rest of the year. I was still motivated, but far less stressed and well, a nicer human being. I ended up making just £10k shy of my corporate salary this year anyway - not bad for my first full time calendar year in business.

Learning: Goals are incredible for motivation - my business wouldn’t be where it is without them - but they have to be realistic and shouldn’t come at the cost of your work life balance. After all, having a better is part of the reason we want to leave corporate and start a business, right?


6. I pivoted my niche and launched a coaching programme that flopped.

I’m a huge advocate of working with as many different people as possible when you first start your business, so at the start of this year I had quite a mixed bag of clients and followers. I had a few side hustle clients, but I also had lots of women who’d already quit their job and were newly full time in their business. This made me want to create a programme especially for them.

So I created 'Business Badassery' - a 6 month 121 programme to help them hit consistent £5k months. It looked fab. I was super proud of it when I launched it. But it completely flopped, with not one person buying it. And deep down I knew why. It was because I didn’t truly believe I could deliver what I was promising and that would have been very obvious in the content I was putting out there.

As a new full time business owner myself, I felt like I wasn’t that much further ahead than them and I wasn’t having consistent £5k months myself. Some months I’d smash the £6k mark, but some would be as low as £3k. Even though I knew I could help these women, I still felt like a fraud.


And I know there are schools of thought out there that you don’t always have to have ‘walked the walk’ to help people achieve greatness. In fact, that's one of the first things I first learnt in my coach training. But for me it just didn’t feel right. I’ve always been so inspired by my own coaches who are a few steps ahead of me and that’s who I wanted to be.

So I made the tough decision to pull the full timers coaching programme and went back to focussing on what I know and love: helping frustrated corporate women start businesses so they can quit their rat race job.

Learning: Your niche can and will evolve and that’s OK. But it has to be something you feel passionately about and know you can do. Not just something that seems right on paper, i.e I had loads of followers in that area, so why not?

What am I excited for in 2022?


Launching my Evergreen 2.0 version of Procrastinating to Paid.

You’ll be able to join whenever you like throughout the year and get those first paying clients without having to be all over social media. Watch this space.

Doubling Down on helping more women quit the rate race.

I'm on a mission to help even more women like Charlie and Emily launch amazing purpose-led businesses so they can finally find the freedom and flexibility that I've found.

Reaching my first £10K month.

My average monthly income was £6k before tax this year (I'm all about the transparency in case it helps anyone out there), but there were definite ups and downs. And whilst I've learnt to be more realistic about my overall annual earnings, I'm excited by the goal of having my first £10k month. I'm surrounding myself with women in my new coaching programme, who's reality is exactly that, so why the fuck can't it be mine too?


This year's theme was 'Discovery'.

2022 was the year I discovered more than I bargained for about myself. Not just about my brain but about my badass abilities as a former-corporate-worker-turned-business-woman. I failed fast, but also achieved a hell of a lot.


My word for 2023 is 'Space'.

Giving my newly-diagnosed ADHD brain the space to do all the amazing things I know it’s capable of, through that art of proper self care.


Finally, a massive THANK YOU to all my amazing family, friends and clients for their roles in my weird and wonderful 2022. I couldn't have done it without you.


And if you're thinking about or in the process of starting your business in 2023, hopefully that's given you some ideas and inspiration. But if you want help getting your shit together so you can start your business faster and with the added bonus of not having to be all over social media, then my 121 coaching is for you.


If you're ready to finally start building that side hustle and find the freedom and flexibility you're dreaming of, then let's talk.


Meet Lauren


Business Coach & Side Hustle Queen


Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out from the corporate world, hit rock bottom and used the experience to create my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women start and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.


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