2022 reflections and year in review
Yearly reflections from a former head of growth turned solopreneur
As we enter the final days of 2022, I found myself reflecting on all the progress I’ve made in my business - and as a person.
I thought I’d take that reflection one step further by creating a year in review.
It highlights some of the things that went well, things that didn't go as well, what I learned, and my goals for next year.
It's been an eventful year so I'm excited (and a bit nervous) to share my insights in a public forum. I’ve never done this before, but thought it might be helpful to folks at different stages of their own journey.
Let's dive in.
Here’s what went well:
Our son became a toddler
A year is a long time when you have little kids! Our son Cameron was born November, 2020 and throughout the last year he transitioned from a baby to a toddler.
The two big milestones are walking and talking.
Early in 2022, he started walking. Then soon after, he started running. And now he’s sprinting around our house. Jumping on the couch. Running into tables. All at 100mph, while laughing, crying, and shrieking at the same time. They call him Super Sonic at his daycare 🏃.
He also started talking. First, just a few words, like “Mama”, “Dada”, “more”, etc. And slowly, he added more and more to his vocabulary. He can’t quite put together sentences. But it’s really fun to hear him saying new words every day he comes home.
Parenting is crazy hard. But being a Dad is awesome.
I started exercising regularly again
Between the pandemic, being a new parent, and starting my business - my exercise routine went out the window in 2021. But this past year, I prioritized exercising regularly again.
I find when I exercise consistently, I feel better. I’m calmer. Able to handle stress better. I sleep better at night. And feel higher energy during the day.
In 2022, I joined a new gym and started working out 4 days a week. I also started bike riding, and I golfed a lot. Both got me outside and back in nature.
I had a minor setback over the summer, when I got sesamoiditis in my left foot - something I don’t wish on my worst enemies. But otherwise, I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in years.
I made friends with other solopreneurs
Running a one person business is hard - and sometimes lonely. So I started blocking off a few hours each month to connect with other people building similar businesses.
Most weeks I felt like I was winging it, and figured it would be helpful to meet other folks to bounce ideas off, trade learnings, and support each other.
My business accelerated from those convos. But more importantly, I got to connect with tons of amazing people that have become friends.
The highlight was getting to reconnect with friends from the previous chapters of my life that are also building businesses.
First with Sarah, Chris, and Lindsay. The three of us sat within 5 feet of each other at HubSpot back in 2012. They’ve recently started a new business together, which prompted us to catch-up and rekindle our friendships.
And I also reconnected with John Bonini. He and I first spoke back in 2016, but found ourselves hanging online in a lot of the same online circles in 2022. We talked on Zoom a bunch and finally met for ice cream over the summer with our families in Cape Cod.
Making friends with other solopreneurs is one of my favorite parts of working for myself. I’ve gotten tons of business value out of those convos and I’ve made incredible connections with people all around the world.
I always leave the conversations with high energy - and tons of ideas.
My business grew-up this year
“What got you here, won’t get you there” was my motto in 2022.
I used all the skills I picked up working in SaaS, to grow my own business and slowly started to transition from a guy who was winging it, to a “real” business.
I overhauled my website, defined my values, spent time studying sales, experimented with different pricing and packaging, and I worked on increasing the value I was providing clients.
Outside of just “making things better,” the biggest things that made a difference in 2022 were...
I started working with a coach
Over the summer, I made the decision to hire a business coach. I realized that my network helped me scale my business to this point. But I needed a different support system to get to the next level.
Someone who had already scaled a business like mine. Who knew the road ahead. And could help me implement systems, avoid landmines, and scale faster.
Through the recommendation of a friend, I found Greg Faxon and decided to start working with him.
Even just making the mental decision to work with Greg helped me level-up.
I’ve learned a ton from his coaching. He’s helped me improve the foundations of my business, identify areas of opportunity, and helped me scale.
But I also get a lot of value just observing how he operates as a coach in addition to actually working with him.
I hired an assistant
Through Greg’s nudging, I realized that I was holding my business back. I was spending too much time focused on administrative and operational things. Scheduling. Re-scheduling. Asking clients to fill me in before our calls. Creating contracts. Invoicing, etc.
He suggested finding an amazing assistant would unlock my time and help me scale.
I got clear on what I was looking for and posted a job description on Indeed. Within 48 hours, I got 56 job applications.
I combed through the resumes and interviewed 6 amazing people. Then, I had the 2 best folks do a short project. And ended up hiring my assistant Rebecca at the end of the process.
She’s put together a process to manage my client roster, streamlined my call prep, and taken a ton of operational things off my plate so I can spend more time ON the business vs IN the business.
For anyone else running a one-person business, I can’t state how amazing it’s been having someone else to help.
I made more money than ever before
The result of the stuff above? My business has grown!
The challenge as a solopreneur is that your income isn’t guaranteed and you’re constantly worried it could disappear overnight. The upside is that your income is also unlimited.
This year, I was able to improve my services and my operations substantially. That allowed me to take on more clients - at higher prices.
2022 was my highest income year of my professional career.
I’m incredibly grateful to be in this position. I have basically built my dream job - and it supports my family.
I believe in celebrating the process and the wins. But don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy.
Here’s what didn’t go so well:
I invested a ton of time into digital products - and don’t have much to show for it.
I read so many articles from influencers talking about how easy it was to create and monetize online courses and digital products. So I went all-in and launched three digital products:
A course on tracking for product-led businesses
“Growth jobs” job board
I spent a TON of time planning the content, building slides, filming the videos, creating downloadable one-sheeters, optimizing the landing pages, and putting together a promo plan.
I didn’t track the time. But I’d guestimate easily 200+ hours between the two programs and job board.
And they generated some income. But the numbers just didn’t really justify my time investment.
Each course landing page converts around 1.5% of visitors into customers. I read that Justin Welsh converts over 3% of his traffic into sales. I have spent years doing conversion rate optimization, but couldn’t get mine to convert anywhere close.
In retrospect, my audience and traffic just weren’t large enough to generate a meaningful amount of revenue each month from low ticket courses.
My takeaway. Courses are time consuming to do well. And you’ll need a big audience to make real money from them.
I confused my work success with my personal self-worth
When you run a one person business, it's easy to wrap your personal identity into your work success. But without the right boundaries, you’ll drive yourself crazy. At least I did.
Even when things were going objectively well, I’d get frustrated when I didn’t land a client that I thought was a good fit. Or, when an existing client decided not to renew their contract.
I’d take that frustration with me at the end of the day. It would impact my mood at family dinner. And I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it.
Greg advised me to get my personal fulfillment from anywhere BUT my business. He preached “high-intention, low attachment.” Basically putting in your maximum effort - without being attached to the result.
I even developed a mantra.
“I am not my business! My business is a tool for me to generate money, time, and flexibility to live the life of my dreams. My business can fail - and I can still be incredibly successful and happy. I get fulfillment from many areas of my life.”
It all sounds good. But, still a work in progress for me.
I had a hard time being satisfied
As my business started growing, instead of enjoying my success, I found myself always thinking about what I hadn’t accomplished yet.
I felt like I should work more. Or harder. I wondered if I was leaving money on the table. If I should be trying to maximize my income right now.
I lost sight of my gratitude and drove myself a little crazy.
Around October, I spent time zooming out and reflecting on my WHY. The reason I started my business in the first place.
Then, I refocused on what’s important by setting monthly goals. That way, I had something to aim for when my mind started wandering.
Here’s my goals for next year
As we move into 2023, I took some time to set goals to guide my decision making next year.
Improve my diet
2022 was all about getting my exercise routine back. 2023 is going to be about improving my diet.
I’m going to focus on eating more healthy fats, fiber, and protein. And cutting back on the amount of carbs and processed food I consume.
My hope is that combo (along with my continued exercise routine) will help me feel like my best self in 2023.
Spend more time with the people who are important to me
This year, I got to reconnect with lots of people. But I’m still craving more human connection. So next year I’m going to prioritize spending more time with the people who are important to me.
Specifically, I’m planning:
At least 1 date night per month with just Linday and I
Inviting friends over for weekend brunch
Quarterly guys night
We’re (probably) moving to the burbs
We have an amazing single family home in Medford Mass. We’re walking distance from a ton of restaurants, a bike trial, and the new green line train stations.
But we live in a small house, and with the addition of Cam, we’re bursting at the seams. We need more space and are likely heading to the burbs. Lindsay is fighting it. But I’m kinda looking forward to it.
It’s always hard to move in Massachusetts - and especially tricky right now with the high-interest rates and low home inventory. Our plan is to move. But, we’ll see how this one shakes out.
Continue growing Delivering Value
I’m having a blast working on this business and want to see how far I can take things next year. I’m setting a goal to see if I can double my income.
I’m thinking that my new group program will be a big part of that journey. And I’m planning to relaunch my podcast to open up a new creative outlet - and sponsorship revenue stream.
2022 was all about leveling-up. Next year is going to be all about growing with balance. Can’t wait to see how it goes!