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As 2019 draws to an end, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about how little I’ve achieved this year and how time is quickly running out for me to achieve the goals I set for myself this time last year.
Then I was inspired by Elizabeth Goddard’s 2019 Review blog post to write my own in the hopes that by writing out everything that happened, I would feel better about my achievements for the year.
This post didn’t have that effect AT ALL! But it felt quite cathartic to write it. I debated whether or not to share it because I actually felt embarrassed about the year I had but then I remembered that we all have to start somewhere and progress is still progress, no matter how small so I’m sharing it anyway.
Like Lizzy’s post, my 2019 review actually starts in December 2018. So, let’s jump in!
** Trigger warning – this post contains details of pregnancy, labour and general baby “stuff”
Moving house + having a baby!
The first weekend in December saw a heavily pregnant woman, her fiance and her dog move house (that woman is me, by the way!). Whilst we only moved 3 streets over from where we were living previously, it felt like a completely fresh start and I was crazy excited about getting our new home ready for the arrival of baby Copeland.
By Tuesday, most of our boxes were unpacked. By the end of Wednesday, our Christmas decorations were up. On Thursday I went into labour (a week early)!
The early stages of labour were on and off and really quite manageable so I carried on getting the house straight and doing client work.
My contractions stopped completely on Saturday morning so we headed off to the hospital just to make sure everything was okay. The midwife we saw was incredible and he put our minds at ease as soon as we got there.
Hooked up to the monitor, we were told that baby’s heart rate etc. were all perfectly fine. My contractions started again while we were there so we opted to have an examination to see if I was dilated at all – I was 1 cm which, meant that we were all good to head home again.
Everything then started to move pretty quickly. We got back from the hospital around 6 pm and my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I really didn’t want to head back to hospital too early, only to get sent home again, so managed the contractions at home with the help of Mark, the bath and Sherlock (the dog for those of you who aren’t familiar with him yet!)
At 1.00 am on Sunday morning I just “knew” that it was time to go to the hospital so we grabbed our bags and headed off. I was still quite anxious about getting there too early but when we arrived around 1.30 am I was 7-8 cm and by 4.30 am Ella was here and laying on my chest! At 6 pm on the same day, we were in the car on our way home!!!!
The next few days/weeks were a total blur but I was back to work the day after Ella was born. The beauty of working virtually – I was doing client work in bed with a newborn attached to me!
Despite moving house and taking a couple of days off to have a baby, I earned around $2,000. I also signed 2 new clients who I would start working with from January.
You’ll be happy to know that the rest of this post is much lighter than December!
No idea what’s going on!
I barely remember January – it was just a blur of sleeping, breastfeeding, changing nappies and working. I was working during Ella’s naps and in the evenings when Mark got home from work.
I was surprised by how much I was able to get done and actually felt rather smug about things. I was looking after a newborn on my own, 6 days a week and still working “full-time” hours, as well as keeping up with housework etc. This was mainly because, as a newborn, Ella slept a LOT – things were going to change.
I started working with 2 new incredible clients that I had signed in December and had my highest earning month to date.
$2,700 – this was the best month I’d had so far in my business and I’m not really sure how it happened as I was in a bit of a new mum daze!
Nothing new here
Nothing changed in February. Mark was working 6 days a week selling cars and I was running my VA business during Ella’s naps and in the evening.
I had hoped to start blogging on Flourishing Business Mum again (and every subsequent month!) but that didn’t happen. VA work was bringing in immediate money whereas FBM is a long-game so I decided to dedicate my time and energy solely to VA work.
Happy Birthday to me!
March is my birthday month. It also saw me and Mark going out for the first time without Ella. We headed to the pub for a meal and some drinks to celebrate my birthday while my mum had Ella for the evening. I thought I would find it really difficult being away from her but I didn’t!!! (probably because it was only for a couple of hours)
Busy booking new clients
I signed 4 new clients this month and was pretty much fully booked for my VA Services for the first time ever.
Joined the Profit Planner Lounge with Haley Burkhead – even as I’m writing this in December, I’ve barely looked at it!
$3,900 – quite a jump from last month due to new clients.
April was a BIG month for us! It was the month that our 3-year plan of Mark working from home with me became our 3-week plan.
At the start of 2018, I had written down a 3-year goal that in 2021, Mark would be able to quit his job and work from home with me. By February 2019 I was feeling really lonely working from home and my depression and anxiety were really bad. I felt completely lost.
So we made the decision that Mark would leave his job at the end of April and work on the business(es) with me.
Signed 6 new clients in preparation for Mark working from home with me from May onwards!!!! This actually turned out to be a terrible decision – not because of the number of clients but because of the types of clients they were (hello inconsistent work!)
$2,500 – the new clients I signed paid in May.
Say hello to Organise + Grow!
In May shit got real! We registered Organise and Grow as a limited company, me and Mark became company Directors and we opened a business bank account.
I started working on a new website that reflected the changes in the business. I wasn’t “Dani Fairhurst – VA for Creatives” any more!
Mini business retreat
I went on a mini business retreat with Zoe Linda and Ana from The She Approach. We stayed in a gorgeous AirBnB cottage in North Wales with Ella and our doggies. We chatted business, made plans and watched TV together.
It was SO exciting to meet my biz besties in real life and it’s something I want to do a lot more often in 2020.
Amy meets Ella
My little sister came to visit from Australia and met Ella for the first time. It’s actually the only time that she’s met her but she’s coming to visit again in February 2020 and I CANNOT wait!
Signed 1 new client.
Fired a client for the first time ever! One of the clients I signed in April turned out to be a complete disaster with absolutely zero respect for scope, boundaries or me as a business owner. After chatting it through with the ladies on our mini-retreat, I pulled the trigger. It felt horrible to do but I felt so much better afterwards.
June saw the launch of the new Organise and Grow Website, along with a suite of new services. I decided that my passion for setting up project management systems, creating SOPs and workflows etc. needed to be a part of our business so I added the “streamline your biz” services to our site.
I also increased my rates from £25 to £35 per hour.
Feeling very unsettled with the constant churn of clients and the pressure of needing to find new clients on an almost monthly basis was starting to take its toll on me. I’ve created digital products before for Flourishing Business Mum so in June I created and launched Organise and Grow Your Biz with Asana, the Organised Blogger’s Toolkit AND the Organised Launch Toolkit.
$3,500 – this is 90% from client work. The bulk of the income from the digital products arrived in July.
Our first family holiday
We had our first family holiday and spent a lovely week at Peaks and Pods in Settle, Yorkshire (we’ve been before and loved it) to celebrate Mark’s birthday.
We spent lots of time walking, drink coffee and eating cake. It was perfect.
I took the whole week off from work – the only time I’ve taken off this year!!! It was lovely to spend some time with the family and not think about work but sadly, we’ve not taken any time off since then. Definitely, something that needs to change!
Rebel Boss Summit
I was a guest speaker at Eden Fried‘s Rebel Boss Summit and presented on how to use a VA to run a successful digital product launch. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of my first-ever virtual summit and can’t wait to take part in more next year.
I gained 200 new email subscribers and sold $200 worth of digital products as a result of the summit.
Signed 2 new clients and got completely ghosted by a client. As in, I woke up one morning and she had removed me from everything – Slack, Asana, email accounts…everything – without a single word to me. Luckily she had paid in advance but it was still super frustrating and made me really doubt my entire business.
$3,200 – $3,000 from client work and $200 from digital product sales
Does anyone need a website?
Decided that I LOVE designing and setting up new websites so added this to the list of services that I offer (also signed 2 website design clients and designed 2 additional sites for friends)
If you’ve never visited my Flourishing Business Mum site or don’t follow me on social media you may not know that I struggle with mental health issues.
In August I was the lowest I’ve been in a long time and made the decision to go back onto medication (I stopped when we were TTC). This meant having a few weeks of nausea and brain fog as I adjusted to the medication. The medication also made me feel pretty “meh” towards everything and I considered giving up on the whole online business thing.
One of my main big goals for 2019 was to start working on Flourishing Business Mum again but by August I’d barely even had time to think about – I felt like a failure.
I was (and still am) really struggling to come to terms with my mum-bod! I had figured that by now I would be back to my pre-pregnancy fitness but I was actually the biggest I’d ever been with no motivation whatsoever to change that!
Signed 4 new VA clients and 2 website design clients.
$3,900 – all from client work
Feeling more settled
After months of signing new clients and parting ways with clients on a monthly basis, things started to feel more settled in September.
Ella also started nursery 2 days per week which freed up a lot of time to start working on other things in the businesses. FINALLY, I could start making some progress on those 2019 goals I had!!!
$6,600 – the best month in our business to date.
Lots of new ideas
I’m not sure why but October was a month for a TON of new ideas and lots of inspiring energy.
I had one brain download after another with ideas for the O+G Hub, as well as a Flourishing Business Mum membership AND a course for aspiring VAs (keep your eyes peeled in 2020 for these things!)
I think having a good income month in September and finally securing clients that are a great fit has had a huge impact on my mental health and energy generally, as well as making me feel better about the business as a whole.
In my excitement to start working on new projects, I invested in the LMS software, LearnDash. So far, I’ve absolutely loved building out my courses in it. It’s super easy to use and, combined with Elementor, I’ve already made a few good looking lessons!
Signed 2 new VA clients and 2 website design clients. This was the first month that I started to feel really good about where I’m at with clients. I finally had a strong client base of AMAZING clients who I absolutely adore. Work and income are now more consistent and I’m continually learning new things from my clients.
$6,500 – the wave of new inspiration and energy really shone through in my income this month! $300 of this was in affiliate commission (I usually make around $50 per month)
In the online business world, November means two things – Black Friday Sales and 2020 planning!
I made some pretty big business investments during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales including:
- MemberPress – to start building out my membership sites in conjunction with LearnDash.
- Pinterest Powerhouse by XO Sarah
- Annual Membership to Haute Stock
- Annual Subscription to SmarterQueue
- ThriveCart (not actually a sale but as I was investing heavily in the businesses this month, it seemed like the right time to make this purchase!)
I’ve spent a huge amount of time planning for 2020. I have a LOT of ideas but I know I need to be realistic with my goals. I was going to write about them here but thought I’d add a section at the end of the post instead.
This year I’ve chosen to use the Passion Planner and Powersheets, along with Asana to plan out 2020.
November was also the month that I made Ella’s first-ever Halloween outfit!
$5,500 – disappointed to have dropped back below $6k but still in a fairly good place.
Ella’s first birthday and “first” Christmas
Although Ella was born before Christmas, this year definitely feels like her first one.
We took things slowly and ended up taking quite a lot of time off from work to watch films and walk the dog as a family which was nice.
$3,500 – December is always a quiet month for work so I’m happy with this month’s income.
Final thoughts on 2019
It’s probably worth mentioning that I’ve been running my VA business full-time for just over 2 years now. Until April this year, my aim was purely to make enough money to cover my own bills as Mark was our main source of income.
From the start of May, I became the sole income provider and that put (and continues to put) a huge amount of pressure on me. This pressure stems from the fact that client work can be very unpredictable. Looking solely at the income figures for 2019 I’m massively disappointed in myself! My goals for 2019 were to have consistent $5k months, moving closer to $10k towards the end of the year.
BUT I’m super proud of being our sole source of income whilst raising a baby at the same time. It’s really tough to strike the balance (ha! balance!) between working and spending time with Ella and I constantly feel guilty about whatever I’m not doing.
I’ve spent a LOT of time working on my 2020 goals and breaking them down into actionable steps. 2020 is going to be a HUGE year for both businesses – I’m sure of that!
I’d love to hit $100,000 for the year, stop worrying about finding new clients and finally launch my memberships. I also want to get my health back on track (note, I didn’t say lose weight!), attend more in-person events and work with a coach!
Here’s to 2020!