Behind The Curtain of My 2023 Year in Business

An honest assessment of where I succeeded, where I came up short, and what goals I tossed out.

Behind The Curtain of My 2023 Year in Business
Photo by Isaac Smith / Unsplash

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At the start of 2023, I shared with you all three things I planned to do differently for the year. A new initiative I felt great about was making a Trello board with a few goals per quarter and a few topline goals for the year. Looking back on it, this exercise was highly calming and a bulwark against my own overly ambitious expectations and competing priorities. I always get feedback that you all love it when I talk about business, so I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit and show you what my goals were for 2023 and I’ll evaluate how I did on them.

My Trello board of goals for 2023

First, I’ll start with which goals succeeded at over the year:

  1. I created a plan for newsletter and membership growth (I’ll discuss results in a sec)
  2. I completed my report for Better Life Lab at New America (but it didn’t come out until Q4)
  3. I exceeded my yearly revenue target (Yay!)
  4. I attended (more than) two networking conferences 

Here’s what went better than expected:

  1. My fellowship at Better Life Lab was extended from six months to a year. This allowed me time to do more robust work on my report and all that goes into promoting it. It also meant I had less time to pursue some of the other goals I set out at the start of the year. But this is OK.

Here’s where I came up a little short:

  1. I did three paid speeches for companies, instead of five. I found that at the start of the year, I was getting a strong number of inquiries which made five seem like a very achievable goal. But I found as the year went on some of the weirdness of the economy meant people weren’t as eager to book paid speakers. Employee Resource Groups, which are often the groups that reach out to me didn’t always have robust budgets last year, and there was a fair amount of turnover with my contacts at companies. I didn’t make a goal for unpaid talks, but I did a few of those as well and was happy with how they went. I am still planning to do paid talks this year, but I'm not listing it as a topline goal for 2024.
  2. I set a goal for 100 new paying members. I got 93. I’m actually pretty amped about this. Obviously, I wish I’d gotten to 100, but this is pretty darn close! (If you meant to sign up last year, I’d love a head start on this year’s goals! (Become a member here) 
  3. I set a goal for 1000 new non-paying newsletter subscribers. I got 493. This isn’t that close to my goal, but looking back on it, I find this number respectable. The things that helped me get new subscribers were initiating swaps with several of my favorite newsletters to let our readers know about each other, like Evil Witches and the Golden Hour. I’ll be continuing this in the new year. I am also starting to get more subscribers from posting content on LinkedIn, which I’m finding to be the least annoying and cesspool-y on social media networks at the moment. The things that made it hard to reach this goal, I think, are how many newsletters there are these days (people just are reaching a saturation point in signing up for new ones) and that I’m not on Substack so I’m missing out on that big recommendation engine and ecosystem. (More on this next week.) With the implosion of Twitter, I lost a pretty engaged following of over 10K people that I could reliably convert a handful of to subscribers every week. 

Goals I totally tossed out:

  1. Bye Bye Courses: At the start of the year, I was quite bullish on offering some online courses. I even did a survey of readers about it and a lot of deep research on the logistics and projections on the time it would take to create them and what kind of revenue it would bring in. Ultimately, I decided my plate was full enough without starting another major initiative, so I shelved it.
  2. Ran Out of Bandwidth: I planned to a revamp and push of my consulting services because I was finding at the start of the year I was getting different kinds of clients and requests (Research and messaging for smaller care economy companies) than what I was advertising for (corporate consulting to support employee caregivers better.) But the same thing happened with this as what happened with the courses. My plate was full enough without booking more consulting clients, so I didn’t revamp.

Compared to how many years of my professional life have gone, I’d assess that 2023 was among the more stable and least stressful of the last eight years. I keep learning as I go!

Stay tuned for next week, where I walk you through my goals for 2024.

This week for our members-only thread, let’s take stock of how we survived the holidays with highlights and lowlights. Members, check your inboxes tomorrow!

Members-only threads are one of the awesome perks for membership, along with audio newsletters and members-only hangouts. Become a member to join in on the fun! It starts at $7/mo.

What I’m reading: I’m not usually one to rush out to get celebrity memoirs, but I’m finding Britney Spears’ The Woman In Me which was gifted to me by my husband, to be hard to put down. 

What I’m Watching: Since no new episodes are coming out right of some of my favorite soothing shows like Queer Eye and Bake Off, I’m enjoying the pettiness and opulence of The Gilded Age, on Max set in late 19th century New York, by the creator of Downton Abbey. 


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