Now that 2020 is officially out of our way (🍾) I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on what happened this year, what were my biggest wins, struggles, lessons and plans forward.
Interestingly, I can’t say that 2020 was “the worst year” actually. In fact, amidst everything going on, it was actually a big year for me personally (pregnancy, puppy, Alex’s promotion) but also the most profitable year in my business.
It was also the year where I took the biggest risks, experienced the highest levels of anxiety, insecurity and impostor syndrome, and have been really disorganised in the way I run my business.
Yeah, ok, 2020 was messy… but you gotta look on the bright side right?
To kick things off, I want to share with you a little month-by-month timeline of what happened this year. I think it’s so easy to forget all the things we do in our business, the people we meet, the projects we launch and the new experiences we go through – so this exercise was particularly enjoyable!
I kicked off the year with a pretty good month, actually! I was booked out 6 months in advance and also landed a large long-term retainer client that I was really excited to work with, and which brought a strong sense of security in my business.
This is also when I started working on one of my 2020 goals, which was to “attend more in-person events and expand my networking circle”… you may cue the laughs! 2020 obviously wanted me to remain an introvert!
All jokes aside, in December 2019, I bought a ticket to a “Freelancer Xmas Party” with the hope to connect with some fellow creatives and solopreneurs… just to leave after 24 minutes in panic because my introvert-self couldn’t handle the pressure of awkward conversation with strangers. That’s your girl right ‘ere!
So as a result, I told myself that in 2020 I’ll make an effort to network and socialise more in real life. And in Jan 2020, I attended an awesome book-signing event for Lucy Werner – a PR expert for small businesses, author of Hype Yourself, and Founder of The Wern – and had the chance to meet some amazing local female entrepreneurs.
Honestly, I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone back then because not only I made some amazing connections (like meeting Lara Sheldrake from Found & Flourish) but, looking back and connecting the dots now, this event led to some awesome opportunities later on – like putting me in touch with my lolab co-founder, Lucia Desperati.
So all in all, an awesome start of the year!
I actually took most of February off because I left to explore Canada with my little brother for two weeks. I had a grand total of 6 different destinations planned for 2020, but this is the only one that actually took place. And I’m so glad it did!
Despite the fact that we live in different countries (I’m in UK, my brother lives in Switzerland with my mom), we have a strong bond and this trip was an amazing opportunity to share an adventure together and connect even further.
For the rest of the month I was pretty jetlagged and was also working on getting ready for a pretty packed March, which ended up being a pivotal moment in my business.
March was kind of a “PR month” for me. It was also the “lockdown month” when my husband started working from home and we had to adapt to a new routine and way of living.
I had the honour to share my story on Saturday Haus blog, be a guest contributor for the Freelancing Females newsletter, and was invited as a speaker to the Simply Profitable Designer Summit to teach fellow designers how to streamline their business using Asana and elevate their client experience.
This is when suddenly a new door started opening up for me and my business.
You see, up to this point I only worked 1:1 with clients on brand & web projects, and while I considered adding education as an additional income source, I never really had the time to sit down and seriously think about it.
But the Simple Profitable Designer Summit was an amazing opportunity to suddenly talk and share value with a whole new audience; an audience of fellow designers, eager to learn and grow their business.
So I had to think quick, adapt and prepare for what was coming, starting with a rebrand and redesign of my website to accommodate for this new audience that I would attract as a result of the summit.
Splitting my business into two very different niches was definitely a challenge and it’s still something I’m working on. As a conversion-led designer, I put a strong emphasis to knowing my target audience and speaking directly to them, but it’s definitely harder when you suddenly talk to two different niches. That’s how the decision to create One6Creative Academy was born – I wanted a separate place for designers to get education and resources on how to grow their design business, while still keeping my design services separate.
Client launch in March 2020: Shopify store for Molly & Tom
I saw a huge influx of designers reach out to me after the Simply Profitable Designer Summit and in April I launched a 5-day free challenge for designers to help them streamline their workflow with over 300 people participating! Wawawiwa!
As I was putting together this challenge, I also decided to take a leap of faith and pre-sell my course idea on day 5 of the challenge. Now, I’m not gonna go into too much detail about this accidental course launch (I suggest you listed to this 3-part series on the podcast 1|2|3) but I ended up pre-selling my course to 72 students eager to learn and transform their design business.
Client launch in April 2020: Train with Ellen
May and June were dedicated to running (and creating, actually) my course! Because I pre-sold it without having a final product ready, I was creating everything on-the-go, which was definitely incredibly exhausting. But when you have 72 students who put their trust in you – you gotta power through it!
This whole experience was incredibly rewarding. Not only was it amazing to witness the life-changing transformation my students were going through, but I also created a lot of connections and friendships as a result.
The course ended in mid-June and my plan was to restructure it and relaunch it in September. But as you can imagine, after a pretty intense couple of months (I still had active projects happening at the same time), I just collapsed and needed to get my strength back. So instead, I dedicated the rest of June to collecting feedback and jumping on Zoom calls with my past students to understand how to create the best possible experience for future students of the Breakthrough Designer course.
In July, I didn’t do too much work actually! My mom had a pretty serious operation and my brother turned 18, so I went to visit them both in Switzerland for a week with my husband.
This is also when we found out that I was pregnant!
And so began a very long and exhausting (but also happy!) first trimester, which really kicked my butt hard… you can listen all about it in this episode.
Client launch in July 2020: Mai-kee Tsang
As mentioned above, the first trimester was really hard and I took a major step back from my business. Or at least from all the plans I had for my business. I could barely keep up with all the client work and am super grateful for their kindness and patience during this time.
So to take my mind away from the nausea… we got a puppy 😂
In all fairness, we’ve been wanting a puppy for 5 years now, but unfortunately our neighbourhood wasn’t pet-friendly. In August, after years of bugging them to change their regulations, they finally change their mind!
So in August we welcomed Cash – a chocolate cocker spaniel – who started parent training us from the first sleepless night! It’s funny because I grew up with dogs, but never actually had to fully take care of a puppy myself – now that was a challenge!
Luckily, Cash is an incredibly bright and energetic little fella and settled in beautifully after a couple of weeks. We couldn’t imagine a life without him now!
As I mentioned before, September is when I initially hoped to relaunch the Breakthrough Designer course, but unfortunately with the pregnancy, puppy and falling behind with a couple of projects, I just didn’t have the energy to commit to it.
Instead, I sat down with my business strategist and we started thinking about how am I going to prepare my business for maternity leave. What are the changes I would like to make in my business to help me run it in a better way.
Introducing education into my business was definitely an eye-opener. But running a coaching programme meant I needed to still physically be present to support my students. Instead, I started thinking about how I could still generate income without being there 24/7.
For a very long time I wanted to launch digital products but, just like with the course, I never really sat down to outline a launch. But this seemed like the right time to finally do it and I started planning for the launch of my Business Templates for Designers.
Client launch in September 2020: Paisley Ann Photography
In October, I officially launched my templates for designers which ended up being a big success in my books! This expanded the possibilities for the Academy even further and showed that I can offer so much more than courses as part of it.
I spent the majority of the month marketing, polishing and launching the templates, which you can check out here!
Client launch in October 2020: Lindsay Hope Creative
Finally, the end of the month I took it slow. I focused on wrapping up projects, cleaning up my business and planning for the year ahead (I’ll share more about it later in this post).
Looking back now, I realise that I really worked for about 6-7 months this year and still had the most profitable year in business! This just showed me that working more doesn’t always equal earning more. And despite the fact that it’s been quite a disorganised year, the risks I took in my business this year brought amazing results and lessons learned.
Alright, now let’s look at some of my favourite wins from this year:
Of course, not everything was perfect this year. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned and new obstacles were faced! And I’m glad it happened! I think we grow some much more by experiencing the hard stuff in our business, and I personally love sharing these with you so hopefully you can learn from it!
It feels weird planning for 2021 because I don’t even know what awaits me this year with motherhood. However, I am a strong believer that you do not have to choose between running a business and growing a family (in fact, so many entrepreneurs I look up to are managing both beautifully)
My main goals for 2021 is to give myself permission to do less and focus on the education side of my business and launch lolab.
I’m planning on taking a step back from client work in 2021 with only 2-3 VIP projects and concentrate mainly on relaunching my course, running live paid workshops, book more virtual speaking opportunities and continue making connections with badass female entrepreneurs.
I do have a couple of additional projects I’d like to see happen, such as conversion-led website templates and launching a planner for online business owners, but I’m trying not to get my plate too full this year (ha, we’ll see about that!)
So there you have it – that’s my long 2020 recap! If you reached this point – THANK YOU for reading 🙂 It was fun looking back at this weird year and I wish for 2021 to bring you happiness, health, prosperity and tons of joy. That’s all that matters!