At the end of every year, I like to geek out with an annual business analysis and review to understand how I spent my time and energy, determine what's working well and what I'd like to change, celebrate my impact, and set goals to strategize for the future.
2022 was my second full year as a coach (I began in March-ish 2020 - yep, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic), and I'm coming up on 3 years pretty soon here! My official open for business date is April Fool's Day, which I chose because, why not? Additionally, October 2022 was marked 4 years of self employment after leaving my last corporate job at eBay.
A handful of key accomplishments:
Maintained a full coaching practice with a total of 124 individual clients, 16% of which were return clients
Completed 107 1-hour strategy sessions (versus 55 in 2021), 17 career transition packages (24 in 2021), 13 career strategy packages (28 in 2021), and 14 career asset review packages (8 in 2021)
Increased revenue by 21%
Worked 18% less (took more days off, worked fewer total hours, about 5 a day on average, 29 hours per week average)
Continued raising my prices as I became even more confident in the value of my work
Became even more selective with who I decide to work with (based on fit, capacity, interest, competency, etc.)
$7600 in discounts/pro bono work for people of color and folks with budgetary constraints - a 45% increase from 2021 - while also being more intentional about discounting my services so I am not taking on an unfair financial burden
Made a direct impact through my client work and also through using my platform, privilege, and network for community advocacy, especially around compensation transparency (e.g., I was largely responsible for getting JP Morgan Chase to increase their offers to UX researchers)
I continue to enjoy the flexibility of my schedule because it best fits my intended lifestyle and desired life-work balance. I don’t feel compelled to (or need to) work according to traditional business standards - for example, I take random days or half days off during the week, and I don't take meetings before 11am or after 4pm
38% people of color
11% US immigrants
10% queer people
A looooooot of neurodivergent people
Worked primarily with experienced (mid, senior, lead, staff/principal) UX researchers and designers, and academics transitioning to UX research, as well as several people with other specialties (UX design, writing, and content strategy, people management)
Random factoid: I've met only two of my clients in person, ever!
I helped my clients...
Gain clarity, self-awareness, and direction to move forward successfully and independently with their lives and careers
Accelerate their job search process
Effectively tell their professional stories and position themselves as top candidates with refined resumes, LinkedIn profiles, portfolios, case study presentations, etc.
Secure interviews, new jobs, and better pay
Design career development strategies based on values and goals
Implement tools and frameworks for answering important career and life questions
Increase their confidence on the job, in workplace responsibilities and interactions
Build new practices of self advocacy, self reflection, self respect, and boundaries
Make tough decisions with confidence, put themselves first, and do what is best for their wellbeing
Figure out their shit, whatever that may be
Launched V2 of the UX compensation transparency database (which has 1,300+ entries at the time of this post)
Created a new open access referral list for life/career/business/other coaches
Joined the Queer, Trans & Non-binary Coaches Association and hosted several monthly peer coaching & brainstorming sessions for business development
Built new relationships with 23 coaches and UX peers
Participated in 5 community events: IxDA hiring manager panel (facilitator), BayCHI UX careers panelist (click here for recording), UXRS live resume review (recording), a follow-up Q&A for UXRS on resumes and job search (recording), and a Rosenfeld Media tech layoffs panelist (recording)
Took the leap into the world of workshops by turning my talk on LinkedIn and community development into a workshop, which I facilitated for 100+ attendees at both Ladies UX Atlanta and a Curiosity Tank alumni event (recording available for $25!).
Said no to an invite from a major design conference to conduct a day-long workshop because it didn’t pay enough and didn't fit into my business strategy - it would have been too much work to create something from scratch but wouldn't have yielded the same client impact and financial results
Published 20 blog posts on the topics of ux careers, labor and unions, compensation, networking & community, growth & development, social commentary, among others
Gained 254 newsletter subscribers (303% year-over-year increase) mostly by promoting it a couple of times on LinkedIn
Grew my LinkedIn followers to 15,000+ people, a 164% YoY increase
Wrote 82 LinkedIn posts, a 21% YoY decrease driven by three factors: 1) my goal of quality over quantity to spark conversation and have impact; 2) several short periods of LinkedIn burnout; and 3) avoiding posting because I put too much pressure on myself to outperform previous posts
Did my first ever interview for a major media outlet with a writer from The Wall Street Journal on the topic of tech workers
Interviewed on 4 podcasts including What is Wrong With Hiring with Laura Klein (link), Lately I've Been Thinking About... with David Dylan Thomas (link), and Low Fidelity with Rizwan Javaid (link), plus one more that hasn't not yet been released
Validated my approach to marketing my services not by talking about them, but by anchoring my content in what is valuable to the community and my ideal clients
Attended 17 events (conferences, talks, webinars, etc.) on the topics of relationships and communication, recruiting & talent, labor law, workplace trauma, storytelling, knowledge management, workshop design, entrepreneurship, trauma informed coaching, panel facilitation, and anti-capitalist business practices
Business development & back-end:
Top client sources: LinkedIn (49%, +13% YoY), referrals (26%, +4% YoY), events/podcasts (13%, +7% YoY), and then everything else (12%) which includes Google search, Facebook groups, my blog, Design/UX Google Group, Reddit, Slack group, etc.
Held 34% fewer introductory calls with prospective clients by further optimizing my funnel and messaging to attract the clients I want to work with, and by no longer offering intro calls for the more basic services - this saves me SO MUCH TIME!!!
I achieved 87% accuracy of ideal client match at the point of intro calls
My client capacity, pacing, and ability to project capacity are working well
For the first time ever as a coach, I hired someone to do 14 hours of administrative work, at 25% above the local living wage
Made no changes to my offerings because they are still working well, but I shifted the amount of engagements for each offering based on capacity, market changes, customer needs, and general fit/interest
Created a Buy Me a Coffee page (kind of like a Patreon) for people who want to support my public content with cash contributions; it feels weird to "monetize" my writing, but I put a lot of time and effort into that stuff!
Significant increase in website traffic: 4,431 unique visitors (+48% YoY), 6,689 site sessions (+62% YoY)
Kicked off a brand messaging & content refresh for my website, which I will begin to implement in the near future
Also very cool - 2 generous leaders in the UX community anonymously purchased a total of 7 strategy sessions as gifts for 4 individual practitioners!
Values in action:
Excellence in my services and helping my clients achieve excellence
Building community, camaraderie and relationships in UX, seeking to provide value and reciprocity in all interactions, using my power to help others, facilitating connections
Exercising my power and making an impact through community advocacy
Providing guidance for my clients and being guided by them, and guiding community thought on important topics
Courage to speak out, ask for what I want, fight for others
Authenticity and self-expression in the professional sphere
Practice anti-capitalism and restorative justice with discounts/pro bono work to people from systemically underprivileged groups, public labor advocacy
Choice, autonomy, self advocacy and enjoyment in every decision I make, especially as it relates to liking the work I do, minimizing activities that don't bring me joy and fulfillment. I know what is right for me, always. I guide clients to adopt this mindset and practice as well. BOUNDARIES continue to be a foundation for my quality of life.
Health from all angles - physical, mental, emotional. Being in nature and moving my body give me energy. Balance of life and work, which I do a good job of keeping separate. Coaching is not my identity. I have ample time for hobbies and self care.
Joyful challenge in the ongoing experiment that is running a successful small business
I continued to prioritize rest, self care, movement, and joy in meaningful ways, which helps me get the most out of life during challenging times, and be the best coach and person I can be.
Birded 115 hours across Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, observing a total of 176 bird species
Picked back up with physical therapy and personal training/weight lifting after sustaining a back injury earlier this year
Loosened my personal restrictions around pandemic quarantine which brought back a social dimension to my life that I was missing for so long in isolation
Completed a series of 12 three-hour psychedelic medicine sessions for trauma processing and relief of chronic depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which has made a huge difference for my mental health, in addition to continued somatic therapy and mindfulness practices
Put up my vintage Christmas tree & decorations for the first time in 4 years!
Decided to finally get on a dating app for the first time over 3 years!
What's next for 2023...
I am wading into the shallow end of scaling my business by setting up a shop on my website sometime in Q1, to sell digital products like career development resources, tools and frameworks, as well as workshop recordings and perhaps a gift card for strategy sessions - this is a big shift for me because I am used to working on-on-one with people, and it feels a bit like I'm commoditizing myself - regardless, I need to keep my perfectionism in check so I can get stuff out there and see how it goes!
I am working on a plan to experiment with casual, small-group coaching so I can provide value to more people and drive revenue while maintaining the same or fewer working hours; it's also a response to changing job market conditions wherein there are fewer jobs but more competition for those jobs
I will strive to not let a concern for social media vanity metrics (likes and comments) get in the way of just posting stuff - good enough is good enough! If it means I go a couple of weeks without posting something, then so be it - don't force it, just let the ideas come and I will know the right moment to write something
With the tech job market changes over the past 6 months, including mass layoffs and increased competition for fewer jobs amongst UX practitioners, I am paying very close attention to how this unfolds to understand how i can best work with clients and identify what I may need to change about my strategy and services
I found a new accountant who also does business advising and strategy, and I'm planning on shifting from a sole proprietor entity to a S-Corp to save some money on taxes
Theme for 2023
I feel satisfied with how 2022 wrapped up, and I'm excited to see what 2023 has in store for me, my business, and my clients. I sense a lot of change coming, but when is that not the case? My theme for the new year is Shift, a nice extension of last year's theme, Be Water. Everything is fluid and always shifting, like a river changing shape and size. It has the power to smooth rocks and provide sustenance in the process. I will continue going with the flow like a well-crafted boat, confident in my abilities, values, direction, strategy, and decisions.