Lessons Learned in 2020: My Best Revenue Year (So Far)

Allie Bjerk

Had I shared too much? Would it change how they saw me? Would it hurt my credibility?

That’s what I was asking myself and my team after I spent an hour with my Rich Life Lab members sharing lessons learned in 2020, including my biggest mistakes.

My social media strategist, Rachel, reminded me that highs AND lows are the daily reality of owning a business, no matter the revenue level.

She sent me this image that you’ve probably seen:

It went viral because it’s TRUE.

You might think hitting your highest revenue ever would mean you had a “perfect” year. Not even close. 

Every single business (and business owner) has highs and lows. Even though the highs were incredible, the lows were still painful. And they say, “New level, new devil” for a reason.

I’ll admit I like to look as if I have it all together. But I also want to allow for vulnerability,  openness, and authenticity about what it really looks like inside of a business. 

Ultimately, I don’t believe it serves anyone (including myself) to gloss over all of the not-so-happy parts of running a business. 

As entrepreneurs, things are not always going to go according to plan. Part of being an entrepreneur is actually working through those challenges, being creative, and coming up with solutions. We are professional problem solvers, right? 

So here are some of my highs and lows from 2020…

2020 – What a Year

The fact is: I made mistakes in 2020 while growing quickly and managing a team for the first time, launching new programs, and running a ton of ads. 

Generally speaking, this year’s big business theme was problem solving. We scaled really quickly, and I learned a lot about who I am as a business owner, including what works for me and what doesn’t. 

The bottom line revenue for my business in 2020 was $2.25 million. 

I didn’t deposit $2.25 million into my personal account and call it a day. What people often forget is that you can’t bring in that kind of revenue without expenses. 

I spent about $1.1 million on Facebook ads in 2020. I paid a team of contractors and employees — customer and tech support, a social media strategist, a copywriter, an integrator, web designer, and coaches for my Tiny Offer Lab program, etc. I paid taxes and fees for various software and tech.  

After expenses, I deposited a total of $170,000 in my family’s bank account. 

On one hand, I was thrilled to have a multi-seven-figure year in my business. On the other hand, I chastised myself for not making more profit. 

Here’s the lesson: A business will always have expenses. For me, being able to lead a team and know I’m contributing to the economy in a bigger way than just paying myself is a HUGE win. 

Know that if you’re paying contractors and employees, you’re helping them and the economy. You’re a wealth generator, recirculating resources and making more impact with your business.

That is a big deal, especially as a female business owner. 

On the flip side of that, are there things I could have done better? Yes.

Each month, I look at the numbers breakdown and see where my money is going. How much is profit? How much is take-home? How much for my team? How much for ads? 

I have target percentages to hit in each category, and if I miss the mark, I ask myself why and what I can shift to get closer. 

…which leads me to one of my biggest (and most uncomfortable) lessons in 2020 —  excessive hiring. 

Don’t get me wrong. I have a team that supports me, and I love it. But hiring the wrong people, or the right people at the wrong time, just leads to headaches. 

Why did I make hiring mistakes? 

First, there’s almost this expectation that once you reach certain revenue levels that you need to hire certain team members. For example, you reach $100K and you might hire a VA. I followed along those lines and found myself out of alignment. 

Second, we were launching and scaling so quickly, and needed support. We “broke”  things and had to bring in high-ticket consultants to help fix them. 

The lesson here: Patience. Had I been a little more patient with scaling, and not hired so many people so quickly, we may have avoided at least some of those growing pains. 

If you’re feeling like, “I should be further along. I don’t know why this is taking so long,” — stop judging what you expected the journey to look like and start appreciating the process and all of the achievements and lessons along the way.

Another major lesson I learned in the hiring and mis-hiring I did in 2020 was to TRUST myself. 

I hired Frank Kern as a private consultant in 2020, and one of the first things he did was ask to see my org chart. Within 15 seconds he said, “You don’t need this person. You don’t need that person. This role is repetitive.” 

His outside perspective made me realize that I was hiring out things that were my personal strengths. Because I thought I wasn’t good enough, or someone else had the magic key, or there must be an easy button. 

So in order to scale, I started bringing people into my business. And I lost touch with myself and my business. I lost confidence that I could do it alone. 

When I took a step back, I saw that I wasn’t trusting myself. And I remembered that I got myself to the first $750,000 in 2019, without a massive team.

Lesson learned: The answer wasn’t in hiring other people. It wasn’t in hiring someone to help me scale faster. It wasn’t in the right consultant or the right coach. It was always gut instinct. I always knew what I needed to do. 

Had I trusted myself to follow my first instinct and break through those mindset blocks, my profit and take-home numbers would have been higher.

Looking back, 2020 was a challenging year (understatement!). But it was also my best year so far in revenue. 

What was your biggest business challenge in 2020? And what did you learn from it?

Want to hear more about my lessons in 2020? Listen to the Rich Life Reframe Podcast Episode 9, where I share more, including how I hired a household manager in 2020. Total game changer.

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