Episode 217: Behind-the-Scenes with Maggie: A Mid-Year Check-In
It’s been a while since I’ve done a behind-the-scenes, so in this episode of the Small Business Boss podcast, we’re taking a look at the first half of 2020. The wins, the lessons and some real talk about where I’m really at in this epically strange year.
Bosses, I legit don’t even understand how we’ve gotten to the halfway point of 2020. It’s been the shortest and longest year ever, and definitely not what any of us planned. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.
But here we are. Because one of my core values is transparency, I mean, I just did a series here on the podcast on ditching the BS in our businesses, so I want to walk my talk. Which means, you’re getting an in-depth look at what’s really going on in my business.
Back in January, I was planning for a year of massive growth and after a couple of slow weeks, we were ready to rock and roll. We had a new website and were picking up on the lead gen. New business calls were happening.
And then, by the end of February, I knew things were about to get seriously weird based on how new business was progressing and some of the conversations I was having with prospects and clients. Gut feelings aside, I had NO idea what was waiting for us.
Over the course of a week in mid-March shit got very real. A contract renewal for one of our bigger clients that was already approved was pulled. Another client had to go on pause. And another terminated their contract.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have more than a few moments that week. My first thought was “Oh, maybe this is it. The time it all goes to hell.” Then I remembered that I’ve been preparing for a recession for the last two years, and that we were finalizing a sizable client contract.
In the middle of all of that, I created an alternate budget, revised revenue projections and came up with my plan B, C, D and E.
The good news? That big client contract was finalized with an April 1st start, and that revenue more than covered the gap with those clients leaving. And in an unexpected twist of fate, one of our main clients significantly expanded our work with them, and a project came in from another client.
For the quarter, we ended up $10k ahead of our “conservative” projection, and $4k short of the more ambitious one. We have two as my bookkeeper thought my numbers were high based on year-over-year growth.
Honestly, seeing those numbers was a huge relief and helped me keep my head going into Q2. It was a great lesson in knowing your numbers and having a handle on different scenarios. So many times we create what I call the “best case scenario” budget with projections that account for significant growth. Instead, we need to work with a series of scenarios.
Another takeaway was the power of follow-up. That one bigger client contract that finally came in was in discussions for over three months. Thanks to my follow-up, the new contact (my main person left and I didn’t know) found me in their email and reached out to me. If I’d decided it was dead in the water, this quarter would have played out very differently.
As we started Q2, I’d done a hard core revision of our revenue projections as new business activity had dropped off completely. We did pick up a few unexpected projects, and thanks to higher volume of work from existing clients, we quickly surpassed my conservative projections.
Will we meet the projections from the start of the year for agency revenue? I’ve not seen final numbers, but that answer is a firm no. The good news is, we’re FAR ahead of my “doomsday” budget projections for Q2, and for that I’m grateful.
This quarter’s original plan was to add two new clients, which didn’t happen. Lead gen is pretty close to dead at this point. In Q2, I did a total of ONE new business call, which is promising, but our target market is being very conservative at the moment. I’m expecting this to continue through September.
My overall numbers for lead gen and proposals are much, much lower than 2019, but so far so good revenue-wise. It’s really a testament to some of the pricing changes we made in 2019 which allow us to work with fewer clients and to generate more revenue. (More on that in an upcoming episode.)
Note: I’m not sharing this to say “hey, look how great I’ve been doing” but more to keep it real. It may be different for you, but the lessons I’m sharing are applicable no matter what.
A big lesson from this past quarter is really about patience. My natural reaction when things are slower new business wise is to start doing. But in the middle of the pandemic right now, that’s not really feasible, so I’ve channeled that energy into serving existing clients, checking in with past ones and generally trying to remain chill as I don’t have a crystal ball.
One surprise twist in all of this, was that I was finally ready to make a local hire in March, and we quickly pulled back on that. Honestly, I’m relieved that we didn’t hire, as it’s simply a strange time, and having someone new that we couldn’t work with in person would have been awkward.
So, if you’re wondering what’s next? Great question. My goal for the Summer is to stay the course with existing clients, and hopefully line up the prospect that I’ve been engaged with. I also need to take some time to regroup over the summer and figure out the game plan for lead gen, particularly with inbound as well as cold outreach.
2020 may not be the year I planned for Scoop, but we’re making the best of the year as it’s happened.
Small Business Boss
As I’ve alluded to in a past episode, I’ve been deep in thought about what’s next for Small Business Boss. At the end of February, I was preparing to launch and run a mastermind starting in late March.
Quickly, that was scrapped, as I wasn’t up for pretending everything was normal when it really and truly wasn’t. Which left me wondering what the plan would be beyond running the Agency Mastermind.
Speaking of which, six months in, this group has been an absolute joy to work with this year. Creating a space specifically for people focused on the agency model has led to so many valuable conversations, sharing of best practices and more.
Pivoting the mastermind and getting specific wasn’t an easy decision, but the right one. Especially as I decided to reduce the number of spots, and that meant a drop in overall revenue from the mastermind. All I can say is 2019 Maggie got this one right, and the Agency Mastermind is definitely one of my most fave things I’ve ever done in my business.
All of which has led me to the realization out of all the things I’ve offered over the years, masterminds are my sweet spot. They’re enjoyable for me to run, and they make the biggest impact. So, the decision has been made that masterminds continue to be the flagship offering for Small Business Boss.
Now I’m working on a way to provide a mastermind experience in a new and innovative way. More to come on that, but it’s something I’m committed to as premium pricing for masterminds in the online world is out of control. It’s ridiculous, and frankly not attainable for a lot of business owners in the current climate.
In short, if you’re looking for a mastermind, I got you. More to come later this summer.
I also plan to offer some limited workshops on specific topics that will be just-in-time training for what’s happening right now in 2020.
On a final note, it’s probably no secret for many of you that I’ve been getting increasingly fed up with the shenanigans of online marketing. The pandemic intensified this for me, and then the downright disgusting behavior of so many influencers and teachers in early June around Black Lives Matter and anti-racism tipped me over the edge.
So, to be clear. Small Business Boss is going to evolve in a big way in the coming months. (Including a new name for this podcast!)
I’ve lost my very last fuck and I don’t care who I piss off in this industry. I’ve never been here to play the game, and by holding back I’m limiting myself, and not giving you all my best.
In a weird way, 2020 has been the wake up call I needed to go all in, instead of just leaving time and space to figure it out. So, game on. Let’s do this, bosses, and I hope you’re ready for me and my commitment to helping you build a business that’s FREE of this BS.