Reflections and lessons from 2019
2019 has been a year of highs and real lows for me professionally and personally.
In this episode, my biz bestie Anna from Digital Aje asks me all the tough questions to share my challenges and wins from 2019, both in my business and in my life.
This is real and raw so you can learn from my lessons to set yourself up for an amazing 2020
In this Episode:
- 03.45: Clare’s biggest business wins in 2019
- 06.00: Clare’s biggest business challenges of 2019
- 11.12: Clare’s biggest personal challenges of 2019
- 14.20: Clare’s personal growth moments of 2019
- 17.30: Clare’s daily routine – the good and the bad habits
- 21.18: Clare’s reflection on 2019
- 22.42: Clare’s plans for 2020
- 26.03: How you can plan for 2020 and setup your business for success
- 27.46: Clare’s look back over the decade and dreams for the next
- Register: FREE Mini-Makers Program
- Digital Aje Instagram
- Lost Lover Instagram
- Lost Lover Website
- Clare Wood Instagram
Anna Sinclair from Digital Aje & Lost Lover
So here we are at the end of 2019, and lots of podcasters decide to do a look back at the year that was, and I’m no different. But what I wanted to do was invite along someone to ask me some questions that flow a little bit easier for me because it’s kind of weird, to be honest, sitting in my walk-in robe by myself, so I invited my biz bestie to come along. Anna from Digital Aje has been an integral part of my business since I got started. I literally wouldn’t be where I am now with my business, without her. She has helped me with so many different parts of my business and has now gone out and created her own business, Digital Aje, so Anna is going to be here today and ask me some questions about the year that was.
You’re listening to the Clare Wood podcast, where we talk all things business, finance, marketing, and mindset for entrepreneurs, sharing practical tips, and actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level. Introducing your host: me! I’m Clare Wood, I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, and a reality tv addict, and I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life, because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Now let’s dive right in to today’s episode.
So Anna, do you mind sharing a bit about yourself?
Yes, and I am so excited to be on The Clare Wood Podcast, so thank you for inviting me to be your interviewer tonight. So as you said, my name is Anna and I run a business called Digital Aje and basically I help product-based e-commerce businesses make money on autopilot through Facebook Ads and Email Marketing. I also own my own e-commerce store called Lost Lover, which sells jewellery and homewares sourced from around the world, but I am planning to transition to Digital Aje in 2020.
CLARE:I am so excited for you because you are an absolute gun! The success of Lost Lover, and then you’ve gone onto specialise in e-comm businesses, it’s so inspiring. I know you’ll be a massive success. If anyone is a product based business owner or knows someone, I’ll be sharing Anna’s links in today’s episode notes, which is episode 28. So make sure you go check out her businesses!
So this is a bit weird, I haven’t really done this before, but let’s get stuck into it. Anna, I know you want to ask all the icky questions that people might want to know. Sometimes on social media and on the podcast we talk about all the good stuff, but I want to give a really raw look at everything, that has gone good and bad at Clare Wood this year. Over to you, I’m at your mercy!
Yes, I want to dive deep. And talk about business and personal wins and challenges over the year. So we’ll kick it off with, what do you think are your biggest business wins this year?
Clare’s biggest business wins in 2019
Well I would definitely say this podcast. I have been blown away by the success of it. It launched at position number 2 on the Australia podcast business charts. It’s been listened to now in over 32 countries around the world, and Anna as you can testify, literally the night before it launched I rang Anna in tears, I was saying it’s so crap, I can’t launch this podcast. And she said it’s great, I would tell you if it wasn’t. And I’m so glad I did because it’s been transformational for my business and I’ve gone on to interview some incredible guests on this show, including Lisa Messenger, Shelley Horton, just to name a few.
The other thing I’ve done is launch my first online program – the Money & Marketing Makers, and I’m getting the most amazing feedback from the people who are currently working through the program. I always wanted to launch a program, and I finally got the guts and took the leap.
The other thing, which is the most obvious, is the results I’ve been achieving with my clients, seeing them uplevel and hit targets they are chasing. This year I’d my first million dollar revenue client, with another on track to hit that in 2020. And I’ve worked with clients from around the world, I had my first international clients, it’s been a really great year to be honest.
I’m so proud of you! It has been a really great year for you, and yes, I do remember that phone call the night before you podcast launch, and I’m such a perfectionist that I would tell you, but it was so much more than fine. You’ve gone onto achieve amazing things with this podcast and your business, so congratulations!
Thank you so much for talking me off the ledge, I’m very grateful.
I’m glad I did. So, with big highs, there are lows as well, it can’t all be smooth sailing, so I was wondering, what do you think your biggest challenges of the year were for your business?
Clare’s biggest business challenges of 2019
My first big challenge, and you were right there by my side, I was going to launch a retreat and I was so sure it was going to be a massive success. I found a fantastic house, I had put together the retreat, I was so excited about who could attend and what the retreat would be, and I literally had no one sign up. It was gut-wrenching. But, there were so many lessons I took out of it, the biggest thing was that I just didn’t promote it enough. I think I sent 2 emails, and I did a social post or two, and I thought why hasn’t anyone signed up to this. It was an investment, quite a lot of money and I know the value was there but maybe I didn’t sell that enough. So that was how my year started.
Another tough lesson was about the Makers launch. I had set a really high target for what I wanted to achieve with the launch and I missed the mark in terms of the numbers I was hoping to achieve. Again, massive lesson for me. I’ve bee quite transparent on the podcast that I ended up having 24 people on the program but I had much bigger goals for it. At the time of launch, I thought it was a no brainer. I had 3 times the amount that joined say that they were in, and so when they didn’t convert I was like, why, all these people were really keen. So that was another big learning for me. It’s the sales process, it’s the funnel and how you take people on that journey. And I need to accept full responsibility for not taking people on that journey. Another tough lesson, but ironically it was a really great success story because I have launched the program, within a month of deciding to do it, and I’ve got the most incredible people in the program, they are getting great results and I’m loving it, and I know the content has been well received.
I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself, I think 24 people is amazing for your first official launch of this program. And it’s not a one off! You are going to be launching it and having new people coming into the Makers and it will just get better and better, so I think it’s a massive win.
I think one of my biggest challenges was that I definitely am super ambitious with my goals, and that’s what I’ve taken away, having to set realistic expectations for myself.
The last challenge/learning/lesson was that I decided to setup some planning workshops at the end of this year, and again, I thought this was a no-brainer. I have such an engaged following and so many people coming to me and saying “can you help me with my planning”, and I thought why not run a workshop, everyone in together, it’s scalable, but again it wasn’t successful, so I ended up having to cancel it, and the people that did book in, I did one-on-one session with them and it was really disappointing. But again, looking back at the learning, it all came down to timing, messaging and the sales funnel and I obviously wasn’t bringing people into the journey. So this is something I really need to invest in!
I’ve had some tough and challenging times in business this year, but I’ve taken so many lessons and learnings from them.
Exactly, that’s the main thing, as long as you are learning from those challenges and taking them into 2020. And I think timing has a lot to do with it too. I know my December was really crazy and I will probably start thinking of 2020, in 2020, and I know that is bad and not what I should be doing, but anyway, I digress.
I love hearing about your business wins and challenges, but I’d like to move away from business and get a little personal and talk about what your biggest personal challenges were this year?
Clare’s biggest personal challenges of 2019
So I went through probably the worst time of my life at the start of this year. The long and the short of it is, both my Husband and I are self-employed and we run our own businesses and I guess two unreliable incomes, for lack of a better word. We also owned a couple of properties and we were about a million dollars in debt with two young kids. With really young children, childcare fees, this massive debt hanging over our heads, and two incomes which were unpredictable, we had people that owned us money from my husband’s business, quite a lot of money and we basically got into a situation where we ran out of money. And anyone who has ever been through financial stress to that level, will understand how horrible that is. I know our families have struggled with illnesses and grief, but for us this was more challenging, not knowing if we could afford bread. One week we were raiding the kids piggy banks. Again, I know it sounds like first world problems, we had a roof over our head and driving a nice car, but the fact was liquidating anything wasn’t an option in the short-term, so we ended up in a sticky situation. We took out some moolah loans which is the most ridiculous things, unsecured, and you are paying a 30% interest rate, and we ran through that and then ended up having to borrow money from family and friends. It was the most humiliating experience we had to go through. It was very short term thankfully, the payments we were waiting on, ironically 8 days after we had received the money off our friends and family. I was such a tough time, and made a tough decision to sell the family home in Sydney, so we’ve sold our house and we are now debt free and in a much stronger financial position, and we have savings and it’s a great feeling that we could turn it around. We had to go through a really crappy period to get their though.
What a transformation from the beginning of the year to now! Congratulations on turning that around.
We had to do it at a price. To sell was hard, it was the first home my husband had owned. It was really tough decision but when you have young kids and unpredictable businesses, it’s really unsustainable to keep up that level of debt. But here we are!
So through that I’m sure you had to be very strong, to get through those tough times like that, so I’m wondering what think your own personal growth moments were through the year?
Clare’s personal growth moments of 2019
I think a massive one is mindset and ironically, even when we were in that state, my hubby and I stuck really closely to each other and both believed it was going to be ok. We spoke to our accountant, and he said “guys, this is dire”, and we said, “no, it’s going to be ok”. So one of the biggest growth lessons I’ve had is mindset and the power of your mind. If you believe something, you don’t just manifest solutions and results, you create them, but it starts with mindset, so that’s been a really powerful transformation during the year.
Also again, at the start of the year, I was carrying post baby weight, and to other people I was fine, but to me I just didn’t feel great and as a result my confidence plummeted and I know from the outside, people didn’t see it, but I didn’t feel good. So for me getting my confidence back this year and learning to love myself as I am, and I lost a couple kg’s which helps. Confidence is such a big thing and when you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s really hard for other people to see that and especially my hubby, I got really needy, which is never attractive. Getting my confidence back has been massive and there’s no better feeling than loving yourself. And sleep. Again at the start of the year with young kids who weren’t sleeping, I was functioning on like 3-4 hours sleep a night, and now I have kids that are sleeping through and I feel fantastic, it makes all the difference. People who don’t have kids they are like, surely that’s not going on, but it will happen to you one day.
I don’t think it can because I need my 8-9 hours a night and I don’t know how I’m going to function. I’ll have to come to you when it happens, for advice.
I don’t think I was actually functioning that well. You just keep going and survive. It’s the strangest thing.
Good on you for getting through! One thing I’m always personally interested in hearing about, and I know others are too, but what is your daily routine or habits, good and bad, what have been your best and worst habits?
Clare’s daily routine – the good and the bad
Ok, I’m going to start with bad, because I like to start with the bad stuff and then move onto the good stuff. Bad habits, I definitely got into that cycle of drinking wine at night because you’ve had crap day and then the next day drinking coffee, and then you find yourself overtired the next day and over stimulated, then the glass of wine again at night. Another thing has been my phone. I bloody love that thing, like scarily.
They are so addictive, it’s bad
Then this year, I definitely went through a stage on Instagram and things, where I was like doing 5 hours of time on my phone a day. I was constantly like, oh it’s for business, and obviously the more time you spend on a platform, like Instagram, the more your engagement goes up and so I was seeing that time translate into results in my business, but again not a great habit and it got into an unhealthy place there.
Another habit was not being kind to myself. I put so much pressure on myself, as I’m sure so many business owners do. I had a one year old kid for most of the year, and trying to compare myself to other people and others with children. And it’s not fair to do that, you need to just run your own journey. The bad habit was to think why am I not where someone else is. Now I’m conscious of it, and think that’s awesome for them, what can I learn from them and change in my own life.
So those are the bad, the good… I am excellent with exercise, I walk 6 days a week with my hubby and family, and we call it the family morning walk and I get to the gym a couple times a week too. I think I’m such a high energy persona and I need a way to pump that stuff out.
I’ve been relatively consistent with my meditation and when I fall away from it, I know. Getting into quite a good habit with mediation.
A few other things, outsourcing has been a really big thing for me this year and I’ve grown a really great team and the ability to lean on other people has been a really great habit that I’ve formed.
And consistency. This is big people. Last year, I sent emails whenever I felt like it, which sometimes, was a month, even to 3 months. Now I send emails every week, or 2 weeks at max. I have been so much more consistent on email marketing, and so much more on Instagram and other social media platforms… that’s a lie, only on Instagram! But I have definitely found that consistency has been transformational in audience and engagement growing and building trust with people, so that’s be a great habit that I’ve formed in 2019.
You can definitely see that! You are showing up on your socials, your podcast, your website and you can definitely see that.
If you are looking back on 2019, is there anything you would have done differently?
Clare’s reflection on 2019
Yes. Look a big one would be, I wish I would have invested more money wise. I wish I had backed myself and said, yep I’m doing that course or working with that person. I definitely feel like I started doing that a bit more as the year went on. But I really believe the more you invest in yourself the more you get in return. Fear always sets in though, when you have to travel to that expensive conference, that fear kicks in. So investing in myself from a financial perspective as well as a time perspective. I found that as I got busier, I worked harder and harder and I felt guilty taking time and space for me, guilty for saying I need some downtime, guilty if I wasn’t getting up to the kids in the night, and so, definitely I think having space and investing time in yourself is invaluable. So, definitely investing in yourself in hindsight.
Well it’s good to take that into 2020. Speaking of 2020, I’m going to ask you 3 quick questions. What is one thing you are going to stop doing in 2020?
Clare’s plans for 2020
CLARE: Aside from all my bad habits which I will never ever do again [laughing]. I’m going to stop getting distracted. I am super focused and then an email will pop up and I’ll quickly reply to that person, then something will happen on Instagram and then the next thing you know I’m googling something, finding out what Brad Pitt is these days. I don’t know how it happens! I was responding to a quick DM and suddenly I’m off. This is a common thing with entrepreneurs, on a mirco level but on a macro level too, I find, for example I just launched the Makers program, then I’m setting up workshops and I’m like just focus on one, you literally just launched something a few weeks ago, so focus in on that. I’m already like, I want to write a book, and I think sometimes as much as it’s fantastic that our entrepreneurial minds are always creating new things, there is some much power in focus, so a big thing I want to take into the new year is to remove distractions, operating and be crystal clear on my goals and not on other people’s agendas, and trying to be really super focus. So much for a quick question, I think I just spoke for 5mins straight.
I guess it comes down to creating structure, time management and structure. I’m the same as you, I need to stop getting distracted in 2020.
Ok, we are going to be quick now. What’s one thing you will start doing in 2020?
I am going to start stepping back. I’m going to start trusting my team and when I hand something over. Recently I have handed over my inbox to my Business Manager, and I am literally not even seeing emails that come into my inbox. So I’m starting to let go and step back and really focus in on my zone of genius.
Perfect, that’s super exciting.
What’s one thing you will continue doing in 2020?
This year, I’ve definitely realised my passion is this podcast, I’m so proud of it. I want to continue to uplevel and provide great content and get amazing guests, and I want to continue the Makers program. I can’t wait to scale it, like I said I’m getting so much great feedback, and I can’t wait to share with more people, how to uplevel their marketing, their visibility and their business and then learn about numbers which is a big thing. So those are the things I’m going to continue in 2020.
Amazing, really exciting times ahead.
So for the listeners who are starting to think about their 2020, well I hope they are, because it’s literally tomorrow, when this episode drops. Do you have any advice on how to plan for 2020 and setup their business for success?
How you can plan for 2020 and setup your business for success
I’m going to be doing a little training actually, for business owners, on how to do their planning for 2020. I’m calling it mini-makers and it’s like a smaller version of the Makers program, we’ll be talking about marketing, planning, budgeting and all those different things that are essential for setting yourself up for success. So if you are keen to be part of this training, it’s going to be free, and it’ll be a taster of what the program is all about. So if you are keen to join and see what it is all about, check out the show notes for this episode which is clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode29. Come along and join the free program I’d love to have you join.
Clare’s look back over the decade and dreams for the next
I’m signing up, I need that. I have big ideas for 2020 but I need to create some sort of plan and structure. Wrapping up now, but I want to quickly ask you, since we are moving into a brand new decade, if you were to look back on the last decade and go back to 2009, around new years eve, what was Clare doing?
Oh man. 2009, I was single and living in a cool apartment in Pyrmont, Sydney, that had a rooftop swimming pool and pretty much my life consisted of my job, that I was just showing up for the pay check for and waiting for the weekend to go to Bondi beach and partying all the time. I was constantly travelling, grabbing a backpack and going overseas. It’s insane to think of me living in the suburbs with a husband and children and running a business.
So much has changed in the last 10 years!
Your life can change in 6 months, like you think about what you’ve been through in 6 months, you can go from being engaged, from married to not having kids, to being a parent, you can launch an online program or business or podcast. You can change your life at any point. I would love to say it was a conscious change and transformation, but it’s just happened. I didn’t even know this is what I wanted, but when you meet the right person it just comes together and here I am.
Absolutely life just comes about how it’s meant to.
If you were to dream big for the next decade, what are your biggest dreams?
Definitely being able to reach more people with the program and grow a following and share the program with more people. I think so many entrepreneurs are craving an understanding of the numbers and I’d love to be able to reach more people, and then in turn, contribute to more courses I’m actually passionate about. From a personal perspective, I really want to stay happily married and I’m proud to say my hubby and I are happily married and I hope in 10 years we stay the same. And travel pre-kids I was an avid traveller, and these days a trip to Fiji is like whoohoo. So I’m hoping to be able to get back on the road and have the financial capacity to live and work from wherever we want. And I really do want to write a book at some stage. I want to keep, personally, keep challenging myself and keep myself outside of my comfort zone, and I definitely think my happiness comes from growth, and think I unlevelled that’s happiness and excitement.
Well I think I’m going to wrap up my questions.
Thanks for coming along Anna, you’ve been such an amazing sport, and I’m so grateful for you. Anna literally stepped in at the last minute so I could get this episode out by the end of the year. I’ve been so grateful for you asking these questions.
Anna is such an amazing and inspiring business owner, so if you want to connect all her details are in the show notes for today’s episode, along with the details of the free training I mentioned for 2020.
Anna, thank you for joining me.
So fun let’s do it again next year! Happy New Year everyone.
Happy New Year’s guys, thanks for listening.
Thank you so much for joining me today, if you enjoyed this episode, please make sure you subscribe to receive future episodes, and I’d be so grateful for a review on apple podcast! If you’d like a copy of the show notes or any of the links mentioned today, please jump over to clarewood.com.au/podcast and remember that Clare is spelled CLARE, have a wonderful week and look forward to chatting to you again soon!
About your host
Hi, I’m Clare Wood – I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, a reality tv addict, and a passionate business coach. I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life; because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two.