Looking back at my business in 2021, we’ll be going through a transparent breakdown into what went down last year and the lessons and takeaways that we can all apply into our own business and life.
First, let’s start with how much money we made in the business last year.
We made nearly $104,000 USD in sales. 2021 was our first six figure year in the business.
Another cool milestone we hit around mid 2021 was surpassing our first US$100k in total sales since officially starting the business in March 2019.
Then we finished the year with US$100k in 2021 alone.
Honestly, I’m still in awe.
If you’re curious to know more about the journey from 2019 to today, including how we took a seven month break and returned back to the coaching scene in 2020, I’d love to invite you to check out Episode 47: 100k – My Honest Thoughts and Episode 20: My Business Journey: From Zero to 5k-10k Months. Both of these episodes will give you a deeper look into how we got to where we are today.
The US$100k out of the US$104k were from selling coaching programs, which includes my 1:1 program and the group program.
The remaining 4k came from miscellaneous small offers such as a workshop I sold around April 2021, and some guest speaking for other people’s groups and masterminds.
My 1:1 coaching program started out as a four-month program which I offered at US$2500 pay in full (PIF), and then US$3,000 PIF, then $3,500 PIF. There were payment plan options available.
Then, I decided to extend the program to 6 months because I felt that my coaching skills were at the level where clients would benefit from being in a longer term relationship with me. Especially inside a 1:1 container where we can coach really deeply on different areas of the clients’ business, mindset and life outside their business, so that the client can have a more holistic transformation. I offered the 6 month 1:1 program at US$4,500 PIF, and currently it’s US$5,500 PIF.
For the group program, I sold three rounds of the group program throughout 2021. The first cohort had two awesome people, the second cohort had four awesome people, and the third cohort had six awesome people.
For the first three rounds of the group program, they were all four months and I offered them at US$2,500 PIF. We’ve also begun enrolling early spots for the next round of the group program, which officially begins in March 2022.
For this round, we have welcomed five people inside as of today, which is January 5, 2022. This 6 month group program is offered at US$3,500 PIF.
What I think worked really well for me and my business was soft launching.
I soft launched my 1:1 program throughout the entire year.
At the same time, I gave myself ample time to fill up the group program instead of launching within a short period of time such as 2 or 3 weeks, even though I had a close cart date.
I personally enjoyed this way of selling because it lets me train my launch mindset so that in 2022, I can experiment with more traditional forms of launching and launch within much tighter timelines.
Because my brain was occupied with so many things outside of the business, especially when it came to my PhD, long distance relationship, super strict travel restrictions and quarantine rules here in Hong Kong, I didn’t think my brain would have been able to handle launching the group programs in a more “traditional” way.
For example, the launch that most resembles a typical launch would be the launch for the first round of the group program, where we enrolled two people into the program.
Personally, that launch in particular did not feel effortless or exciting at all. It felt really stressful and anxiety inducing. I had a lot of mind drama because I didn’t manage my brain as well as I did with the launches later on.
I was trying to sell the group program every single day and I was talking about my programs in a way that I didn’t enjoy. For example, I created a lot of content about who this program is for, who its not for, problem aware or myth busting content and why my program is different and unique.
You won’t see me talking about my programs in that way anymore. Simply because I now leverage my unique thought leadership and show up as a living example of what’s possible , rather than relying on marketing-heavy types of content which honestly didn’t make me feel good.
That’s why for all my launches afterwards, I did not promote both my 1:1 or group programs in that way.
And guess what happened? Because that launch did not feel good at all, I started to explore other ways of selling and showing up. That’s one of the reasons why I started exploring my own unique thought leadership and the concept of thought leadership in general, and started to apply that into my own content.
I learned a lot from that one launch alone. It’s completely changed my content and marketing strategy for the rest of 2021.
If there’s something you don’t currently like about your business, just know that there’s always another way of doing things or thinking about things. Always.
Be willing to challenge the common business or marketing advice and to do things differently.
The Side Hustle Club Podcast had 9731 downloads in total for the year, across 56 episodes.
Among these 56 published episodes in 2021, 33 were solo episodes, 15 were guest episodes, 2 were client spotlight episodes, and 6 were bonus episodes.
The biggest take away from how the podcast has played a role in my business results in 2021 is leaning into what’s inside your own brain.
One of the key reasons why our listeners enjoy the show so much is because I offer my own perspective and ideas. The episodes are based on my lived experiences and honest opinions.
I’m sharing the behind the scenes of my own business. I explain my own thought process behind why I do what I do in my business.
I share concepts and ideas that are unique to me, because I literally created them myself. For example, I did not look at someone else when creating the Cheryl Theory framework.
I specifically shared this takeaway because for the first two or three months of starting the podcast, around October 2020, I was really worried about running out of content ideas.
That’s why in the first 5 or 6 months of the show, I invited a number of guests on the show. I invited them because I was confident that they’d bring value to the show. But also, I have to be honest that I was definitely nervous about my own ability to create content on a weekly basis. Around November 2020 to March 2021, I booked a lot of Zoom calls with guests, batched the guest episodes ahead of time, and then released them over time.
Now, you may notice that we’ve started to do less and less guest interviews. That’s because I’ve started to develop a greater trust in my own ability to create content constantly.
Rather than thinking that I need to rely on guests to create content, I shifted the thought to trusting that the sentences coming out of my mouth will be of value, as long as they are thoughts and ideas that came from my own brain.
I started to really coach myself on believing this and trusting that my own ideas, experiences and opinions are of value. As I started to coach myself constantly on this, I felt less need to rely on other people to bring value to the show. Instead I spent more time leaning into my own brain and creating content from my own brain.
The key thing I learned when it comes to leveraging the podcast to create a six figure year is to trust that your own brain will make you money. You don’t need to rely on anything external to you.
Meaning, you don’t need to do content ideas, market research, or copy someone else’s content topics, or invite guest experts to speak to your audience, or anything that’s outside of your brain.
Start trusting that your own brain can create value, and it can create value very, very often.
Then, create that content that stems from your own ideas, experiences, observations and opinions. That’s what it means to become known for your unique thought leadership.
I also posted daily on Instagram stories. On average, I get around 120 to 150 views on my stories, unless I post content related to my boyfriend or wedding. Then, I’ll see the views go up to about 250.
I also did not count how many posts I made for my Instagram feed, but I know that I typically post 2 or 3 times a week. Most posts were carousel posts that were repurposed from my Instagram stories.
I found out that not only thought leadership content and content that “adds value”, which is the conventional way we think of what adding value means, is the only content that’s valuable to your audience.
The energy of showing up as our genuinely happy selves and with our best energy is also value.
Here’s another way of looking at this.
Think of your favorite people to follow on Instagram or YouTube. Do you only like their content that has educational value or where there’s a lesson or takeaway or it demonstrates their thought leadership?
Or do you also enjoy their casual lifestyle content where they’re simply being a happy person sharing causal topics, such as talking about how obsessed they are with their cat?
Many of us find value from both types of content. Both thought leadership content and lifestyle content where the person is being their best selves and living their best life, shows us an example of what’s possible for us.
We look to them as someone we can aspire towards and we want to be in their energetic bubble on the Internet because their energy alone helps us see the possibilities for ourselves.
Closer to late Q3 of 2021, there was a shift in my content on Instagram, especially Instagram stories, where I reduced the quantity of my thought leadership content and started to showcase my lifestyle and a more personal side of me.
This was a very intentional shift because I knew that I was going through some personal life events that made it more challenging for me to use my brain to create new ideas and content that showcase my thoughts about business.
At the same time, I also knew that by taking a step back, taking care of myself and living my best life, and showcasing snippets of that part of my life, can be of just as much value to my people, as much as thought leadership content. The reason is because it shows people a lifestyle that’s possible for them.
My audience wants to see that it’s possible to have a successful coaching business built on part-time hours so that they can make time for other things.
For some, those things could be rest. For others, it could be spending more time with your loved ones. Maybe it’s traveling or picking up new hobbies. Maybe it’s going to more cafes. Maybe it’s buying their dream apartment that’s big, super sleek and modern and has enough space for six cats. By the way, this is my goal.
Remember that showing up in your best energy and living your best life is value because it shows people an example of what’s possible for them. It gives them a look into what you’re all about as a human being.
If you want to create wholesome vibes via your content, you can. If you want to create fun, energized vibes, you can do that too.
Showing up as your best self is of value.
I sent five newsletter emails around March 2021, then I decided not to continue. This is an area of my business that I’d like to explore in 2022, but I will need to wait till after some life transitions settle down.
My wedding is happening in February and then I’m most likely looking at relocating to Singapore in the second half of the year. My partner and I are also starting to think about buying our first home together. A lot of things on the personal life side. For now, building my email list and sending emails are on my mind, but not a priority at all.
I posted LinkedIn sporadically throughout the year, mostly to promote the guest interviews of the podcast or to share interviews that I did on other people’s podcasts.
I only created a handful of posts that were more value based, similar to what I’d post on Instagram. But posting on LinkedIn was something I didn’t feel committed to and therefore I did not post regularly there.
Looking ahead at 2022, similar to the email list situation, I would like to show up on LinkedIn, but right now, I don’t have the capacity to do so.
It’s ok to not leverage a platform or do something in your business, even if you really, really want to. It’s okay especially if you simply don’t have the time capacity, energy capacity, or emotional capacity.
Focus on mastering the basics first, and that could simply mean doing Instagram really, really, really well and signing consistent clients only using Instagram.
This is something most of my clients focus on inside their businesses, because many of them have a 9-5 or major life events on top of their careers or family life.
They understand that right now, they want to just do the bare minimum in their business, but do the bare minimum really, really well.
Instagram and podcast were my primary platforms and I really love creating content and value on these places. They will continue to be my main platforms for 2022 until I find that I have more capacity to add on either emails and/or LinkedIn.
I held my very first public free webinar, the Cheryl Theory webinar.
I officially opened the sign up page for the webinar on October 27, and by December 31 2021, we have 123 people signed up.
The webinar took place on November 14 2021.
After the event was held live, I turned it into a super simple funnel where people can sign up for the webinar via the link in my Instagram bio.
On this webinar, we broke down the Cheryl Theory framework and how this approach has helped me create a six figure business while doing a PhD and making time for other parts of my life that matter a lot.
We dove into both the strategy and mindset behind the Cheryl Theory. Specifically, I shared my insights into building a simple, effective, and enjoyable business that lets you make a massive income and impact, and still like your life and yourself.
This is really important because what’s the point of making six figures in your business if you’re always drained, stressed and not able to live your life? Would that even be a business worth building? That’s exactly what I address inside the webinar.
You’ll also walk away with actionable tips, strategies, and mindset shifts that you can implement in your own business. If any of this sounds fun, you can sign up for this free event.
Here are my favorite takeaways on how this webinar contributed to my business results.
From my understanding, I’m only aware of one specific client who joined my 1:1 program in December, who was heavily influenced by the webinar when making a decision about working with me.
I’ve had several other clients join either my 1:1 program or the group program since the webinar launched, and when I took a quick look at who joined my webinar, I could see that three clients who joined after the webinar launched, had signed up for the webinar.
But, because I didn’t directly ask these three clients whether the webinar played a big role in their decision to apply to our program or ultimately to join our program, I currently cannot confidently tell you how the webinar might have contributed to our 2021 business results.
I plan to revisit the webinar later on in 2022 and explore whether I have any updated thoughts on the Cheryl Theory Framework. Later on, when I do revamp the webinar in any way shape or form, I will definitely be documenting the process and my thought processes in more detail so I can share more takeaways.
For now, what I can say is that I do believe that the webinar has contributed around US$13k to our business to a certain extent. This is also an area of my business that I want to pay closer attention to moving forward.
The inspiration behind the Cheryl Theory came from because I noticed I’ve been receiving a very common question from many people: “How do you do both your business, your PhD AND make time for personal life?”.
I also noticed that whenever I get this question, I used to shy away from it and brush it off, because I thought it came really easily to me and also, I didn’t know how to answer the question.
Over time, I started to take more responsibility and thought that if many people are asking me a variation of the same question, that clearly means this is something people want me to help them with.
So I decided to own up to the question and start reverse engineering how I was doing this. And after hours of thinking time and diving deep into my brain, I developed the Cheryl Theory framework.
You might have been brushing off questions people have been asking you because you think it comes too naturally and easy for you and you don’t know how to help people with.
If you’ve ever felt like this, rather than brushing it off, I want you to give yourself some credit. Because clearly you’ve been able to do something that others would love your help on.
It’s our responsibility to help people. If we know there’s something that people want our help with, and we’ve been able to do it for ourselves, then it’s on us to take the time to do the work and figure out how we can help others to do the same.
I believe that we all have unique skills that have led us to create amazing results in certain areas of our life. For example, I’ve developed the skill of building a business on part-time hours by leveraging my unique thought leadership and soft launching skills.
These skills have led me to create awesome results like a six figure year in business even as a side hustle and on top of my career and making time for other areas of my life.
For the longest time, I avoided trying to figure out how to help others do the same because I thought “Oh… I’m just… I don’t know… special… I guess…”. That was the energy and mindset I was in when I avoided helping people.
That’s why I want to challenge you to look within and understand what your unique skills are that you have used to create results for yourself. And how can you use those skills to help others or how can you teach those skills, and therefore create awesome results for them as well.
If you notice that there are certain things that just feel quite natural to you, but you feel like its not “good enough” to turn it into a coaching business or maybe you feel that because it’s so natural to you, that you don’t know how you can possibly teach it to others, that is a sign that something is brewing.
There’s definitely something there that can seriously change the game for your business. I would even hypothesize that that is going to become a core part of your unique thought leadership and your unique frameworks or methods that you’ll become known for. So don’t shy away and start leaning into this.
That was a recap of the behind-the-scenes of how we created over US$100k in sales in 2021.
So far, we talked about the main contributors to creating this US$100k and some of my favorite takeaways.
One overarching lesson I observed, which ties this whole post together, is that whatever results you created in 2021, whether it meant you hit your 2021 goals, or maybe you didn’t come close to your goals, or you blew it completely out of the water… Whatever you finished off the year with, I’m going to make a guess that you’re now thinking about whether you can create results in 2022.
Whether the business will become “sustainable”. Whether you’ll be able to create the income you want and live your dream life this year. Whether you’ll make money and sign clients this year.
I honestly think no coach or entrepreneur is immune to these thoughts. No matter what results you’ve created or not created, these thoughts will come up.
No matter what “stage” of business you’re in. No matter how successful you already seem on Instagram. No matter how much money you’ve already made.
I find that many coaches and entrepreneurs correlate the value of their work as a coach or the value of who they are as a person, with how much money they make.
For example, a common thought is, “If I dont make money in my business, it means no one wants to work with me and that means no one likes me or sees value in what I do”.
To add on to that, a concern a lot of coaches will also have is not being able to meet their financial needs and not having money for their life.
With regards to the first part, what I’ve observed for both myself, my clients, and also other peers in the industry, this all comes down to expectations.
Specifically, expectations we created and imposed onto ourselves. Expectations about what we were “supposed” to have done or created from the business.
For example, the expectation that we should have been able to sign more clients by now. The expectation that you should have way more people messaging you about your coaching program.
The expectation that you’d feel more confident and certain in yourself as an entrepreneur.
The expectation that content creation will become a lot easier.
The expectation that you’d know exactly what to do in your business.
The expectation that finances will no longer be a concern.
The expectation that you’ll be living your dream life and feel amazing and all the good vibes.
However, I’ve observed for myself and for my clients who have also hit their goals in 2021, that even with the results we created in the business, these thoughts never went away.
The self doubt, the comparisons, the self shaming and blaming, wanting to give up, wondering if this will really be a sustainable business. Even if you’ve made money in your business before, I’m sure you will notice that the doubts you had prior to the results, don’t go away.
There is often an expectation that making a certain amount of money in the business will automatically lead to a better life (whatever that means to you) and as a result, we’ll feel better, happier, more confident and more certain.
When we realize that these expectations don’t bring about any significant change in how we feel, as our thoughts, mind drama, and self-doubt continue to resurface repeatedly, it raises an important question: Why do we impose these expectations on ourselves in the first place?
What if six-figure entrepreneurs also experience doubts about the sustainability of their business and creating consistent income? What if they too question the effectiveness of their content and messaging?
What if they feel envy and jealousy towards others on Instagram? What if they still have financial concerns and worries about the possibility of returning to a 9-5 job?
If that’s the case, are these expectations we’re putting on ourselves even helpful in creating results or reaching our goals?
Is it helpful to pressure ourselves and our businesses to create a specific income goal every month?
As we just talked about on Episode 64: Your 2021 Business Reflections and 2022 Goals, I don’t doubt any of our abilities to create incredible impact and income from our businesses.
But it really goes back to the question of: Are we thinking thoughts that are helping us show up, take action and create massive results?
If we constantly overwhelm our minds with thoughts like “I’m not sure if I can hit this goal this year” or “I really need to get my business to work this year, or else I have to go back to a 9-5,”, it dampens our spark and extinguishes our fire.
However, when we embrace the “I got nothing to lose” energy, we show up as our best, brightest, most confident and unapologetic selves. We are eager to share our message and work with the world and tell people how we want to help them.
When we’re not operating from the “I got nothing to lose” energy, we’re very likely not taking action from a state of confidence and conviction.
Instead, we’re always tweaking, tinkering and buffering with our content and messaging. The energy we feel inside will be reflected to our audience.
When people sense that we’re not fully backing our words and actions, why should they believe that we will fully back them and support them to the fullest extent?
When we’re doubting what we’re doing or doubting our content and messaging, others will doubt us too.
Remember that you can choose your thoughts. You can choose what thoughts to think about your business and the results you have “yet” to create.
If you can choose your thoughts, why not choose to think the thoughts that are most helpful to you?
From that state of mind, as you’re feeling better because you’re thinking thoughts that help you look at the situation differently, you can then take action from that energy or mindset.
And because we can choose what to think about XYZ, that means there are endless possibilities when it comes to your thoughts.
Rather than immediately defaulting to thought #1, why not explore looking at the situation from thought #2, thought #3 or thought #4? Then you can decide which thought feels most helpful to you and your business. And take action from that energy or state.
Remember: If you don’t like the results you’re seeing or you don’t like how you’re feeling, know that there’s always another way of looking at things.
There’s always another way of thinking about your business. The best part is, you get to choose what to think. So choose intentionally.
Join Us in The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program.
The Side Hustle Club is designed to help coaches and entrepreneurs to sign clients on just 0-2 hours a day and ultimately build a business, life, and career they’re proud of.
Our program and curriculum is centered on 3 core skills to help you do this:
1️⃣ Becoming known for your unique thought leadership
2️⃣ Soft launching to sell your coaching offer
3️⃣ Building a uniquely differentiated brand
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you, and we can onboard you as early as next week.