In planning for the year ahead, I find it very useful to take stock of the past year, and decide what I want to maintain and what I hope to change.
What follows is a quantitative and qualitative look at my business in 2016.
- I ramped up to a full-time coaching practice with client sessions 3-4 days a week, and biz ops / biz dev / “maker” days 1-2 days a week. For the most part, I was able to keep business out of evenings and weekends.
- I scored a massive, multi-phase organizational design and professional development coaching project with a private educational institution
- I continued UX and empathy training with a long-term nonprofit client
- I focused all of my speaking gigs on Nonviolent Communication and Empathy
- I am reconnecting with old friends and colleagues back in NYC
I had 41 total clients in 2016:
- 25 private clients with 6-12-month coaching programs
- 13 group clients in a 10-week coaching program (9 of whom added private sessions)
- 2 organizational clients (coaching, training, and facilitation)
My time in 2016 was spent:
- Holding 256 private sessions (~300 coaching hours)
- Crafting 17 custom coaching programs
- With 37 days dedicated to organizational coaching clients
- Conducting 36 stakeholder interviews
- In 16 hours of pitching prospects who didn’t become clients (yet)
I finished 2016 with 34% year-over-year growth compared to my gross revenue in 2015. 78% of my revenue came from private clients, with 16% from organizational clients and 6% from speaking engagements.
I’ve now had 92 total lifetime private coaching clients (since 2014):
- 45% (41) with at least 6 months of coaching*
- 22 re-ups for more coaching**
- 5 clients have re-upped on 6 months of coaching 3 times**
* I’ve coached about half of my private clients for 6 months or more. The other half are group coaching clients, with a smattering of people I’ve coached for less than 6 months.
** Generally, a business wants these numbers to be high to show loyalty and value, but as a coach you want them low to show effectiveness.
- I established a reliable system for managing my sales funnel. It’s a checklist I go through each time I get a new lead (someone who has indicated an interest in my coaching). It supports me as I turn them into a prospect (someone who is likely to buy), and then close them as a client. Having a system to ensure I’m communicating all the necessary information, and taking steps in an optimal order, has sky-rocked my conversions. I wasn’t consistently tracking conversions before this year, so I’ll have to wait til 2018 to compare it.
- Mid-2015, I started offering 3-package options to my private coaching prospects. For the year prior, I had only been offering coaching at one price. The packages allow people to choose the duration of coaching and additional services. This system has worked incredibly well, with 47% picking the lowest package, 33% picking the middle package, and 20% picking the highest package.
- Sometimes people don’t want to pick a pre-defined package, or have less common needs. In those cases, I ask a lot of questions then create a custom package. But in the past, pricing my coaching has mostly been gut-feel. At the beginning of this year, with Fredrick’s help, I created a package pricing calculator. In a Google Sheet. This allowed me to inventory exactly and comprehensively where I spend my time in a private coaching engagement. For each package, I estimate a best-case and worse-case number of hours for each activity, tally it all up, and using my target profit margin, I’m able to reverse-engineer the perfect package price. It has been a godsend. (And unsurprisingly, I discovered I was severely undercharging — McDonald’s wages.) Now I know my prices are right, consistent, and profitable for my business.
I had the privilege to share on the topics of Nonviolent Communication and Empathy at six public events (and several private) to more than 3,300 registered attendees.
- Sustainable UX (thank you, James!)
- O’Reilly Fluent (thank you, Jason!)
- O’Reilly Ignite NYC (thank you, Audra and Nathaniel!)
- University of Illinois Web Con (thank you, Doug, Kalee and team!)
- CO-OP Financial THINK 16 (thank you, Amy and Samantha!)
- Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Association (thank you, Lauren!)
I’m particularly proud of what I was able to pull off this year considering the geographic upheaval. The first 6 weeks of 2016 in Japan, followed by 10 days on our boat in San Diego, a move to Miami (which lasted two weeks), a move to NYC (with only our clothes), 3 months in my parents’ spare bedroom (with no desk), and a move to our own (unfurnished) apartment in June.
This year I’ve worked in hotel rooms, Airbnbs, coworking spaces, coffee shops, cars, planes, trains, subways, buses, boats, beds and finally, as of late August, at my very own desk (height adjustable).
They say constraints are good for creativity, but only to an extent. I’m impressed that I had as good a year as I did under the ever-changing circumstances, with less-than-ideal resources. This year, we swear we’re staying put, so I’m hoping the added stability will help me stay even more focused and productive.
- New York Nonviolent Communication Weeklong Intensive (my 2nd year)
- Spiritual Life Conference — Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Columbia University
- Urban Retreat — Shambhala Meditation Center of New York
- Convergent Facilitation training with Miki Kashtan
- International Coach Federation communities of practice webinars
- Living in the Dharma with Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein — New York Insight Meditation Center
- True North: Mapping Your Authentic Creative Trail with Julia Cameron — New York Open Center
- Healthy You = Healthy Relationships workshop with Rachel Amondson
- Canvassing in northeast Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton
- Returned from 80 days in Japan
- Moved back to NYC
- Organized Dad’s 70th birthday
- Helped my parents sell their apartment after 40 years
- Maintained regular physical therapy; inconsistent yoga
- Started swimming (then stopped when it got cold)
- Became domestic partners with Fredrick!
My eternal gratitude to my amazing clients, blog readers, podcast listeners, generous friends, supportive parents, and truest partner Fredrick. I couldn’t do any of this without you. I love you.
Now let’s go be our best in 2017. Happy New Year!
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Thank you Whitney!
Dear Whitney, you are an inspiration! Many blessings from the sunny valleys of southern Germany