Running a creative business – an honest year in review for 2023

Slow Business

December 15, 2023

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Something that has been on my to-do list for the past 5 years is to write a Review of the Year. Mostly because I love reading other people’s reviews – seeing how life behind the business never looks like we think it does from the outside.

But every December for the past five years has felt like a scramble – a mix of rushing to the post office, frustrated about how long things were taking and working right up until the very last second. Feeling too exhausted and tired to reflect on anything other than I would be “how did this happen again and vowing to be more prepared the next year”. 

But this year has felt different – there was more margin. 

Yes, there has been a bit of a scramble to get client work wrapped up before my self-declared end date. But there has also been breathing room.  There has also been more flexibility- with some of my clients and I deciding to move things over to next year rather than us both feeling rushed or under pressure.

This is what I had been hoping for last year, as my husband and I sat in our empty studio having just sold our last printer, hoping that we hadn’t made a huge mistake. Fearful about what 2023 would bring us, but knowing deep down that this was the right thing to do.

Looking back now, I am glad that I didn’t know what 2023 had in store. It sure had its fair share of ups and downs (nothing went quite as I had planned or visioned), but here I am one year later, slowly rebuilding, figuring out how to build a business around my life and not the other way around (as I have done for the past 12 years).

So I thought I would share all that happened this year, in the hopes that you find solace in the fact that our business is always evolving and shifting as we grow, that none of us truly have it figured out, and everything in business is always just lots of little (sometimes giant) experiments. So here we go, after five years, I am finally getting a year in review email off my to-do list :

Winter 2023

As I mentioned above, I started the year with a completely clean slate. 

We had closed down our print studio, my husband was now technically unemployed and I had 0 clients lined up after a failed attempt at creating a new service that I had attempted to promote and sell during the last half of 2022. 

I had no idea how I was going to find clients, but I knew I had a bunch of skills acquired from running my own business for the last 12 years, and a deep desire to help other people feel less overwhelmed while running their business. And so I figured I would “relabel” myself as a VA and offer monthly retainers doing the things I loved and figure out what I enjoyed the most.

To my utter surprise, relief and delight I booked up my retainer spots by February. Which was great too because we always knew it would take my Husband a little longer to find work, having run his own business for 12 years, recruitment agencies and interviewers were sceptical as to why he would close down a perfectly profitable business for permanent employment.

By the end of winter we were living frugally but happily and honestly those first few months of 2023 (although scary, and tough) were some of the best memories of the year. My husband and I took many long morning walks, we did a lot of reflecting and soul searching and it was amazing to actually spend time together (outside of working and parenting together – as we have done for so many years).

Spring 2023

Spring was definitely a time of growth for us, as I realised I needed to make some changes to my prices and find a few more ways to increase my revenue. At this point my husband still hadn’t found work (the same thing happened over and over again, where he had experience of being over and under qualified all at the same time). And so we were starting to get a bit stressed as we watched our savings (and hopes) dwindle.

I was open with my clients and took a tiered approach to increasing my pricing, which felt in alignment with my values and helped my clients prepare for the increases. A few people had to leave at this point (which is always sad to see a retainer client go) it gave me a little wiggle room to play around with some “VIP” days.

I loved this way of working!! I naturally tend to hyperfocus on a task and so these punchy days where I could just get sh*t done for my clients was so rewarding!! I noticed that they took a little longer than a day – between the planning and handover, I was feeling the squeeze of having a bit too much on my schedule. But we needed the extra money, and I had my husband’s help at home and so things were balanced out.

I did notice that my walks and the rituals that keep me grounded were slipping a little but with the longer days I was still managing to squeeze everything in.

Summer 2023

At the end of spring / beginning of summer my husband finally got an offer, and we celebrated and breathed a huge sighhhh of relief. 

This gave me a bit more room to play around with my offers and really decide how I wanted to move forward. I realised that I loved having the stability of my retainer clients (and the joy of working with people in a slow and steady way). I noticed I was helping my clients with a lot of foundational things:

  • building systems in Dubsado and Notion
  • helping them simplify their businesses and processes 
  • having intention setting calls to help them prioritise tasks that would move the needle forward
  • Setting up email marketing, and creating monthly & weekly newsletters templates for clients to fill in the blanks
  • creating additional web pages and brand touch points to help them connect with their soul aligned clients
  • and doing lots of blogging in between (which I really loved). 
  • I was also still doing some social media work.

At this point I was doing a little bit of everything and I could already see that I would have to start to narrow this down. But it felt hard because I loved doing a bit of everything. 

Aside from social media – I happily removed that from my list of services.

The part where I felt torn was the blogging and email marketing – I could see myself having a business centred around just blogging and email marketing. I played around with this for a while but in the end I decided to keep offering it for retainer clients, but that I would focus more on the systems and helping others simplify their business.  

It was at this point of the year that I started doing some coaching and was using my Human Design chart to be my north star and centre my offerings around what I was naturally good at (and what I was being invited to help with).

I took some lovely time off over the summer, but I was starting to feel a little burnt out, as most of the house and parenting responsibilities had fallen on me. Realising that my husband’s job required a lot more travelling than anticipated and that a 9-5 although it has stability, it also has no flexibility!! And so from sharing pickups, afternoon activities and general household things, now I was mostly responsible for all these things. 

Autumn 2023

Autumn is always my most creative time of the year – I always seem to thrive and come alive with new ideas and possibilities. Working with this energy I decided to completely revamp my offerings in alignment with what I enjoy doing, what my clients were seeking support with and how I wanted to feel.

Towards the end of Autumn, a large portion of my monthly retainer clients were finishing up their last few weeks of support. And while I am always sad to say goodbye to clients, it’s actually such a beautiful thing! It means that I have helped set up the systems, processes and workflows they need to be able to manage on their own again! What an honour it is to no longer be needed.

This gave me the time to focus on my own business for the last month of the year.

I simplified what I offered on my reset days, focusing mainly on strategy and the systems to help my clients clear out the chaos and get them back on track. 

And created a completely new offer that was designed around two retainer clients who told me exactly what they needed from me moving forward. Clarity, strategy, accountability and a little nudge to help them get those all important foundational tasks off of their to-do list and into the world.

Once I had restricted my offers for 2024, I used the rest of the year to create (and update) my brand touch points to the discovery and trust stages of my client journey – updating my website ( I created a free resource page), designed a new quiz to help clients identify the areas they need support in. And rituals (attracting your soul aligned clients and creating a gentle goodbye ritual) that would give people a taste of what it is like to work with me.

2023 was definitely a year filled with a lot of new beginnings. For most of the year my business felt like a tiny helicopter seed pod, floating and spinning around, trying to figure out where to land. But I discovered so much through the entire process, not only about my business but about myself too.

And I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for the year ahead. 

If you stumbled upon this blog post, and are the type of person who loves to see the behind the scenes of someone’s business, I would love for you to subscribe to my newsletter called Rituals and Remedies. Join me as I pull back the curtain on my own business to share the rituals and restorative remedies I create in order to recover from overworking. And find pleasure and joy in the everyday. You can sign-up here!

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