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A Peek Inside JL&Co’s Record Year

2019 was truly a record year, personally and professionally.

In addition to getting engaged (!), JL&Co experienced a record year, financially and otherwise.

You know I love transparency — and this post is full of it — including divulging some financial information I’ve never shared before.

To me, transparency helps everyone! It allows us to connect, it builds community, it keeps me accountable, and I hope in some way, it inspires you.

Looking for even more transparency? Stay tuned for the annual State of JL&Co post, coming in February. In that post, I’ll dive even deeper into what 2019 looked like — the good, the bad and the ugly.

But for now! A highlight reel — our biggest achievements, what I’m super proud of and what I’m excited about moving forward into 2020.

JL&Co’s top highlights from 2019

Here are 5 business highlights from 2019.

1. JL&Co had its best year yet financially

I’m so proud to say JL&Co experienced a record year financially in 2019, increasing earnings by 8.7% from the previous year.

For the first time ever, I’m revealing my gross income. *Gulps* I’m always nervous to share exact figures because numbers DO NOT tell the whole story. But as I mentioned in this Twitter thread, it’s incredibly helpful to talk to fellow biz owners and entrepreneurs about real numbers, and the stories behind them.

This year, JL&Co earned: $93,256.17.

Amazing! That said, I did fall just under $7,000 short of my six-figure goal. 2020, I see you, and I’m coming at you strong to hit and surpass that $100K mark.

And, please keep in mind gross income means all income earned BEFORE taxes, which can range anywhere from 20-30% of my gross income. It’s also BEFORE expenses, which includes paying my small team. My gross income above also includes one W2 gig (teaching at Temple). And finally, it’s before putting money away for retirement (something as a biz owner I do myself through a SEP-IRA, and soon to be a Roth IRA).

So when you think about it that way, and look at the realities behind what looks like a big number, $93K was certainly not my net or “take home” salary. In fact, it is much less than that, though I haven’t finalized numbers with my accountant quite yet.

And! There’s a bit more to this story than just the financial stuff.

This year I was able rely less on teaching yoga as part of my income. I took a three-week vacation away from my business. I worked with fewer (yet more strategic) clients than before. Most importantly, I had great work/life balance, which is why I started this. biz in the first place!

To me, these are the even bigger wins.

2. JL&Co became the go-to agency for content management

Content has always been at the core of what JL&Co does, but toward the end of 2019, we made it official.

When you first start a business, it’s easy to say yes to any opportunity that comes your way. And because of that, for the past few years, we’ve dabbled in PR, marketing, social media and more.

But content management is where JL&Co thrives — it’s where we do our most focused, strategic and creative work. And we so made the decision to go ALL IN with content.

[Curious about what content management is and how it might help your business? Here’s what it’s all about.]

I’m really excited and energized about this big change in the business. Since making the announcement, we’ve brought on a new content management client, as I’m now serving as the managing editor for PodReacher.

That means JL&Co is now managing content for Muck Rack, The Write Life and PodReacher. A pretty robust and exciting client roster, but I’m a bit biased.

If content is something that’s been on your mind lately, let’s chat!

3. I fully stepped into the role of CEO (And got comfortable with outsourcing to grow Team JL&Co)

It’s easy to get lost in the small details of running a business — to get caught up in the day-to-day grind.

I sometimes find myself so deep in the weeds, I don’t always look at the big picture. And I don’t always look at myself as the CEO.

But in 2019, I fully learned the power of outsourcing and delegation.

Early on after starting JL&Co, I realized I couldn’t do this alone. Only seven months into running the business, I brought on Rachel Pluck, who has been a fantastic addition to the team.

In fact, I’ve even called hiring Rachel the single smartest decision I’ve made in my business, and I stand by that.

Previously, I’ve struggled to get out of the solopreneur mindset and into the mindset of a team leader. One of my major goals for 2019 was to prioritize delegation, and this year, I did just that.  

With Rachel heading out on maternity leave, I knew it was time to grow the team a bit more. In the fall, I brought on another contractor to help in Rachel’s absence, and then toward the end of the year brought on another contractor to help with a big project.

Here’s a great example:

In early December, I was presented with major writing project. A big win! However, the client said they’d need the project completed by the end of the year. On my own, I never would have been able to take it on. However, knowing I have a small, but mighty team of writers allowed me to confidently say ‘yes’ to the project without hesitation. At the end of the two, two writers spent 11 hours churning out the 7,000 word project. I oversaw every aspect of the project, along with editing and perfecting the piece before submitting to the client (it’s super important since JL&Co’s name is attached to the project that I still have a hand in everything we do). In the end, I spent about ~3 hours editing and finalizing the project, saving me 11 precious hours during the busy end of year timeframe!

Completing this project with the help of my more than capable, talented contractors gave me a much-needed boost of confidence. I don’t have to do *everything* myself — and by adding smart people to the team, I free myself up to grow the business even more.

4. I left my business for a month (and JL&Co survived and thrived)

In March, I embarked on an insanely wonderful journey to Australia, stopping along the way in San Francisco and Hawaii.

I was away for three full weeks (16 business days) — the longest trip I’ve ever taken — and the longest I’ve ever been away from work.

[If you’re wondering how I prepared to take three weeks away from my business, I explain exactly how I did it here.]

I’m thrilled to tell you that I DID NOT work while I was away. It was such a freeing, wonderful feeling to know I could take time off to relax and refresh without worrying about my business.

And now looking back at 2019 as a record financial year, I’m pumped to know I can take time off and still grow the business. That’s great news, as I’ll be taking more time off in 2020 to get married (!) and go on a honeymoon.

5. JL&Co continued to grow and change in ways I never expected

I feel incredibly grateful that as I prepared to write this post, I had so much more I wanted to include. I really want to keep this piece to the highlights, so here are a few other accomplishments that made the cut:

I returned to temple university to teach.

In the fall, I returned to Temple University for my third semester as an adjunct faculty member teaching Public Relations Writing to undergraduate students studying public relations at the Klein College of Media and Communication.

[If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be an adjunct, I wrote a post about it!]

I’m excited to teach again this spring!

I fell in love with project work

While I absolutely love working with my recurring, monthly retainer clients, there’s something so FUN about project work!

In 2019, team JL&Co took on two major projects with clear deliverables and start/end dates. It was fun to challenge myself (and the team) in a new way.

JL&Co got super organized, implementing chat, automation and project management tools

At the end of 2018, JL&Co had outgrown its current processes, which basically consisted of me and Rachel emailing back and forth every single day.

This year we:

These tools helped make for seamless onboarding for new team members, a much clearer idea of what everyone is working on and most importantly, kept me sane and organized.

Ready for 2020!

I’m so excited to see where 2020 will take JL&Co (and me!)

I’ll be keeping you updated along the way.

Have any questions? Drop them in the comments below.

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Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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