My Year in Review 2023: Growing bigger

Year in review 2023

In 2023 I planned to show myself and bring my business coaching business on par with our pilates business which grew insanely fast in 2022.

It was overshadowed by something even bigger.. Right after I had finished writing my last year in review, I learnt that I was pregnant!!

Despite that, it was the year when our pilates business yet again blew everyone’s minds.

Read on to see how it all enfolded..

What I planned for 2023 and what actually happened

  • I want to continue growing two businesses – the pilates one with my sister and my own with business coaching!

Done. Both of them grew, and the pilates one in an unprecedented way..

  • The above sentence makes me insanely excited but I know it’s going to be intense. Therefore my 2nd wish is going to be around well-being: Every week, I will reserve time for myself without work or studying (no matter how much I love it!) and it will include sports.

I tried! And occasionally even succeeded. Exercising enough is such a challenge when working at/from home. I purchased an online program with pregnancy exercises which helped, and I went swimming in the lake whenever possible. 

  • I will hire help. I already have a cleaning service, now I need a virtual assistant at the very least.

I did it. It didn’t work as well as I hoped but lessons were learnt. It’s so important to just start because one can only learn and improve by doing! Delegating is an art and I still need to get drastically better at it.

  • In my business mentoring business, I will finally pick one direction (a niche!) and create a scalable digital product.

Yaaay! So happy to say Yes and Yes here. I niched down to health & fitness businesses.

  • I will create a lot of content – written, audio and video 😉 And I will speak on stage!

I did create quite some content for IG but I’d still mark this as failed. 

  • My motto for next year: Show Yourself!

Mhmmm.. Not in the way I meant 🙂 But it could be interpreted in another way: I grew a whole new person inside and she did show herself in a big show!

My year in review 2023

How I got pregnant

What a start of a review, isn’t it! Well, it’s quite obvious how I got pregnant but here’s the context:

My kids were 4 and almost 6 at the end of 2022 and we’d talked about a potential #3 since the 2nd was born. Nevertheless, it was an absolute no-go for me at least until the beginning of 2022 (when I left my job at Google..). I had no capacity for another child, it would break me physically and it would most likely break our relationship too.

Then some time in November 2022, I did one of those long-term planning exercises (yet again) – like, where I would like to be in 5 or 10 years. As it had already happened before, I didn’t visualize success as “a bestselling book author” or “a 7-figure business owner” but as a happy mother to happy children. And in one bright moment I realized that there’s really nothing to wait for when it comes to having another child (- weirdly, I’m not getting younger).

My partner happily welcomed this decision. What I did not expect was that it would happen so fast!! Basically, in 2 weeks I was pregnant. I didn’t even have time to think through all the consequences.

So, it was planned .. for 2 weeks.

Struggling with business mentoring

It came a bit too early with respect to my mentoring business. I just finished a phase of intense learning and was supposed to materialize it into my own product. I was doing 1:1s and growing my email list but slower than I’d hoped for. It was clear that I was not on the right path.

I was working with everyone who wanted to turn their knowledge or skill into a business: a massage therapist, a life coach, a teacher, a copywriter, a meditation coach, a yoga teacher.. I desperately needed to niche down: to either start serving a narrower audience or to pick a narrower subject. But I just couldn’t decide.

Fortunately (for my business), in the first trimester I felt more tired, more down and more sick than in my previous pregnancies. I tried to fight against it for a while but eventually I let go and took a whole month (Jan / Feb) off. I forced myself to completely stop thinking about the business mentoring. It was actually very hard and it felt like the wrong thing.

But as usual, letting go was the right choice.

I gained so much clarity during the month off! I realized how to niche down and started to focus on fitness and yoga teachers who wanted to go online – the market that I was the most familiar with. It was mentally hard to rewrite my Bio everywhere to reflect the change.

Thanks to the month off I also realized what my main product should be and soon came up with the concept of the Online Fitness Business Academy.

Basically, I made more progress during the month off than in several previous months of hard work! That’s what I love about entrepreneurship (and yes, the periods of hard work are also necessary..).

Struggling with pregnancy

The doctor wasn’t too optimistic about the pregnancy at the beginning. However, all my pregnancies started iffy and I felt right about this one. It indeed turned out well.

But it was very different from my previous experiences. I was never sick or down during my pregnancies. This time I felt nauseated every evening and, what was worse, sad and apathetic. 

I couldn’t spend a minute on social media and I unsubscribed from all email subscriptions to limit distractions. I completely forbade myself to use the computer or phone in the evenings. Everything was triggering me. 

As a result, I found myself .. bored. But great things can be made out of boredom! I started to cook in the evenings. I suddenly had time to try out new recipes and learnt to cook new dishes (including my favorite green Thai curry!). We gain so much time when we put the screens away!

I experienced postnatal depression when my 1st child was born and this was milder but in the same direction. Depression is absolutely terrible and I was worried that it could last for the whole pregnancy or even longer. Fortunately, it was gone with the first trimester as soon as the hormones changed. Then I felt good again.

A $100k month

Meanwhile, the pilates business with my sister grew beyond anyone’s imagination.

In January, we made almost as much money as in the whole year of 2022.

In February, we repeated the launch that launched our whole business the previous year. Back then we made $10k and we thought it was the best that we could ever do. This time the launch brought us over $100k!!

In my last review I wrote that the best month of 2022 was $40k. In 2023, our best day was $40k..

All of that with a single passive online course, selling in Czechia and Slovakia.

And now the best: in the first half of the year I was spending on average 4 hours a week on this effort.

Yes, it could have been the real 4-hour work week!!

Except for that I was putting the rest of the time that I had into business mentoring 😉 More on that later.

Showing myself (on Instagram)

Already in the 2nd half of 2022 I started regularly posting on Instagram, on my business mentoring account.

I have a complicated relationship with social media.

I actually enjoy consuming deeply authentic content and I feel like I really learnt and got inspired thanks to it in the past. On the other hand, I hate how distracting and addictive social media are. Overall, I prefer to spend little time there.

As a creator it’s complicated too. I enjoy the design process and recording but I hate putting it all together and spending time in the app. Also, it’s very time-consuming given how tiny the result (e.g. a-few-second reel..) is. Not even mentioning the bossy Instagram algorithm.

During my first trimester I couldn’t even open the app (there were triggers everywhere) but I found a solution: I hired help. I personally designed, wrote and recorded the content and Misha put it all together, captioned and posted. I didn’t have to open the app at all (other than to reply to some messages).

My account grew OK at the beginning and then (when I hired the help – I don’t know if it was a coincidence) completely stopped growing even when I was posting regularly.

I grew through it though.

I learnt that it doesn’t hurt to show myself. I never used to post my photos online and I’d rather die than posting a selfie. It was a long journey and now it feels liberating that I don’t care much.

I also learnt that I don’t (yet) have the right attitude to be successful on social media. The only way to success is to do a “quick and dirty” job there (haha, in the innocent sense). Otherwise content creation literally eats up your life. I am close to a perfectionist so this is hard for me. It’s been a good exercise though.

I stopped posting when I gave birth and I don’t know if I will be back. Fortunately, Instagram is not (and was never meant to be) the only way to grow my mentoring business. I may put effort into another type of content next year.

Online Fitness Business Academy

As soon as the first trimester was over and I started to feel better, I planned the first launch for my business mentoring business. Thankfully, I was limited by my due date so I couldn’t overthink it and procrastinate.

I wanted to dive straight in and offer my “signature” online program: Online Fitness Business Academy, 12 weeks, priced at $1000. Inside the program, yoga and fitness teachers would choose their niche, design an online course, execute a marketing campaign and sell the course. It would contain pre-recorded video material and weekly coaching sessions.

I knew exactly what and how to teach. The tiny problem was that I had no content ready and no time to prepare it, otherwise I’d risk giving birth before the program ends..

So I did the same that we did with my sister when we sold The Queen of the Beach for the first time, and the same that I teach: I prepared the outline of the whole program and pre-recorded the first week. Then I sold it.

5 people bought which made it a $5k launch. Not too bad with 200 followers on social media.

The tough work started after the launch. Every week for 12 weeks I wrote a script and recorded 5 – 10 videos, 5 – 30 minutes long, and always released them on Monday morning. Including the weeks when I traveled and the weeks when I was sick. It always worked out, though sometimes at the very last moment.

The program was a success – my students were very happy and gave me amazing references!

I wrote 118 pages of video scripts (basically a book..), and recorded over 100 videos in those 12 weeks. Kind of a marathon. But now everything is ready and I can run it over and over again..

I finished teaching the Online Fitness Business Academy just before the start of the summer holidays in the 8th month of pregnancy.

Time with kids

Before I proceed to the most awaited show of the year – the birth of baby #3 – I want to record here some beautiful moments spent with my older children.

My elder daughter was in kindergarten and my younger son was still in daycare till summer. One day a week he visited a forest group and he learnt to do a lot of manual work there and became even more resilient.

The only “extra-curricular” activity that both kids enjoyed and wanted to do was a chess club! They even went to a week-long chess camp in summer. Their chess books are always lying around our apartment and the teachers became my friends.

I dedicated half a day a week to spend with each kid separately. This is pretty “costly” and doesn’t scale well with more kids 🙂 But I loved that time of unsplit focus to each child (as I’m writing this I’m thinking “what a luxury”!).

Due to the pregnancy, we didn’t do any travels beyond the visits of our families in Czechia and Italy this year.

The Waiting and the Show

The end of my pregnancy was madness and nothing like the previous ones. It was helping me and giving me strength to hear similar stories, that’s why I’m going to write this chapter in detail.

My due date was August 23. Both previous kids were born several days before the due date. With my 2nd I developed a late pregnancy issue due to which labor had to be medically induced (it wasn’t in the end, my clever boy was born spontaneously the night before). This issue was highly likely to repeat.

Furthermore, my daughter was starting school and my son was starting kindergarten almost on my due date! I really wanted to be there for them on their first day..

All of this put together, I deduced that baby #3 must show up much earlier than planned. She just had to.

I was ready for the birth at the beginning of August. My belly was enormous and it was logical that it would happen then.

Every night I went to bed thinking that it would be the night (both previous labors started at 3am). Every day I had to take care of the kids (summer holidays) and myself to make sure that I’m well rested. I wanted to have a natural birth because I knew that it was the best for both of us. But natural birth is hard and needs preparation.

I had a doula who kept me sane during that time. For a little moment I thought “It’s the 3rd one, maybe I can do without extra help…”. What a stupid idea! I’m so grateful that I hired her again!! 

Days passed, due date passed, kids went to schools, and people around me started to get nervous. I was monitored and all important test results were good. Baby seemed happy inside.

But there was a new obstacle every day: bad test results that turned out to be wrong, baby turned the wrong way, pain from a pinched nerve, fake contractions, etc.. Always something new to potentially stress about.

I signed papers in the hospital to skip nonessential tests and to postpone hormonal induction.. till day 10 after the due date.

On day 10 in the morning, Saturday, September 2, I arrived at the hospital with a bag packed. But all test results were still OK so I changed my mind and asked them to let me go home for another 24 hours. I had a swim in the lake next to the hospital and went home.

My dear friend Ivana took my kids for the night. As soon as they left that afternoon, the contractions started. It wasn’t the first time but this time I did everything I could to keep them going. I spent the first 5 hours on the balcony, in the fresh air (not exactly quiet – whichever neighbor opened the window must have been very puzzled.. :D).

Then it quickly started to get hardcore. I barely managed to write 1 word to my doula and my partner took me to the hospital where I met her and 2 amazing midwives (I have so much respect for that profession!!). Baby Jana was born 2 hours later, 10 minutes before midnight on September 2.

It was the shortest of my labors but the most intense and painful. It was such a madness that I couldn’t believe that everything worked out in the end. But the moments when I held her in my arms for the first time were some of the happiest in my whole life.

Then I fainted. And then I had a blast for 2 days in the hospital, with amazing care and food and my beautiful baby girl.

.. And with the feeling that this is the last baby, that everything is happening for the last time in my life. I wished that every moment lasted a lifetime.

In roughly a week I bounced back to normal life. Baby weighed over 4kg but I had no injury and the recovery after the natural birth was fast.

During the first 3 months, it didn’t even occur to me to complain about pain, sleepless nights or anything. It was pure happiness.

I love caring for my baby!!

Self-employed with a newborn

With each previous child, I had a proper maternity leave for 5 months.

This time I took my laptop to the hospital (and actually used it to do some work).

Did I have to? Yes and no.. I am the one who chooses when to work and when not. This time we were going into a big launch and I wanted to make sure that everything works seamlessly.

Since my baby was born, my work time has been limited to several 15-minute slots per week. It would be crazy to try to do any non-scalable job in this situation. However, in our pilates business I can actually make a lot of impact even in my 15 minute slots. And that is amazing! We have employees plus my sister is there to keep important things in check.

I took a complete break from business coaching for at least several months. I’m not sure when I return but possibly in spring 2024. The business coaching didn’t have enough inertia – I didn’t have any employees yet so it wasn’t realistic to pull it off with a newborn.

Taking pilates to the next level

A pic from our first company offsite in Spain at the end of the year.

It’s highly likely that we will cross the $1M mark with the pilates business next year.

We started from scratch in 2021, just my sister and me, with 4 kids under 4 years old, both with full time jobs at that time (and no, our partners have never been involved in the business up to this point).

We have lots of ideas how to expand going forward and it’s become clear what is the most important thing that we need: people.

It took us a while (2 years) to come to the decision that we don’t want to continue running the business in a punk way anymore. It was fun (a lot, actually) but now we want to move on to the next level. For that we need processes and people to execute them.

Our current challenge: it’s hard to get the right people. It’s hard to even figure out who exactly we need. We’re learning this intensely now and it will be the theme of 2024. (And yes, we are hiring. Knowledge of Czech or Slovak language is necessary though :))

I’m looking forward to the new level and I will do my best to keep it all as enjoyable as it has been so far!

My plans for 2024

I expect next year to be tough. I’m totally doting on my little baby girl but as she’s growing she requires more and more attention and work. I will be stretched as a mother of 3 and will need to seek balance. Here’s what my plans look like right now:

  • Make sure that I “have some punk in life” :)) Not just family and work.
  • Guide well and breastfeed my baby in her first year in life <3
  • Carve out regular quality time with older kids. Not all attention on baby!
  • Sort out my finances. This year I learnt a lot about accounting (both Swiss and Czech) but there’s much more to master. Next year, I want to better optimize my taxes.
  • Start investing into real estate with my sister & revise my current investments in the process. This is huge and any step forward will count. I’ve started taking courses on real estate investing and it seems appealing.
  • Make some impact with business coaching with minimum effort. I know that I won’t have much time for this, given the baby and the next goal:
  • Reach $1M in revenue with the pilates business. We will reach it, but the stretch goal is to make $1M in the next year alone! There’s no way that we can achieve it by continuing doing what we are already doing. It will require a big shift. I have some ideas but everything is open right now..
  • Finally learn how to run a company! 🙂 Delegate all operations and aspire at turning Pilates živě into a self-managing company (it will likely take more than a year).
  • Start another company.. (psst, this one is already in the making but not official yet)
  • My motto for next year: BALANCE

Looking at my goals.. I’ll likely need to drop some 😀 Or become super-efficient. I better go back to the “7 habits of highly effective people” book now.. 😉

Books I read in 2023

I’m glad I decided to put down the list! I always feel like I don’t read enough but it seems it’s not so bad. Books are an important source of inspiration for me.

  • Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs. I randomly picked this book that we’d had at home for ages and got addicted after a few pages. Inspiring and mesmerizing.
  • Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex: Spare. A pretty shocking but rather sad book. I read it in the first trimester, maybe that’s why it felt like that. I always wonder how the authors of autobiographies remember so many details from their childhood 🙂
  • Philip Roth: Portnoy’s Complaint. This seems to be the only fiction book I read this year! I found it at a train station in a small town in Czechia and didn’t expect anything. I was stunned by the quality of the prose and the depth of the narrative as I’d never heard of the author. I was almost jealous that some average Mr. Nobody writes like this!! My bookworm friend Jana then told me that he’s very famous and won a lot of awards so that explained it..
  • Chris Voss: Never Split the Difference. A famous book on negotiating. There were some good lessons but overall I didn’t like the arrogant tone.
  • Mike Michalowicz: Get Different: Marketing That Can’t Be Ignored! One of several marketing books that I “read” (=skimmed) this year. I don’t even remember the names of the other ones. I didn’t finish any of them, just tried to get the main message. In the case of this book it’s already in the title..
  • Benjamin Hardy, Dan Sullivan: 10x is easier than 2x. One of the modern entrepreneurial self-help books with one central message that is repeated from the beginning to the end. I really liked the message though: what brings you to this level, won’t bring you to the next one, and you need to create a self-managing company to get to the next level. A very useful book.
  • 14th Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams: The Book of Joy. This is the book I chose to take to the maternity ward and read during postpartum. I figured I’d need some positivity boost 🙂
  • Walter Isaacson: Elon Musk. I bought the hardcover version on the first day it was published. And it was nothing short of mind-blowing. I didn’t know about Musk’s work “ethic” so this really surprised me. The culture in Tesla is worlds apart from Google where I worked. But both became trillion dollar companies..
  • Walter Isaacson: Einstein, His Life and Universe. As you can tell, I really like biographies, especially the ones from Isaacson 🙂 This one had a slow start but in the end I loved it. I didn’t know that Einstein was so politically involved and such a nonconformist, always protecting freedom of speech and holding his ground no matter the trends. What an important reminder in these times.
  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 habits of highly effective people. Still reading it right now so I don’t want to judge yet but it seems to be a gem!

If I were to pick top 3 to recommend, it would be: Elon Musk, 10x is easier than 2x and then a tie between Einstein and Steve Jobs.

Other things that happened in 2023

  • My sister got an offer from the biggest Czech publishing house to write a book about pilates. And she did, and it became a bestseller, more than 2000 copies sold by now!
  • We organized our first company offsite in Altea, Spain, and celebrated New Year’s Eve there.
  • In spring, I did a retreat alone in Jeseniky mountains and my partner came there from Switzerland for the last couple of days. It was very refreshing!
  • My 2nd biggest work effort after running the Online Fitness Business Academy was creating a new website and e-shop for the pilates business. I didn’t do it all by myself, we hired a developer, but it was a very long sprint and I learnt a ton!
  • We did lots of Saturday lunches and some mountain trips with our dear friends Ivana and Kruno.
  • I went to a folklore event (“Neples”) near my hometown and danced till night when very pregnant.
  • I absolutely loved Fridays spent together with my son – playing chess, going to museums, hiking and learning.
  • I had a bike accident for the first time in my life when 7 months pregnant. I got lucky and nothing serious happened.
  • We traveled to celebrate my mother’s 60’s birthday to Czechia and our nonna’s 70’s birthday to Venice, Italy.
  • I had my personal brand designed by a graphics designer and it was a bit of a self-exploratory process.
  • I traveled alone with 3 kids to Czechia when my baby was 6 weeks old and we all survived 🙂
  • At the end of the year, I was bringing my baby to several physio and cranio therapy sessions a week to correct her head posture. I also attended pelvic floor physio myself and postpartum yoga together. Lots of appointments!
  • I hired a nanny and attended Sigrun Live, a gathering of online entrepreneurs in Zurich, when my baby was 10 weeks old. There I met my mentor Sigrun for the first time in person, and some other pretty amazing ladies (hello Vanessa Schmidt, Janna Scharfenberg, Koko Kimura, Eva Lorenc, Andrea Máčalíková, Claudia Lackner, Barbora Mikulášková, Karolína Romášková, Claudia Witticke, Petra Šolcová, Annika Nilson)!

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