Elizabeth Goddard side hustle growth; advice to avoid burnout

In 2020, I nearly tripled my business revenue in one year. As the founder and owner of an online business coaching practice for entrepreneurs, I found I had the skills I needed to adapt to a world that was using digital platforms to stay connected during the pandemic.

Somehow, while raising my kids, running my company, dealing with my own chronic health issues, and surviving everyday life in a pandemic, I was able to strengthen my business and turn it into a thriving success.

And on paper, 2021 looks pretty good too. I brought in about $625,000 in revenue, which means I grew my business 267% over the last two years. My audience grew, I launched new products, and I earned more. My wife and I bought our first home.

But even though things were trending in the right direction for my finances, burnout hit me hard.

I realized that I had been in something of a survival mode, and while my business had reaped the benefits from this constant state of overdrive I was in, it wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t show up for myself, personally and professionally, in the way I wanted to without some changes.

Here are the biggest lessons I learned from the experience.

I valued my time and took back control of my inbox

A big part of my business has always been about being accessible to my clients and having a significant online presence. But in 2021, I realized that I needed to prioritize my well-being over being always on.

The truth of the matter was that I had fallen behind in my correspondence, and the thousands of starred emails and unread DMs were overwhelming. So on my most-used platform, Instagram, I shared what was going on, aiming for sincerity and transparency.

In the end, I decided to just hit refresh. I made sure to convey in that post that I was not cutting off communication, I just had to reset my communication strategy and if someone did need something from me, to please contact me again.

Realizing that the people who really wanted to get in touch with me would read that message and reach out again, I took back control of my inbox.

Not only was this strategy emotionally and mentally liberating, it was cost effective for my business as well. I juggle so much in my life right now, that I have become extremely careful with where and how I allocate my time.

Video by Lauren Shamo

The decision was really confirmed for me when I actually sat down and calculated what it would cost my business if I were to spend my time prioritizing those unanswered messages. There were 500-plus emails I “should” have replied to directly, at least 100 Facebook messages, and more than 50 Instagram DMs, not mentioning more than 10,000 promotional emails to sift through.

I had not calculated my hourly rate in years, so to get that figure, I took my annual revenue, divided it by how many weeks I worked in a year, and then divided that by how many hours I work in a week.

I realized that if I had, for example, 650 unread messages and it took four minutes to read each email, then I calculated the time spent based on my hourly rate, it came out to a rough estimate of more than $20,000.

This story is not to say I did not experience the opportunity cost of not replying to some of those messages. But in reality I knew I was never going to spend the estimated 43 hours it would take to clear through the stuff. And honestly, the space it cleared in my head, making my mindset forward-thinking versus backward-thinking was priceless to me at the end.

I started focusing on developing multiple revenue streams

In my industry, I’ve found that many who launch a higher-cost entrepreneurs group program will focus all of their attention and energy on the one signature offer, and that was my mindset for a long time.

In 2020, I decided to forgo one-on-one consulting in favor of group coaching. I found this move to be much easier on my time and energy. My group coaching program that I started, the Profitable Playground, was a main driver of the success I achieved that year.

But in 2021, I was struggling to find a way to consistently sell the program. In the end, it is only accounted for 30% of my total annual revenue, which was less than the year before when it launched.

Video by Lauren Shamo

So I decided that rather than depend on something that wasn’t resonating any more, I would focus on developing other income streams. Currently, my business has a number of different income streams, including self-study online courses and my affiliate marketing income, as well as a variety of other smaller courses, training sessions, and summits I consistently offer.

I completely understand why and how people can get tripped up by the sunk cost fallacy, because it’s happened to me. But remember just because something is no longer performing the way it once did, it is not a failure. Don’t be afraid to take what you have learned and try a new approach.

My ADHD diagnosis inspired me to let go of the things that don’t serve me

I had a major personal milestone in May of 2021 when I was diagnosed with ADHD. For many years I have attracted a lot of neurodivergent clients who would tell me that my content and style of teaching resonated with them. But despite having looked into ADHD numerous times, I just didn’t feel that I was neurodivergent myself.

An offhand comment made me realize that I had some of the traits of someone with ADHD. I ended up booking a private assessment and was diagnosed with ADHD (combined type). The official diagnosis has not made a drastic difference in my day-to-day life. I’ve been living this way all my life, after all. But it has given me more self-awareness and acceptance in my life.

Video by Lauren Shamo

Now, I have allowed myself to let go of the things I am not good at rather than “pushing through” and using up my energy to do them. Whereas before I faced these challenges privately, I have learned to open up to others, including a community of female entrepreneurs with ADHD.

I ultimately decided to let go of the tasks and projects that were no longer serving me, and the things that drained my energy instead of revitalizing it. I contracted this work out to others, hiring more part-time freelancers who specialize in specific areas for me.

I have hired someone who supports the clients in my group coaching program with copywriting advice and projects. I also brought someone on who takes insights and tips I share in my coaching program and uses them as the basis for new content for social media and email marketing. I have hired an “assistant coach” who helps me provide more tailored support to my clients, and improve their experience and overall results.

I am finding that my business grows and moves forward when I’m spending my time doing the things that only I can do. I have strived to stick by that principle, particularly following my formal diagnosis. Over the last two years, I learned to accept the world around me and the limitations I had living in it. And I have learned to prioritize my time, and see it as a valuable commodity, a financial mindset that will help me keep moving my business forward.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Goddard is an online business strategist and educator for entrepreneurs looking to simplify their businesses for maximum success with minimum effort. A self-described email marketing nerd, tech geek, affiliate marketing lover, and mindset magician, she is committed to building an inclusive, intersectional business for her clients, team, and wider community. Lizzy lives outside of Nottingham, UK, with her wife and two young daughters.

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