My word for 2019 was BOLD and it has definitely been a BOLD year, although completely different from what I anticipated. I expected myself to be more BOLD on the outside – externally and visibly – but instead this year has been more about catching up with the fast growth of the previous two years and having a BOLDER mindset. It all makes sense in hindsight but there were definitely times where I felt as if I was not living up to my word for the year. As I am writing this review, I feel immensely grateful for everything that has happened this year and I can absolutely see how it is helping me to become ready for a new and BOLD decade.
Quick snapshot of 2019
$2.1 M in revenue
10 core team members (5 new in 2019)
20 in the whole team
3 new Momentum coaches
1st SOMBA coach
165 travel days
1 new eye
2019 Year in Review
This is the longest blog post I have ever written – over 10,000 words! – and therefore I have created an index for you so you can jump straight to the section that interests you the most, although I highly recommend you read all sections of course. The blog post is longer and more detailed than the podcast episode so if you don't want to miss anything I share, then I advise you to read instead of listen.
2019 was a big travel year and I loved every minute of it! I spent 115 days at home in Switzerland, 83 days at my second home in Iceland and 165 days on the road (not sleeping in my own bed). What may sound exhausting to some, is exciting to me. I love traveling and it is one of the reasons I wanted to build an online business. I don’t want to have a local team or a local office. I want to be able to work whenever and wherever and that’s exactly what I am doing – and I am loving it.
Below is my travel schedule for the year, month by month.
5 days Reykjavik → 20 days Zurich → 4 days Toronto → 3 days Phoenix
The year started off in Iceland where I always spend my Christmas holidays with my family – listen to the weird Christmas traditions here – and then Martin, my husband, and I flew back to Switzerland to work on the January SOMBA launch and kick off all the 2019 programs. At the end of the month we flew to Canada to work a few days on our 2019 plans with Lynn, my launch manager and my team member since May 2015. It was my first time in Toronto and it was ice cold, so cold that we barely stepped a foot outside our hotel, I definitely have to come back in summer time. From Toronto I flew to USA on my own, for the first mastermind retreat of the year with Ali Brown, one of my two coaches in 2019. I started the mastermind with Ali already in November 2018 so this was overall my second retreat with the Premier group for 7-8 figure female entrepreneurs, all amazing women who are doing brilliant things.
→ 4 days Laguna Beach → 7 days Reykjavik→ 3 days Zurich → 7 days Nendaz (Switzerland) → 6 days Zurich
From Phoenix I flew to Laguna Beach where I met Martin again and attended the second mastermind retreat of the year with James Wedmore, my other coach. After the retreat Martin flew back to Switzerland to take care of the kids and I flew back to Iceland to see my parents. After a week in Iceland I flew to Switzerland where I ran a VIP retreat for my VIP Mastermind 2019 clients, first of three VIP retreats in the year. Then one of my best friends from Iceland flew in and together we drove with my husband and the boys to the French part of Switzerland for a week of skiing. Just a few weeks earlier she had messaged me on Facebook to ask me if we could go skiing this winter and after moving a few meetings around, Martin found a chalet for us and we booked the skiing trip, very spontaneously. I unfortunately got sick during the skiing trip and was sick in bed for a whole week afterwards at my home in Switzerland. For a total of 2 weeks I couldn't work but that was a blessing in disguise as this was the last straw that I needed to finally expand my team and delegate more of my tasks.
→ 3 days Amsterdam → 4 days Zurich → 10 days Reykjavik → 4 days Phoenix → 2 days San Diego → 3 days London → 4 days Reykjavik → 1 day Zurich
Still feeling sick, I went for a weekend to Amsterdam where Martin wanted to attend a concert with Tiesto, our favourite DJ. In the end Martin went a lone to the concert and I stayed in the hotel as I wasn't feeling well yet. Back in Switzerland I was finally better and had a lot to catch up on before I flew to Iceland to see my parents again and do a photoshoot inside Harpa, the conference centre where my conference will take place in 2020. From there I flew to USA to attend a 3-day content workshop with Ali Brown. There I finally came up with a name for my upcoming conference, Selfmade Summit. I managed to attend the second day of two at one of my favourite conferences, Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, where I also did a meet up with my clients aka Team Red. From there I flew to London to have a 2-day mastermind with my self-led UK mastermind which I have been a part of since 2015. Before I went back to Switzerland I made a quick stop in Iceland to see my parents.
2 days Zurich → 12 days Dubai → 2 days Zurich → 1 day Amsterdam → 5 days Alicante → 4 days Zurich → 2 days Ascona → 1 day Zurich → 1 day Phoenix
After couple of days in Zurich, Martin and I flew to Dubai for a 12-day work-ation. I spent half of the day playing golf with Martin and half the day creating new content for SOMBA, it was the perfect combination for me as I often find it hard to create new content when I sit at my desk at home. When I came back to Switzerland I hopped over to Amsterdam for a day to see Michelle Obama on her book tour and have a meet up with my SOMBA students in the Netherlands. Back in Zurich my family was ready to take off for an Easter holiday in Spain where Martin's mother and sister live since a few years. After Easter and a few days at home, Martin and I did a romantic weekend in one of my favourite places, Ascona, in the Italian part of Switzerland, before I had to take off again and attend the third mastermind retreat of the year.
2 days Phoenix → 13 days Zurich → 4 days Valencia → 6 days Reykjavik → 6 days Brand (Austria)
After a 2-day mastermind retreat with Ali Brown I spent a whole 2 weeks in Switzerland – after two weeks I get a traveling itch! Then came the annual Girls Weekend (Mädels Wochenende) with my German girlfriends. I met them when I started my architecture studies in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1992 and since then we've been best friends and call ourselves The Fantastic Four (Die Fantastischen Vier – and of course we go the concerts of the same-name band in Germany). Since 2008 we always go away for one weekend year to another European city and in 2019 we chose Valencia and had a great time, like always. By the way these are the only days of the year where I speak German 24/7, otherwise my German is locked away as I speak only English with my clients. Then I went to Iceland again since my parents both have birthday in May and I wanted to celebrate with them before I went back to Switzerland. At the end of May is always another annual tradition where Martin and I go away with Icelandic friends of ours and play golf somewhere in Central Europe, this time we were in Brand, Austria. I met these these two women when I became a CEO of one of the largest IT companies in Iceland in 2005 and they were also CEOs of IT companies and since there were not so many of us women as CEOs we became best friends and spend one week a year together plus at least one annual dinner over Christmas.
→ 3 days Chicago → 4 days Zurich → 7 days Nendaz (Switzerland) → 12 days Zurich → 4 days Brand (Austria)
We brought our Iceland friends to the airport after a rainy golf week and they flew back to Iceland and we flew to Chicago for another mastermind retreat with James Wedmore where I did also a photoshoot with skyscrapers in the background. Back in Switzerland we prepared for our second VIP retreat which we do in the French part of Switzerland in a 5-star chalet. This is an all-inclusive retreat for our VIP Mastermind (in 2020 also for RED CIRCLE) that we do since 2017 – and the village and the house have started to feel like a home away from home, I always look forward to going there with my clients. This time, two of my team members flew in and were there for a part of the retreat and drove back with us to Zurich to execute our SOMBA June launch. After the launch Martin and I always aim to relax and recharge for a few days and this time we went for a weekend to Brand in Austria to play golf.
→ 6 days Zurich → 25 days Reykjavik
After a week in Switzerland we took off for our annual Iceland summer “holiday”. The boys get five weeks of school holidays in the summer and we spend that time in Iceland together since many years. From 2009 to 2016 we always did a one week road trip to different areas of Iceland but in the last two years we flew for one week to the USA where we were attending a mastermind retreat and the boys came with us and we made a family holiday out of the trip. This year we spent the whole 5 weeks at our home in Reykjavik. It was the best summer ever in Iceland in terms of weather and I wanted the boys to enjoy playing golf while I was working. I also took a few days off and played with Martin and the boys, it is so nice to see how good they've become since I sent them to a one week golf training when they were only 5 & 6 years old.
13 days Reykjavik → 9 days Zurich → 3 days Reykjavik → 6 days South of Iceland → 1 day Reykjavik
Our Iceland “holiday” continued in August or until school started for the boys and I had to go back to Switzerland for an eye exam. Then Martin and I went back to Iceland to prepare for the last round of Mastermind Retreat Iceland. But first we spent a weekend with Martin's best friend who comes to Iceland once year and together we enjoy Reykjavik culture night (always around 18th of August every year) – and sometimes we even participate in the Reykjavik Marathon that happens on the same day. This year I invited participants of Mastermind Retreat Iceland to join me for a 3K, 10K, 21K or 42K run. Most of us did the 3K run, one did the 21K run and one of us even did the real marathon of 42K and all of us wore a Team Red shirt that we had made especially for the event. Then came the 6-day Mastermind Retreat Iceland and although this was the wettest and windiest retreat I've ever done it was the one with the most insights and breakthroughs for the participants – still today I am receiving thank you messages for this life-changing week.
1 day Reykjavik → 3 days Phoenix → 25 days New York → 1 day Phoenix
After Mastermind Retreat Iceland Martin flew back to Switzerland to take care of the kids and I flew to USA for another mastermind retreat with Ali Brown. Then Martin and I met each other in New York where we spent a whole month living and launching in New York, that was an amazing experience that we definitely want to repeat. I hopped for one day to Phoenix for a VIP day with Ali Brown where we went over my 2020 strategy and how this new decade is going to be epic for me and my mission of accelerating gender equality through female entrepreneurship.
→ 6 days New York → 26 days Zurich
A month in New York went way too fast, suddenly it was over and we had to go back to Zurich for my long-awaited eye operation. After a week of recovering, most of my team arrived in Zurich where we brainstormed about 2020 and prepared for SIGRUN LIVE, my annual live event for my SOMBA students and Mastermind members. It was the best SIGRUN LIVE in the 3 years we've been doing this event with 230 amazing women and a few good men. And it was so good to have the support of the team and have everyone get to know my team.
→ 4 days San Diego → 3 days Phoenix → 9 days Los Angeles → 4 days Zurich → 10 days Transatlantic Cruise(Genova, Marseille, Barcelona, Malaga)
The final retreat with James Wedmore was in San Diego and this concluded the 7 Figure Mastermind which he is not running any more in 2020. From there I went straight to Phoenix for Ali Brown's annual event called Iconic where I was invited to the stage to speak about my mission and my upcoming conference. Ali was also closing a chapter as this was the last Iconic event. From Phoenix I went to Los Angeles where I attended a 2-day workshop with my mastermind buddy Kelly Murphy to create a brand positioning video and had another photoshoot, my fifth this year. After a few days in Zurich, Martin and I, went on our first cruise together.
8 days Transatlantic cruise (Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten, Martinique, Guadeloupe) → 5 days Zurich → 2 days Stuttgart → 4 days Zurich → 4 days Alicante → 8 days Reykjavik
The 18 days cruise ended and we flew straight back to Switzerland to wrap things up before the holidays. We took the boys for our annual trip to Stuttgart to see the Christmas market and do some Christmas shopping, this year I also added a meetup for my SOMBA community. Back in Switzerland I recorded the last podcast episodes of the year before we flew to Alicante to spend Little Christmas with Martin's mother and sister. On 24th of December we flew from Spain to Iceland just in time to spend the Christmas holidays in Iceland, like we do every year.
The biggest traveling highlight of the year was going on a transatlantic cruise. I had been on a cruise once before when I went on an Abraham Hicks cruise to Alaska in 2016 but Martin, my husband, had never been on a cruise before. Since we are planning to go on a 3-week Antarctica cruise in 2022 to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, Martin wanted to go on a cruise once before to see if he liked it. Turns out that we both loved it, especially the days at sea. On my previous cruise there were 2 separate days at sea but on this transatlantic cruise there were 5 consecutive days at sea.
There was something magical about crossing the Atlantic, the soft movement of the ship and the endless sea with not a single ship in sight. Martin and I were both able to completely relax and recharge which was so needed after a busy year. We are now even more excited about our dream cruise in 2022 to Antarctica where I’ll make my dream of seeing penguins in their natural habitat a reality.
Besides visiting Caribbean for the first time and enjoying interesting excursions on all the beautiful islands, two excursions will stay in my memory forever.
The first memorable excursion was on Barbados where I snorkelled with turtles. I had never snorkelled before and I had no idea that you could see turtles like this. I struggled a little bit in the first few minutes and drank some sea but quickly got the hang of it and then saw the first turtle swim away. The sea was murky that day so after 30 minutes I gave up and went back on our boat which was a catamaran. But then one of our guides called that some turtles were visible again and I quickly went back into the sea and there they were, right in front of my eyes. I so wish I had had a waterproof case for my iPhone, then I would have had the perfect opportunity to take some pictures. Overall an amazing day but I am not sure Martin agrees because he got a very bad sunburn which he was still recovering from 3 weeks later.
The second memorable excursion was on St. Kitts where I swam with dolphins. Many years ago one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of herself with a dolphin and I thought to myself, that would be so amazing to do once in my life. I put it on my some-day-list without really thinking I would actually do it. I didn't even know you could this in the Caribbean so I got all excited when I saw this as one of the excursions offered. Martin was in pain because of his sunburn so I invited Sif, my team member, client and veterinary, to come with me instead. And what an amazing experience, something I will never ever forget. Now I can say that I kissed a dolphin!
Let’s rewind back to the end of 2018. I was feeling tired. In August 2018 I started a brand new group coaching and accountability program called SOMBA Momentum and I was also running 4 mastermind groups; 2 Momentum Masterminds, 1 Accelerator Mastermind and 1 VIP Mastermind. The plan was to retire the 2 Momentum Masterminds in favour of the new SOMBA Momentum program but for 4 months I was running 5 group programs instead of ideally only 3. I was running too many programs and I was running out of energy and I realised it. The year was coming to an end so I knew I could pull through but I began to wonder about 2019.
Stop, pause or merge
In October 2018, I started to think about merging two of my higher level masterminds, Accelerator and VIP, into one. I wanted to have more space and time in my calendar to be creative, create more content and finally write a book. Instead of taking a swift decision I went back and forth on whether I should merge Accelerator and VIP into one program or wait and see how many signups I got. To say that I agonised over this is an understatement. Since I was so indecisive on what to do, I also didn’t do my best at marketing both programs. And suddenly it was almost Christmas and I realised that I had to make a decision.
On December 23, after one more sleepless night over this decision, I finally sent an email to those who had signed up for these two programs and announced to them that I was merging the two programs and upgrading all of those who had signed up for Accelerator to VIP. Of course Accelerator members were ecstatic about the change but I didn’t feel so good for those who had already signed up for VIP so I gave them an extra bonus too. I felt relieved after the decision like I do after every big decision I make in my business. And then I thought to myself, why didn’t I make this decision right away in October?
Besides merging two programs, I also had to take a hard look and see if there was anything that I could stop doing or at least pause for a while. Already in October I had stopped recording new episodes for Sigrun Sparks which is a 90 sec daily audio experience. Still today my team is running the 100 episodes that I created from May to September 2018. In my mind I have just paused the production of new episodes and when the time is right I will start again.
At the end of December 2018 I didn’t have the energy to record any new episodes for my podcast The Sigrun Show so we re-ran older episodes that I felt were good but hadn’t received the downloads they deserved – and this turned out to be a good idea. I didn’t have to record 10 new episodes and these episodes got a new life.
The decisions to stop something, merge something or pause something are not easy but through this experience I believe I am much more willing to make a decision like that and make that decision faster than I was before.
Growing a team
I had more growing pains to go through in 2019. It had been clear since I tripled my revenue from $340K to $1M in 2017 that I needed to grow my team but still hadn’t.
There was something holding me back and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Was I worried about the investment? Not really but maybe a tiny bit. Was I worried about not finding the right people? Partly yes as I had hired and fired a lot of contractors over the years. Was I worried about the time it takes to train them? A little bit. Was I worried about changing the team dynamic? Somewhat I guess. But overall I didn’t have a clear answer on why I wasn’t growing my team when we so obviously needed more help to achieve all the goals that I wanted to achieve.
As I stood in front of my mastermind group in February 2019 explaining to them my vision and listing all my goals for 2019, I realised that the biggest thing holding me back was my resistance to growing my team.
My mastermind buddies were amazed how far I have grown my business with such a small team but it was crystal clear to everyone in the room that the only way I was going to achieve my goals was to build a bigger team. Then one of my mastermind buddies, who rarely speaks up unless she has something important to say, said: “Sigrun, I think the reason you are not growing your team, is that you want to prove to the world, to women, that you, as a woman, can do it all on your own.” Boom! That hit me.
Yes, I want to prove to myself and prove to other women that they can do it. And my mastermind buddy continued: “Sigrun, you’ve proven that you can do it, you’ve already built a million dollar business”. Boom! Yes, I have. “Now build a dream team to achieve your vision”. She hit the nail on the head and I felt something being released, the resistance was less.
The day before that memorable hot seat I had written and published three job descriptions. We took our time with the hiring, the ad was up for over a month, we got over 300 applications and then my team interviewed potential candidates and we gave them tests to complete. We ended up hiring 4 employees instead of 3, although a few months later we had to let one of them go.
Overall I added 5 members to my team in 2019, plus I hired an event manager as a contractor and 4 new coaches for my programs. Today I feel no resistance to growing the team, actually I feel the opposite, I am constantly thinking about what role I want to hire next and if I know someone I could hire. I am really enjoying building a dream team.
Today my core team consists of Sigrun (me), Martin (my husband), Lynn, Kirstie – all full time and Joe, Jennifer, Dominique, Sif, Joseph, Nona – all part-time. My extended team consists of JT, Charyl, Jackie, Emma, Alex, and Dawn. And then I have a team of coaches, some of them are on my core team and others only work as coaches for me like Anke, Merilyn and Hannah. In addition to my team I have go-to-expert when like Josh, Alma, Gassi, Kat and many more. Together we are accelerating gender equality through female entrepreneurship.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together “– African proverb
In February I said to my husband:
“I would love to live in New York for a month.”
“Let‘s do it”, he said.
A few hours later we found the perfect studio apartment in the middle of Manhattan.
The dream of living somewhere else for a month was no longer a dream.
It was going to happen and it happened in September 2019.
We moved to New York for a month without big plans. Interestingly, I got several invitations to events even if I didn‘t tell anyone that I was going to be in New York. Somehow the Universe sent me people and/or events that happened exactly during the time I was in New York. And of course I took advantage of that.
The first thing we did was to set up our office space. As luck would have it, there were two tables in our studio and two monitors! We had to get a few things, like a stand for my microphone and keyboards as we had not thought everything through when we packed for the trip. Martin didn’t mind going shopping because all the things we needed were in our favourite shop in New York – B&H. I think Martin went there at least 4 times during our stay if not more often.
We quickly established a routine in our new home-for-a-month. Martin would go to Starbucks in the morning and get a Latte Macchiato for himself and a Chai Tea Latte with almond milk for me. We would work in the morning from 9am to 12pm and then go to lunch at one of the many restaurants around our area.
We would then work in the afternoon from 1pm to 6pm and then go out for dinner. Our studio apartment had a decent kitchen but neither of us like to cook and New York just has so many great restaurants.
The view from the apartment was amazing so I took a picture every morning and every evening. I also used the opportunity to have a photoshoot in New York, right after I arrived. We did one inside the apartment and another one outdoors just before we left New York.
September turned out to be a great month to go to events and meet people. The first event I went to was Marie Forleo’s book launch in New York where I met a few fellow B-Schoolers (I did B-School in 2013) and fans.
I met up with Jon Briggs who does trailers for people like Mark Schaefer and Gary Vee and he introduced me to Steve Cohen, the most connected man in the world and producer of the Altucher Show. Steve then invited me to attend two events with James Altucher, one was where he did stand-up comedy and the second one was with Ryan Holiday where they were discussing his new book. At that event I met Derek Halpern, who sat down at my table.
And then I was invited to Selena Soo’s VIP Networking Dinner with 30 other entrepreneurs and media people. You may or may not know the people I have mentioned. My point isn’t the name dropping but the fact that you can meet so many people in New York is amazing. No wonder a lot of entrepreneurs live in New York!
2019 was the year that I finally had an eye operation. Since 6 years I’ve known that I have a cataract in my right eye.
I didn’t see it coming, it happened gradually. I was having all kinds of issues in the right side of my body which were not all explainable so I thought about going to the eye doctor. The eye doctor didn’t see anything wrong with my right eye, so I asked him to look again. And then he shouted: You have a cataract! I was in shock. Isn’t that something that 70-80 year old people get?
Obviously there are exceptions and I am one of them. The eye doctor wanted to operate right away but I didn’t trust him. I believed him when he said I had a cataract but I didn’t think operating so fast was a good idea and also not by a local eye doctor that rarely does eye operations. I got a second and a third opinion, both eye doctors agreed with me to wait. This was six years ago.
What nobody told me back then is that you shouldn’t wait too long. Earlier this year I had lost all sight on my right. I saw a bit of colour but that was it. It is like looking through a white paper bag. Check what you see, it’s not much I can tell you. My husband noticed that my right eye had started to wander off and didn’t look straight. We even started to see this in pictures of me. It was time to have that eye operation.
There were two reasons why I waited so long, one was that the more experienced eye doctors recommended it and second, I wanted the latest and best technology. I had done my research and found out that there is a multifocal lens you can get as a replacement when they remove your own lens. And I decided that was what I wanted. I wanted to be able to walk around and use my computer and read a book without glasses.
In July I had an appointment at an eye clinic in Zurich. They did all kinds of test on my right eye but it was very hard to measure anything. The results were devastating, even more shocking than having the cataract in the first place. You cannot have the multifocal lens, the eye doctor said. I was in shock … and cried when I got outside the eye clinic. I had waited too long…
But I had been waiting too long to get the right treatment and was not willing to take no for an answer, so I asked for a second appointment with the head doctor of the clinic. An appointment was set up for August and I flew especially from Iceland to Switzerland. At the clinic I was first sent to a different doctor who told me all about a test that we had to do to simulate the eye operation. I asked again to see the head doctor and after a bit of back and forth I could finally see her – and she agreed to the multifocal lens that I originally wanted. ⠀
A date for the eye surgery was set – Tuesday October 8, 2019. According to the eye doctors all went well but it took me a few days to recover. Within 2 days I could see 100% with my right eye and it was amazing to be able to read a book and sit at the computer without needing glasses. A few days later though, my eye sight dropped to 60%, I noticed as we were driving that I couldn’t read the motorway signs anymore. The eye doctors had warned me that because my cataract was so strong, that I would most definitely have to have a post-cataract eye laser operation about 3 months after the first operation.
Instead of waiting 3 months the eye doctors decided to do the second operation only 3 weeks after the first operation to improve my eyesight. The date for the 2nd operation was November 18, 2019. I felt an immediate improvement and in the eye test that I did right afterwards I guessed that my eyesight was at 80%. That was not the 100% that they promised me but I was still very grateful to be able to see.
Just before Christmas 2019 I was invited for a final check and my eyesight had improved even more. Now I have 100% eyesight in my right eye! What a relief after everything. Now I just need to have the left eye operated but I'll wait a bit – not too long – to do that.
When I read other people’s year in review blog posts, I am always curious about their numbers because I am a business coach and I help women make money. It would be weird if I wasn’t interested in financial numbers. This is why I’m including this detailed section with my revenue and costs because I know you’re curious, too.
Total Revenue in 2019 was $2.1M
The 2019 results were more than a $500K revenue increase from 2018 which is over 30% growth. I started the year aiming to double the revenue from $1.5M in 2018 to $3M in 2019 but already by the end of January I adjusted the projection to $2.5M, so I am pretty happy with our results, especially considering all the issues we had with Facebook ads in all of our launches. The revenue for SOMBA in 2019 was similar to our SOMBA revenue in 2018 and the key growth area was my new group coaching and accountability program, SOMBA Momentum.
SOMBA revenue was $1.1M in 2019
Although it wasn’t our original plan, my team and I did three SOMBA launches in 2019.
The original plan was to do two launches, like in 2018, but in January and June, instead of January and September. Our reasoning was that it would be good to have people start just before we run a 60-day summer challenge inside SOMBA called SOMBA Summer School. But our June launch didn’t work out the way we wanted, partly due to Facebook ads and partly due to the heat wave that went over Europe in the week of our launch. That’s why we added a September launch and were able to close off with over a $1M in SOMBA revenue.
Our Facebook ad troubles started already in September 2018 when we hit an invisible daily ad spending limit and couldn’t spend our ad budget. Despite talking to three Facebook ad experts, none of them could figure out what was happening. It was actually Martin, my husband, who knows nothing about Facebook ads that figured out that there was a limit on our daily ad spend. Our Facebook ad manager was sceptical that this was the reason but after checking with Facebook, turns out that Martin was right and, Facebook was willing to increase our invisible daily ad spend limit. Unfortunately this was already on our open cart day so it was too late for that launch.
In the three launches in 2019 our Facebook ads issues were around ad disapprovals like so many others have encountered. We’ve had to completely change the language of our ad copy and also our landing pages and sales pages in order to get through the eagle eye of Facebook ad approval. Getting lot of ads disapproved increased costs so overall lead cost went up in all three launches. A lot of time was also spent on writing ad copy, much more than in previous years, which is something we have to factor into our launches now. By the end of 2019 we finally felt we got the hang of getting our ads approved and since then our Facebook ads are running smoothly – fingers crossed!
My team and I are continuously working on making SOMBA the best online business program for service-based online entrepreneurs. In 2019 we added 11 SOMBA mentors to the program and our first official SOMBA coach. We also added two new courses to the curriculum, a Facebook Ad course and a Coaching Business course (released on Dec 31). In addition, our SOMBA Kickstart process helped create over 300 new online courses that would otherwise not have been created. Beyond that SOMBA students reported 100s of business and life breakthroughs as a result of participating in the program.
Mastermind groups revenue was just shy of $1M
In 2019 we ran two group programs; SOMBA Momentum, a group coaching and accountability program, and VIP Mastermind, a true mastermind program. Both are 12 month programs but the sales process is very different. VIP Mastermind starts only once a year, in January, Momentum on the other hand starts at any time. Most of our Mastermind group clients come from SOMBA and therefore we don’t need to run any ads or launch these two programs, the ascension model is now SOMBA → Momentum → VIP Mastermind → RED CIRCLE.
My team and I are constantly thinking about how to make our group programs the best online group programs for service based online entrepreneurs. For Momentum we added a sales coach in addition to a launch coach and a Facebook ad coach. For 2020 we are adding a copywriting and mindset coach. We are also creating an advanced track for those who are further in online business but not at $200K in annual income yet where we will focus on team building and bigger launches. For VIP we've increased the requirement to join the program to $250K annual revenue and created a new program for those who are already about $500K, called RED CIRCLE, for female online entrepreneurs with over $500K in revenue and aiming for the million in 2020.
Other revenue streams were over $100K
Under other revenue streams falls the Selfmade Summit, my biggest and boldest project to date, happening in June 2020 in Reykjavik, Iceland. We soft-launched our super early bird tickets during SIGRUN LIVE in October and they sold out in 48 hrs. Early bird tickets are available until end of January 2020.
Net Profit was 10% or $210K
When most online entrepreneurs talk about profit, they actually mean salary, they sometimes even call it take-home-profit. They run their businesses as sole proprietorships and any profit they make is actually their salary.
I’ve always run my business as a limited liability company and therefore any profit my company makes is not my salary but a profit that belongs to the company. In some countries it makes sense to pay yourself dividends from your company profit but in Switzerland, that doesn’t make sense because dividends are double-taxed. First you pay tax on your company profit before you can pay yourself dividends and then you pay income tax on the dividends. The best way to pay myself in Switzerland is through a salary.
When I talk about profit, I mean company profit, after salary, company taxes, depreciation of company assets and currency losses or gains. And that’s a very different profit than the one most online entrepreneurs talk about. I actually don’t want a lot of profit in my business, a 5% profit is more than enough for a business that I never plan to sell. Instead I want to invest any potential profit into the growth of my business before the end of the year. This investment can be in the form of a new project like a venue for a conference, larger ad budget, expanding my team, creating an investment fund etc.
Next time you hear someone talk about profit, ask them what kind of profit they are talking about. If I would calculate profit like most online entrepreneurs do I could easily have a 50% profit in my business, but that would not be smart business- and tax-wise and that’s why I don’t do it.
Total costs were $1.9M
I am not afraid of investing forward although it took me a while to get there mindset-wise. The investments I made in 2019 are a part of wanting to scale the business fast and have a bigger impact. Some costs are just costs of a running a business of this size. Below I highlight some of the expenses in my businesses in 2019.
Employees & contractors $700K
The biggest expense in my business is paying people. This includes me and my husband, all employees, all contractors, and all outsourced tasks. My team now consists of 4 full-time employees, 8 part-time employees/contractors, a 2-people podcasting team, 3 external coaches, and I regularly work with photographers and videographers. In addition we have several tasks that we outsource e.g. transcription services. It gives me great joy to be able to employ people and now that I have gotten over my resistance of growing my team, I love building a dream team and paying good salaries.
I pay myself a six figure salary since 2017, to be precise $150K a year. It is the same salary I had before as a CEO and before I started to build my business. It's a salary my business can easily afford to pay me after I started to have over million dollars in revenue. To put it into perspective, I did not pay myself the first three years in business because I first wanted to invest into the growth of the business. With the company now making $2M I have not increased my salary, again I prefer to invest into growth, coaching, masterminds and growing a dream team. It's important to pay yourself a salary but I also believe that you have to decide what is more important, a salary you get today, or an impact you can have in the future.
Live Event Cost $120K
Once a year my team and I hold a live event in Zurich, Switzerland called SIGRUN LIVE for our SOMBA students and Mastermind members. This year I invested over six figures having my team there for a whole week and create an amazing 2-day event for our community. In 2020, Sigrun Live will be an even bigger investment as we are making it a 3-day event, 2 days for SOMBAs and 1 Mastermind day for Mastermind members. My team is already excited and I hope you are excited, too – get on the waitlist for SOMBA if you are not already a student.
Facebook Ads $200K
When my clients ask me which amount they should invest into Facebook ads, I tell them that investing 10% of the revenue you want to have in your launch is pretty normal. If you want to have a million dollar launch, you need to be willing to invest $100K into paid ads. In 2019 we spent 10% of our total revenue on Facebook ads and that was too much. The reason why we spent so much was that we had a lot of issues with ads in 2019 and my hope is that with Facebook ads running smoothly now that we can get our Facebook ad cost down.
We work with affiliates to sell our SOMBA program. All our affiliates are former and current SOMBA students or Mastermind members and know the SOMBA program in and out. Their success stories are the best proof of the effectiveness of the program. Affiliates get a 40% commission for every SOMBA sale.
I believe in investing forward. I invest a lot of money into masterminds and coaches every year. In 2019, I invested in two masterminds, one was $40K and the other one $50K. If you want to add $500K to your revenue then you need to be willing to invest $50K in coaching. Besides masterminds I also invest in coaching and consulting when the need arrives e.g. how to create an amazing conference.
Travel is a big part of my life and business. This is one of the reasons I started my business in the first place. I wanted to be able to live in two countries and travel the world. 90% of my travel is for business and therefore my travel costs are probably higher than in most online businesses.
Both of my masterminds in 2019 were in the US so I did 6 trips there to attend retreats and other events. A part of the travel costs is also travel that my team has taken. I have always had a virtual team but 2019 was the first year where I brought my team together and more than once. In February I flew to Toronto to work with my launch manager and in June I flew my launch manager and my new executive assistant to Zurich. Then for my live event in October, I flew team members to Switzerland from the US, Canada, Italy, and the UK. Under travel costs falls also accommodations and meals.
Currency losses $40K
I charge in USD because that is the only international currency that everyone understands whether they live in Australia, Iceland or Germany. But since my business is registered in Switzerland I get paid out in Swiss Francs from Stripe and Paypal despite my efforts to get paid out in USD. I also do my books in CHF and this means that there will always be some currency losses or gains in my accounting. In 2019 the currency losses were $40K and it does hurt to see this number be so high. We are constantly evaluating how to minimise this cost and have found a few ways that have actually lowered our cost from the year before.
I cannot do a year in review for 2019 without speaking about the Selfmade Summit.
The seeds had been set for a while. I knew that one day I would do a conference but I didn’t know when or what it would be about.
October 2018 I started to feel ready. My VIP Mastermind clients were in Iceland with me and I decided to show them Harpa, the Icelandic concert hall. If you haven’t heard of Harpa, imagine the Sydney Opera house and then a more modern version with a glass facade at the harbour of Reykjavik. That’s Harpa.
Harpa was built between 2007 and 2011. I originally studied architecture and was fascinated by Harpa from day one. I love how the outer structure of a glass facade changes with the seasons, sunlight and artificial light. It is a building that has been praised in magazines around the world, not just for its looks but also because of its sound. Harpa was designed as a concert centre but equally works as a conference centre. It has many multifunctional event spaces plus the main concert hall called Eldborg which translates to fire city.
When I saw Eldborg for the first time, I had to catch my breath, it was so beautiful and and red – the colour is even called fiercely red. I instantly knew it: this was my event space. So when my VIP Mastermind clients came to Iceland in October 2019, I decided to show them my dream event space. I booked us a tour of the building and then we came into the red room called Eldborg. They fell in love just like me and then asked me: “Sigrun, when are you going to book it?”
The same day I went on Harpa's website and checked the prices for the venue and thought to myself, I can afford that.
The next day my VIP clients asked me again: “Sigrun, when are you going to book it?”
“Now,” I said. I opened up my laptop and booked the venue.
I put a date on my dream, the rest is just logistics.
The last 12 months have been quite a journey when it comes to the Selfmade Summit. It’s been scary, frustrating, annoying and everything in-between but also so exciting that I cannot wait to experience the fruits of this work in June 2020.
Hiring an event agency
One of the biggest headaches was hiring an event agency. If somebody would have told me that it would take a whole year to find someone I would have not have believed them. I started asking around in February 2019 and both of my business coaches recommended the same event agency in the USA. After finally getting a hold of them I decided to have a virtual VIP Day with them in May. They recommended a 3-day event instead of the 2 days that I had already booked the venue for. I decided to stick with my 2 day event and use what I learned for SIGRUN LIVE, my annual event for my SOMBA community, instead. I was back at square one or almost as I also figured out that it would be better to hire a local event agency than an agency from the USA.
I used the time while I was in Iceland in the summer to speak to a few local event agencies. One after the other fell through as they all wanted to charge per attendee plus add a margin to all my external costs e.g. venue, food etc. I found this a very weird practice but it seems to be common. It was very frustrating how long it took to figure this out, basically after 2 months of searching, interviewing and waiting for offers and then end up without an agency. It was already end of August and I did not have an event agency for the conference, I was definitely starting to get nervous.
During Mastermind Retreat Iceland my local photographer in Iceland recommended a friend of his to me and I dismissed the recommendation at first but then I started to realise that I needed to hire a event manager and not an event agency. We were about to get started with this friend of my photographer when he also fell through because of a sudden new big project. I couldn't believe it when I received the email. Was this the Universe testing me if I was really ready to go ahead with the conference? In the email the friend of my photographer recommended his friend and I was not too excited about all this friend-recommending-a-friend-thing. Still, I asked my EA to check him out and see if he was any good. Well, turns out he was exactly the guy we had been looking for so finally in December 2019 we finally had our event manager!
Through this roller coaster ride of hiring an event agency some amazing people reached out to me to help. I want to thank Claudia Chan, the founder of the She Summit, and Phil Merson, the event manager of Social Media Marketing World, for giving me advice and being my go-to-experts on creating a one-of-a-kind conference.
Tickets are on sale now for The Selfmade Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.
My word for the year 2020 is EPIC. Writing this epic blog post with over 10,000 words was just the kickoff for a year that has all the signs of becoming an epic year.
What hasn't changed
Some might think that having a multiple million dollar business completely changes you but I can attest that it doesn't. It makes you more of who you already are.
I am still the same person. I still have the same family and same friends. I still have the same old cars, one 9 year old car in Switzerland and one 13 year old car in Iceland. I still have the same 90 square meter apartment in Iceland and in Switzerland we still rent a penthouse flat that we were renting before I started my business. I do travel more for sure and I buy more shoes – I love shoes – but other than that my lifestyle hasn't changed much. I'm not growing my business to be able to buy more for me and my family, I am growing my business in order to change the world. It's the same why I've had since I was 16 years old.
What's different in 2020
First of all, I feel already different than I did a year ago. I am not tired and I am not feeling stressed. I think the biggest difference has been an upgrade in my mindset and expanding my team. Knowing that my team has my back is huge and I am constantly working on removing myself from tasks that I don't need to be doing and focusing more on what is my zone of genius. Second, leaning so strongly into my mission has been a game changer. Suddenly things that would have thrown me off before, don't bother me at all. Building my business isn't about me anymore, it's about the mission and how much impact I can have in the world.
Taking a break from some projects was good for me and now I feel the energy coming back to go back to projects that have been on hold.
In September 2018 I took a break from producing Sigrun Sparks, a 90sec, daily inspiration on voice enabled devices like Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home-Pod (also available as a podcast). In February 2020 I will start to produce Sigrun Sparks again and I am very excited about the new content. Sigrun Sparks have served us well as content snippets on social media as I script every single episode in order to make it very concise and actionable.
In 2020 the Sigrun Show will receive a makeover in terms of branding, description and topics. Also, the show notes in 2020 will all be in a form of a blog post and in 2019 we already started to do that after a copywriter joined our team and sometimes I script a whole episode before I record and then we publish the script as well. The changes are not big but important to support the direction I am already taking in my content creation and programs.
For a while in 2018 I did a weekly Facebook Live but then I got tired and decided to focus only on the podcast. In 2020 I will be bringing back Sigrun TV and this time it will be on YouTube first and Facebook second. This marks also the start of finally getting active on YouTube which I have been procrastinating on for too long. We already have a lot of video material and are in the process of hiring a full-time videographer for 2020 in order to create even more video content.
If you are a SOMBA student or Mastermind member in 2020 you can already get excited about SIGRUN LIVE in October 2020. Instead of a one day event for SOMBAs and a 2-day event for Masterminders we're doing a 2-day event for SOMBAs and 3-day event for Masterminders. Making SIGRUN LIVE longer is an effort to build even stronger bonds in the SOMBA community.
My biggest and boldest project to date will play a big role in 2020 and I am looking forward to see you in Iceland. Together we can make sure that women earn more money and make a bigger impact in the world and as a by-product we'll accelerate gender equality. This is the conference of the year 2020 for female online entrepreneurs. Get tickets for the Selfmade Summit now.
My website is more than overdue. I did my current website in a few hours in July 2015 when I knew that the video for my TEDx talk was about to be released. I started a rebranding process in June 2018 but I couldn't continue it end of 2018 as I enough energy to push it through. Feeling energised and ready to tackle this project you'll see a new website in 2020. I am already very excited!
How you can work with me in 2022
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