02022: Matteo’s Radically Honest Review

Written by Matteo Cassese

Welcome to my radically honest review of the 02022. You can find out what happened in the past eight years at these links: 02014, 02015, 02016, 02017, 02018, 02019, 02020, 02021.

Here’s a summary of the 3.400 words that await ahead, courtesy of Chat GPT.

I exceeded my goal of acquiring 18 new clients this year by acquiring 50 new clients, resulting in a 39% growth in revenue. I made a strategic shift towards one-on-one coaching and workshops, earning certifications and forming partnerships.

I also invested in renovations, including building a video studio and repairing my thatched roof and carport. While my growth portfolio underperformed, my permanent portfolio only lost 7.81% this year. I experienced minor burnout and anxiety but have progressed through meditation, fitness, and meditation. I had a lot of joy this year, including attending weddings, spending time with friends, and driving my 1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1.6. Next year, I’m focusing on maintaining good routines, improving my sleep, and doubling my business (100% growth in revenue).

This very yearly review in video form

Business

Last year, I set a goal to grow my business by 50% and acquire 18 new clients. I was thrilled to exceed this goal, acquiring 50 new clients and achieving a 39% growth in revenue. Google Ads played a crucial role in my success, and I learned valuable skills through this investment. I also made a strategic shift towards one-on-one coaching and workshops, which now make up most of my revenue.

Looking ahead, I am confident in my ability to achieve 100% growth in revenue next year thanks to my clear product line, targeted marketing efforts, and focus on high-value products and services. In addition to taking on new clients, I also invested in my professional development, earning certifications and joining a community of workshoppers. I also formed strong partnerships with key players in the Berlin startup scene. In the long term, I plan to build a scalable education business and become a leading player in my market.

The result

Plus 39%

revenue 2022

Last year I wished to work more with existing clients, acquire 18 new clients and grow by 50%. I also wanted to increase the average invoice per client.

This year I worked with six existing clients for 10% of my revenue.
I also acquired 50 new clients overshooting my goal by almost 3x.
The business grew 39% at the time of writing. That’s nearly at the goal of 50%.
The average invoice per client went down sharply. This didn’t negatively influence the business, as it’s just a reflection of providing ad hoc coaching sessions (many clients have a big presentation “tomorrow” and buy a single confidence-building session)

Let’s see how it all happened.

Google Ads

I spent 41% of my revenue on Google Ads this year. If I add agency fees and consultants to that, we go up to 50%. I created a funnel that reliably brings new customers in.

Although I am not happy about the return on investment (I gave Google 40 cents for every Euro I make), I could only have understood my positioning and market with this investment.

Imagine that giving these 40 cents to Google will accelerate your learning like a personalized MBA built around your industry and your needs.

This year I became much better at my marketing. I enjoyed creating many landing pages. I suffered countless hours inside the Google Ads interface and learned much about how Google’s advertising machine works for and against us.

Consulting vs. Coaching vs. Workshops

I did it! This year my revenue from consulting went down to around 1%. The remaining income is split between 60% one-on-one coaching and 40% workshops.

Consulting was like a drug for me in 2021. I was happy to do it, but it prevented me from building the training and coaching business I have today.

Courses and certifications

This year I invested almost 6% of my revenue in courses and certifications.

I got certified as an Agile coach and facilitator (ICP-ATF + ICP-ACC). More importantly, I joined the Workshopper Master community and course from AJ&Smart, and I am already getting some great insights on how to run and grow an education business.

Partnerships

I can celebrate three crucial partnerships in 2022.
I met Sandira Blas as a client but quickly realized I wanted to hire her as a partnership manager. I established a strong partnership with the two most influential organizations in the berlin startup scene: Factory Berlin and Silicon Allee.

These are not formal relationships but sources of exchange, ideas, and business.

If you’re at Factory, I offer special in-person office hours. Do reach out if you’re interested.

Educazione Globale & Out as You

These two projects are at a standstill.

Analytics

analytics 2022

I did not update my website as much in ’22. The consequence is getting less organic traffic (-41%). As my SEO friends often underline: less traffic can mean better traffic. It’s hard to gauge if organic traffic brought many new customers, as running a Google Ads campaign simultaneously muddles the metrics.

WordPress

I spent a ton of time creating web pages this year. I started using Gutenberg-based themes of WordPress, and the learning curve is steep as the system is still being prepared for prime time. On the other hand, I am happy that today I can create a reliable, fast-loading, and decent-looking landing page in just a few hours.

For example, have a look here:
https://go.preshero.co/communication-skills-bio-wm/

The Future

I want to know the number.

Next year I estimate an increase of 100% in revenue. But there’s a difference from my previous estimates.
I don’t rely on word of mouth: growth is intentional and derived from proven marketing and ads.
I have a clear product line in high demand: and I have a split in mind between what revenue comes with what product.
I have a rough idea of how much marketing will be required to reach those goals.

Profit margin?

If you read my past reviews, it’s quite obvious that since 2019 I’ve been losing money or breaking even. It may seem foolish to work so hard, to have about the same money. But company building is not about profit. At least not in the initial phases.

What is the right profit margin for a growing education business?
In my consulting days, when I had zero marketing expenses, I had a margin after tax of 45%. Tell me in the comments.

For 2023 I would be happy with a 30% margin before tax.

Adjusted my positioning

In 2021 I was still playing with my positioning. I had 4 experimental definitions: Presentation Coach, Storytelling Coach, Digital Transformation Coach, Agile Coach.

Now I can clearly say that I’m a business storytelling coach. I help you craft your communication. And once you’ve prepared the ideal message, I can help you deliver it in the best possible way.

There are so many presentations, public speaking, and pitch experts. I am the business story expert who can help you with the story and your presentation, speaking, and pitch.

This positioning changes yearly, but let’s bet it will stay the same in ’23.

Coaching vs. Workshops

In ’21, my drug was consulting: it kept me from building the business. My drug in ’22 was coaching: it was a great way to produce new content, experiment with new techniques, and prove my storytelling approach’s effectiveness. But it kept me from working on the business.

The revenue split for ’22 was 60% coaching and 40% workshops.

For 2023 I plan to make
38% from coaching
31% from workshops

Hey, that’s only 69% where’s the rest of the revenue coming from?

Community-led course

The Workshopper Master online course opened my eyes to radically better online learning experiences thanks to tightly knit, curated online communities.

In February (too soon!) I will be out with my new online course. And my conservative plan is to derive 31% of the revenue from this course. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

I have an interest list here: https://fbbr.co/wait

Revenue from existing relationships?

The growth made possible by increasing the number of leads coming is superior to the lift made possible by continuing relationships. My offering of coaching, workshops, and online courses will work much better on a bigger scale. For this reason, I won’t focus too much on upselling past customers.

Financial

Renovations, including building a state-of-the-art video studio/office in my barn and repairing my thatched reed roof and carport, were my biggest expenses in the past year. But I’m excited to see these projects come to fruition in the first quarter of next year. I also treated myself to a fully restored 1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1.6, which I named “Il Papi ha fretta.”

While my growth portfolio didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, I took the opportunity to liquidate it and convert it into a crisis portfolio. On the other hand, my permanent portfolio has held its own, losing only 7.81% since the beginning of the year. And with an interest rate on my mortgage at 0.85%, I am confident in my financial situation. Looking ahead, my main focus is on growing my business and building up my cash reserves. I’m also looking forward to enjoying my property and garden once all the necessary renovations are complete. I can’t wait to spend the spring in my beautiful garden!

The Result

IMG 0825

House expenses

The most significant expense in the last year has been renovations. The biggest, by far, is the renovation of the barn to build a high-tech video studio/office inside. This has been going on for a few months and should come to fruition in Q1 ’23.

IMG 1615
Work in progress

The second largest expense has been the maintenance of the thatched reed roof. It required a new roof ridge, a new section on the north side, new air vents underneath, and vigorous surface cleanup. I am grateful that the firm Girke Reetdachdecker has taken care of this work in an ideal way.

Work is also underway for my carport, which severely needed a new roof. The new covering is up, while work on the sides will continue in Q1. Overall all urgent renovations will be completed early next year.

Il Papi ha fretta

IMG 8956

Whoops, I did it again. Since I was two years old, I’ve had a thing for Alfa Romeo. And I am thrilled to introduce the 1972 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1.6 (long name for a pretty lady), who has been affectionately named “Il Papi ha fretta” (Daddy’s in a rush).

The 1960s Giulia is the first sports sedan ever made. This particular car has been fully restored, has trick suspension, Alfaholics rims with modern tires, and handles like a dream. It’s a svelte car and it keeps up with traffic with no issue.

The dual overhead cam 1600 engine purrs, roars, and surges in a symphony. The gearchange & steering are slow and precise. Driving a purely mechanical machine gives you a special feeling. il Papi makes me feel good like no other car.

Portfolio Performance

This year I liquidated my growth portfolio (80% MSCI World 20% Emerging Markets), making 19,5% over 4 years. I converted it t to a Crisis Portfolio (Gold and Inflation protected US treasury bonds).

My permanent portfolio lost 7,81% since the beginning of the year and gained 26,38 since its inception in 2015.

My 0.85% interest rate mortgage today seems like a total steal, so I will keep repaying it for the next 8 years until I need to sit down with the bank again to re-negotiate.

The year’s expenses mean I am mostly counting on cash flow, and my mission for 2023 is to build up my cash reserves again.

Google’s impact on my bottom line

Advertising on Google Ads had an enormous financial impact on my expenses this year. For each Euro I made I paid Google around 42 cents. This is not sustainable going ahead.

The future

Finance growth, not portfolios

In the next year, I will continue investing in my business and will ignore the market and its volatility. I need to build up my cash reserves and invest as much as possible in the company’s growth.

The fleet stays the same

One consequence is that the fleet needs to stay the same. For who’s keeping count:

  • My 2019 Mazda MX-5 ND is the daily shuttle, winter car, and smiles per miles commuter;
  • My 2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S is the feel-good, long road trip business express of my dreams;
  • My 2007 Ford Focus C-Max is my no-frills, extra comfortable minibus;
  • My 1972 Alfa Giulia Super 1.6 is my mood reset, time travel, and guaranteed flow state machine.

What’s missing? An old Lancia, a classic french car, a Scandinavian box just for starters. And a VW bug.

But also: the garage has been a construction site for the office for the past 5 months. I will install a lift and get the barn properly furnished when work is over.

Enjoy the property

IMG 8435
My parents coming to visit the house: the roof looks better after the renovations.

Now that the most necessary work is done, I wish to enjoy the property as I built it up. I can’t wait to spend the spring in my garden.

Personal & Mind

This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me regarding personal and mental health. While I’ve maintained good routines for most of the year, I struggled with journaling, meditation, and sleep, and even experienced a couple of minor burnouts. I’ve worked on these issues and have made progress, especially with regular meditation.

I also discovered a new form of anxiety related to advertising campaigns that don’t produce results. In the future, I’m focusing on maintaining good routines and improving my sleep. I’m also making changes to my business that I hope will positively impact my overall well-being.

The Result

Good routines vs. bad routines

I haven’t journaled, meditated, or slept well for most of the year. I’ve had two moments this fall when I considered myself falling into a small burnout.

From mid-October on I took action on these signals and burnout is well in check, and I am meditating regularly twice a day for 20 minutes.

Sleep, therapy, and letting go

This year my therapy officially ended. I take to heart what I discovered during this third cycle. I’ve earned a black belt at letting go. If you combine that with good routines, you have somewhat of a superpower.

Yet sleep is still a lingering problem, specifically early (unneeded) wakeups. I’ve been treating this with a better wind-down routine. Less screen time in the evening. More meditation. Some mild medication.

For the moment, nothing is conclusively working.

Google Anxiety

I discovered a new type of anxiety this year: you set up a great advertising campaign and spend money regularly, yet some weeks you don’t get results. Zero conversions. No new leads. It cuts deeper than you think: I quickly get insecure and anxious when it happens.

Optimal scheduling

I delivered two dozen classes and workshops between October and November. Sometimes one day after the other. In 2023 I always plan to have two free days: one before and one after a big workshop.

A successful facilitated day with a team is heavily draining, and the only way to stay sane as a facilitator is to rest enough.

GTD and hyperfocus

GTD is still keeping me sane. I couldn’t live without it.

Media production

I didn’t produce as many long-form articles as I wished: 3 including this one. I also sent fewer newsletters: 6 (vs. the planned 12). I added 3 case studies to the website.

But: I did produce dozens of new landing pages, many revisions thereof, and updated the home page, bio, and case studies section of the website.

What gave me joy in ’22

IMG 9303
When your friends invite you to a wedding in the south of Italy, you better head over there in style

There’s so much that brought joy this year, and I wish to celebrate with you:

  • I joined three wonderful wedding celebrations;
  • I recharged my emotional batteries with the company of many precious friends;
  • I relaxed in my garden like I never thought I would;
  • I feasted my eyes on the nature around my house;
  • The renovations at the house are giving me a great sense of accomplishment;
  • I did (most of) the driving I wished and enjoyed the experience of driving in 1972 every day I wished.

The Future

Trackdays in 2023

I will plan some track days in 2023, to return to an activity I love. I am actively looking for a track day buddy to make driving more social.

Good routines only and better sleep

I am continuing to dig deeper into the causes of bad sleep and it will be a focus area for 2023.

Better business, better mind

I am making radical changes to my business that will positively impact my overall well-being. I count on these.

Dating

I went on very few dates this year and plan to change this for ’23.

Body

This year has been great for my physical health. I’ve been working with my trainer on asymmetrical exercises that have helped me improve my form and self-perception, even if I haven’t progressed much in weight or repetitions. I’ve also been using my home gym regularly, which has been a great convenience.

On the downside, I’ve had to postpone my tonsillectomy twice and may have to continue living with occasional tonsillitis. I also had a mild case of COVID-19, which was unpleasant but didn’t have long-lasting effects. In the future, I’m planning to get a booster shot in February and October to avoid another infection.

The result

Feeling very fit

It’s been a good year for my aging body. My training with Nico at Spree Crossfit went up a notch with mainly asymmetrical exercises that finally solved my lower back issue.

I didn’t progress so much in weight or repetitions but instead worked on getting a better and better form, learning how to use my abs to keep my body together and acquiring a better self perception.

My home gym got a good amount of use this year. Having the gym so easily within reach is such a privilege.

Tonsils disappointment

Twice this year my appointment to get my tonsils removed was postponed, the last one definitively. I don’t have the required amount of tonsillitis per year to justify removing them. So I will need to learn how to live with this. It’s a big disappointment as I was so looking forward to getting rid of this issue.

Hello again, Covid

I had mild covid, with three horrible days and a 2/3 weeks recovery where I could feel I was not yet fully fit. I got infected because I forgot to get my booster six months after the previous infection. I am not making this mistake again: in February, I will get my booster, and if all goes to plan again in October.

Planet

Co2

This year I produced an estimated 18 tons of CO2. That’s 1 ton less than last year.

In the absence of better ways, I am still offsetting twice the amount with the UN offsetting platform.

Paying attention to the thermostat and the warm water boiler means that I consumed an estimated 2 tons for heating and warm water. If you consider that the house is from the 17th century, that’s some seriously good performance.

Conclusions

This was a great year and I am glad you came along for the ride. But don’t be a stranger: you’re one of my accountability buddies. Drop me a line now to let me know. And if you don’t already please sign up to my email list. The signup form is below.

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