I Lost $1 Million Dollars


Hey friends,

I’m making my annual ‘How Much Money I Made in 20XX’ video.

But this year it feels a bit different.

After several years of crazy growth, my company’s revenue for 2022 stayed stagnant. No increase, no decrease – just the same as 2021 (I’ll give exact numbers in the video).

Which is disappointing.

But the real kicker is that our expenditure massively increased by a whole $1 million due to renting a London studio, hiring a bigger team, buying more filming equipment and coaching etc… so our profits went down by a whole $1 million.

I carried on investing more in the business because I expected growth to look like it did in 2019, 2020, and 2021 – loads of revenue, all the lines going up.

The main difference this time round was that our courses made less money, as (a) it seems like there’s way less demand for online cohort-based courses in general, post-pandemic, and (b) our sales & marketing broadly sucked.

In fact, most companies that had a boom during the pandemic (eg Peloton) struggled with this: expanding their operations quickly to meet huge demand, then getting sucker-punched when that demand dried up.

I’ve got some experience of mixed success from my first company 6med (here’s a blog post I write about that back in 2015-ish), but this felt bigger, as it’s the first time in my whole YouTube journey that the “profit line” has gone down.

It’s a weird feeling, because the business has still made a stupidly large profit – it’s doing phenomenally well. If I’d seen these numbers 2 or 3 years ago I would’ve had a stroke.

But the company ‘lost’ $1 million, so my brain is stuck in the mode of ‘this is a failure’.

So What Am I Going to Do About It?

Well firstly, various changes in the business to try and get the line to go back up.

But also, more of a mindset shift – to lower my expectations of success.

Unhappiness is always the result of an outcome not meeting our expectations. And my implicit expectation until now was: “the business will make more and more profit each year.”

So I’m trying to remove the assumption from my thinking, and treat this more an educational experience: “so this is what it’s like to be ridiculously successful (by most social metrics) but still feel like I’ve failed”.

In fact, I’d say low expectations is the solution to a lot of unhappiness. The way we value things is always based on relative percentages: am I making more or less money than last year? Are my grades going up or down? Am I going up in the world? But this desire for this kind of growth isn’t usually something we’ve usually decided to value ourselves – it’s something society foists on us.

So I’ve decided to consistently ask myself ‘what’s the real goal here’.

And the answer is: to do what I love, if I can make a living from it. And I make way more than ‘a living’. So I can just focus on learning stuff, teaching it on the internet, and enjoying the journey.

Don’t get me wrong, I still care about the numbers. But I’m trying to treat them more like a game.

Stoicism 101

A cynic might say ‘you’re just saying that to make yourself feel better because your business didn’t do well.’ To which my answer is – yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing. That’s the point.

The business doing well is not an inherent good, go why am I letting that make me unhappy?

Funnily enough I find myself coming back to the same Derek Sivers quote that I referenced in that blog post about my 6med struggles, all those years ago:Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?

Have a great week!

Ali xx

PS: If you’re reading this, and you happen to be an experienced business coach / CEO / COO / GM-type person based around London, I’d love to grab a coffee with you and chat / have a mini-therapy session where I can share my woes and get your perspective on things 😀 If that sounds fun, and you’re free in the second-half (ish) of December, please drop me a line ([email protected]) and we’ll see if we can sort something out.

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♥️ My Favourite Things

🎙️ Deep Dive Podcast – Lana Blakely: How To Find Tranquility, Meaningful Productivity and Healthy Relationships. Lana’s YouTube channel blew up three years ago with a video titled ‘a real day in the Life of an Introvert’, and she now has 1 million+ subscribers. In this episode we talk about the Swedish concept of Ro, which means ‘peacefulness and tranquility’, our thoughts on the real meaning of productivity and relationships in the modern world.

📚 Book – Unscripted – The Great Rat-Race Escape by MJ de Marco. I loved MJ’s book Millionaire Fast Lane, and Unscripted is another great intro to entrepreneurship + financial freedom. The writing style is a bit intense, but it’s well worth the read if you’re stuck in a 9–5 job and want to make more money.

📚 Book – Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson. I need to elaborate on this one. I literally stayed up from midnight to 6am on Friday night reading this book. And then read a few more hours over the weekend to finish it, and could feel my mind being blown multiple times every chapter. I first subscribed to Russell’s newsletter way back when I was like 16 years old, but never really read it because the vibe seemed kinda scammy. But 12 years later, having now realised that I have a huge sales & marketing gap in my own knowledge, I gave this book on marketing a chance, and realised he really really knows his stuff. My previous association was “Russell Brunson = scammy clickfunnels guy”, which was based on nothing more than reading random headlines and tweets here and there, and this was a huge mistake – having now started reading and listening to his stuff, I’m fully sold on how incredible it is, and have been highlighting the living daylights out of it on Kindle. So – if you’re interested in growing a business, and you haven’t read Russel’s stuff, I can highly highly recommend it.

🎼 Music – Ramin Karimloo. This guy in one of my top listens on Spotify. He has an amazing voice, and does sick covers of songs from musicals like Les Miserables, The Greatest Showman etc. I’ve realised this is one of my life aspirations: to make a cover album of musical theatre songs.

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🚀 Follow Your Passion is Terrible Advice. – I discuss the lessons from Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, about how to build a career you love.

✍️ Quote of the WeekThe Comfortable Pain Principle: Give a man a tolerable job that pays just enough to provide mediocre comfort and I’ll show you a man who won’t change a damn thing.

From Unscripted – The Great Rat-Race Escape by MJ DeMarco. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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