My 2023 end-of-year review

Jenni Gritters
8 min readFeb 9, 2024

I wrote this assessment fresh off my 2023 end-of-year review session with my husband in December. Now, I’m sharing my learnings, wins, challenges and themes with y’all. I know it’s rare to get a look into someone else’s business — and I believe that transparency is key to unlocking possibility. So today’s write-up will be as honest and context-filled as I can make it.

The story & context

As you may remember, my husband Sean left his job as a critical care nurse in February 2023, due to us having a second child. He took a 3-month mental health leave-of-absence before deciding he didn’t want to go back to his job. As a result, we leaned into my business hard. I had to jump my revenue from $8–10k/ month to more like $18–20k/ month to cover our financial needs, almost right away. It was a huge challenge — and (long story short), it worked.

In April, Sean and I went to Joshua Tree and talked about what it would look like for him to join my business. In June, we officially launched Riverwoods Media Group LLC, designated as an S-Corp, co-owned by both of us. This “new” business contained my writing business, which I’ve been running for almost a decade, and my coaching business, which is newer (about 3 years old). My husband jumped in to run tech and operations.

I say this because I want you to know: These numbers are not coming from one single person doing this work alone.

We also worked with several contractors this year, to support both the editorial and coaching sides of the business. We knew this year would be a building year — we needed new systems, a new structure, new software, and more support as we expanded. As a result, we spent a lot of time doing “unpaid” work this fall, to prep for the things to come in 2024.

We also have two children, ages 1.5 and 4. They both attend childcare, which is expensive (to the tune of over $3,000/ month). We own a home and have a mortgage (another $3,000+ month spend), and my husband still has a fair amount of student loan debt from his nursing degree. When I talk about our financial numbers, all of this factors heavily into the equation. This business is our only source of revenue!

2023 by the numbers

Ready for this? Because it was an absolute rollercoaster.

My income jumped wildly from January to November 2023, nearly tripling month-over-month. I started the year hitting $8,000/ month and ended making $31,000 in November alone.

In total, our business generated $210,000 net (before expenses), which ended up being $186,800 after we paid our contractors and covered our expenses. That number is much higher than in past years — I’m really proud of it! (By comparison, I made about $80,000 in 2022, with four months of maternity leave.)

Again, it’s important to note that we ended up paying about $12,000 to contractors, and that two people effectively brought in this income (because my husband was part of the business from April onward). I didn’t do this on my own — not even close.

My writing business generated the majority of that revenue, about $150,000 before expenses. My writing revenue came from the following services: Product reviews, e-commerce service articles, quick SEO pieces and content marketing work; I didn’t publish any “traditional” journalism pieces this year at all.

My coaching business brought in the other $60,000 through SUSTAIN (my group program), ADAPT (a coaching cohort I ran earlier in the year) and my 1–1 coaching options. My goal in 2024 is to flip those numbers, so my coaching business generates most of our revenue.

We paid for a lot of large expenses this year, too: A $500/ month co-working space membership, coaching and therapy for me, a training program for my husband, a lot of new equipment (a laptop for my husband, new video recording equipment for me) and lots of software, including Kajabi (where I run my coaching programs), Zoom, Paperbell, Quickbooks and beyond.

We had some painfully low revenue months, especially over the summer when I took a few weeks “off” to build curriculum. And bringing in this much revenue from writing was a struggle; I lost several huge clients over the summer and had to sprint to regain that lost income, often taking on writing projects I didn’t love. Even now, my writing business is down by about 25% compared to where it was earlier in the year.

We also drained our emergency savings account so that my husband could take unpaid paternity leave with my daughter in 2022; we weren’t able to start refilling that account until October 2023. Getting to the point of having margin again felt really, really good. As we look ahead at 2024, we’re making plans to increase the margin even further, to refill those accounts and feel less financially stressed.

My wins & challenges

I’m celebrating a few distinct things:

  • Our finances! I didn’t fully believe that my business could generate this much revenue; seeing it is a reminder that even more is possible.
  • Our balance at home. My husband leaving his job was absolutely the right move, and our marriage has improved because of it. We now share the work of caring for our home and kids equally, which is a huge relief. I’d also say that working with my husband was mostly great, which surprised me and is definitely worth celebrating.
  • Hiring contractors & bringing in support for me. I’ve had big plans for my coaching business for years but I was never able to actually dive in because I was the primary parent, married to a person with an intense job. So when my husband left his job this year, it was like the world opened up! I hired two assistants, and they added enormous value to the business, plus their help allowed me time to be more strategic. And I was also able to pay for personal support from a coach and therapist, both of which were huge as I untangled trauma responses and did the mindset work necessary to actually accept the support that was being offered.
  • Launching SUSTAIN! My group coaching program has been a shining light this year. We worked all summer to set up the container, and I’ve been astounded at the response. The folks in the program are experiencing powerful results and the community is a true delight. This part of my business also really matches the capacity of the current season of my life; it feels very aligned.
  • Our schedule. We both worked a max of 30 hours per week, with lots of vacation time — usually more like 20. Neither of us burned out, which felt like a huge win!

There were some challenges this year, too, of course:

First, I found it incredibly tough to let my husband into my business at first. It was like inviting him into my house, where everything was set up the way I wanted it. I hadn’t realized how much of a safe space my business was for me. And once he joined the business, and then we hired contractors, it became clear that I needed to adjust my systems. I really resisted this at first and it has truthfully been a learning curve since then.

Now that I’m working with others, I’ve also had to get comfortable with adjusted expectations. I have a high bar for design and copy; I get frustrated when someone else does what I see as “subpar” job. That said, I’m learning it’s better to have someone else do a good job so I can free up my bandwidth.

We’re still learning our new financial system, too. Becoming an S Corp meant paying ourselves paychecks. And with more money coming in, things have gotten more complicated. Our financial meetings were incredibly stressful for a while; we’ve both learned to calm our nervous systems before these meetings which helps, but we’ll be hiring a bookkeeper next year to eliminate some chaos!

It also became clear to me, mid-fall, that my coaching business model wasn’t working well. One-off sessions weren’t providing enough sustainable continuity, and my pricing wasn’t right for the level of commitment I was seeking from my clients. This was a tough realization.

I’ve also seen a major slow-down in the media industry, with editors lowering rates or offering far fewer assignments. The tenor of that industry has been one of panic and disrespect, overall; I know people are really stressed, but I’ve found it tough to engage in and have preferred to spend my time in other circles, or finding solutions versus dwelling in problems.

Finally, juggling two different businesses — coaching and writing — with two different workflows is really tough! My days can be chaotic if I don’t set really good boundaries and get clear on my priorities. I’ve often felt overwhelmed. We needed the writing income to stay afloat last year but I’m hopeful that the pressure will be lessened in 2024.

How it all felt

Three words: Supportive, grounded and edgy.

Over the past year, I’ve tackled so many personal demons related to asking for — and receiving — help and support. As a result, I feel much more grounded. My anxiety is lower than it’s been in years, and I generally feel safe in my body.

But this growth has also been challenging. A lot of the work I’ve done to be more vocal has triggered a freaked out little Jenni; thank goodness for the space provided by my therapist to work through this. I’ve been at the edge of what feels safe to me often this year, but I’m also watching in awe as my ability to tolerate discomfort grows.

In short: This year has been about growth, and laying the groundwork for what’s to come.

Speaking of: What comes next

In 2024, my husband is launching his own legal nurse consulting firm. (I’m so excited for him!) I’ll be supporting his business by providing business structure and set-up support, while he continues to manage the technical back-end of my coaching programs.

My theme for 2024 is taking a bold but resourced approach to my work. I want to make sure my gas tank is filled with radical support (therapy, nutritious food, lots of sleep, exercise, time with my community and family, and regular doses of nature) — all while I ask for what I want with boldness and confidence.

I’ll be focused on leveling-up my coaching business and releasing my need to hustle for writing work.

Before you go, I’d love to hear from you: What is your 2024 theme? How do you want to feel next year?

xo,

Jenni

Curious about my background? I’m a writer and business coach based in Central Oregon. I have two small children and I work part-time so I can spend a lot of time with them. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with non-linear business building and teaching people how to build successful businesses that support their human needs first.

This is an excerpt from my free newsletter, Mindset Mastery. Check out my coaching offerings here, follow me on Twitter & Instagram, or download my free business plan for creatives!

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Jenni Gritters

I’m a writer and business coach for freelance creatives based in Central Oregon. I write about the psychology of small business ownership.