I never imagined that I would record an episode called “2020 was a gift.” I want to put a disclaimer here that I know that 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for all of us. Especially for those who lost someone, got very sick, lost their job, or even lost their business. I empathize with anybody who wants to light 2020 on fire and forget about it – I also do, a little bit.
The other day, I was walking through the grocery store and I had tears in my eyes wondering if things would ever go back to normal. I would love to go into a grocery store and not sweat my face off wearing a mask (even though I know that’s not the biggest deal right now).
I respect and understand that this year has been bad, and even worse for some people. But, in true Jessica fashion, I want to take some time to talk about the silver lining.
2020 Was a Gift
Want to listen to the podcast version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
So, today I want to talk about how 2020 was a gift for me – and I want you to reflect on that question, too. If you don’t know this about me yet, I’m notoriously optimistic. It takes a LOT for me to be a pessimist. Obviously it happens, but I try to see the silver lining in every situation (at least after the fact).
If you go back and listen to one of my very first podcast episodes called “Making Lemons Out of Lemonade,” I talk about my corporate experience. I had this corporate job that I hated, and I was treated poorly, and I quit. The events that caused me to quit were really crappy circumstances. BUT, it wasn’t that long after it happened that I started to realize it all happened for a reason.
Let’s talk about 2020…
2020 sucked. Hands down, it has not been a great year. We’ve had personal losses, job losses, and travel halted. At the time I’m recording this, a second stimulus check is being voted on but hasn’t passed yet. I saw someone tweet a Congressperson asking if they would be willing to raise the income limit to receive stimulus checks because in 2019, their business made more than $2 million, but in 2020 it had barely made $40,000. And that one hit me hard.
I’m assuming that person had a restaurant or a tourist-based business. Although, I live in a touristy area and it honestly has not slowed down because of COVID. My new studio is in the downtown area. When I walked to get lunch one day the streets were completely full of people. WAY more packed than they should have been.
All that to say, the tweet I saw hit me hard. Last year’s income and this year’s income might look completely different for you in a very negative way. I am positive that I would have made more money this year if I had either known what 2020 had in store and could have prepared more, or if it had just been normal.
Some of my income every year comes from traveling and speaking at conferences, and that was entirely cut off. I did speak at two or three conferences before the world shut down, but nonetheless, these were things I couldn’t plan for. I know that 2020 has been the worst year for many businesses who rely on in-person sales.
That may be your business. If it is, I really hope that you pivoted and changed this year. I don’t think that’s an excuse, to be honest. We saw some really cool, innovative ideas come out of 2020. I remember early on in the year, I saw a hairstylist who made box kits to sell to her customers. She would mix up their hair color and provide instructions and they could pick it up curbside. Yes, she was definitely losing some of her income, but she was solving a problem and protecting her income. I hope that if you are a business that was impacted by 2020, I hope that you found a way to make up part of that lost income.
I don’t follow Rachel Hollis super closely anymore, but I know that her main source of income for several years was either speaking at conferences or hosting them. That industry completely stopped. Virtual conferences are totally possible, but they aren’t as profitable.
Diversifying Your Income is CRUCIAL.
2020 makes me think about failing to diversify your income streams. We have to be diversifying our income streams, because if one of them fails, then we can lean into another.
I say this all the time. We can’t settle for all of our income coming from one area. If that area disappears (and it CAN), then we are screwed. And the hustle it will take to pivot while it’s happening will take way more effort to accomplish than if you have other streams of income already.
That’s not the point here, but it’s important to note.
2020 has been hard, but 2020 was a gift to most of us.
2020 has been a gift to most of us, and I hope that we can all take the time to recognize that even through the hardships.
I LOVE to travel. Travel being part of my business makes me really happy, and not being able to travel this year has sucked. Who knows where I would have ended up this year at different conferences, and the people I could have met. But on the flip side of that, holy MOLEY at the time I’ve been able to spend at home. I haven’t had to pack my bags, take the time to travel, or take time away from my kids. Getting to spend more time with my family has been great.
As a whole, I think spending more time at home is something we’ve all been able to take part in. I could be wrong about that, but I think many of us have spent more time with our immediate family.
My mom was sent home from work and has been working from home since late March. My dad is a truck driver who works five days on, five days off. Normally, on his five days off, my mom is still going to work every day. Now, they’re getting to see each other more (even though my mom is working while he’s home). My kids occasionally go over there when my dad is off so my mom also gets to see them more.
While 2020 took away some of our enjoyment from traveling, it also gave us time with our family.
Now, let’s talk about the real gift of 2020.
2020 was a gift because it gave us time to think. We had time to reflect, slow down, analyze, and process things. Holy bananas at the gift that time was.
I really struggled for the past couple years knowing where I want to go in my business and my purpose in it. It’s been interesting. It isn’t like my income fell off, because it didn’t. But could I have grown my income more knowing my direction? Absolutely. So it’s been a wild ride.
All of my confusion started because I brought to fruition the goal that my business was funding. I built the house and bought the land that we had wanted, and I felt lost about what was next. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do.
It made me unmotivated when I was setting money goals, because I didn’t know what that money was going to go toward. And I really need higher level “why’s” to get it done. I need to know that I’m making $X because I want to do X, Y, and Z.
In 2018, 2019, and part of 2020, I had direction, but I didn’t have a clear direction on where I wanted my business to go and what I was going to spend my money on when I made it. That was hard. It’s hard to hit goals when you don’t know why you’re doing it.
For me, personally, 2020 was a gift because it gave me time to think about what I want. I was able to process things. I didn't do much the first few weeks of quarantine. Like the rest of the world, I was just in shock and confused. The first week the kids came home from school, I had a weird eye infection and I couldn’t see for a few days. That meant I couldn’t do much at all, so I spent the first several days under a blanket in the dark watching Tiger King.
Then, I had to be the kids “full time teacher.” I got so frustrated because I had to do school all day and I didn’t have any time to do work. Those were the moments where I was finding clarity in my business. I was being given clarity, even though I didn't know it yet. Being frustrated that I couldn’t work showed me more and more that I love what I do.
The frustration I had in those moments gave way to clarity. I realized what I love. So, for me, 2020’s gift was the time to think. The obstacles placed in my way made me aware that they were obstacles and I figured out where I actually wanted to go.
Imagine you’re trying to go to the store. You’re driving down a totally clear road and you’re going to get there, no problem. When that happens, you don’t really think about the destination. But if you’re trying to go to the store and you’re having to avoid all of these obstacles, the destination feels that much sweeter.
Let me put an asterisk here – I don’t mean that my kids are an obstacle or that I realized I didn’t want them home. It’s school. They can be home all day long – it’s me having to be a teacher that wasn’t going well.
Here’s what I realized from those moments of clarity.
First and foremost, the point here is that 2020 was a gift. I hope that it was a gift for you in that same way, in that it gave you clarity about what you want. It was as clarifying as shampoo for me.
This wasn’t a singular moment of realization. It was a year-long journey (or nine months at least).
I realized that I absolutely LOVE being a creator. I love creating podcast episodes, YouTube videos, and the art of Instagram. Anything that falls under creating, I love it. I've realized that there are some things I don't love that have made me money in teh past that I will be phasing out of my business. But overall, I really, really love being a creator.
Being a creator is the thing I love most about the business I’ve created. The fact that I get to record these podcast episodes and film YouTube videos is amazing. It’s not only the fact that I create content, but I love that it’s helpful and useful to you guys. That makes my heart happy!
What that realization means for me!
Up until this year, I have always thought of myself as a business owner who uses content to grow my business. Going forward, I’m going to be thinking of myself as a creator who uses my content to make money. I don’t think either mindset is bad! We need a balance of both of those mindsets, no matter what you’re creating. Balancing “business owner” and “creator” will mean your content is better AND your business will grow.
There are two roads there, and many people end up on one without ever taking the other. I see people who are just a creator and never think about it from a business perspective in the YouTube circles. And there’s nothing wrong with that if it does pay you!
I just released a YouTube video all about the four streams of income that I think every YouTuber needs. Things that people stuck in the mindset of just “creator” won’t think about make up that entire list. If you look at YouTubers and what they sell, they normally make money from sponsorships, AdSense, and merch. And that’s it. They’re not thinking about how to create digital products or courses.
The mindset of a creator is cool, but you end up leaving money on the table because you don’t think about it as a business.
Then, on the other side, there are a lot of people who go into it thinking that they’re just creating content to grow their business. And that is how I have been up until now.
There’s power in having both mindsets, as business owner and creator. That’s one of the things I’ve learned during 2020. I want to lean into my creator side, hone my skills, and do better on that end. My current “end goal” (using that term loosely) would be to have sponsors on the podcast, on YouTube, and throughout my content to the point where I don’t have to launch courses to sustain my income.
Free content is my jam. I do love creating courses, but a lot of stuff goes into it. I don’t want to do services for other people (they drive me insane).
2020 gave me massive clarity around what my business will look like moving forward. I’ve been able to think through what I want to be, do, say, act on, and not act on during this year. And I’m really excited about the future of my brand and my business. One of the reasons I made the decision to get the studio is because I want more space to lean into my creator side.
And to be clear, I don’t need the extra studio space. I could absolutely be a creator in the space I’m currently in – don’t think you have to have a massive space if you want to be a creator. At this point in my journey, I think it is what I needed.
Now, I want to hear from you!
I want to hear from you about the topics you’d like to hear (or read!) more about on this podcast.
I will tell you that one of the ideas I’ve gotten through this clarity is to bring in guests. With my new studio, I have the ability to have in-person guests on the podcast. And post-COVID, I definitely plan to host in-person classes locally.
Y’all know that I live in a small town. But there are a LOT of entrepreneurs here, and a lot of small business owners. And 99.99% of them struggle with social media in one way or another. Whether that’s management, growth, or something else. That’s one of the reasons I want to do these in-person classes.
So, I want to create a series on this podcast where I invite local business owners into my studio and we have a live, on-air coaching session. One, it’s going to help that business owner. Two, it’s going to be great content. And three, because most of the businesses here are not online-only businesses like mine, it will allow me to give strategy from the perspective of all types of businesses. I can talk about strategy for restaurants and retail stores and services that I don’t gravitate toward now.
But I want to hear from you! What type of content would you LOVE to hear on this podcast. Head on over to my Instagram, @jessicastansberry, and send me a dm about what you’re thinking 🙂
I hope you’ve used the gift of reflection that was 2020. And if you’ve experienced loss and hard times, know that I have been praying for you and that you’re always in my thoughts. I’m sending a real big prayer to the big guy that 2021 is way better for all of us.