It’s funny, because these review posts were always the highlight of my Founder year tbh … but in 2020, what is there to review? Like, we’ve been locked up since January 2020 [bushfires > air toxicity > severe asthmatics in my family], we came out when the air cleared up, and then bang … bats.
But I’m here today [tonight, whenever you happen to be reading this] sharing TDP’s year in review, because despite having been forcibly locked inside for one of the world’s harshest lockdown situation … we still achieved a lot.
Like, a lot.
Probably the most amount of achievements this here little business has ever achieved, if I’m being really honest … and so without further ado, I bring you TDP’s 2020 in review, because #catharticAF to reflect back on any year that was in business ownership land.
Can 10/10 highly recommend.
I think back to January, and the bushfires were horrifying, but I remember thinking to myself, “finally. People are talking about the climate crisis. They’re learning. Unlearning” … and then I fast forward to now and think about the million+ single-use masks that have been produced > [very necessarily] worn > discarded, and I’ll be honest, I feel defeated.
For the purposes of this blog post though, I’ll stick to focusing on what happened for TDP in January, and for us? It was our VIP 2020 program completely selling out, and that 6-figure intake was the most incredible start to our 2020.
For context? We’d have had to have worked x2 social media client accounts full-time for the same financial result … so a membership program like this within our offering? The impact was huge. Not just financially, but via the more important stuff like: not needing those x2 extra SMM clients, which means being able to avoid x2 potential red flag clients [I’m sorry to say this, but with any new client onboard? There is a risk that an agency will miss a red flag, and subsequently onboard a client that’s a nightmare to manage … and a nightmare for internal morale].
To everyone who signed up to our 2020 VIP program? … you were a legitimate turning point for our business.
At this point in the year, I vaguely remember hearing about a nasty little virus in China, but I also distinctly remember thinking, “wow. I feel for China” [never being able to imagine that this virus would go on to kill 1.7 million people globally].
Quiet COVID whispers aside, in February our General Manager, Cat messaged me from maternity leave one day and said, “can we catch up at a cafe to talk?”. True to my high-functioning anxiety form, I naturally assumed she was about to resign. In person. And so I was telling myself, “you can get through this meeting without crying. Do not cry. It will be unprofessional to cry”.
When I got to the cafe, Cat was like, “I can’t not work for another minute, can I come back from mat. leave earlier?”.
Perfect timing, because it was right around the time our CFO said, “you’re Creative Director, and someone else needs to become Managing Director. You can’t be both of those things”.
Cat returned > took the position of Managing Director > I became TDP’s Creative Director.
Bats. Just … bats.
But at this point, it was still a [somewhat] semi-novelty.
We sat around the table as a team > laughed about our full [temporary] WFH status, and said things like, “see you in x4 weeks, I guess?”.
Narrator: they didn’t see each other again for the remainder of 2020.
Oh, how very non-novelty-like April was for us all.
In x1 week, a large chunk of our clients called [seemingly all after one another] and due to their having been COVID-impacted … we had to tear up contracts / let them go. Sure, legally we could have made them see out their contracts, but honestly? What kind of pandemic-arsehole would do that?
At the same time, we lost a horrifying amount of clients in a horrifyingly short amount of time … and our CFO sat me down at my dining table at home and said, “there needs to be immediate redundancies, and they likely won’t be the last of the redundancies you’ll need to make”.
I couldn’t do it, so I took my salary to $0 > reduced my team to part-time > they continued to service the business as if we were paying them at full-time hours [BLESS YOU ALL, teamies. Legitimately. BLESS YOU ALL] > we innovated on digital products > we launched said digital products > they generated 60-70k in 2-3 months > those digital products took so much pressure off my knowing how close we were to multiple redundancies.
In April? I finished most work days by straddling our bathroom toilet, and vomiting into it [I lost 7.5kg’s in less than a month. It was horrifying. And horrifyingly unhealthy. I have always felt stress in my gut, and have always been a stress-vomit’er].
Just … relentless f*cking home school.
I have not a lot to say about the month of May, but I know it broke me as a working parent in a way I can’t even begin to articulate, and it broke my team too.
It broke our working parents, for obvious reasons … and it broke our non-parents who genuinely picked up the slack there [and never complained. Not once].
May was a horror month: a f*cking horror month.
Still, and despite everything I’ve just mentioned above? … we clocked beyond 100% productivity levels according to seriously in-depth productivity spreadsheets we run on all TDP team members.
Anyone in any kind of accounting field will know that anything above 70% for a service-based provider is incredible productivity, but we can whole-heartedly say the majority of our team clocked 80% and above [and some clocked 110% and above].
The sheer loyalty within the data of that spreadsheet is something that – as a Founder – I can’t even put into words.
We qualified for JobKeeper, and this saved-our-f*cking-HINEY.
In that moment, it dawned on me that I could finally let go of the x3+ month fear I had of having to make any further TDP members redundant.
I stopped vomiting each night for the first time in x3 months.
Our children also went back to school. For x10 days [lol!], and then stage 4 was announced and we hit the new phase of, “how is this year even reaaaaaaaallllllll?!”.
We were hiring. Surreal. Honestly. But due to JobKeeper and so many businesses qualifying for huge 10k+ government grants? … everyone flocked to TDP for paid ads management.
Actually, in one day? We clocked 100+ emails asking if we could manage the paid ads for those 100+ businesses. We couldn’t. Obvs. And nor is it even within our business’y hopes and dreams to become a 100+ employees-deep digital marketing agency … but we knew [we knew!] that it was hire time, and so we recruited for a Digital Marketing Specialist, and the ab.so.lute best human being applied.
Her name is Rachel and she’s still with us as I type this here blog post, and I hope she never leaves. #lol
Remember how we told you we had to recruit for a Digi Marketing Specialist? … a really beautiful soul applied for the role, but didn’t have the paid ads experience we needed, and in a usual climate? We could have absolutely trained a suitable candidate up. On this occasion though? We had to reject that beautiful soul.
It was sh*t, because in his cover letter he described having lost his previous role due to COVID redundancies … and he also mentioned that he was currently sleeping in a tent [horrifying].
In our rejection letter to him, we made sure our response was heartfelt, and then we also included a 1k bank transfer > an offer to sleep in our offices > 2 weeks worth of chef made freezer meals for him to eat.
From the moment we met him in-person? … we knew he’d work at TDP to some capacity in the future, we just had to find the right role for him.
Spoiler alert: he’s contracting with us now, and he is so fucking wonderful. #hiDane
Our website crashed > we fast-tracked our TDP rebrand > we worked around-the-clock to get our website back up, and when we launched our rebrand? … the crowd went wild.
FYI? Our website is set for a late January reveal, and we cannot wait to share this 40k+ experience with the world.
It is time.
We promoted our Community & Content Manager, Lizey to the position of Social Media Coordinator.
It honestly felt surreal to be promoting anyone during a global pandemic, and I kept thinking back to March/April where I really genuinely thought to myself, “what am I going to be able to salvage from all of this?!”.
I didn’t just salvage, but some way and somehow? … we were promoting Lizey by late September/early October.
I still pinch myself.
This time it was our Sydney-based contractor we’d had for x12 months [Cassie] into the role of our full-time Community Manager, and this was incredible for x2 reasons;
- She was so deserving, but
- If it hadn’t have been for COVID? I don’t think we’d ever have considered an interstate or fully remote hire [can we call this a COVID silver lining? Ha!]
We’ve ended the year the same way we started 2020: with a sold out VIP program, but this time? … it’s for our 2021 program.
This time, though? We’re utilising the money from this program to;
- Cover part of the salary to go towards offering fully paid internships to those experiencing homelessness in 2021, and
- Offering in-house support to me for some of TDP’s training offering, so that I can reduce my work hours in 2021 from 60 hour working weeks, to 30 [a huge call and a big life change for an ADHD Founder, with a penchant for workaholism].
I am so ready.