2013 Suitcase Entrepreneur Annual Review on Freedom in Business and Adventure in Life

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Business Travel / 51 comments
Annual Review collage

l was excited when Visa Business approached me to write a blog post about the year that was and how your business and life goals stacked up against what you had planned. So I have written this 2013 Annual Review and, as always, tied it in with tips and strategies for you to apply to your own personal situation.

As we head into the holiday season and get set to usher in a new year, it’s all too easy to just look ahead to what we want 2014 to bring us. Yet I think we all know how valuable it is to reflect on the year that was before we go racing into the next.

That’s because the hidden gems lie within the trends and patterns that shaped our 2013 and can make the New Year that much more powerful.

I find it good to drink a glass or two of bubbly when doing this and pick a time when you can be by yourself and just reflect on all that happened.

You may already have planned out your business and lifestyle goals for 2014, and if you haven’t yet then use my podcast episode No #69: New Year Planning and the Five Pillars to Achieving Success in Business and Life (plus grab your free 1 Page Business Plan which is going down a treat).

Looking back on 2013

At the very beginning of this year I was in Malaysia, sitting on a beach enjoying a one-week digital sabbatical where all I did was sleep, rest, exercise, read and listen to podcasts.

I also put together my Painted Picture, which was my vision for my business (and also my life) for the next three years. This was quite possibly the best two hours I’ve ever spent.

Since writing this, almost 70% of my painted picture has come to fruition, and what’s more it’s been viewed over 16,600 times and cited by so many for inspiring their own vision boards, dream boards and annual plans.

What I’m really trying to hammer home here is the clearer you can get on what you want out of life and business, the closer you will be to actually achieving that.

 Napoleon Hill quote - whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve

“Whatever the mind can believe and perceive it can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill from Think and Grow Rich

What came true in 2013?

  • I had written about my bestselling Suitcase Entrepreneur book back in January – TICK – it hit the No #1 spot on Amazon in Business books in the first week it went on sale.

  • I wrote about speaking more on stage and this came true that very day as I stepped up to speak about Choosing Freedom at SociaLIGHT

  • I talked about a global team of rock stars who helped me build the Suitcase Entrepreneur platform and business – tick!

  • I spoke of incredible connections with like-minded people I admired and those friends who energized me and held me to a higher standard – TICK – you know who you are!

Plus so much more, including retreats, travel experiences and adventures, all while having the most profitable year in business to date.

Annual Review collage

The Suitcase Entrepreneur Annual Review in 10 Questions (and how to apply this to yourself)

So now I’d like to share with you my annual review and ask you to conduct your own by answering these questions out loud, or writing them in a journal or on your own blog or in a video (big thanks to Tracy at Blossom.co.nz for inspiring this from her celebrate life post):

  1. What did I achieve over the last 12 months that I’m proud of?

  2. What am I grateful for in 2013?

  3. What did I learn about myself?

  4. What worked really well in the last year that I would like to bring forward into the coming year?

  5. What didn’t work so well?

  6. How could I do things differently to improve this/these situations?

  7. What am I letting go of or forgiving myself or others for, which will set me free from the past?

  8. How would I like to feel in 2014?

  9. What do I want to achieve in 2014?

  10. In what way can I give back in 2014?

What did I achieve over the last 12 months that I’m proud of?

I’m not gonna lie, this has been one heck of a year and personally one I’m proud to say I gave my all to. Thankfully, friends and community seem to have noticed this and always take time to point out that they’re not sure how I create so much content, launch products and show up and do the work while traveling like a woman on a mission.

I’d like to thank my curious mind, always a present supply of energy, and my all round desire to squeeze as much out of this life as I can. Plus hard work, discipline, focus and clarity on what I want to achieve in this lifetime.

  • The biggest accomplishment was my first ever published book – including running my first ever Kickstarter campaign and getting 121% funded by super supporters, which allowed me to then write and publish an Amazon No #1 Bestseller that has 100+ 5-star reviews since August. It makes all that commitment and 70,000 plus words worthwhile. Now I get daily emails and messages that detail the impact it’s making and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing that is to be a part of.
  • Achieving 6 figures in profit was pretty damn impressive too, considering I have traveled to no less than 14 countries this year and several of those multiple times with 7 weeks being the most consecutive time I spent in any one destination.
  • Being in business for 3.5 years is something I’m often in awe of. I mean, seriously, it blows me away that a corporate girl could build the life of her dreams and make it a business. It is hands down surreal at times.
  • Travel and adventure to 15 countries is an achievement in itself and I feel I personally learned even more about my tolerance for living out of a suitcase, deepening friendships and understanding cultures from an inside perspective.
  • Completing my first quarter Ironman (and doing an extra 12km on the cycle) after training in the most random places around the world, was a personal achievement.

Quarter Ironman Montage for Natalie Sisson

What am I grateful for in 2013?

The fact that I am freer than ever. This is something I will never, ever take for granted. This is followed closely by the never-ending support, grace and generosity of my friends and community online and offline.

I’m more than aware that at times I must be one of the most annoying people – always throwing out my positive statements while showing endless Instagram photos of my feet in some lovely destination enjoying the ocean, waves, sand, casinos, Frisbee fields and island paradises….yes I’m one of those people (hilarious must watch video).

So thank you for allowing me to live and breathe my values in my life, and share my journey with you (since you’re a HUGE part of it).

In particular, I’m grateful for being healthy, happy and safe after being on hundreds of flights and traveling hundreds of thousands of kilometers across continents.

There are a few too many people to I’m grateful to have in my life but special mentions are bestowed upon Matthew Kimberley, Kyle Durand, Dinoza Mahruf, Natalie MacNeil, Chris Ducker, Kyle Durand, Cher Hale, Karely Cunningham and Elise LeBrun, Marianne Cantwell, Scott Brills, Jaime Tardy, Scott Dinsmore, Cathy Goddard, Debi Auger, Pam Slim, Jason Van Orden and Jeremy Frandsen, Dean Dwyer, Ray Williams,  Patrick Van der Walk, Britte Wein, Ruth Carleton, Richard Joel, Danielle LaPorte, Valerie Rzepka, Jennie-Harland Khan, Falko Mueller, Nancy-Lynn and Julia Chan.

What did I learn about myself?

I’m not superwoman, but I do have a ridiculous amount of determination. Also, if I set a goal for myself, I will move heaven and earth to achieve it – like my book, like my book tour, like so much of what I got done this year to be honest – very handy technique!

My team is my superpower – surprisingly, not doing everything yourself makes you more able to work and operate in your zone of genius. I’m blessed to have formed a small global team of talented, smart and amazing people who believe in my vision and want to help it come true.

Compassion counts for a lot, and yet I still don’t apply it to myself often enough. My coach Ray Williams repeatedly tells me I’m too hard on myself and don’t give myself enough credit for what I do. I know he’s right. It just doesn’t make it easier to adopt it in my daily routine. I’m working on it though, and luckily I have great friends who keep me in check.

Community is wonderful. As a solo traveler with no home and nothing constant, having a community of people who appreciate what I do means the world to me. Every podcast, every blog post, every video, every product and every moment spent working on helping people achieve freedom in business and adventure in life is done for them – for you.

Constant travel does get tiring. And living out of a suitcase, while convenient and easy does begin to make you question your reasons for how you live your life. Especially when you leave close friends behind again, or a place you’ve enjoyed exploring even if for just a week or two.

Trying to please everyone doesn’t work. I told myself I’d say no more in 2013 and while I sometimes did, I ended up saying YES a lot more often. The result meant I gave a ton of energy and time to interviews, meetups, summits and other peoples’ endeavors than I did to my own mental health and energy levels. That’s changing in 2014.

I’m sensitive and that won’t change. With the book came a few (and I mean 3 out of 103) negative reviews. I, like many other artists, took their comments to heart more than I should have for their opinion (misguided, intentionally rude or not) is their opinion. Since I’m passionate about what I do I need to learn to not take things personally and accept that not everyone ‘gets’ what I’m setting out to achieve, especially since it’s non traditional.

That said I do believe attitudes and behaviour online needs change, and people need to learn how to behave with integrity and adopt etiquette that is not hurtful or malicious to individuals or companies – I’ve witnessed way too much crap on social media that’s unwarranted and borderline abusive to people. Future blog post on this topic!

What worked really well in the last year that I would like to bring forward into the coming year?

Working myself out of my own job has worked pretty darn well. I’ve identified where I work best and that isn’t analyzing statistics, and working on systems and conversion optimization. Although I like and enjoy those things, it’s not the best use of my talents and gifts.  I’ve set up systems and processes to streamline so much, plus….

Building my team and growing my support crew has worked like a miracle cream you rub into your face to reduce the wrinkles and make you look your best every day – perhaps I shouldn’t write while drinking champagne….

Consistent and committed behavior really does pay off. Showing up, being there for others, and giving and giving and giving some more really does come back to you in droves when you least expect it.

Focusing on what I really want to build – it took a tad longer than I expected to believe in what I have to offer and combine that into one of the most comprehensive and exclusive offerings I’ve ever delivered. One that I’m so proud to stand behind and believe every established entrepreneur could benefit greatly from – The Highflyer Club.

Workshops and retreats that brought together like-minded people who wanted to make massive gains and leaps in their business and mindset – like this year’s WE Mastermind retreat in the Caribbean. Aligned with the 5 pillars of success that make up the Highflyer Club, I believe coaching targeted training and retreats is something I was born to do.

Watch out for a lineup of events in 2014.

Instagram moments of Natalie Sisson in 2013

Some Instagram moments of 2013. For more photos and videos follow me here.

What didn’t work so well?

Experiencing burnout in August during my book launch. I guess when you push that hard and travel so much and are constantly giving and on the go, something has to suffer, and it was my health and well-being. I didn’t enjoy my brief stint with burnout, and I made a promise to myself not to experience that again. I am thankful it was only a taste compared to what others go through.

Asking too much of others I cared about like Alex, my WordPress guru who ended up quitting for those reasons, and recently Natasha, for not acknowledging all her amazing work. I think I usually do a pretty good job of this but there are times when I don’t put myself in others’ people shoes enough or show I care.

I have high expectations of myself and of others I believe, work with and am friends with. Sometimes they’re too high and demanding and I need to be more aware of that, and show more compassion to not only myself but to them too.

Too many ingredients in the pot. Not sure that’s actually a turn, but rather than too many chefs in the kitchen, I still had too many things cooking and coupling all that activity in work with my many interests in life, plus the never-ending travel schedule, meant less focus on the real priorities.

How could I do things differently to improve this/these situations?

The parts that didn’t go so well this year were thankfully few and far between, but nonetheless important. So in 2014 it’s all about:

  • Carving out more time each day to show compassion for myself and for others.
  • Exercise, meditation and journaling are three gifts I’m prioritizing for myself that I know will have undeniable benefits to me personally and professionally.
  • Focusing on the priorities I’ve clearly identified thanks to having more robust financial and personal systems that keep me in check and slap me back to reality

Hobbit photo of Natalie Sisson in Devonport

Photo courtesy of Kieran McDonogh on our catch up in Devonport

What am I letting go of or forgiving myself or others for, which will set me free from the past?

I’m forgiving myself for all the things I didn’t do in 2013 and the things I felt I should have. To the moments I missed because I was too busy working instead of playing, and to the moments I relished because I was so busy playing but felt guilty for not working.

I’m forgiving all the people who think I’m selling a dream and can’t yet see why they have the complete ability and power, within their very own two hands, to build a life and business they love.

And I’m embracing non-perfectionism so that I can treasure all the little things in life, and all the many moments that it brings.

How would I like to feel in 2014?

Free. Focused. Accomplished.

I want to feel like I’ve got my business sorted and that my Highflyer Club is flying so I can continue to invest in others, but in a bigger more substantial way …more details in 2014.

I want to feel like I can take more holidays and that a 3-4 day work week is indeed, a smart move.

I want to feel my roots in the ground and my friends close by.

What do I want to achieve in 2014?

I have two key goals:

  1. To continue to build and spread freedom in business and adventure in life through ‘The Suitcase Entrepreneur’ endeavours so that by 2020 over 100,000 entrepreneurs can achieve this for themselves (and my team and I will continue to live and breathe this too).
  2. To ensure the next stage of the 3-year painted picture becomes a reality as I move into putting on my big girl panties by establishing a joint venture that deals with investing into startups and aligns with my core vision and values….  more on that in 2014.

On a personal note, I’m aiming to set up roots in a few countries for much longer so I can deepen my friendships and put time into meeting my equal in life and love.

In what way can I give back in 2014?

I found that this year I’ve given a lot of monetary support to several charities and campaigns I believe in.

To be honest, I would prefer to give my knowledge, skills and energy, so in 2014 I’m on the lookout for the right organization that I can actually align with and lend a hand to by way of volunteering my efforts.

So there you have it. The Annual Review of the year that was. I hope you enjoyed reading and were able to reflect on your own 2013 at the same time. Hopefully, you can now apply this to 2014 as well as your business and lifestyle goals.

As I said at the very beginning, you’ll find gold in these reflections and reviews that you may never have dug up had you not been panning back and forth in the first place.

 I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit https://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit https://visa.com/business.

  • Karen Wojciechowski

    Wow you are so inspiring, thanks so much for sharing and for everything your content has helped me with in 2013. Love these questions will be going through them myself, just need to get the bubbly ready 🙂 All the best for 2014. Karen

    • Thank you Karen for being such a great part of this tribe and consistently engaging here on the blog. So glad these questions are helping you to take action (and of course bubbly is soooo necessary) in 2014

  • Karen Wojciechowski

    Wow you are so inspiring, thanks so much for sharing and for everything your content has helped me with in 2013. Love these questions will be going through them myself, just need to get the bubbly ready 🙂 All the best for 2014. Karen

    • Thank you Karen for being such a great part of this tribe and consistently engaging here on the blog. So glad these questions are helping you to take action (and of course bubbly is soooo necessary) in 2014

  • You go Natalie! What an awesome 2013 🙂

    • In so many ways, I feel tired reading over that now though Brian!

  • You go Natalie! What an awesome 2013 🙂

    • In so many ways, I feel tired reading over that now though Brian!

  • Kyle Durand

    Ms. Sisson, you never cease to amaze and inspire me. You accomplished more in one year than most people do in a decade, a true testament to your determination and courage.

    Congratulations on crafting such a fabulous year and thank you for all of the delightful moments you gave to me in 2013.

    Here’s to an amazing 2014, full of adventure, quality time with those we care about, and flaunting those big girl panties!

    • Delightful! Yes indeed. Been so great getting to meet up on 4 continents in this year – well at least 3 and looking forward to the big girl panties being firmly in place in 2014!

  • Kyle Durand

    Ms. Sisson, you never cease to amaze and inspire me. You accomplished more in one year than most people do in a decade, a true testament to your determination and courage.

    Congratulations on crafting such a fabulous year and thank you for all of the delightful moments you gave to me in 2013.

    Here’s to an amazing 2014, full of adventure, quality time with those we care about, and flaunting those big girl panties!

    • Delightful! Yes indeed. Been so great getting to meet up on 4 continents in this year – well at least 3 and looking forward to the big girl panties being firmly in place in 2014!

  • chevyd80

    Thank you, Natalie for this. I will say that 2013 has been a great year for me as it allowed me to meet great people like you and launched my online radio show. My regret was not keeping my word to you on the alotted time that you have given me on your appearance on the show and not being sensitive enough to your schedule and making it more convenient for you. So for that, I’m really, really sorry. That will never happen again. For me, my goals for 2014 is to be financially independent and to take my business, freelance career and radio show to another level and be location independent. I hope you enjoy the New Years and thanks again. Love the book.

    • Oh no need to apologise for that – asking great questions will do that to an interview 🙂 I’m excited for your 2014 too and the plans you have in place for yourself, and your show. Go for it!

      • chevyd80

        Thank you for the encouragement, Happy 2014.

  • chevyd80

    Thank you, Natalie for this. I will say that 2013 has been a great year for me as it allowed me to meet great people like you and launched my online radio show. My regret was not keeping my word to you on the alotted time that you have given me on your appearance on the show and not being sensitive enough to your schedule and making it more convenient for you. So for that, I’m really, really sorry. That will never happen again. For me, my goals for 2014 is to be financially independent and to take my business, freelance career and radio show to another level and be location independent. I hope you enjoy the New Years and thanks again. Love the book.

    • Oh no need to apologise for that – asking great questions will do that to an interview 🙂 I’m excited for your 2014 too and the plans you have in place for yourself, and your show. Go for it!

      • chevyd80

        Thank you for the encouragement, Happy 2014.

  • So happy to have had the luck to meet and spend time with you in multiple continents throughout the year.

    Very proud of what you’ve accomplished this year–you’re an inspiration to so many.

    Looking forward to more adventures together in 2014… 🙂

    • The road trip and smashed window and stolen laptop on the book tour just added to the excitement of getting to meet this year didn’t it. More adventures indeed

      • The best stories are made when things don’t go quite as planned. 😉

  • So happy to have had the luck to meet and spend time with you in multiple continents throughout the year.

    Very proud of what you’ve accomplished this year–you’re an inspiration to so many.

    Looking forward to more adventures together in 2014… 🙂

    • The road trip and smashed window and stolen laptop on the book tour just added to the excitement of getting to meet this year didn’t it. More adventures indeed

      • Well hey–he best stories are made when things don’t go quite as planned. 😉

  • Thank you for your honesty in this post. Work life balance is so difficult for many of us at times. Thanks for the reminder. Well done on your amazing accomplishments and determining how to do things differently. Something, I’m trying to do, myself. Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2014.

    • Honesty is my middle name and looking at all the good and the not so good moments to get a true handle on the year. I feel like this has barely scratched the surface, but such a useful exercise to do

  • Thank you for your honesty in this post. Work life balance is so difficult for many of us at times. Thanks for the reminder. Well done on your amazing accomplishments and determining how to do things differently. Something, I’m trying to do, myself. Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2014.

    • Honesty is my middle name and looking at all the good and the not so good moments to get a true handle on the year. I feel like this has barely scratched the surface, but such a useful exercise to do

  • Katie

    Great post! And inspired me to compile a year in review for my site! So thankful to you and your website for providing much-needed inspiration on a daily basis. Cheers to 2014! https://socialjersey.com/2013/12/socialjersey-com-2013-year-in-review/

  • Nikki

    Thanks for all of your posts Natalie. My initial reaction to reflecting on 2013 was “no way, all I wanted to do was get through it”, but actually that is a goal achievement in itself to be celebrated – yay! I’m now working on my goals for 2014 and boy am I aiming far higher than 2013 – big, hairy and audacious goals are back on the table! Cheers 🙂

    • Hells yeah Nikki. I agree, sometimes it seems like ‘That’s a lot of work’ but it’s oh so powerful. Can’t wait to see what you achieve in 2014.

  • Nikki

    Thanks for all of your posts Natalie. My initial reaction to reflecting on 2013 was “no way, all I wanted to do was get through it”, but actually that is a goal achievement in itself to be celebrated – yay! I’m now working on my goals for 2014 and boy am I aiming far higher than 2013 – big, hairy and audacious goals are back on the table! Cheers 🙂

    • Hells yeah Nikki. I agree, sometimes it seems like ‘That’s a lot of work’ but it’s oh so powerful. Can’t wait to see what you achieve in 2014.

  • Victoria Chemko

    Thanks for sharing this post, Natalie. It is very inspiring to see that you’ve been able to do so much in a given year, especially since it’s been similar to my 2013 in many ways. This helps provide me with some great ideas for 2014, and also just formulate my thoughts where I haven’t necessarily been able to do so up until now. Here’s to your 2014!

    • Thanks Victoria and so excited to make the most of 2014 together in the Highflyer Club. Even more adventures to be had.

  • Victoria Chemko

    Thanks for sharing this post, Natalie. It is very inspiring to see that you’ve been able to do so much in a given year, especially since it’s been similar to my 2013 in many ways. This helps provide me with some great ideas for 2014, and also just formulate my thoughts where I haven’t necessarily been able to do so up until now. Here’s to your 2014!

    • Thanks Victoria and so excited to make the most of 2014 together in the Highflyer Club. Even more adventures to be had.

  • Jill Stanton

    Absolutely love the honest of this post. I too struggle with my high expectations and assuming everyone else is on that same level.

    It’s definitely something I have to work on in 2014…..which I’m extra jacked for now after reading this 🙂

    You knocked it out of the park, Nat!

    • Wasn’t sure how much to share there but it was important to me to be honest about it and look at the behaviour causing it. Glad I’m not alone in this, high standards are a blessing and sometimes a curse but I’d prefer to have them!

      Here’s to 2014 indeed!

  • Absolutely love the honest of this post. I too struggle with my high expectations and assuming everyone else is on that same level.

    It’s definitely something I have to work on in 2014…..which I’m extra jacked for now after reading this 🙂

    You knocked it out of the park, Nat!

    • Wasn’t sure how much to share there but it was important to me to be honest about it and look at the behaviour causing it. Glad I’m not alone in this, high standards are a blessing and sometimes a curse but I’d prefer to have them!

      Here’s to 2014 indeed!

  • prime_sarmiento

    Natalie, your business and how you run and manage your life, business and travels have always inspired me. I may not agree with everything you did or said but I respect how you run your life and business on your own terms. in fact, this post inspired me to also use my own year-end review – the notes on that are still in my journal – as a topic for my upcoming blog post. Happy New Year and more blessings in the Year of the Wood Horse

    • Thanks Prime. And I like that you don’t agree sometimes – that’s what makes the world interesting plus helps us see different perspectives. The year of the Wood Horse huh? Now I need to go and read up on that!

  • prime_sarmiento

    Natalie, your business and how you run and manage your life, business and travels have always inspired me. I may not agree with everything you did or said but I respect how you run your life and business on your own terms. in fact, this post inspired me to also use my own year-end review – the notes on that are still in my journal – as a topic for my upcoming blog post. Happy New Year and more blessings in the Year of the Wood Horse

    • Thanks Prime. And I like that you don’t agree sometimes – that’s what makes the world interesting plus helps us see different perspectives. The year of the Wood Horse huh? Now I need to go and read up on that!

  • Rowena List

    thanks for sharing so openly

  • Rowena List

    thanks for sharing so openly

  • Absolutely amazing. You totally kicked ass this year and it’s been awesome and inspiring to watch! I love how you do these open, honest, transparent posts, allowing us to learn so much from you, that we in turn use to improve our businesses and lives. Congratulations on a very accomplished 2013 and best wishes for 2014 to be your best year ever! I’m honored and excited to be along for the ride. The Highflyer Club is incredible. Thank you!

  • Absolutely amazing. You totally kicked ass this year and it’s been awesome and inspiring to watch! I love how you do these open, honest, transparent posts, allowing us to learn so much from you, that we in turn use to improve our businesses and lives. Congratulations on a very accomplished 2013 and best wishes for 2014 to be your best year ever! I’m honored and excited to be along for the ride. The Highflyer Club is incredible. Thank you!

  • Janine Ogg

    Love the honesty Nat and a privilege to be able to share in your learnings. Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved! j9

  • Janine Ogg

    Love the honesty Nat and a privilege to be able to share in your learnings. Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved! j9

Pin It on Pinterest