[225] The 2015 Suitcase Entrepreneur Annual Review

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Podcast / 28 comments

At this time of the year I like to do my Annual Review and reflect on the key highlights of 2015 – both personally and professionally.

It’s been in some ways my most successful and fantastic year in my life and also one of the most life changing. This year I’ve decided to do this both as a post and a podcast episode!

The first half of my year was truly nomadic and visiting several countries, many cities, speaking at several conferences, going on adventures and playing Frisbee.

And the second half has been learning how it feels to have a base, live in my new apartment, be back with family and of course, dealing with the first major loss in my life with my Dad’s passing on December 1st.

I hope as you read or listen to my review you’ll also do your own version of your Annual Review so you can set yourself up for a stellar 2016.

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Read The 2015 Suitcase Entrepreneur Annual Review:

Hey freedom fighters. In my final Fresh in Fifteen episode for 2015 I am actually going to do my 2015 annual review. In both audio and written, aren’t you guys lucky? Okay. Let’s dive in.

So I am recording this at 11:11. That is very exciting..Angel numbers! I am also recording this from my stand up cardboard recyclable desk.

It’s a standing desk by a company called Refold which you can find at refold.co.nz. They are a New Zealand company. I bought their standing desk on Kickstarter to support them over a year ago but then it sat in my parents’ house because obviously it didn’t fit in my suitcase!

I’m finally able to set it up in my new apartment so I had not only a standing desk but I have a wireless Apple keyboard and for the first time in my life an external monitor. And frankly the first time in my life I have a space and a place for a desk.

A photo posted by nataliesisson (@nataliesisson) on

Kind of a working space which is very exciting because never before have I needed one, back when I used to live anywhere for any length of time like in a place because I was still working in the corporate world.

Then for the last 5.5 years my suitcase, cafes, laptops, airplanes and trains have been my office of choice. So this is damn exciting though. I get why people like this. I even have a printer. I haven’t used it but I have one so this is really cool. Anyway, I digress.

Doing an annual review is really important.

No matter how you want to do it whether you flick back through photos of the year, whether you look at your Instagram feed, whether you just take stock of every single thing you are grateful for in the previous year, but also to look at your metrics, your numbers, your financials.

Also if you are really awesome and you did my 1 Page Business Plan you should look back over that and you should start to see some trends and patterns on what went really well in 2015, what didn’t, what could have been improved, what you are excited about implementing in 2016 and what you are going to let go off.

Now last year I did an epic Suitcase Entrepreneur Business and Lifestyle review. This year is going to be simply the key highlights because it’s been in some ways some of my most successful and fantastic year in my life and also one of the most life changing for reasons that, if you have been listening to my podcast this year, you would have known that my Dad passed away.

So it kind of changed my life in August part way through the year when I already had another life changing decision which was to stick around in Portugal.

So I would say 2015 for me has been REAL and I’m very grateful for it because it has taught me a lot of lessons, most of them amazing, some of them hard, but on the whole this has been a real growth year for me and it’s also sorted out and aligned very clearly with what I want to be doing going forward so for that I am grateful.

I am just going to share with you first off because I did a workshop which you can still access and buy for just $20, where I shared How to create your ideal freedom year in 2016 and during that workshop I actually showed them all behind the scenes of how I use Google Analytics and track my metrics and can see what I am doing in terms of my business and my email subscribers and my content and my visitors .

All these important numbers you need to know if you are in business for yourself especially in an online world. Let’s face it. You just need to know these numbers.

I also shared my top 15 blog posts of the year, thanks to you and the top 20 podcasts.

So without further ado. I am going to read them out:

Top 15 posts (Jan 1, 2015 – December 14, 2015)

  1. The Ultimate Guide on How to Use Asana to Become a Productivity and Task Management Genius
  2. Four Steps to Figure Out What You Are Meant to Do in Life When You Have No Idea At All
  3. Which Is the One `Free Meeting Webinar Service’ to Rule Them All?
  4. Creating Your One Page Business Plan and Path to Profit
  5. Visualise Your Business Future With The Power of a Painted Picture
  6. How To Create A Kick Ass Crowdfunding Campaign And Make Your Dreams Come True
  7. How To Become A Pro Blogger In 3 Days Or Less
  8. Top 10 Answers To Your Frequently Asked Networking Questions
  9. The Freedom Rebels’ Alternative to B-School
  10. The First 10 Steps To Writing a Non-Fiction Book
  11. One Key to Success in Starting With Nothing and Earning Millions
  12. What is the Most Dangerous Thing You Can Do?
  13. Face The Fear, Quit Your Job And Start Your Own Business
  14. [TSE 134] Facing Your Fear of Freedom and Accepting Tension with Seth Godin
  15. The Ultimate Guide To Creating and Running a Kick Ass Webinar

Top 20 most downloaded podcasts. Maybe you will remember some of these and agree. Maybe they were some of your favorites!

Top 20 Most Downloaded Podcasts

  1. [TSE 55] Master the Art of Being a Professional Speaker and Author with Hugh Culver
  2. [TSE 92] How to Balance Multiple Projects and Build Your Email List with Nathalie Lussier
  3. [TSE 91] How to Profit from Your Passion and Publish Multiple Books with Farnoosh Brock
  4. [TSE 93] How to Use Social Media to Build a Business and Life You Love
  5. [TSE 97] How to Create Killer Content that Converts with Natalie Sisson
  6. [TSE 98] Sell Yourself without Selling Out; How to Get More Clients with Matthew Kimberley
  7. [TSE 40] Own Less and Live More by Becoming a Minimalist with Joshua Becker
  8. [TSE 96] How to Be Social Media Savvy with Scott Stratten
  9. [TSE 44] How Pat Flynn Makes $50K a Month from Blogging, Niche Sites and Being Nice
  10. [TSE 39] Brand Building Using Your Sassy Personality And F-Bombs With Ashley Ambirge
  11. [TSE 99] How to Raise Your Family, Live Your Dream and See the World with Greg Denning
  12. [TSE 95] Master the Art of Self Promotion and Sponsorship with Jason Surfrapp
  13. [TSE 46] How to Build a Movement and Create Sell-Out Programs With Marianne Cantwell
  14. [TSE 86] How to Build a Brilliant Brand for Your Small Business with Maria Ross
  15. [TSE 103] Travel and Build a Business as a Couple with Jill and Josh Stanton
  16. [TSE 69] New Year Planning and the Five Pillars to Achieving Success in Business and Life
  17. [TSE 42] The Art of Self Publishing and How to Become an Amazon Best Selling Author in Less than 8 Weeks
  18. [TSE 105] Self Publish Like a Pro and Follow Your Dreams with Warren and Betsy Talbot
  19. [TSE 104] Empowering the Western Woman and Living Free with Nisha Moodley
  20. [EP 90] Learn to Build Your Platform, Connect With Readers and Sell More Books with Tim Grahl

So as you can see there’s a really interesting cross section of topics there that are standing out for me and more of those types of guests will be coming on in 2016.

But what this does tell me, and what it should tell you, is most of that content is over a year old and is still the most popular in terms of downloads. Not only just at the time but still even now. So people are searching for that on Itunes, on Stitcher, and online and listening to and downloading it.

That is the beauty of creating content that lasts. And if it’s really good people still want to find it, listen to it, read it, watch it, consume it and that all adds to you, your credibility, your brand status, your earnings, your popularity, your impact and the legacy that you are leaving.

Tis is why it is so important to really care about the content that you create and know who you are creating it for. It’s the biggest lesson you can learn in 2015 that’s got to be it.


Melbourne with Mick

Alright. Let me now come over to just a couple of the key highlights of my year. So first off, January was all about the Australian Tennis Open with my Mom and shooting my first super professional three-part video series for the Freedom Plan in Melbourne.


Then going to Bali with the wonderful Mick Russell, my awesome videographer and that was the most incredible video series with the first in Melbourne as I said and then melting while shooting in Bali.



Bali was also where I ran my first Bali Mastermind Freedom Retreat with 10 amazing people in the most incredible location, absolutely incredible 5 days and I’m doing it over again in 2016. Already booked out. Can’t wait.


San Diego Collage

Then from there I went all over the US but started in San Diego and did my first ever coworking house share. I rented a great three bedroom apartment in San Diego, with Navid Moazzez and he’s been on the show talking about the power of Virtual Summits, and Catherine Newton, who is coming up on the show.

It was a huge success. We were in there for a month, we all were super productive, we went to the gym all the time, we went down to the beach, we rode bicycles, we had a lot of fun, we got to hang out with John Lee Dumas, Michael O’Neal and some awesome people over that way, so that was fantastic.

Also during that time I launched the Freedom Plan and had the biggest ever launch of my life, 6 figures + in profits. That was just a hugely defining moment for me because it is something that I always dreamed about and wanting to do.

I put my heart and soul into that launch and making sure that people created their own freedom plans and I just was blown away by the amazing people all around the world who invested in themselves to do that. So that was huge.



After that I then took a well needed break at Breckenridge, Colorado. It was my first time in the state of Colorado. Thank you to Jodi and Nat for hosting me in beautiful Breckenridge with the snow.

So you imagine I went from that Jason and Travis (Boulder)super hot sun to the snow then I went onto wonderful Boulder and hung out with Jason Moore and Travis Sherry, awesome guys.

It was like a big digital nomad kind of reunion even though I never met these four people before (correction to myself I met Trav and Jason at World Domination Summit in 2013).

I felt like they were lifelong friends and they have been amazingly supportive ever since so more on that coming up in the New Year. More collaborations.

I can’t actually remember where else I traveled in the US. It’s kind of like a blur but pretty sure it’s on my blog. I didn’t research this before doing this podcast. I did travel round little after that before heading over to the UK and then to Portugal where I actually basically was at my favorite tournament in the world Bar Do Peixe.



I also ran my first Portugal Freedom Mastermind Retreat, I carried on from the success of my Bali one through to Portugal that went incredibly well.

I actually learned a few good things there as well about masterminds and bringing in the right speakers and the kind of people you want so a wonderful experience once again.

This was where I fell in love with Portugal and decided that not only did I just want to take 3 or 4 weeks offline,which I did successfully and drank a lot of Sangria and cheap wine, I bought a scooter!

Portugal Retreat

I rented an apartment with an amazing view over Lisbon and I also traveled all over Portugal and basically fell in love and realized that I’d finally found a country that I wanted to live in, which you know having now traveled to 69 countries and some of those multiple times, that’s no mean feat.

But for those of you who have been listening to this podcast for even a year or more you probably been hearing the signs I think, that I wanted a little base and even I could hear the signs right but it came to my attention that I was more than capable of just saying “Hey! I’m going to stop even though I’m the Suitcase entrepreneur”.

Because what I am always preaching is how to create freedom in business and adventure in life on your own terms and as many people have pointed out to me before, their own terms might be having family, being in one location, in their own house and having the free time outside of that to take off and do what they want, which is simply relax and spend their time however they want.


So it was an interesting time for me because I was like “What does this mean for my brand, my business, my book?”. All these things that I’ve built up over the years talking a lot more about travel, location independence and then I realized that it was totally up to me to continue to live and be true to myself and my brand by talking more and more about your version of freedom.

And if you remember I’ve had the Choose Freedom t-shirts for ever which you can still buy and that was out with my book promotion in 2013. So choose freedom has always been my slogan and more so than ever!



So I fell in love with Portugal, I was planning on staying on there for 4 or 5 months, even buying an apartment there, this was huge for me. I also got to speak in Berlin (see photo above) and speak at various points throughout the year, a really really great year for speaking gigs.

And then I got the word right after speaking at the DNX Digital Nomad Conference in Berlin – and by the way I am speaking at their next one in Bangkok on the first of March. Buy your tickets here and enter FREEDOM as the promotional code to get a discount.

I got the call literally after getting off the stage and having the most amazing day and feedback and wonderful time with about 500 digital nomads.

I spoke to my sister and my mom and basically they said Dad’s in the hospital, he is not good and we don’t know what’s wrong with him. He is not sleeping, he is not eating, he is not drinking, he’s got delirium, we don’t know if he has a day or a week to live and that’s a pretty hard thing to hear when you are all over the other side of the world.

So I did a lot of grieving over the space of those 3 days. I have never been impacted by grief so much that I wouldn’t even move, I didn’t want to eat, I had no energy. It was the weirdest, most horrible time really because all I wanted to do was know whether I needed to jump on an airplane, which would take over 36-48 hours to get home to New Zealand, whether he’d still be there.


So as many of you guys remember I came home to New Zealand in the middle of winter and for the first time in my life some people ask me how long I am sticking around this time. I said indefinitely. I didn’t actually know what indefinitely meant to me at that point.

But it’s interesting how when you use that language so many people who met up with me, who came into contact with me said “Oh, well  if you are sticking around then maybe we should meet up.”

It was like a switch in my head and theirs that if I wasn’t buggering off again or taking off on another adventure then maybe it was worthwhile investing some time into me, and to bringing me into their communities or their lives. So that was a really eye opener for me.

NZ Family1

From my family’s point of view, I mean they’ve said they’re thrilled that I came back and I know for Mom and Dad it was just wonderful. They said they’ve been wanting me to come home for a long time but they just never really told me, so I’m very thankful and grateful to them for allowing me to be so free for so long but I decided it was about time I was less selfish and more here for my family.

Basically from August through to end of November, Dad was in and out of the hospital 3 times and it was a pretty trying time. He got worse each time and without going into details he passed away on the first of December which was like a real shock to us, even though I think deep down we knew he was dying.

We had an incredible celebration for him on the 8th of December and I’ve been celebrating his life ever since. Surprisingly a lot of people have said “how tragic”, “how horrible”, “this will be with you for years” and it’s been really interesting because I’ve had the complete opposite in terms of emotions.

I felt very positive, very happy, very relieved for him in many ways, really for my family too and I feel like he is here and he is living vicariously through us and we are just getting on with being happy and living life to the full which is what he would have wanted.

And incidentally today when I was playing tennis, it was the first time I played tennis on the court at a club where I last played tennis with my Dad, and I just cried like it’s the first time I had an outburst or emotion where I was like ‘he is not ever going to be playing tennis on this court with me anymore or beside me’ yelling “Oh! Peter!”

Which he always used to do because he would usually be stuffing up a shot which was just so amusing to me and to him. So that was a moment but outside of that I’ve been pretty incredible so I wanted to share that with you because Dad and my family basically changed the trajectory of my life this year.

During the time he was in and out of the hospital I went and bought an apartment I have fallen in love with right in the heart of downtown Wellington where I am rediscovering the city that I grew up in, but I haven’t lived in for 11 years and I am loving it.

I can’t tell you how much this apartment gives me peace, that I am grateful for it, in its space, minimalism, light and it’s my own base. I didn’t realize how much I wanted one of those!

I’ll be talking more about that in 2016 in the podcast as I have a whole month in February themed around working from anywhere and the pros and cons, mindset you need and the trends of doing this, and all those wonderful things so stay tuned for that.


So now I have an important investment property that I am living in as well. Very excited to properly use it for Airbnb, have VIP days here and invite other entrepreneurs and nomads into my home over the space of 2016 and use this as my base as I travel more.


CarAnd if you have been looking at Instagram and Facebook, I recently bought a awesome convertible.

It’s a 2007 Volkswagen EOS 3.2 liter V6 Beast Silver, looks pretty cool when the tops down, has a ton of grunt, really weird to own my first car after 8 years of having no car at all and gives me a lot of freedom.

So it’s my freedom fun adventure mobile that I’ll be taking it around New Zealand on a road trip actually, starting tomorrow and hopefully picking up awesome people from the airport over the space of the coming years to welcome to beautiful New Zealand when I am in the country.

Business Overview

From a business point of view, I’ve continued to grow my community and get more subscribers. Actually I added a lot of subscribers to my list. I had 2 successful Freedom Plan launches, did at least a 100 podcasts this year, had some amazing sponsors.

I have been really proud of what I’ve achieved this year and at the same time have probably taken more time off than ever in terms of during the period with my Dad but also when in Portugal.

I felt like the first half of the year was over productive and massively successful and the second half of the year was much more about what mattered in terms of relationships, friends, family so huge learning year for me.

I am so excited about 2016 because I am finally in a place where lifestyle is still very important for me and so is freedom but as you can tell my version of lifestyle has changed for now and I am actually really excited about having a base, being ridiculously productive, having an awesome routine, working a 4 hour a day or less, really building my business and my team so that I can make a much greater impact on working on Right2Freedom in 2016 as well as the Suitcase Entrepreneur this year.

So that’s the annual review of it actually, also my most successful financial year in business which then proves to me that systems, team, clarity on your business and more importantly clarity on your lifestyle is what gives you the freedom.

As I said I worked very hard but also probably had the most time off and had my most successful financial year and probably one of my most successful growth years as a person, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for me but more importantly you.

I know what I have in store for 2016 for you. I hope you are excited by that!

If you have not yet subscribed in Itunes please do and please leave a little review or comment because they make all the difference in the world to me, they allow more people to find this podcast too.

If you have been a long time listener and a long time freedom fighter thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you have just come along to this, thank you for listening in.

It happens every Monday, an awesome interview with an amazing entrepreneur from around the world and every Thursday, a Fresh in Fifteen typically 15 minutes or less but this one is a little longer and where I teach you something awesome that is fresh around business, mindset or lifestyle.

I’m tuning out for 2015, I will see you in the New Year. Make it a brilliant New Year’s Eve. Celebrate like a crazy awesome person and I’ll see you on the flip side.

Key Resources:


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