Monthnotes – December 2023

Monthnotes – December 2023

Looking back over the last 31 days, it feels like December was definitely a month of two halves.

The first half of the month was busy with work. I’d planned for December being relatively quiet, but that didn’t pan out quite as I had expected.

And then I finished up work on 15th December, so the second half of the month has been a nice break. I’ve enjoyed spending time together with family and having our eldest son back from university.

A particular highlight was a short break to Berlin with friends before Christmas. I’ve not been to Berlin before so it was great to explore a new city and learn about its fascinating history. The Christmas markets were also definitely worth visiting and another highlight was a tour of the German parliament building – the Reichstag.

It’s now 12 months since I left my job and became an independent fractional COO, consultant, advisor and coach. I took that decision because I wanted to have more variety and flexibility in my work.

As I look back over that year, I see the steep learning curve I’ve been on. Looking at my CRM system, I can see I’ve met more than 160 new people this year. The generosity of other consultants and fractional execs to share their experiences, particularly earlier in the year, was amazing. I resolved early on to pay this forward and in recent months have been helping others making a similar move.

I’ve iterated my proposition many times, focussing on articulating my experience better and developing a sales funnel. The work I did in agency new business over the years has set me up well for this.

There have been periods when I’ve struggled with the uncertainty of work pipeline. A particular low was September when I returned from holiday with little work lined up and began to doubt whether I could make the numbers stack up. A real structured focus on business development over a couple of weeks paid off and led to a busy autumn period.

So now as I look back at the year, I feel comfortable that my goals of flexibility and variety have been met. I’ve enjoyed being able to work flexibly – better combining work and other parts of life. I managed to take around seven weeks off work, including a month in the summer. I was lucky that my health scare didn’t affect my clients too much – that felt like a time when having paid sick leave would have been a benefit!

And as for variety, I’ve enjoyed working on engagements across different sectors – venture-backed tech SaaS, privately owned software, agency, consultancy and e-commerce businesses. That’s been a particular highlight and something I couldn’t have achieved in a single job.

I’ve developed my own IP – a framework to help founders understand what it takes to build a sustainably resilient business. The beta version feedback was encouraging and I’ve got a much improved version coming out in the next couple of months.

Looking at the financial dashboard for the business, I can see that I end the year ahead of target on utilisation, revenue and profit. That’s a real weight off my mind and gives me the confidence to head into 2024 with ambition.

Having had a couple of weeks away from work, I can also reflect on how differently I feel about work compared to a year ago. Back in December 2022 I was tired, lacking enthusiasm and feeling drained of passion for what I do.

As we move into 2024, I feel like I’ve got that spark of enthusiasm for my work back. The time I spend working feels generative once again and I’m getting a lot more satisfaction from what I do. And I have also found my ambition in my work again, which I was really missing for at least a year before I made the switch.

Podcasts this month…

Been working my way through System & Soul – a US podcast about growing businesses. Their underlying model for building businesses really resonates with me.

Music this month…

I’m really enjoying this three hour epic from Sgt Slick. It’s a seamless mix of more than 350 tracks from back in the day. I first listened to it on a long run and ended up singing out loud for much of it.

Reading this month…

I’m reading Britain Is Better Than This: Why a Great Country is Failing Us All by Gavin Esler. It’s a good articulation of why governance is at the heart of this country’s problems. As we head into what’s likely to be an election year in the UK, it’s interesting to think about whether the problems the book talks about ever make it onto the political agenda.

Cycling this month…

242.1 miles, including a lot of Zwift, Wahoo SYSTM and FulGaz but also a rare winter outdoor ride yesterday.

Running this month…

A neat 26.2 miles. Will be stepping this up a bit ahead of a ten mile road race in late January.


I work as a fractional Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for company building and I also write a newsletter called Build for leaders who care about creating resilient and sustainable businesses.