As 2018 comes to an end, I’ve started to reflect on everything that I’ve done (and not done) this year.
It always surprises me when I look back and note the things I’ve achieved. For some reason until I do this, I tend to forget some of the most amazing things that happened, especially in the first half of the year.
At the time of writing this blog, I’m almost done with my plan for the new year, and one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t, or at least shouldn’t start planning before reflecting on the past.
How else can you learn from your mistakes and amplify what worked?
So here it is, my year in review and the lessons I’ve learned in the past 12 months.
1- Fail fast
I’ve heard this expression years ago when I was thinking about starting a business, and I’ll admit it, I didn’t get it at the time. I guess all this entrepreneurial language just didn’t make sense then.
But man, did I get it this year?! Yes I did!
If you’re in business you have to try new things, test ideas, put it to market fast and see what happens. Then you take the feedback and improve it, change it, ditch it – decide what to do.
While things only stay in your head, you won’t get anywhere.
When I ran my workshops back in August, I presented each group with a completely different offer and approach. I was so surprised to see the different responses I received from each group.
2- Sell from a place of service
This is a lesson I didn’t only learn from my own experience, but from my clients too. I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing women who offer incredible value to their clients, but they are afraid to sell.
In fact, I’ve heard from one of them, in her own words: “I feel like I should be giving this away for free”. Why? Why should you? Would you go to work for someone else for free? Without a salary? No, right! So why shouldn’t you charge for your products and service?
The problem with selling, ( same goes for video content or speaking in public), is that we’re focusing on ourselves. But if we shift our thinking and look at how we can help and serve someone else with our services, products, content or speech, the fear goes away.
Imagine hearing someone who’s very upset about a problem they have, and you have the solution for that problem. You could make all that pain go away. Would you not offer it to them?
3- Play Big or go home
This may not have been the case years ago, but the online landscape is becoming very competitive and changing fast.
I’ve seen some amazing businesses start in the last 2 years and shake things up a lot.
If you’re going to hide behind your fears or excuses, and stay small, be aware that your comfort zone is a dangerous place to be in this day and age.
Take a step back, reflect on your year, the things you did and the things you didn’t do and ask yourself why you didn’t do those.
If you know you should be doing some things that would really propel your business forward, but they make you uncomfortable, then you really need to face your fears and do them.
My conquered fear this year was video. Twelve months ago I wouldn’t believe I could say this at the end of this year. But I’ve conquered that fear and I’ll be releasing many more videos in 2019 – content and courses too.
In 2019 I need to conquer the fear of reaching out. I am afraid of reaching out to people who are way ahead of me. But if I want to take things up a notch I need to reach out to bigger brands and influencers. Watch this space.
4- Exceed your clients expectations
Let me reveal something to you. My biggest source of clients this year has been referrals.
Referrals happen when people trust you and when your clients are really happy with your work, happy enough to recommend you to their contacts.
This isn’t something I take lightly. I’ve just sent out a survey to all my clients asking for honest feedback.
I’m not after testimonials. Even though I will use any compliments as such. But I’m truly after their feedback. I want to know everything about them and how I can blow their socks off.
Because you know what… there are tons of mediocre businesses out there. Really. And that’s a huge opportunity to not only retain clients, but get referrals.
So, if you find your market is crowded, go the extra mile or ten. It’s never crowded there.
5- Systemize and automate your business early (before you need it)
I’m all for systems and automation. But while I have some automated funnels, and a few other things, I will confess that much of my business isn’t at this point.
This is what happened this year – all of a sudden I was flooded with work and clients. Not complaining.
But I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready. I only had two and half days a week to work in 2018 because of my little kids.
So what happened? Well, I was working nights, weekends, bribing kids with TV, and neglecting some areas of my marketing that I didn’t want to neglect.
Don’t wait. Put in the systems and automation right now, because when you need them, you need them.
6- Put your best foot forward consistently
Beside referrals, I’ve also signed up new clients who found me online.
Now, here’s the thing – I didn’t know they were watching me. Do you know all your followers? Website visitors? E-mail subscribers?
Are you aware that potential customers are watching you and assessing you as a potential service provider?
It’s funny because we are on social media to make connections and attract customers. But we don’t fully realize that people are watching us.
So, make sure you put your best content, best images, best authentic self out there. You never know who’s watching you.
7- Build a brand and audience before you sell
This isn’t really something new to me. But in 2018 it became really obvious, undeniable really, that we all need to focus on building a strong brand and a connected (and preferably large) audience if we want to make money.
It comes down to what I said earlier. The online space is becoming very crowded with savvy businesses. A half-there brand, and a half-there audience won’t cut it.
Whatever it is that you do, there are lots of other people doing the same. So you need to stand out and truly connect with your ideal client in a way that you become the ONLY option for them.
Want a tip -revisit your brand strategy and personality. Create a mood board and pin it on your wall.
Don’t forget to revisit your ideal client avatar and keep a swipe file with notes about your audience. Keep learning more and more about them. It never ends.
8- Less is more
My biggest mistake of the year. I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.
I put too much in my 2018 action plan and to-do lists. The problem with giving myself too many things to do is that I become overwhelmed, stressed and I freeze, and then nothings gets done.
I could have accomplished so much more if only I had planned fewer things.
Here are some practical examples and tips:-
If you feel that writing a blog post weekly is too much, plan for a blog fortnightly or even monthly. But commit to it.
Instead of using four social media platforms, use one or two consistently.
Want to connect with people in person? Attend one event a month or per quarter.
But be realistic in relation to your time. It’s better to be consistent and take action, than to plan a gazillion things and do nothing.
9 – Outsource
It’s impossible to run a successful business on your own. Maybe you can, but you can certainly grow it faster if you outsource tasks that you’re not so good at, or that waste a lot of your time.
This year I’ve hired a virtual assistant, and I can’t stress enough how much help she’s been and the relief I feel to be able to do more things and do things faster because I have help.
10- Schedule your holidays
For the first time in two years I’m taking three weeks off.
Really. I’ve advised my clients, put the “out of office” notice on my email, and I’m ready to stop, breathe, smell the flowers, and recharge.
In my short business experience, if you don’t schedule time for yourself, for holidays, for a break, it just doesn’t happen, or you end up taking your laptop with you (which I did on numerous occasions).
So, together with any business events, campaigns, launches and what not, schedule in your well-deserved holidays and enjoy them.
That’s it from me right now. I’m off to my Christmas break, and looking forward to having fun with my kids, going to the beach, and just living a little.
Sharing is caring. If you found these tips helpful please share them with your friends and biz buddies.
If you haven’t planned your year yet, you’re welcome to download my one-page marketing planner here.