LOOKING BACK ON 2022
“Reflection is one the most underused, yet most powerful tools for success.”– Richard Carlson
As I begin my 24th year of business, I always like to reflect on the past year, taking a brief look back so I can make the way ahead smoother and as successful, not necessary more but as successful. A growing business is not on everyone’s wishlist, but a sustainable one is on mine. In the nearly 25 years of business, I not only have realized that more growth is not always a good thing, but it can great impair the work/life balance I have prioritized over the years and complicate the day to day running of a business. In the past nearly 25 years, I have learned how to sustain passion in my business endeavors, to build resilience to overcome the hard times, and most importantly, how to reset priorities to what is truly important – life.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned through each stage of my business venture, from just starting out on day one to almost 25 years later, looking back and reminiscing with gratefulness over the journey.
STAGE I : PURSING THE DREAM
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”– Walt Disney
In the beginning of our entrepreneurship journey, we are hungry, eager and almost desperate to make a go of our passion – our great big idea. Those first few years are often spent clawing our way to the perceived level that we think we need to reach instead of taking stock what we have done. In those early days, we often spend as much time comparing ourselves to others than we are enjoying the successes we have uniquely reached. We are looking for ways to grow, expand, reach further, higher, and become a household name in our target audience. Of course, net profits minus overhead expenses are the primary barometer of success for most, but it’s so much more than just money to the true entrepreneur. Its about making something out of nothing … a product of your hard work, creativity, sales and marketing strategies and superior product. Recognition from our community, our customers, our peers, our colleagues is what makes us truly proud and is what continues to motivate us.
STAGE II : WE MADE IT, NOW WHAT?
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.”– Simon Sinek
After a few years or even a decade of reaching various milestones, continually amazing ourselves that we did it and are able to make a living from our passion, we start to settle into complacency and calm. This could be because of a variety of reasons: we’ve reached a hard-won pinnacle or goal, we have effectively penetrated our market with our menu of products and services, our marketing strategy has been finetuned to such a point that the leads and customers continue to trickle in without much effort on our part, or we have pushed so hard, so fast and at such long hours, that we feel a measure of burnout. How do we reignite that passion we had in the early days?
STAGE III : SHAKE THINGS UP
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”– Peter Druckner
Whatever the reasons, complacency can be cured by creatively restructuring your processes, expanding to new markets, and/or adding new products and services that are related to your industry but filling a new set of customers’ needs and wants. When you shake things up a bit in the way you do business, the way you offer services and even reach new markets, you find that you are again excited and reenergized in once again utilizing your mind, your skills, your creativity, your well entrenched successful marketing assets to wake up and be put to work again.
STAGE IV: COMPLACENCY
“Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness.”– Pat Riley
The next time you reach that calm of complacency, you may use the same remedy to cure it … or after so many years in business, you may want to enjoy the calm and serenity of a business that is in effect running on autodrive. Just as a driver of a vehicle can become complacent after years of driving, the same can happen to business owners. Don’t get lazy at the wheel – remember you always want to remain the driver of your vehicle, continually monitoring the path you are taking, making corrections to avoid pitfalls, or altering the speed based on the economy and other outside conditions. A good business owner is never just the passenger of his business, nor does he/she allow themselves to fall asleep at the wheel, because that would be giving your business up to circumstance and could result in a crash. Stay awake, stay alert and watch for any obstacles up ahead.
Complacency is defined as a smug self-satisfaction with one’s achievements that, but feeling satisfied at where you are and content at where you sit is not a bad thing, if it is well-earned and well-deserved. I’ts perfectly fine to be content at where you are, as long as you remain vigilant of any dangers or risks. Do not become over-confident that success will always be there. Develop a 1-year, 5-year and 10-year plan for your business, as well as an exit strategy, if need be. Continue to monitor and update these plans each year.
Complacency is bad, contentment is not. So if you, like me, have reached that sweet spot of running your business, with just the right amount of work that you are still making a profit, but not too much, that you can still enjoy life as well as give your all to each client at your current size, than congratulations … this is a good place to rest for awhile.
STAGE V: SIT BACK, RELAX AND ENJOY AND SIMPLIFY
“Hit the reset button. Whatever happened yesterday, forget about it. Get a new perspective. Today is a new day. Fresh starts begins now.”– Germany Kent
After so many years of pushing, pursuing, enduring and stretching myself thin, it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy. After all these years and hard work, I enjoy spending my time on the parts of business I enjoy the most and bring the greatest ROI. I have weeded out unnecessary duties that bring little return with great frustration. I have examined what actions bring the greatest customer satisfaction and benefits. I have simplified my process and after years of trial and error, found a way of offering my services that is unique, that sets me apart from my competitors, that is fair to me and fair to my clients, that is priced according to my customer’s budgetary needs. And my way of doing business and providing my services, has been documented and researched to drive higher profit with less overhead which is most cost-effective for the client. And most of all I have implemented simplification in all areas of the business.
So how have I simplified? After so many years of networking, joining boards, sponsoring, offering my time to give presentations, facilitating workshops, and spending hours upon hours meeting people and exchanging elevator pitches, I discovered that those efforts were effective, sometimes fun, sometimes stressful, but had done much to establish my name and my brand in the community. When the pandemic hit, and all of those meetings had to be cancelled or moved online, I came to the realization that pushing myself so hard was no longer necessary or the best use of my time.
Now that we are through the worst of the pandemic and many events have resumed in person, I still do participate and attend a select few especially the ones I know that will attract a large percentage of my target audience. But on the whole, I have found investing my time in getting work done, spending time with clients, pursuing partnerships and exploring new avenues of leads have earned a higher return of investment in less amount of time and travel costs and preparation.
LESSON LEARNED #1: RESILIENCE.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destinies.”– C.S. Lewis
Another lesson learned over the years, is the importance of building a company that is resilient. Whether it’s economic crisis, a global pandemic, political upheaval or personal issues, build a company that can withstand the ups and downs, the feasts and famines and the changing technological needs of your customers. Be willing to change, be willing to be honest with yourself, be willing to admit your mistakes and be willing to fix them. We have all learned a lot as we moved our businesses at home, worked and hosted meetings remotely and changed the way we have communicated. We have simplified our processes and realized in-person meetings are not always the most convenient or most effective means to build relationships.
Marketing is one way to build resilience, remember the work you do today in promoting your business online, in person, with traditional methods … develops leads that will trickle in over the next 3, 6 or 12 months (maybe more). Never stop marketing, never stop writing great content, never stop posting on social media, never stop meeting new people, never stop trying new avenues to reach your audience, never stop telling your story. Consistency in these efforts build a foundation that you can rely on during the hard times, the times like a global pandemic, times when personal issues hinder your engagement, times of economic downfall, etc. I have been amazed to see the work I’ve done over the years pay off time and time again months and years later, when I didn’t have time to network, to be out there shaking hands and handing out business cards, or standing all day at a table or booth.
Your marketing avenues should never sleep … your online presence, your social media, your emails, your blog, your SEO and SEM work for you 24/7. Remember that when you decide on your marketing strategy and your marketing budget.
LESSON LEARNED #2: BE HEALTHY OF MIND AND BODY
“No person may enjoy outstanding success without good health.”– Napoleon Hill
And finally and most importantly, a healthy entrepreneur leads to a healthy business. As a business owner, you wear so many hats during the day … marketing, billing, accounting, record-keeping, invoicing, human resources, safety management, product and service producer, customer service representative, team leader … not to mention all the hats you wear for client’s business. The switching of the hats takes mental effort, knowing which hat takes priority takes mental effort, and wearing the hat you’ve chosen for the moment in the best possible way takes great effort. All this effort is exhausting and can easily lead to burnout.
I’ve experienced burnout several times in the last two decades, and each time the only cure that really stuck was time away, time to rest, time with family and volunteer pursuits, time for spiritual meditation and time to care for others. Work/life balance can not be overstated when you are running a business. Why? Because your are driven by your passion for your business and it’s hard to differentiate what is your work and what is your life. You enjoy what you do for a living, you enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor so that energy and excitement can drive you do all that work more. Taking time out for mindfulness, for rest, for eating healthy, for regular and fun exercise, for quality time for family, for engaging association, for hobbies, for caring for your home, for taking vacations, for meditation … all of that leads to a healthy, revived business owner that can continue to serve clients with a positive attitude, patience and rejuvenation.
LESSON LEARNED #3: BE MORE THAN AN ENTREPRENEUR
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”– Dolly Parton
Your calm and restful spirit is contagious, so not only do you benefit from a calm mind, but the entire culture of your company will flourish with calm energy and mindfulness. When you are content, you do better work, when you are rested, you are more creative, when you have a full life outside of work, your priorities are organically set in proper place. Build a life outside your business, define yourself as more than just an entrepreneur or a business owner – be a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a mentor, a volunteer. Then, any and all business success or recognition you receive is just a bonus. The work I do as an entrepreneur finances my ability to continue my volunteering, my creative pursuits, my family’s needs and wants, the luxury to take a vacation when I need to, and my ability to serve others. And for that I’m continually grateful.
RESULTS OF 2022:
Thank you to all my customers and referrers for another successful year, as we completed over a dozen websites (with four more nearly completed). We wrote over 60 blog posts, helped dozens of clients with their content creation and internet marketing, managed 10 clients’ monthly email marketing, managed 16+ social media platforms for clients, as well as spent thousands of dollars spent on clients’ ads, provided ongoing internet marketing consulting and training for close to 70 clients, trained 20+ clients on their website management, and provided logo and graphic design for over 20 clients. We also added a new service in 2022 with our IMAP reports which we have completed half a dozen of those reports so far.
Let’s talk and meet and see what sets us apart: