There are 3 questions that I’m going to answer in my Annual Review:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What am I working toward?
What went well
Mindset. At the beginning of 2017, I was in a major funk. I thought maybe it was seasonal, or maybe because I was still missing my dogs (both passed during 2016), or that I was overweight, or that I was turning 50… wow, I was a mess, huh? I had tried acupuncture, Chinese herbs, joined a gym, and tried at least 3 diets; nothing was working. I would never use the word “depressed” because, having a son who is clinically depressed, it was nowhere near that debilitating, but I felt blah, blech, ugh, hmmmph.
I have no problems making lists, creating goals, and “getting shit done” but it’s hard to do when you don’t have goals to begin with. So, I hired a coach to help me get through this rough patch. My major complaint: “Things feel uncompletable.” In the six months we worked together, she worked her magic, cleared the cobwebs, and things finally came into focus. (Scroll to the bottom to see our pic!)
I used to tell myself that I wasn’t good at meditating, but once I shifted to “what if I was good at meditating?” things changed. The point of meditating is not to force anything or make the cork float, it’s about NOT holding the cork underwater and releasing resistance. What if I was good at meditating? The answer is that I felt better. MUCH better.
Technology and Audit. Upgrading programs is always on my “to do” list but with so many other competing projects, I kept moving it down the list. That was until my site crashed during a launch! Nothing creates urgency more than disappointing people and losing money! I did an audit of everything from my hosting platform, software programs, subscriptions, to memberships I belong to and if it wasn’t serving me 100%, I either upgraded or deleted it.
Products and Programs. I hustled a lot this year to get my online courses launched! My online training program for virtual assistants, VABusinessEssentials, was launched in January. My new program for coaches, consultants, and creatives, Business Freedom Guide, launched in July. And newly updated Profitable Packages had 3 successful runs this last year averaging $8,000 each time. I also did my first challenge in October – Business Freedom Challenge.
Messaging/Branding. I worked hard this year to define what it is I do, who I serve, and what I WANT to do. I “thought” I knew all that, but when I started working on other things, BIG things, like a new logo, offerings, etc. I found that I had some work to do. It took most of the year working with branding expert Annie Franceschi, but I now have a brand voice guide and a new umbrella logo. I also revamped my packages on my website and even created a “Guest Media Bio” page for anticipated guest podcasting. Yay me! (Scroll to the bottom to see our pic!)
Out of My Comfort Zone. I traveled to Canada and spoke on stage TWICE this past year. Being an introvert, this was huge for me.
What didn’t go so well
Leveraging Networking Events. I attended multiple networking events this year and, while I do a good job of following up, nothing came from any of them. This has made me stop and think about what events are best for me to attend. Just because everyone else is attending or I feel an obligation, that’s not a good enough reason.
Running my own race. I always tell people to “go at your own pace, run your own race” but wasn’t taking my own advice. Rather than listening to my own instincts, I listened to others. Rather than focusing on establishing better daily habits, I looked at shiny objects and got distracted. Rather than celebrating my small wins, I envied others’ big accomplishments. Part of this was because I kept telling myself, “You’ve been in business 12 years, you should be doing better.” But once I realized that I’ve had the privilege of working 12 years from HOME and being my OWN BOSS, I mean, how awesome is that? It definitely stopped the stinkin’ thinkin’.
Couch Potato and Twitter Troll. OMG things got really bad between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I rarely left the house, ate WAY too many cookies and ice cream, and yelled at Twitter as I replied to stupid tweets. Glad I got that out of my system lol.
What I am working towards for 2018
So where is all of this going? What direction am I heading in for 2018?
Looking at the big picture, spending more time on the sailboat with the husband, making money to support my lifestyle while having freedom and flexibility, I will structure everything I do in order to accomplish that.
Personal. Normally I would say something like “lose 20 lbs” or “be able to run a mile.” But in the past, once I do those things, I stop and go back to sitting on the couch and eating ice cream for breakfast. I’m facing the fact that I have not placed “eating better and exercising” as a priority. I thought it was about willpower but what I’m finding is that for every day or week I didn’t hit my big goal, I was getting frustrated. So I’ll be chunking it down to smaller goals day by day, building better habits. Why do I want to do this? Because I don’t feel good when I can’t fit into my clothes and I want more Stitch Fixes. And I can’t get more Stitch Fixes when I can’t fit into the clothes I have. Plain and simple.
Business. For the past two years, I’ve been working towards doing less client work and maintaining my income. It hasn’t been the easiest journey – some things worked while many, many other things didn’t. I’m starting to see things fall into place and will continue to streamline, simplify, and diversify through 2018. We have planned a sailboat trip this summer and I can’t wait to see how my systems will hold up with this new way of working.
Two marketing strategies that I will try this year are guest podcasting and Pinterest marketing (my stats showed that I get more leads from Pinterest than any other social media referral source). I was mildly considering starting a podcast but was talked out of it because guest podcasting is soooo much easier and I can leverage guest opportunities. I am taking Marie Forleo/Laura Belgray’s course, TheCopyCure.com, to become a better writer. LOVE the course 🙂
My word of the year, like it’s been the last two years, is ALIGNMENT. I feel like I’ve gotten better but still need work in this area.
I don’t have it all figured out, even after 12 years of business. As you can see, I have a lot to improve upon! But I am certainly enjoying the journey.
I am super happy with the progress I made in 2017 and I’m excited to make 2018 a year of growth, steady habits, and consistency.
Thanks for sharing in my journey 🙂
There are so many obvious advantages to taking a vacation, staycation, or even a long weekend, but many business owners that I know dread stepping away from the computer or the phone or mobile device for any length of time because they feel things will fall apart. It’s time that you took a worry-free and laptop-free vacation.
I’ll be the first to admit that I take my laptop everywhere. I only recently put my email on my phone and I still take it with me because the term “worry-free” means different things to different people and I’ll talk about that in a minute. I only recently hired a Virtual Assistant to help. But even if you’re not there yet, to have someone take care of email, customer service issues, client care, the things that worry you the most, there are a few things you can do now to get some downtime.
Create a plan of the tasks that need to be completed before you go away. Avoid scheduling any product or service launches while you’re away. If you think you can automate the whole sequence and then go away and make money while you’re gone, things are going to happen. Usually, that’s when things fall apart or you realize there’s a big gap in your system.
There are a lot of things you can automate while you’re on vacation:
- Appointment Scheduling – remember to block out your calendar for your vacation time, so customers don’t accidentally book appointments while you’re away.
- Customer Support – If you don’t have an FAQ page that website visitors can find simple answers to their questions, get on this. It will save you so much, not to mention the number of inquiries from your prospects and customers.
- Email – what I am going to do is set up a role-based email for me and my team so that we can both access it and be on the same page with what needs to get done.
- Order Processing – Now if there’s any part of your sales funnel that requires manual intervention, see how you can automate that. For example, if you require somebody to check a box before they get something and you find that they are not doing that, or it’s being held up for some reason, see how you can automate that.
Of course, if you have an assistant and your processes and systems are in place, this part is cake. The only thing you need to follow up with is what didn’t work, where is there a gap in your system? It’s good to test your systems from time to time.
Delegation is much much easier if you have your systems in place and it’s as easy as having someone look in the knowledge center or your SOP when something does need to get done. Because even if you don’t have an assistant, you can always get a colleague to step in and then return the favor when she goes on vacation but you have to have clear and detailed processes in place.
Here are some ground rules:
Arrange a check-in time – Just communicate with your delegate or your assistant to text or call only if it’s an emergency, otherwise, they can email you and you can get back to them when you can.
Second, define what constitutes an emergency. Most things can be handled by the team member or your delegate. Empower them to make decisions, such as paying an invoice up to a certain amount or under what circumstances should they contact you.
Another possibility is having a trial run, maybe a week before you leave, try out having the other person be in charge.
Having a worry-free vacation can mean different things to different business owners. While it may mean completely switching off and having no contact with your business, others will get peace of mind from knowing they can check in on their business no matter what and that their most important VIPs are taken care of.
If you’re craving business freedom, this is going to get you one step closer. It does take a mindset shift to wind down and enjoy the fruits of your labor, so whatever you do, be sure to take care of you this summer.