Being an entrepreneur is scary, exciting, freeing and adventurous. While there seems to be a constant need to check your peripherals, maintaining focus and energy on progressing forward is priority one.
2017 was a big year for LovelyPixels – I decided it was time to quit my day job, take up shop in a downtown office at The Hub and really push my own personal limits when it comes to being at the helm of a ship (and by ship, I mean a two person kayak).
While I spent the weekend reflecting on goals I set for LovelyPixels in 2017, I also put in the time to contemplate something exponentially more important – what I learned. How my company morphed, how I thrived on the energy of those around me and what Martinsburg, WV has done for me.
Here are my top seven lessons from last year, and how you should use them to make your business better in 2018.
Pay Attention to What Your Customers Do, Not Just What They Say.
When I am in a creative brief with clients, the goal is always to verbalize visual ideas (which I’ve learned isn’t an easy task for most people). Lesson one was ensuring that I have an arsenal of tools to help clients explain their ideas, their brand and their “big picture” in creative, visual and energetic ways. Ensuring we’re communicating efficiently and thoroughly with our clients goes well beyond verbal conversation, so make sure you’re paying attention to all the little details and clearing the road for ideation.
• When it comes to your own business, how are clients interacting with your products or services?
• What non-verbal feedback are your clients giving you?
• Are you paying attention to the negative as well as the positive to implement positive change for the next person?
Taking Care of Your Business IS Taking Care of Your Client.
We all make sacrifices when it comes to our own business. Some of us invest 100% of our work week into meeting client demands (guilty as charged) and ignore many of our own operational or self-care needs. I myself spent over 95% of my hours in 2017 working on client projects, ignoring my own branding and marketing needs. And while that didn’t impact my business negatively, I certainly can’t afford to make it a trend.
Some of my best days in 2017 consisted of blacking out my schedule, forcing myself to disassociate from my inbox and phone.
Pulling someone into the office to brainstorm and hash through creative blocks – preferably someone that isn’t already a member of your company – helps shake the conversation up and offers new insights that you or your team may be missing.
• What operational/internal things have suffered around your business because of unbalance?
• Is it affecting clients?
• What kinds of internal and sales operations could benefit from automated marketing?
• Does your website and digital presence get the attention it deserves?
Every Single Unhappy Customer Serves Up a New Opportunity.
When you actively scrutinize how your clients engage with your business, you’re going to find all the queues you need to better your services, products or staff. Instead of labeling those people as a problem client or getting emotionally charged, steer that experience and feedback into a solution for future wins.
• What stages of your customer lifecycle are the most difficult or cost you the most sales?
• How can you enhance customer experience to retain more clients?
• Are you asking clients for honest reviews and feedback that goes beyond 5 stars and a pat on the back?
The People Across the Street Aren’t Your Competition. They’re Your Tribe.
It’s amazing what kind of magic happens when you decide to not only work with other businesses, but share resources, geek out on industry news and feed each others’ motivations for the betterment of community.
When you leverage each other in a way that bolsters better community, everyone wins. Find ways to co-host events, kickstart community projects and share marketing resources so that everyone in the neighborhood benefits from positive growth.
• Who can you collaborate with in 2018?
• What services can you bring to the community table to help better your neighborhood?
Things Will Always Take Longer Than You Expect.
Maybe this is something more seasoned business owners understand, but for me it was a slap in the face on week one of my brick-and-mortar migration! Be it from a creative block, interruptions, distractions or simply not being able to onboard a client quick enough – always, always, always account for things to take a little longer.
• Are you currently tracking time spent on very specific areas of your businesses?
• Do you have the means for capturing and reporting marketing and operational data to analyze ROI?
• What operational tasks can be outsourced or automated, allowing you to concentrate on fulfilling great customer experiences?
What Motivates You, Doesn’t Motivate Others.
From employees to bosses to clients to friends to vendors – everyone is motivated by drastically different measures. For me, I truly thrive on the excitement of other people and if someone isn’t enthusiastic about their project, I can’t get excited either.
• What motivates your clients or employees?
• Are they thriving on being part of a company culture?
• Are they only driven by financial rewards?
• What drives the top 25% of your clients, and how can you use their buyer personas to target more people just like them?
Needing help is a-okay!
Asking for help is never easy, and finding good people to bring into the fold can sometimes be a never ending cycle of trial and error. I myself spent a good bit of 2017 building connections with local creatives and developers to help with projects as needed.
There is AMPLE talent in your own backyard, and they are all willing to help your business and brand grow if you’re ready to let them.
• What kind of growth do you want out of your business in 2018?
• Do you have a roadmap outlined on how to get there?
• What kinds of impact does your company need to make?
After outlining what Martinsburg, WV has done for me during my first year as a brick and mortar studio, the next step is obvious. What can I do for Martinsburg?
We see a need for small business support and quality services in Martinsburg, and we always strive to partner with local businesses to make a meaningful impact. We’re confident that our multi-channel approach to branding, design and marketing drives a healthier, happier and stronger community.