Breathe in….annnnnd exhale.
2018 was quite the year. Our second year as a brick and mortar studio, and our BIG TEN as a business. A year of change. A few adventures. Buckets of challenging projects. New relationships. And growth…oh, the growth!
This time of year always has us reflecting on new challenges (and maybe even a few old ones), people that we’ve met and of course – the fun things we’ve learned along the way.
There may be some similarities between this years post and last years lessons, but everything feels completely different. How LovelyPixels morphed, how I continued to thrive on the energy of those around me and what Martinsburg, West “By God” Virginia has meant to me.
Here are my top eight lessons from 2018, and how you should use them to make your business better in 2019.
Trust that the Business is Going to Deliver.
Now, this isn’t to say that you should sit back and wait for projects and people to fall in your lap. It’s really just the opposite.
The concept of where your focus goes, energy flows. If you’re going to learn anything from business – it’s that your limits will be tested time and time again, and there are always going to be roadblocks and pivots. When you have a hiccup and need to pivot, don’t let your confidence wane. Because right behind the loss of confidence, goes your determination. The business will provide as long was you’re authentic in your service, consistent in your quality and ethical in your relationships.
• Do you trust in your business to deliver?
• If not, what changes can you make in 2019 marketing to help make your business provide for itself?
Count. That. Money.
Not literally of course. Don’t just hang out in your office with a stack of coin, counting your coffers. (I would like to refer you to the classic story of Scrooge McDuck). And by NO means do I mean consume yourself with the black hole that is chasing after the elusive American dollar. If your measure of success is solely based on how much income you generate, I doubt we will ever truly be on the same page when it comes to having a truly abundant life.
When I say count your money, I mean really focus on and manage your accounts to maintain business health. For myself, I get so wrapped up in the day to day needs of my clients that this constantly takes a backseat – but I am growing more and more conscious of the power of setting sales goals to push myself and micro-managing targets.
• Where are you wasting money, simply because you’re not paying attention? Are there simple adjustments that can be made to have impactful, long-term returns?
• Where are you potentially leaving money on the table?
By far the hardest thing to ever commit to or ask of others is for help. Even beyond business – this is tenfold across every sector of your small business. Finding help on projects that create income, support systems for the busywork that needs to be done to maintain your business, or even just asking more of your family and friends to help keep up with social and household responsibilities. We talked a lot about building a tribe last year, and this year – we put a good bit of that into action.
• Are you finding enough local talent to support your business?
• What types of operational needs can be outsourced to virtual assistants, or given to trusted internal people that have your best interest in mind?
Call them as you see them and always listen to that inner voice that says tread lightly, run away or kill it with fire! And do it all graciously, because regardless of the issues at hand, it is so very important to leave a project or partnership feeling positive and supported.
• When there is an issue with a client, do you have systems in place to handle it professionally – at every stage of the customer lifecycle?
• What pain points are you struggling to address in the moment?
High Energy Does Not Always Mean GOOD Energy.
In fact, some people are high energy in all the wrong ways. The ways that make them impulsive, reckless, unable to empathize with other collaborators, and completely disastrous to a brand or project!
• Are you sacrificing quality for low-budget talent/energy that will cost you in the long run?
• When it comes to your company culture, is the energy in alignment with the brand itself?
Comparison Leads to Despair.
Every time you compare your business (or yourself) to someone else’s, you are actively creating energy that will lead to frustration and (ultimately) a lack of motivation. Sure, you may just be festering in a micro-moment of it right now, but eventually – those minutes will add up and take complete control over your perception.
Don’t compare your successes to the successes of others. No matter if you started after them, at the same time, lack the resources, whatever – just…stop. Your mountain is not their mountain, and vice versa. Celebrate your wins. Pivot when you stumble. And most importantly – find a tribe that pulls you out of your echo-chamber.
• Put yourself in the position to take on alternative points of views, even at the sake of it feeling like criticism. We don’t know everything, and marketing is all about testing, measuring and adjusting as needed.
• Find out what your unique selling position is. If you don’t know what it is, go to the source! Ask your clients for honest feedback on why they chose you over the competition.
Delegate, Automate or Eliminate.
Simply put, its time to really focus in on how each of these actions is going to benefit the business and get me out of the trenches.
Delegate: Build a team of people you can trust to get shit done (IE: accounting – why do I ever think I will do my bookkeeping on time? I’m terrible at it). Finding ways to get more trivial things off my plate, and focus on the core of my business.
Automate: Leverage the power of automated systems to scale your business, streamline your on-boarding process and overall – save time. I don’t quite grasp why this specific one has been the hardest for me personally in 2018, because I’ve implemented these exact kinds of systems for clients in the past. The plumber always has the leakiest pipes in the neighborhood because he spends all his time fixing everyone else’s, #amiright?
Eliminate: Acknowledge what isn’t moving your business in the right direction, and just let it go! From clients that are no longer a fit to services that consume vast amounts of energy but entry-level gains.
• How can you automate some of your marketing or sales needs to accommodate the elbow room you need to focus on growth?
• What services can be eliminated all together to help you focus in on your core verticals?
Seek Some Harmony Over the Hustle Every Once in a While.
We’re winding down on an unusually extra-busy busy season. So this one is a rather recent lesson that I am trying to enforce (once I get some of these larger projects off my plate, of course). I know I’ll need to put the extra hours in to make magic happen sometimes – thats just how this whole “dream job” thing goes. But I am committing to forcing my “hustle” to no longer being my norm. And instead, I will be seeking harmony and balance and integration, that will compliment the seasons of long days/weeks/months with seasons of rest, and being more aware of where my energy is spent.
• Is your hustle dictating your schedule?
• What boundaries can you realistically put in place to reclaim your mental resilience?
After outlining what Martinsburg, WV has done for me during my second 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.