Looking back at 2020…whew. What can I even say. To say that the year was fully of ups and downs, struggles, and just in every way was unpredictable sounds like SUCH an understatement and quite frankly an insult to those who have truly had one of the worst years of their lives.
I do not take for granted the fact that I’ve had an extremely successful year. In fact, my business saw its greatest growth and profits, EVER. Here are 5 things that were put into motion early in 2020 that set my business up for success the remainder of the year:
- I stepped outside my comfort zone. Like, heart racing, nervous, sweaty on the verge of a panic attack level outside my comfort zone. In February I attended the first ever Showit Designers Retreat in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. And I attended it alone.
I’ve never traveled outside the country alone before, I’ve never traveled to meet a group of 20+ strangers before, and I’ve never put myself in an environment that made me SO outside my element before. I’ve always been a shy and quiet person, and the thought of surrounding myself with so many internet peers and designers had me nervous beyond belief for WEEKS. I almost bailed last minute. But let me tell you, I am SO GLAD I WENT. It has by far had the biggest impact on my business out of ANYTHING I’ve ever done.
Meeting new people, seeing how others ran their businesses, and just getting a taste for what kind of success was possible was LIFE CHANGING for me. I left that trip with new inspiration, new friends, and most importantly, a new confidence for the year ahead.
- I put myself in the mindset of a successful business owner. In the past I feel like I’ve always been trying to play catch up. Trying to be as productive as everyone else, trying to grow as fast as everyone else, and trying to make up for lost time.
For the first two months of quarantine, I set aside time every day to plan ahead for my business. This happened completely on accident – at the beginning of quarantine I crafted a daily routine for myself, down to the hour, of everything I wanted to do in a day. I knew that if I didn’t plan I’d easily fall into bad habits of sleeping all day, eating way too much, and Netflix binging all week.
I started each day with a long walk. Even the coldest, snowiest days. And as I walked I listened to Elizabeth McCravy’s Breakthrough Brand podcast. I had just met Elizabeth in Mexico at the Design Summit a few weeks prior, and I was SO enthralled by what she was teaching. Every day I would get about 20 minutes into my walk, and just hearing someone else talk about business and ideas and success would get my own ideas flowing. Once that happened I would shut the podcast off, pull up my notes app, and just type away for the remainder of my walk.
I’d write down specific ideas, general inspiration, parts of blog posts, instagram posts….anything that came to me. And when I got home from my walk, I would put those plans to action. Every day. Before long I started seeing results – increased bookings and increased template sales. I was no longer operating from a scarcity mindset, but from one of abundance.
- I outsourced the tasks that overwhelmed me. During the first month of the pandemic, I was overwhelmed with work. People were panicking to get their websites finished, to update their sites, to add products to their sites. At the same time, I was trying to rebuild my own website and make some major changes in my own business. I took on another designer at an hourly rate to help me with my larger projects, the ones I didn’t have the mental capacity to tackle on my own. I can say without a doubt that I would not have seen this level of growth if I had continued to overwhelm myself with client work, putting my own business on the back burner.
- I hired a professional Pinterest marketing strategist. I haven’t had a chance to run my final numbers for the year yet, but I would say that my template sales have at least quadrupled this year. I don’t know much about Pinterest (I only use it to pin outfit ideas and recipes!) but I know it is a HUGE platform and that it holds SO MUCH potential for creative business owners! Hannah has completely taken this stress out of my hands. She manages my entire account, creates pins for me, runs ads, and has helped me grow my sales considerably.
- I stopped overthinking my blog. Blogging goes hand in hand with Pinterest…since every post you make can be pinned and used to bring people to your website. Once I hired Hannah to take over my Pinterest marketing, I was able to look at a blog for it’s intended purpose…to educate viewers, to highlight recent projects, and be an informative resource for any potential clients that land on my site. In the past I would look at each post as a long, thought out, pre-planned excessively informative essay. Now I look at it similar to an Instagram post caption (many parts of my blog posts frequently become Instagram posts!) I particularly like to write lists (like this post you’re reading now!) They help keep the post concise, interesting, and easy to read.
And what would a 2020 recap be without a plan for the year ahead!?
Here are the top 5 things I plan to focus on as we move forward into 2021:
- Show up more on Instagram. This includes stories, reels, and regular posts. I don’t just mean posting more frequently, I mean checking in with my audience, getting more personal, and really building even more trust and communication with the people that support me.
- More strategic marketing/advertising. I am so, so guilty of the ever popular “throw it at the wall and see what sticks.” In 2021 I’d like to really dive deep into what my potential customers want to see, what might draw them to me/my products/my sales, and build from that. This year I saw tremendous growth after hiring someone that specialized in Pinterest marketing, so I will likely hire someone to oversee my Instagram marketing as well!
- More strategic blogging and content sharing. I realize that there is a huge advantage in being able to create content and share it across all platforms in multiple ways. Again, I’ve always had a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” attitude towards content sharing. I’ve always said, “hey, at least I’m doing it!”……but it’s time to think bigger.
- Grow my business revenue by 20%. 2020 was a year unlike any other. It was wild, unstable, and unpredictable, especially for small business owners. While I had an extremely profitable year, I realize that next year could be very different. I want to grow, because I know what’s possible to achieve, but I want my goal to be attainable and allow room for flexibility in my business choices.
- Find more balance in my life. And not just in work life….I want to find more balance in work vs. fun, fun vs. rest, work vs. rest, junk food vs. healthy food, time with friends vs. time alone….the list goes on and on! I think this is a goal for every business owner, every year!
What are some of your goals for this upcoming year? Remember, you don’t need a new year to have a fresh start. Start now, do what you can, and stay strong. And most importantly, don’t forget to take a moment and appreciate how far you’ve come.