Things I learned about running my business in 2017
2017 has been an exciting and challenging year and it’s hard to believe it is almost over. I’ve learned so much about myself and about running my business (despite the fact that I’ve been an entrepreneur for close to 14 years) and I wanted to share the top 7 things I learned this year.
1. Never take your eye off lead generation.
At the beginning of the year I charged full speed ahead with the development and launch of my online course, Brand Camp. It consumed pretty much my every waking moment and I remember often describing to people that I felt like my head was going to explode with the new things I had to learn to launch the course. It was exciting and exhausting and overall I was happy with the results. Although, I would have loved more people to sign up at first, but who wouldn’t!
Unfortunately during this time, I was so focused on the course that I dropped the ball on generating leads and business dried up by late spring/summer. We had some lean months and I quickly realized I couldn’t let that happen again. I turned my focus to lead generation for both the course and our design work; I sought out speaking engagements, went to networking events and reached out to my own network for help and connections.It took quite a few months, but all my hard work paid off. We are now extremely busy with many exciting design projects, I’ve had people sign up for Brand Camp and many more that are interested, I have 5 speaking engagements already booked for 2018 and we already have enough business signed up to keep us busy well into the new year.
And this time, I won’t let business dry up.
2. Share your thought leadership.
“I’m not a writer.”
I’ve made this statement so many times in the past because I believed I wasn’t a good enough writer, or I needed a professional to help me (and sometimes I still do) but I’ve had many people tell me this year how good a writer I am, how much they like reading what I write and that it feels like I am having a conversation with them.
Okay, so I guess I am a writer.
I also realized that I have a lot to say. I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time and I’ve got a ton of insights to share from my own experiences that I hope can help others on their journey. Here are a few of my recent blog posts:
I’ve also come to the realization that writing a book is in my future. I’ve said it out loud now and if you know me, you know I’ll actually make this happen! I promise to keep you posted on that.
3. Hire people who are invested in the success of the business.
Maria has been working with me since April of 2016 on a part-time contract basis and I’ve always had the goal of employing her full-time, I just haven’t been able to bring in enough business to do that…yet. She’s talented and fun to work with and has been a great addition to my team. Thankfully she has stuck with me through some lean times this year. I believe Maria is invested in the business because she knows that the success of Lab Creative, means success for her as well and I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring for us!
4. Create it, then iterate.
I was excited and nervous when I first designed Brand Camp and over the last year and a half since it was first created I have seen that it not only works, but does even more than I expected. While my goal was for people to gain clarity on their brand foundation, they also gained confidence. They became able to talk about their business in a dynamic way that made people want to know more.
I created it not really knowing if people would want it and I put it out there knowing it wasn’t perfect but people still got value out of it and I learned. I learned how to make it better, and how I can be better. My confidence in myself and what I offer through this course has grown right alongside it.
“If I had never built it, I would never be as confident in my own business today.”
The course itself is solid, although I’m sure it will iterate over time. How I get the people to know about the course and sign up is still evolving.
5. Things don’t always work out the way you plan.
I gave a talk at the beginning of the year and a really amazing opportunity was presented to me. I was extremely excited that a very large corporate was going to help me bring my vision to life for a project very close to my heart. After months and month of meetings, emails and delays, I came to the realization that we were never going to see eye to eye and I made the decision to walk away. It was hard and yet, surprisingly easy.I know I will create it on my own at some point, but the time isn’t right.
6. Surround yourself with great people.
This is important on both a work and personal level. We’ve all had those energy sucking friends, family members or clients. This year I’ve made a huge effort to surround myself with great people, limit the time with the energy suckers and protect myself from negative energy. In doing so, I’ve managed to attract clients and strategic alliances who have a shared value system. This makes work feel so much less effortful.
7. It’s all about the client experience.
I’ve recently had 3 conversations with new clients where they said “I’ve spoken to many other people/companies that do branding but I hired you because…” while their answers varied slightly, not one of them had to do with the end product we provide. They all focused around how we made them feel. Wow right?
Since we revamped our photos with a branded photoshoot with Heather from Fun Love Photography, we’ve had more comments about how people already have a sense of who we are and how we work before even picking up the phone or meeting in person. Which is exactly what we wanted!
What have you learned this year? I’d love to hear your insights so don’t forget to comment below.