At the end of 2016, I was feeling burnt out. All year, there was nothing I could think about except my business and so I decided to cut down on work and live my life in 2017. And so I did.
I took more vacations, I never once worked on a weekend and I truly was present in every moment, enjoying life! And contrary to what I believed would happen – my income doubled, I expanded my team, I had amazing business opportunities and more than anything, I was a happy, calm and better business owner.
Well, now that we ‘ve stepped into 2018, I wanted to stop, look back and reflect on all the amazing things I did and the lessons I learnt in 2017 ; things that went well and things that didn’t – the whole enchilada! So lets dive right in!
Things that went well
At the end of 2016, I launched my first e-course iPhone-o-graphy that teaches business owners how to capture high-quality photos using their iPhone. But that launch didn’t do so well. So during the first quarter of 2017, I took time off from client work to work on creating a good marketing strategy for the e-course. I created free email challenges, email courses, email sequences and webinars to promote the course. And it paid off.
My first launch in April 2017 did really well and I learnt so much about marketing in the process. In November, I again did a launch for the course, but it was super-secret, no-social-media, only-email-list kinda launch. I had no plan and just decided to wing it. If not anything I thought it would be a good experiment at the least! But the enrollments in this launch were way more than the previous April launch. I was mind-blown. Efforts were 1/10th, but the results were way better. I learnt so much from this launch that I am putting together a blog post all about it, stay tuned for that.
We expanded the design studio:
Probably the best feeling ever. Its no more me but WE behind the design studio. Yay!! (I have goosebumps just typing that out) Towards the end of the year, I on-boarded my best friend, Sneha for collaborating on client projects. We worked on two client projects together and it was seriously the best thing ever to have her take care of the web development in those two projects. Also I am working with the sweetest VA – Shree Summerlin from Aurora Social Media. Its funny how the internet brings people together. Shree was one of my early blog readers and over time we became great friends. She knows my brand so well and has seen it evolve over the years, I couldn’t have anyone better to help me with all the back end stuff.
Community and conferences:
Hands down, the best thing that happened this year. At the end of last year I was itching to go to at least one conference in 2017. And I got to go to 4!! FOUR! And I got to present at 3 of them – ALT Summit, SNAP conference and Your Own Way con. And each of them were such incredible experiences. I made amazing friends. These were meaningful connections. I had deep conversations about life and business. We shared our deepest insecurities, we powered each other through our strengths and we chalked out plans to handle our weaknesses. There is something amazing about meeting your business friends in person – you don’t need any warming up time – its like you have known each other for years. You just get each other.
You don’t have to do it alone. Go out and send that email you’ve been meaning to send, ask your favorite blogger for a skype date, book that conference ticket – it will change the way you do business. I can’t wait to go out to more of these conferences this new year.
Refined systems and processes:
I became a lot more organized with both – internal systems as well as client processes. Setting up and refining my client process made client projects a breeze this year. I worked with 7 amazing clients this year as opposed to 14 clients in 2016. And I was able to do that by pricing my services higher based on the value I was providing my clients. Not only was this stress-free for me, but I was able to serve my clients much better cuz less clients means I had more time and focus to serve them to my full capacity. I am curious how this pattern will evolve as the design studio grows. Its going to be interesting!
Like I said at the very beginning, I intended 2017 to be a restful year with a good work-life balance and I am truly proud to say it was. Overall I worked 8 months in the year and took the rest 4 months off to be with family and friends. I took a 3-week trip to Europe in May with my sister and we had the best time ever – from the Eiffel tower in Paris to eating pasta in Italy to losing our way in the Swiss alps – it was quite an adventure. Also we bought and moved into our first house in August and I took time off to move and settle into our new place and make it a home that we love. Soon after that I fell sick with terrible eye pain in September due to which I had to take a break from work for a month. I was unable to look at any device for more than 10 minutes at a time which made business work next to impossible. These are times when I am most grateful for my business, cuz honestly I wouldn’t be able to take time off to rest if I was working anywhere else, right? It was a good year in terms of rest and I wrapped it up with a trip to India in December to visit my family. Always a joy to be with them. And its all that matters.
Lessons I learnt:
You just got to show up and work, every single day:
Sometimes when things aren’t going the way you want it to, its hard to show up and do the work. There were some days this year when I didn’t “feel like” working due to the ambiguity that comes with running a business. What if this doesn’t work? I feel like I wasted a lot of time thinking about my business rather than actually doing the work. But showing up every day and doing the work whether you feel like it or not is what makes the difference. And once I learnt this, it was so much easier for me to embrace the ambiguity and put in my 100% without worrying about the results. And like I said, this mindset shift was one of the biggest lessons and game-changers in my business this year.
You need to reach out when you need help:
Like they say, you can do anything, but not everything. You see I have a lot of things I want to do for my business. But there’s only one of me. I always tried to do everything myself and would terribly fail at keeping up with everything. So there came a point when I just couldn’t keep up and stopped doing a few things. Like for example, I couldn’t write blog posts consistently. Considering that my entire business model is based on content marketing, me not creating content on my website was a huge blow to my business. The traffic on my website dropped by 20% towards the end of the year which was such a bummer. Had I taken someone’s help to manage my tasks, it would have been easier to keep up with my blog and social media better. Right?
Attending some of the conferences helped me realize the importance of building your own power-team for your business. You need to reach out and let people help you so you can focus on the things in your business that really need you. If you are busy working for your business, you ‘ll not have time to work on your business. Reaching out for help and expanding our team really not only helped me relax later in the year but also focus on the bigger picture of growing my business.
Be you, be transparent is still the best advice:
I remember when I started my online business, there was one piece of advice that I saw every business owner swear by : Be Authentic. And after two years of running my own business, I couldn’t agree more. Over time, running my business has helped me become more comfortable with sharing about myself with the online world. In real life, I am a total extrovert personality and can easily bare my life in front of someone I ‘ve just met. But with the online world, it was different. I felt like I had to be careful about what I said and shared. I was scared of being judged.
But I in 2017 I decided to let go of that. I got more comfortable with sharing my voice online. I didn’t edit anything. I said everything I wanted to, without worrying. And that made me closer to my community. I made so many awesome friends on so many different levels. Sure we online friends mostly connect on Skype but the friendship is still the same, we are behind our computers, true, but we understand each other so well. I don’t know why it took me two years to bring my extrovert self to the online world – but here I am! 🙂
Since 2016, when it comes to business – I take the year in 4 chunks of 90 days. I don’t like planning for the whole year ahead ‘cuz to be honest, I cannot stick to it. I like to embrace the flow. I love the changes, I enjoy the unexpected opportunities. I love that this method lets my business evolve organically. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much need and appreciate structure in my business – just in chunks of 90 days, I guess 😃
So here’s my plan for the next 90 days:
Content & social media marketing:
My entire business model is based on content marketing and its a shame I didn’t focus a lot on creating new content. Whaaat? So this year a lot of content creation is going to be happening 😉 Loads of content coming your way. Stay tuned and subscribe to the blog here.
I am truly grateful I have a lovely team and client system in place. These coming months, I am going to be honing in on my ideal client. After working with a wide gamut of client industries these past two years – I want to specialize and refine my services to a more niche and boutique audience. Once I hone in on my ideal client, I will be restructuring my portfolio and marketing to work accordingly. Excited to see how this will impact my business.
I am going to be working on making updates to the course – adding new video lessons and improving previous videos, yup! I am so grateful students are loving the course and I cant wait to release the new updates. Aside that, I am planning a launch for the course in April – with a slightly different focus. I haven’t entirely planned this out but I am excited to try out a new strategy to increase the reach of the course.
As always I can never end a year in review post without the talking about the crux that holds it all together, that is – YOU! Whether its a quick comment on my Instagram or a response to my email, your encouragement is what keeps me going. So thank you so much for being a part of everything I do – you are amazing and I couldn’t have done this without you.