10 things I did and lessons I learnt in my first year of business : 2016Jan 04 2017
First of all, let me begin by wishing you a very very Happy new year. I really hope 2017 is going to rock all our worlds. Let’s put our heads together, work hard and have a blast in the new year. You with me?
Personally for me, 2016 was a rollercoaster ride – a lot of ups and downs made it an uphill, yet interesting and a learning year for me. In October 2015, I quit my job to go full-time with my business. So in 2016, off we went – my business and me, on our own. If I were to look back and pick just one word that drove 2016 for my business , it was “Experiment”. I wasn’t afraid to experiment, and so I did. Some things worked and some things just didn’t. And in today’s post I want to take you on that journey with me – look at the things I did, share with you the lessons I learnt and peek into what’s in store for 2017. Ready?
Things I did:
Growing my web design business:
My main focus at the beginning of the year was to grow my web design business, book out my services and work with a varied set of clients in different domains. Since it was my first year of business, I wanted to experiment to see what systems, processes, domains I enjoy working on. And this one was a success. I was able to book out my services 4-6 months in advance throughout the year and that gave me a lot of confidence to raise my prices, pursue the work I love and also experiment with other areas of my business.
I was able to work with 14 amazing clients from a varied range of domains – food and wellness, wedding photography, graphic design, fashion, fitness, e-commerce for physical products and more. I loved working with every one of them and gained a lot of experience and knowledge through the process. Overall, I am super grateful for my web design business as it provided a consistent income throughout the year and helped me propel my business forward.
Branching out into Photography:
When I started releasing photo packs to my readers in 2015, it was never my intention to dive into photography as a business. But once I saw the photo packs gaining traction and helping thousands of businesses around the world – I was excited to turn it into a well-rounded photography resource for bloggers and creatives. So I launched Creative Convex in Feb 2016 and offered a styled brand photography program for creatives. The day I launched it, although there was interest leading up to the launch – I did not hear from anyone. To be honest, I was a little disappointed and got down. But slowly after a couple of weeks, things started to get better and I was able to book out 7 out of the 10 slots for the program by the end of the month. And that’s when I realized that patience is key when it comes to running a business – and there is no point getting down on yourself. Ever. You just need to put in your work, do your best and keep going.
I also launched the Creative Convex shop to sell stock photos and mockups for creatives. And although the shop received great response at the beginning – I have not been able to focus on generating consistent sales throughout the year. Also I have had a lot of feedback on making the products more useful and valuable from readers – so I am definitely looking forward to implementing this in 2017.
Created and launched my first e-course:
Ah. I can write an entire blog post series about just this one. In august, I decided to take on the huge task of creating my first e-course on iPhone photography. I knew that if I was going to do it, I would go all in. So I decided not to take on new client work for the last 2-3 months of the year so I could work on the course. It was a scary decision – but I was up for the challenge. I will reserve the details for next time, but the whole process was enriching, fun and exhausting all at the same time. It was a first, I made mistakes, but I learned a LOT.
If you’d like to learn more about how I created, marketed and launched my first e-course – here is a video interview of me with the awesome Regina from byRegina.com.
Grew my Pinterest and email list:
Two main channels that helped me grow my business this year were Pinterest and my email list. And these were the ones I focused 80% of my efforts. My Pinterest account grew from 3k to 17k – almost a 14k growth in 2016. I am planning to write an entire blog post on how to make Pinterest work for your business, but you can get started with this post that I wrote at the beginning of this year.
Due to the initial momentum that the Creative Convex photo packs, my email list has continued to grow at an average of 1000 – 1200 subscribers / month this year. However I have realized the importance of keeping your list active and having quality leads as opposed to a huge but cold email list that doesn’t care about what you do. Whatever your email marketing strategies might be, there will be people who will drop out and lose interest in your emails because of interests and areas of focus in their life. However as a business owner you need to make sure that your list is warm, engaged and qualitative, so I would recommend running cold subscriber campaigns every now and then to maintain the quality of your list.
If there’s one thing that rocks my happiness quotient in business, its collaborations. As a creative, I thrive on the deep conversations, fun projects and the wonderful equation I share with other creatives in our industry. I did collaborate a lot in 2016, but the thirst never ends. I am looking forward to meeting more creatives (in person too) in the new year and working on some fun collaborations in the pipeline.
I took holidays:
I had the opportunity to take quite some time off this year. In March, I visited my family in India for about 3 weeks which was a great break at the beginning of the year. Then around mid-August, my parents were visiting us for about 5 weeks – so work was a little light and I loved spending time with them. It was their first time in the US and it was a pleasure to have them here. After my parents left, I went full gear into the course and was super exhausted after the launch in November. Thankfully I was able to take some time off with my husband in Spain for a couple of weeks in December. It was probably one of the best vacations I had had in a while. I ate a LOT, met strangers, discovered Spain on foot and rested a LOT too. And after coming back, I ve spent the last two weeks of December wrapping up little bits of work and planning for the new year. December was truly a bliss.
Lessons I learned:
Alright, those were all the things that I did in 2016 – some worked and some didn’t. However there was a lot of learning that happened this year and I want to share some of them with you. Here we go:
You can do anything, but you cant do everything:
Looking back I feel, I just had too many things going on last year. I had bitten away more than I could chew, which definitely caused a little more stress than I ‘d like towards the end of the year. Also when you do too many things at a time, your energy is more scattered and its hard to stay on top of everything + a good work-life balance. Thankfully I was able to rejuvenate with some holidays every now and then, but going forward I would rather focus on one thing at a time and not put myself through a lot at once. Lesson learnt.
Nothing beats consistency:
If there is one thing I want to be in 2017 : it is consistent. That is probably the “defining”word of my 2017. I want to be consistent with my blogging schedule, with engaging in my FB group, with sending emails to my readers, with exercise, with eating well.. Even If I don’t do anything else, if I learn to be consistent in 2017 – I ll consider it to be one of my best years ever. Consistency breeds excellence. Consistency breeds success. Consistency breeds well-being and happiness. So there really is no argument here, I just need to be consistent in everything I do.
Focus on yourself:
Again, coming to work-life balance. Business is super important – yes. But nothing is worth it you are stressed and hurried all the time. Its really easy to get sucked into the whirlpool of business (specially in your first year) and ignore everything else thats happening in your life. And I did put my business before everything else many times this year. So I want to step back, ease into it in the new year and be more relaxed. yes working on my business all the time makes me happy, but there are other priorities you got to attend to which are just or probably even more important.
Moving forward, I ve decided to take 2017 in 4 chunks of 90 days. So in the first 90 days, I am going to be focusing on just 2 things:
I am relaunching my iPhone photography course in March 2017, so I am going to be working a major part of February and March on the marketing and launch of the course. If you are interested in keeping yourself in the loop, click here to join the wait list.
Download the free iPhone photography guide here
The next big thing that I am focussing on is expanding my web design studio. Eventually I ‘d like to start a team of designers and developers that I can work with on exciting branding and development projects. This will probably in full swing more towards the later half of the year. However for the next 3 months, I want to start laying the foundation by really refining my processes, systems and service offerings. I am also going to be launching a site within the next month or two – so stay tuned for all the juicy details.
At the end of the day, the entire foundation my business is built on you – yes YOU! You read, so I write. You encourage, so I create. 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.