What worked, what didn’t and my plans for 2018
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling a bit weary. At this time of year I’m sure we could all do with some time out and a refresh.
But for me it’s more than just tiredness.
It feels like I’ve been whacked in the face with a badger, and my brain has turned to soup.
It’s been a huge year. If you put it on the scales it would outweigh every other year by several kilos. And with 2018 lurking just around the corner, I thought it would be useful to reflect on my 2017 and consider what worked and what didn’t.
Before I make the same mistakes again.
But two things before I get started:
- This article was inspired by this post by Marie-Pier Rochon, and the format borrowed with her permission.
- What follows is a little self-indulgent. But I’m not going to apologise for that, because I hope it helps you think about your 2017 and the year ahead.
FIVE THINGS I DID RIGHT
1. I made some money
This is the first year I felt my hard work paid off big time. By October I’d already exceeded my 2016 income. And I didn’t just hit my financial goals—I beat them to a pulp.
For the first time in my nine years of solo businessing I felt I could take my foot of the pedal and just cruise. It’s a weird feeling.
Learning: Sometimes hard work pays off. But this ‘win’ also raised some questions, which I’ll cover later in the article.
2. I got my team sorted
“To team or not to team. “
That’s been my question for the past four years.
One of my founding goals was NEVER to have a team reporting to me. Just the thought of it made me itchy and stressed.
But as my business grew, it became impossible to serve it with just little old me.
Finding the right people was tough, especially the right VA. And so a big ‘Thank you’ to Rosie Shilo for connecting me with Leanne Woff – VA extraordinaire.
Leanne now works 12 hours a week in my businesses.
She’s completely autonomous, and extremely smart.
I also have a great designer, developer, editor, accountant, bookkeeper, cleaner, dog walker and team of fabulous copywriter helpers in my community.
Yes, I’ve gone back to a bit of a Downton Abbey-level staff roster, but everything’s working so much better now that I’m not holding on so tight.
Learning: To have someone work for you, you need to learn to let go and trust. It takes time, but the effort more than pays off.
3. I got out there
As well as setting up my own big event, CopyCon, and lots of little events, like SEO workshops (see above).
I also spoke at lots of events in 2017. They boosted my speaking confidence, gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of awesome people.
Learning: I’ve realised it’s important to’ human’ – to escape my little Toon cave and go out into the world once in a while. Both my soul and my business need it.
4. I wrote a book
This year I wrote my first business book—Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur. And while I haven’t sold JK Rowling quantities, it’s been an amazing experience.
I started a Facebook group for the book, which is now a great (albeit slightly odd) place to hang out. I created a new podcast that lets me stray from my set topics of SEO and Copywriting.
The book has also led to new podcast interview requests and events.
Learning: It’s not all about the money, honey.
5. I learned to appreciate my community
I do it because I enjoy it, and I know it’s helpful.
But there are times when I wonder if it’s worth the effort.
This year it became clear how much my community (I refuse to use the word ‘tribe’) has my back.
The word-of-mouth referrals, and the support and generosity of my people, amazed me this year. A big thank you to all who have helped me this year. You rock.
Learning: Spreading the love is worth the time and effort. It doesn’t always come back from the source, but it does come back.
FIVE THINGS I WISH I’D DONE DIFFERENTLY
1. I made some money
I’ve always been a financially driven business person, so once I’d made the money, there was no carrot on my stick.
I don’t have plans to become a gazillionaire, and there’s nothing I need or want in my personal life.
So hitting my financial goals left me feeling strangely aimless and demotivated.
It’s just not something I’d prepared for.
Now I can work less, which feels strange to me.
I feel guilty for not working as hard as I used to—something I’m trying to resolve..
Learning: The only thing I desire is time to do things other than work. But now that I have it, I feel strangely at a loss. I’m been working hard for nine years, and to suddenly be able to ease up a bit and <shudders> have a life… well, it feels strange.
2. I got out there
While I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at events, they took a lot of time away from my family.
They also disrupted my business and messed with my health.
I never took the time to weigh up the value of each event to me, which is important considering I didn’t get paid for most of my appearances.
Learning: I need to evaluate opportunities a little more, and ensure that I don’t overload myself. I also need to get more out of each trip. For example, if I’m speaking in Melbourne I’ll plan a workshop and a meetup at the same time.
3. I put my health on the back burner
I worked hard this year. Too hard, actually.
My business consumed me, and spat me out as an exhausted, poorly blob.
I ate badly, didn’t exercise, and my drinking crept up until it was pretty much a glass or four of wine every day. I was trapped in a cycle of exhaustion, using coffee to get started and wine to wind down.
I felt a bit lost to be honest, and I was sick (tonsillitis, bronchitis, everythingitis) a lot.
Learning: My health has to be my top priority. If I don’t make time to be well, I’ll have to take time off to be sick.
4. I got my knickers in a twist
This year I still let stupid things affect me — copycats, grumpy twats, rude people on Facebook, ungrateful question askers, and small, bald, aggressive shitgibbons.
I gave too many f**ks when, as Mark Manson says, we only have so many f**ks to give.
I let myself get wound up by stupid things, and tried to control things I couldn’t.
Learning: Haters gonna hate, and copycats gonna replicate.
Not everyone will like you, and not everyone will respond the way you want them to.
People will become jealous, and express it in strange and unpleasant ways.
I’m working on my thick skin.
5. I didn’t have structure
With so many business mouths to feed, I tended to focus on the one shrieking the loudest.
I’d jump from recording a podcast to running a coaching call to writing half a blog to fixing and Active Campaign bug.
Rather than batching the work and having focus, my work has been erratic and irrational.
Learning: I need to block out days for certain tasks—a day for podcasting, a day for blog writing, etc. It will give me the chance to get on a roll, and will certainly make things easier for my team.
FIVE MEMORABLE MOMENTS
1. Heading home to the UK with my son
Travelling for three amazing weeks and seeing both my family and the sights of Scotland, England and Dubai. It was the first time I could leave my business for so long without fretting. I worked just a few hours a week, and the world didn’t end.
2. On stage at Copycon
Standing on stage at the end of CopyCon, with Kelly Exeter and Glenn Murray (two people I admire greatly) saying nice things about me as I looked out on a sea of smiling faces. Gives me a tingle just to think about it.
3. Opening my box of books
Seeing that box arrive, and knowing it was done, was a fab feeling. And boy did they smell good. (New book smell should be a perfume if you ask me.) I’ve also enjoyed walking up to the post box each morning with my dog and posting them to customers.
P.s. I made the BEST SELLER list on iBooks (so this means I can call myself a best seller now right?)
4. Selling out The Recipe for SEO Success in 12 hours
The orders arrived so quickly in the first hour that the site crashed – fun!
I launched at 8am and by 8pm every single spot was sold. A great, slightly unbelievable feeling.
5. Stepping on the scales.
Stepping on the scales each week and seeing the number going down after seeing them go up for the past five years. Thirteen kilos and counting.
FIVE MEASURABLE GOALS IN 2018
1. Calendar planning
Blocking out time for each business. No more randomness. No more late night webinars. No more last minute panics (hopefully).
2. Considered speaker thinking
Evaluating the preparation time, travel time, opportunity, audience and fee for each event before I say “Yes”.
3. Health first
Finding time for 30 mins of exercise each day – early on, before I change my mind.
4. Having fun
Getting out and meeting people at events and meetups without feeling pressured to speak. I just want to be part of the crowd.
5. If it ain’t broke
I can’t promise I won’t launch anything new in 2018. (I already have a Copywriting Process course in development and a Conversion Copywriting workshop ready to go.) But I promise not to completely redesign my websites or launch another podcast (three is enough for anyone).
And I vow I won’t write another book.
Well, maybe. Okay, probably.
What were your wins and big fat belly flops of 2017? And have you set any goals for 2018? Let me know if the comments below.
Did you like this post?
You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.
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