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How to plan for your best year in business

How to plan for your best year in business

Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.

– Yogi Berra, US Baseball player, Coach and Manager

As 2020 was coming to an end, many of us hoped that 2021 would be a return to normal; or at least a return to the ‘new normal’! 

However for most people, certainly most business people, 2021 was another year of considerable upheaval, most of which was spent trying to adjust to a world that is changing very fast.

With a renewed emphasis on all things digital since the pandemic, business owners have had to adjust the way they work; but that isn’t necessarily bad news…

This month I want to talk to you about goal setting for 2022, so I’ve come up with 7 top tips to help you get your goals in order and start next year with a bang:

1. Reflect

Start off by taking some time to sit down and think about the past year. Grab a cuppa, switch on some calming music and take a look at your accounts, your marketing efforts, your customer feedback and even your diary entries, to give you a sense of the year.

What went well? What went poorly? Try making a list of these things to get them clear in your head.

2. Let go

Make a note of the things you did, or the things you have in place, that are not helping your business. Did that last social media campaign boost sales or did it simply stress you out?

If you’re currently doing things for your business that aren’t as successful as you would like them to be, then simply stop doing them. It sounds obvious, but sometimes we do things in our business simply because they work for other people, or because some ‘expert’ has told us we should.

All these little undertakings are worth a try, but every business is different and if something you’re doing isn’t working for you then don’t feel guilty or like a ‘failure’ if you want to stop and change direction.

3. Visualise

Create a vision for your life. Where do you want to be in 12 months’ time? I make sure to perform this exercise every year. I’m rarely where I set out to be last year because life isn’t predictable, but very often I’m somewhere even better!

The point is that with an image in mind of what I want my life and my business to look like the following year, I find it so much easier to create a plan of action to move me towards those ideals.

4. Set goals

Take that image and use it to create a set of tangible, achievable goals. Is there a certain amount of money you want to make? A number of sales? A particular project you’d like to finish? If so, make a note of these and place it somewhere where you can see it every day.

5. Design

Use your goals to help you design your actions for this year. Create a roadmap of how you will achieve those goals. This can be done in a few different ways, for example it could read as a journey: “first I will undertake some further study → then I will use my new qualifications on my website → my website will be the link I send to prospective clients etc etc.

Alternatively it could be a timetable: Jan – move office, Feb – create new client list, Mar – stage corporate event… whatever works best for you.

6. Diversify

One reason that our businesses can stall is that we may be frightened of change. However, if we’ve learned one this from the last two years is that change is inevitable and we should prepare for it and even embrace it.

That being said, it’s well worth considering diversifying your offering and, as I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to do this in the current climate is with digital products.

Even if it turns out that 2022 isn’t the right time for you to launch all your new products, you will at least have considered and prepared your next steps so that if another big wave of change comes, you won’t be caught short!

7. Reach out

When people say “it’s not what you know it’s who you know”, they’re not necessarily talking about nepotism!

We all need a little help sometimes and nobody can succeed entirely alone. Think about whom you need to make contact with in order to make your goals come to fruition.

Do you need a VA or accountant? A designer or web builder? Do you need to join a new networking group or speak to someone with experience in your field?

A new year is a great time to forge new connections, so get out there and don’t be shy.

Summary

If you follow the advice above I guarantee you you’ll start 2022 with renewed clarity and drive, and that’s a feeling that can inspire you throughout the next year, even if it’s as crazy as the last one!

10 Steps to Digital Course Success website graphic

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What I’ve learnt in business so far…

What I’ve learnt in business so far…

Who knew that starting your own business was such a minefield?

I didn’t, although to be fair I didn’t really plan on going it alone, it just sort of happened. My transition into self-employment basically consisted of me waking up one morning and saying to my poor, unsuspecting husband ‘I’m doing it, I’m going to build an empire’. The look of sheer terror that appeared across his face should have been enough to deter me but no because I was on a mission.

I wasn’t quite sure what my mission was but it didn’t matter because I had made my decision. Now was the time, I was going to brave it alone. I was going to venture out into the wilderness of self-employment to make my fortune. Yep I really was that naive.

It never occurred to me that people actually saved up for such a transition or they created a plan in advance. Nope. No plan for me.

After calming down my better-half down and (trying to) convince him (and me!) that I knew what I was doing, I took myself off to work with that feeling of ‘right it’s either now or never’.

You see at the tender age of 36, I had arrived at crossroads in my life where I was constantly feeling frustrated. My eldest daughter was about to start school, life was moving forward and yet my career had never quite hit the right notes for me. I had such high expectations of what I wanted to achieve yet the jobs I seem to attract just didn’t deliver.

I’ve spent over 20 years feeling frustrated with pretty much every job. I used to think that it was the company – they didn’t understand their staff, the job – it wasn’t stimulating enough, or it was the people – they just didn’t ‘get me’. You see, when it comes to my career I’ve always had these big dreams but the reality has always been disappointing.

Looking back now, I realise that of course I had some wonderful jobs & opportunities and I worked for some really amazing people however I soon came to realise that the problem wasn’t the company, the job, the people – put simply, it was me.

It was Easter 2016 that I finally had that moment of clarity. Once I had realised that I was the problem, inevitably the next question that followed was ‘so what was I going to do about it?!’.

I wasn’t afraid to shake things up after all I had left a successful, well-paid career in London to go to University in Kent to retrain as a Graphic Designer, leaving the life I had built over a 12-year period behind. I knew change could be positive because I had already done it.

Graphic Media BA Hons Degree

I had spent 8 years working towards my dream; to become a Graphic Designer. I ate, slept and lived everything design over that period so when I qualified with my BA Hons Degree, I felt like I had finally arrived. In-fact when I was offered my first in-house Graphic Design role before graduating – I knew I had arrived. Wrong! because guess what… yep a few months into the job I started to feel my old friend, Mr frustration appear again. Grrr.

It wasn’t until I was working at a Design Agency 6 years later, that a friend planted the seed in my head about working for myself, although my initial response was ‘don’t be silly’.

It was during the summer of 2016 that I jumped although some-how I quickly found my first website Client and then my next and before I knew it, I started getting regular work.

One of the smartest decisions I made was joining my local BNI group because it helped transition my mind set. I credit BNI for giving me the confidence to launch Pink Lemon Branding & Design on 1st September 2017 after 14 months of Freelancing.

The past 20 months have been a real rollercoaster of emotions as I’ve gone from being an employed Graphic Designer to a Freelancer Graphic Designer to now a Business Owner specialising in Branding in a relatively short period of time and I’ve have learnt so much.

So here are the top 6 things I’ve learnt so far…

1. Surround yourself with the right people

They’ll always be either small-minded people or doubters, mainly because they lack the courage to step out of their own comfort zone. I now surround myself with like-minded people who are on a similar journey because not only do they help me, they also inspire me to keep going when things get a little tough.

2. Understand my strengths

I love to design and that’s what I do well so I’ll always choose to design over doing my finances although understanding your numbers is crucial to success. Step forward my Book-keeper…

I’m happy to spend money but spending time on doing my expenses (yawn!) fills me with about as much enthusiasm as going to the dentist for a root canal!

3. Be clear on exactly what it is you want

I now have many goals that I want to achieve because creating a business has helped me to think big and, more importantly, not feel guilty about it. I have so many goals written down that I have found that it actually helps my decision process.

4. People actually do buy people

How many times have you heard this? But it’s true. Most of my Clients are referrals. Once they have spent time with me, it usually develops into business. Why? Because I invest time with them finding out their business pain points so that I can deliver a more tailor-made solution.

I show interest because I genuinely am, I build credibility through my knowledge & expertise and trust because of what I have delivered for other Clients. Only when you spend time with someone can they truly find out what they are about.

It is all about building the ‘know – like – trust’.

5. Running a business can be a lonely job

I discovered this quite early on so I made sure that I got out and met people. I figured that the best way I could help myself was to position myself in amongst the type of people that I aspire to be like hence why I started networking. I love networking. I know it’s not a common thing to say but I really do. I really enjoy meeting people and talking all-things business.

I often come away from a networking group feeling uplifted and inspired. I gain clarity for my own business because if I’m stuck or not sure what direction to take, someone I’m speaking to has often been there and done it. Free advice which is just awesome.

6. Personal development is essential

If I’m honest I didn’t really think about anything other than doing the job I felt passionate about. I never considered all the other aspects that goes into running a business, maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have taken the leap. Over the past 20 months I have come to realise that it’s not just about the skills you possess, it’s about developing other areas as well so you become more balanced.

These days if I’m not listen to audiobooks on business, I’m learning about mind-set or developing areas within my business through online training courses.

Mindset is so important when it comes to going out alone. For some reason, we place limitations on ourselves so our subconscious ends up telling us that we can’t do things.

But who says we can’t? where do these limitations come from? They are in our own mind so we need to work at removing the blocks that hold us back. For me, this has been the biggest area of learning.

I could go one really but I think that’s enough for now. However, what I will say is that I’m actually glad that I did what I did and didn’t plan because everything that has happened has happened organically.

From finding my first client to carrying out my first workshop in London, to speaking at networking groups through to being nominated for two Kent Women in Business Awards (KWIBA) has happened with no planning. I believe that the small wins I’ve experienced on the way are just signs that I’ve finally arrived on the path that I am now meant to be on.

I absolutely love what I do. I believe wholeheartedly in the service I provide and I gain so much from helping Business Owners move forward in their own business. I get to do amazing things that I never dreamt of when I was employed. I believe the key ingredients for running a business is resilience, focus, determination and passion which I know I have an abundance of.

Mr Frustration is no more.

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