2012 was an excellent year, and I’m incredibly grateful for and inspired by the success my companies have seen, and the growth we have endured. Some truly notable things happened this year; I had the opportunity to work with a handful of intelligent and creatively-motivating individuals, both as colleagues and clients, and I’ve shaped the business to function in a way that supports my personal priorities more than it ever has.
Despite the success I’ve had this year in my business, and some personal highs in general, I’m actually pretty bad at long-term goal setting for myself, and the same holds true for resolutions. Part of that I attribute to the nature of running a business, which sounds odd, given that you certainly have to think long-term when running a business and managing your career. But a big piece in running a business, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is understanding and accepting that change is a regular occurrence, and the need to adapt and pivot is essentially an entrepreneurial survival skill. So in a way I find comfort in the idea of things changing regularly, more than the idea of things not changing.
I also have a habit of changing my mind fairly often, and it typically affects my business in some way. Whether it’s my work schedule and the order I do things, to changing up my service offerings, eliminating things altogether, or adding things I’ve never tried before, I’m always on the cusp of shaking things up to stay motivated and engaged with what I’m doing. It benefits me, and certainly benefits the good folks I work with. And some of those change-it-up decisions, along with things that have been in planning for awhile, have really shaped my business for the better.
Some notable things that have contributed to the success of both Aspyre Solutions and Brooklyn Resume Studio this year:
- The splitting of the brands. In June I broke the career consulting arm away from Aspyre Solutions and rebranded it into Brooklyn Resume Studio. This allowed me to focus better on both of my audiences: my small business and entrepreneurial group, and my job seeker and career changer population, delivering better, more targeted information and resources.
- Joining a mastermind group for business strategy and support. Every other week I have the pleasure of picking the brains of Tracy Brisson of The Opportunities Project and Nicole McGarrell of Sunny Day Marketing to discuss small business marketing, strategy, operations and growth planning. They’ve been instrumental in guiding me through some excellent decisions, and creative endeavors.
- Raising My Prices. This year I made it a priority to offer my resume writing and career services at a price point that I truly felt reflected my 10 years of knowledge and experience, and that resonated with the value I know I am offering to my clients. Sure, I have tons of competition – but I’m also really good at what I do.
- Cutting Back My Work Hours by 20%. Being an artist has always been a passion of mine. Back in May as I was doing my Q3 planning, I got real with myself about creating time, space and energy to honor my creative endeavors that were increasingly falling through the cracks. I did some strategic re-org, re-prioritized my project load, signed a lease for an art studio in Brooklyn, and dedicated 8-10 hours per week to giving my illustration portfolio a facelift, and working on some painting commissions. Not easy, but worth it.
- Injecting Myself Back Into My Brand. I learned very quickly in the beginning, the downside of taking an overly self-promotional approach to social media. People don’t like it, and they sure as hell don’t respond to it. My Twitter followers don’t care about “20% off” sales, or a website redesign. They care about quality content written by a real person. And so I shifted the focus of my media presence to be more about me as an individual with something to say, a creative entrepreneur running a solo business in Brooklyn, and sharing interesting stories around my experience, while also providing informational content that delivers real value.
- Getting in Better Physical Shape. Ironically it was after our wedding in April that I really got serious about getting in better shape. I got back into running at least twice a week. It was a solid reminder every day just how out of shape and asthmatic I was, as I could barely go 10 minutes without taking a walking break. But by end of summer I was in 5K race shape, and now I’ve joined a gym, hired a trainer, and am in the process of training for a 10K in the spring, and potentially a half-marathon in the fall. I feel great, look better, and have more energy than ever, which directly translates to my productivity at work.
These aren’t all new ideas that only came to me this year. Many of them are things I’ve been working to refine and implement since I started this glorious machine several years ago. But they really came to a head this year as I learned what my business needs, what I need, and how to implement systems and processes that speak to both of those areas.
So what’s on the agenda for 2013? I have some pretty serious goals around my growth as a business and my creative endeavors. While I’m excited about the challenges of the coming year and the opportunities they’ll present, I’m also aware of how much time, energy and resources I need to be ready to call upon, and that means staying in excellent health and physical shape, being adamant about my time management, and making some scary but strategic decisions about where to invest my cash.
These are not resolutions – I believe the term “resolutions” presents a detrimental do-or-die attitude that almost suggests implicit failure. Labels aren’t nearly as important as the state of mind around creating the “goals” in the first place. I like to refer to them as my “landmarks”, which suggests that I will hit them, and they’ll be big enough to be worth celebrating. So what’s on the plate?
- Hire a Business Advisor. I’ve worked with a coach, consultant, and slew of other people to give their input on running my business. On top of that, I am one. But this year, there are no more excuses to be made for not calling in the big dogs who understand how a businesses functions at this stage, and can give me the strategic feedback and direction that I need. My business is at a turning point and facing some serious growth, and it’s time to take that into consideration and embrace the idea that you truly do have to spend money to make money.
- Invest In My Creative Endeavors. I want to do more art, sell it, create illustrated products that I can reproduce, sell, and potentially license. It’s no small feat, especially when your core profession isn’t that of an illustrator. It’s a passion project for me, one that’s going to take time, energy and resources, and I’m giving myself permission to invest and see my dream through. More on that later…
- Travel More. I learn something about myself every time I travel somewhere, and I sure don’t do it enough. This year, I make no more excuses around money, or not being able to take time off because I work for myself. And now I’ll be able to do so since I plan to…
- Hire Part-Time Staff. Brooklyn Resume Studio in particular has seen incredible growth. The downside of that is that having a business where I am handling all client contact and hands-on project work is essentially subject to a time-for-money business model – my revenues are determined by how many hours I can physically write, design, analyze and consult. I’ve been looking at ways to scale that and to expand the business. As such, I plan to hire at least 1-2 people with the right skill sets to help offload some of the work and build the brand. Exciting stuff!
- Double My Revenues. Growth is the number 1 priority for 2013, as I’ve made clear. But I can’t do that without all the right systems and resources in place. This year is dedicated to fine-tuning the inner workings of my business, replacing any parts that aren’t working to their highest potential, upgrading things that could be performing better, and getting real about what I want out of it on a personal level. I’m weighing the opportunity costs of not thinking bigger, and my excitement around the potential outcomes far outweighs the fear of taking more risks.
So what’s on your plate for 2013? What areas of your business or career have shown some shining success this year, and what other aspects do you want to focus on getting more mileage out of in the coming year?