My Entrepreneurial Journey Part 6: End of Year Reflection
I am among about seven billion other people for whom 2020 didn’t turn out quite how it was expected to. I never thought I would be discussing clean beauty and the importance of self care on Twin Cities Live (especially via Skype), or carving off a corner of the lounge for my son to attend school. It is not original to acknowledge that it has been quite a year!
I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions (they always seem so punishing – how about New Year’s solutions?) but I do like to take some time to reflect on the past year and do some visualizing for the year ahead. I like the debrief framework Nancy Dahl talks about in her book Grounded:
- What are my key accomplishments?
- What are my key learnings?
- What could I have optimized better, knowing what I know now?
- What do I need to continue working on as I move forward?
Here I will share a few of my answers.
My key accomplishments include buying a business (rebranding it, creating five new products, launching a website and making some sales); qualifying as a Certified Professional Coach; not killing my children during distance learning; and figuring out how to get my Facebook ads approved. Actually, the last one is a lie. I just keep trying until one gets approved; I still have no idea how it works.
I’ve learned a lot this year, here are a few things that might be helpful:
Calendar Blocking. Allocating time on my calendar at the start of every week to each of my different projects and priorities is not only a big productivity driver but a stress reducer too. When you are self-employed and every minute can be spent on what you choose, you can find yourself reassessing your priorities and deciding what to focus on every fifteen minutes. That is not only very tiring and anxiety inducing, but a disaster for actually accomplishing anything. Knowing I have time on Tuesday morning to work on my website copy helps me focus on a consulting project on Monday afternoon. Simple and impactful, but not always easy. At least for me this is a work in progress.
- Soona for affordable, professional photography
- Unsplash for free stock imagery
- Upwork to find help – not always easy (see article #2 in this series), but if you’re thoughtful you can find great people. You get what you pay for.
- Minneapolis College of Art & Design can be a great resource for talented photographers and videographers. I recently used Maura Ojeda.
- Social Bee for help with social media
- 99designs for graphic designers (see article #3)
Ask for help and advice. It is a strength not a weakness to reach out to others for their input. People are usually honored to be asked, and more than willing to share.
Prioritize Self Care. Self care isn’t selfish, it is a critical tool for resilience. As owner and therefore spokesperson for Bella Virtu Organics I often talk about how your skincare routine can be a daily moment of self-love and joy, not a duty of damage control, and so I am trying to live by this myself. Whether it is the pleasure of using a deliciously scented serum every night, allocating time for meditation, prayer or reflection, or getting fresh air, exercise, and sleep, these things aren’t luxuries; they are basic fuel to keep going. Otherwise you’re running on fumes and your engine will seize up.
In terms of things I would optimize better, many are around prioritizing and time management (see #1 of lessons learned). One big help for this is being more intentional about what I am personally going to spend my time on versus what I can delegate to others. I now have a roster of help around me, all of whom are better and faster at their assigned tasks than I am. I have come to understand the true cost of attempting certain activities myself such as website updates, digital advertising management, getting Facebook ads approved (did I mention that already?). The resulting exhaustion, frustration, and zero progress is not worth the dollars saved by doing it myself. There is plenty that I love doing and am good at, such as branding, product development, financial tracking and performance analysis, and so focusing on those will serve my sanity and the business better.
Looking forward it is helpful to think about what to build on and what to leave behind. I will be aiming to leave behind my impatience for results which can lead to pivoting too quickly and being swayed by all the “silver bullets” that are constantly marketed to me. I’ll be building on the resilience and courage that I have surprised myself with during the up and down journey of 2020. It will mean embracing those B minuses when they come along (see article #5), and being open to unexpected events and the unforeseen opportunities they bring.
Wishing you all a year of peace and joy.