Oh 2016, you've been quite the year with MANY lessons. But here are the ones that made the cut.....
LESSON ONE: I CAN RUN AN ONLINE BUSINESS THAT BRINGS IN 5-FIGURES A MONTH AS A ONE-WOMAN SHOW... BUT IT WILL LEAD TO BURNOUT.
2016 was a great year with many 5-figure months, but because I refused to hire help, I found myself juggling up to 10 clients at a time. I kept promising myself that I'd slow down after I hit a certain goal, or after a certain project was finished... but that break never came and as a result, I dealt with serious burnout in October and then again in December (I barely stopped working long enough to visit my family for a weekend).
So while I was so appreciative of having enough work to keep me that busy.... I was constantly fatigued, and I was tempted to shut the whole thing down more than once.
In 2017, I'm making a commitment to boundaries, fewer clients, and more play.
LESSON TWO: I NEED A PLAN FOR EVERY DOLLAR... OR ELSE.
When I first started my business, I often made JUST enough to pay my bills. So when I started pulling in 5-figures a month (thanks to niching, specializing, and retainers), I hit a new hurdle. I became uncomfortable with making this level of money and obsessed over never slipping below my best month. And because every dollar didn't have a pre-determined purpose, I dealt with this anxiety by buying ALL THE THINGS. Specifically, all the training, certifications, and coaching I could get my hands on so that I could stay relevant and sharpen my skills. And while some of those things are going to pay off BIG TIME in 2017.... some of them were definitely a waste of hard earned dolla' bills.
This year, every dollar is going to have a pre-defined purpose. I'll be following the advice in the book "Profit First" more closely, and I'll also be paying myself a regular salary so that I can start to work towards personal goals too (hey there, travel).
LESSON THREE: LESS IS MORE, AND INTENTIONAL LIMITS ARE MY FRIEND.
There were times in 2016 where there were too many open projects and way too many balls being juggled. So in 2017, I've committed to putting structure around how I want to work, and I have committed to ONLY taking on retainer clients and ONLY working with seven clients total at any given time. At that rate, I still hit my 5-figure a month goal, BUT without the unnecessary craziness of constantly onboarding new people, new teams, and new workflows. This way my clients get the attention they deserve and I get to take more time for myself.
It ALSO opens up time for a new way of running this business... which brings us to planning for 2017.
Plans For 2017
1. PLANNING FOR LONGTERM STABILITY AND GROWTH
Part of the plan for 2017 is to start creating long-term stability and growth. It means filling my funnel with leads so that (should retainer clients fall off) I have a group of warm leads to pull from without any need for a scramble. It also means that I'll be writing more content, firing up my email marketing and social accounts again and getting a touch more visible in my niche.
I've invested in ClickFunnels Certification, and this will allow me to provide a complimentary service to my Facebook Ads clients that will increase the average size of many of my contracts AND make my client's lives much easier (no more tech headaches or failed funnels for them... only more money making potential!)
- I can't count how many people I've spoken to who have either been given GARBAGE advice on their Facebook ads and their funnels and who can't (yet) afford to pay me or someone else to get them on the right track. So in 2017, I'll be creating a series of DIY training courses where folks can get access to advice for a fraction of the cost. Allowing them to CUT the cost of their leads but also increase their ability to turn those leads into SALES. These products will allow me to offer value to the market with a bit more scale. While I've sold products online before and help clients do it ALL THE TIME... this one gives me the heebie-jeebies because it has the most potential, but also feels super personal.
2. DECIDING WHAT I DON'T WANT
- If you've read anything about my story, you'll know that I escaped agency life and while I'm sure that for some people, agency life is amazing, it was NOT meant for me (nor I for it). But sometimes, I can't help but get pulled into the IDEA of running an agency. With a real office, and real employees... and then I remember what that looks like (and feels like). The overhead, inflated bills, managing teams, letting go of the work (which I love) and trading it in for new kinds of stress.... and I wake up and remember that while structuring my business that way would probably be easier to explain to people (including my parents... who still don't quite understand what I do), I can't shake the feeling that I would be shackling myself to a nightmare. So in 2017, I'm doubling down on a small but nimble business that has very little overhead, great margins and doesn't require me to be in any one geographic location. It'll provide me with the freedom to take on a handful of clients I LOVE and leave everything else on the table.
- I also don't want to feel burnout again in 2017. And while I know that stress and hard work is part of the equation of running a thriving business, I'm not willing to chase dollars at the cost of feeling well. Keeping my client load to 7 maximum should help, but I've also been lucky enough to gather a group of women around me who are MUCH further along in their entrepreneurial journeys and who will help to keep me accountable to my personal as well as my professional goals.
So tell me in the comments below, what are your plans for 2017 and your biggest lessons from 2016?
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