It has been real… As each year comes to an end, and we embark on the next, it is very common to reflect back and consider our challenges, accomplishments, and hopefully take a few lessons on with us into the coming year.
We asked our team to reflect on the past year and share some lessons they learned through their personal and client experiences in 2018. Here are a few that we thought might be a helpful reminder to all of us:
Your business doesn’t work unless you do.
As much as we would all love to do whatever we wanted all day, that is usually not feasible. We are adults, we have bills, and lots of commitments. Being an entrepreneur can offer a lot of wonderful flexibility and freedom to plan your own schedule. Remember to stay disciplined enough to continue to fulfill your obligations and earn enough income to support the life you want to maintain.
Your time is valuable. Treat it that way.
We are all incredibly busy and probably over-committed. Take time to take a step back and look at your life from a 50,000 ft. view. Where are you at? Where do you want to go? What steps can you take to get there? Each day presents distractions in the form of emails, people “starting fires” trying to fulfill their own priorities, and general bumps in the road. Make sure that your days are being spent doing things that will bring you closer to your personal goals. It will take time, but do something every day that you will thank your future self for. Figure out the things you are best at and that produce the best return and make more time to do those things and take the efforts to cultivate more of that sort of business.
Value your team.
We saw a lot of people lose some of their key players in 2018. They tried to back peddle and save things in the 9th hour and unfortunately, that is just too late. Value your employees on a regular basis. Give them the resources to do their job and check in on how they are doing. If you treat your team well, they will do the same for your customers. A top performer will probably give you more chances than most, but when they are done they are done. They have thought through their decision extensively and already created a plan to move on. Don’t let them get to that point. This occurrence can be very disruptive to your team and business model.
Some people are just not good for you.
This is a really hard lesson to learn. Some people are just not good for you, no matter how much you care about them. Build a strong network of people who will support you through your challenging times and inspire you to continue to learn and improve. People inspire you or they drain you. Choose wisely.
Don’t take things personally.
And if you are going to make assumptions, make them be positive. Our team at SDM works with the understanding that everyone’s first focus is on SDM. When people ask clarifying questions or disagree with an idea, we assume and, truly, we KNOW they have the best interest of SDM in the forefront of their minds. Challenges are made respectfully but without kid gloves because worrying about who owns an idea or “wins” a discussion does nothing but slow you down and foster a culture of distrust. Don’t take things personally and, just as important, don’t make things personal when you have the floor. Keep the success of your organization as everyone’s prime focus and leave the middle school antics for the kiddos.
No such thing as not my job.
Within a small company, each team member has her strengths and favorite types of projects to undertake. But occasionally, things crop up and you have to work through a not so strong area because you are the only one with time available or the only person with access to technology or everyone else was kidnapped by aliens. Sometimes web designers have to write, writers have to play with Photoshop, and everyone has to take a turn on social media just because that’s only fair. Ask all the questions you need to in order to make sure you can complete the task or project but don’t say it’s not in your wheelhouse or you don’t do that. Sometimes, you just have to - so smile and figure it out!
Read, read, and read some more.
It’s almost a full-time job to stay on top of emerging trends and we know that ours isn’t the only fast-paced industry. Even if you schedule only one hour every few days, put time into your calendar to read articles relevant to the different aspects of your organization. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for easily consumed articles or just try typing into a search engine phrases like “latest trends in…” or “newest resources for…” and follow the links to articles that pique your interest and can inform what you do for your organization.
Metrics Really Matter
We have always been huge nerds when it comes to metrics. Don’t get busy and ignore what the facts are telling you. Through the years we have watched many clients be burned and waste a ton of money trusting the wrong companies with their marketing. Metrics can help you, or your outsourced marketing team, ensure your investment is paying off.
Just take one step forward.
Often the most solid businesses are built slowly. They may even start as a side hustle while maintaining your full-time job. This is not easy but allows you to build a solid foundation while providing the stability that our lives usually require. Take it slow, be smart about your start up costs, hire a little freelance help when you get overwhelmed, and just keep plugging away in the direction of your goal. Sluff things off as you find they are not working and focus your time and money on things that are providing the best results. You will make mistakes. Things will get frustrating. You will get overwhelmed. You will wonder if you can do it. Take a step back. Look at the big picture. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Just keep taking steps toward where you want to be. You will be amazed to see where you are a few months from now.
We want to thank all of our clients, family, and friends for a wonderful 2018. We look forward to a prosperous 2019 for all. Have a happy and healthy New Year!