I don’t know about you, but this time of year I can’t seem to be on Facebook for more than 10 minutes without seeing an Ad or Promo for “Plan your best year EVER!” “Make 2015 the year you stop stalling and start DOING” or similar stuff.
It’s important to plan, don’t get me wrong – and we’ll get to the planning strategy in a minute- but I find it impossible to plan without taking a solid look back to celebrate where I’ve been.
Because if we don’t know where we’ve been, HOW will we know where we want to go?
I find that this time of year it’s so easy to get caught in the shoulds, the doubts, the comparisionitus, the insecurity. It’s rampant! And if we mapped out our 2015 (Best EVER!) from that place, it would be a super wobbly plan, because it’d be ignoring all the brilliance and success you’ve had throughout the rest of the year.
Where I’ve Been
2014 was the year my business grew boobs – metaphorically speaking. I don’t know any other way to say it – it went from gawky pre-teen to filled out BABE getting into da club. I’m getting a lot more attention than I ever have, and in many ways I feel like I’m still figuring out how to navigate it. It completely reminds me of 9th grade when I had to re-learn everything I knew about my body, clothes and boys, but in this case it’s my business, the industry I work in and my wonderful clients.
Late 2013 saw me quitting my last in a string of bridge jobs, moving forward with my vision of paying all my bills with my business- full time self employed. I was nervous, but ready. I’d taken that leap before, and in the past had found myself back at bridge jobs. I knew this time was different. I had a much clearer focus on my business, what I do and who I help. I understood marketing, and how to TALK about my work to get people excited and interested instead of glazing over and tuning out. I finally understood how all the pieces fit together, but there was still a LOT of room for growth + implementation of that knowledge.
Things that happened this year or, the business puberty process:
- This summer, I launched an amazing new website. One that captures my sparkle, imparts what I do and why you need it. My site now does a tremendous amount of heavy lifting for me, and it’s amazing.
- I updated my services, let go of a few partnerships, and dove deeper into the things I am really good at.
- I took over Coaching Business Jumpstart 100% and am working on some new and innovative ways to support Coaches in 2015.
- I flew my sister and I to Hawaii as a celebration for earning 10K in a month. It was a celebration of the years of hard work, tears and unconditional support it took to get there.
- I hit 6 figures. Yep. After 4 years of collecting money for my coaching services, 3.5 bridge jobs and more teary talks about “when is it all going to work out?!” than I care to admit, I crossed the 6 figure mark. More on that below.
- I got flown out to Montana to participate in an amazing retreat.
- I’ve gotten many invitations to be a guest on popular podcasts and blogs.
- Most importantly, I am supporting myself + my dog, living on my own in one of the most expensive areas in the United States. I’m single, so there’s no extra income coming in from my partner. There is no financial calvary and I don’t need one. I am making it work in a BIG way, complete with afternoon naps, leisurely dog walks and spontaneous trips to the beach. It feels AMAZING.
Big Take Aways
Saying no is hard. AND it’s also really important. I said no this year more than ever before, and it felt right. It felt like each no actually gave me more space to grow MY business MY way, and became oxygen and fuel to my fire. It also became easy to say no to things when I know in my bones where my business is going. There’s a time and a place to say yes to all of the things, in the beginning it’s REALLY helpful to just, do things, and see what you like and what sticks. This year was that turning point for me.
I don’t blog every week like clockwork. I’m not consistent with my writing schedule, and while I want to get a bit better at that, it’s not holding me back.
Masterminds are important. So is community. Make friends with people with similar jobs/lifestyles as you. People who can support you and cheer you on when you’re in the figuring it all out phase, and be champions for you as you grow.
My business has seasons, and I bet yours does too. For mine, Summer is vacay time. Fall/Winter/Spring are ‘work my butt off’ seasons. So this year I traded a shorter winter break for a longer summer vacation when I have less client work.
Understanding the seasons of your business helps you work WITH that flow, not fight against it.
Let’s talk money
6 Figures! This is a BIG DEAL! It’s double anything I’ve ever made in my life. I’m sure it’s more than my parents ever made with their businesses. It staggers me a bit to see those figures in my financial statements and it brought up a lot along the way. And, I took home about the same as I did when I was working my non-profit job. Why? Because instead of paying myself with the ebbs and flows of the months, I created a standard, bi-monthly payment schedule for myself. I know what it takes for me to live on, so I paid myself that. Every month. No more spikes and valleys. Stable, secure income. Holy breathing room batman.
My business was able to save, pay taxes, and reinvest in itself. I say my business because it’s my companies checking account now. No longer are my personal finances tangled and my paypal account just funneling into my personal checking account. It’s all accounted for via my business checking account and it feels great.
And, because I was on top of my financial management game this year, I was able to pay myself a nice holiday bonus, whoop whoop!
How exactly did I hit Six Figures? Diversified income streams with solid brand alignment, business planing + strategy. Boom.
Where I’m Going + You Can Too
Ready to get a jump on your 2015 planning? Here’s how I plan my years, to give me focus, but also freedom and flexibility. It’s my mountain range metaphor – you create your own marketing mountain range to get you through the year.
I am oldschool and map out my year with ink on paper, by month. Once I have the calendar created, I put “peaks” onto it. What are the BIG events on my calendar that will anchor my year. These could be big sales months, products I am launching, events I am going to that require a lot of energy + preparation, etc.
Once the peaks are in place, you put the smaller hills into it, what are the smaller hills you need to climb to make it a clear path to the peaks? If it’s a product launch, then the hill before hand might be expertise building and doing some free trainings to get people excited and aware of the product.
If you have more than one thing you promote, I like to color code my calendar so I can see where I’ll be working hard on one project, so that the others can take a bit of a break while that’s happening. If you have a few projects you’re really involved in, you definitely don’t want all of them to have peaks in the same month!
After you’ve booked in the hills, are there any foothills that need to go on in the mountain range? Anything else to do to make sure the peaks are supported and in a good flow.
What I particularly love about this planning metaphor, is there’s room to relax. You don’t summit a major peak and just charge off! You sit down, have a picnic, eat a snack, and enjoy the view. Make sure there’s some valleys or plains booked into your mountain range to give you time to recharge and keep going, and enjoy your time at the top.
If this was the year my business went from awkward teenager to babe, I’m excited to be more of a mature, settled business next year. 2015 will see me focusing on building influence and expertise, stepping out a bit more in the guest posting and business building thought leadership realm. I’ve got some pretty major ‘peaks’ on my calendar that I can’t wait to share with you when the time is right.
To help supercharge your business growth, I’m starting a new video series, “Specific Questions with Specific Answers” – so often people give highly generalized business advice, which makes sense, they’re trying to speak to LOADS of people. I want to speak to you. I want to answer YOUR questions specifically for you. To get a specific answer, submit your question here. I seriously can’t wait to hear from you.