When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
From Now we are Six, AA Milne
I’m not quite sure where the last 12 months has gone, but all of a sudden Leumesin Design is two! Last Saturday in fact … 25 October. Woo hoo!!
It’s actually been quite a big year with good and bad which is entirely normal for anyone! One of the things I’m most pleased with is that I think I’ve finally (well, almost) been able to put some of the angst that went with my departure from a previous life as an employee behind me. Not totally behind me, but it doesn’t intrude quite so much into my day to day life. This was a conscious decision on my part, and once made, it’s been easier and as a result, I think I’m more confident, and more ‘settled’ in the business.
So what have I been doing?
- Created a considerable number of websites, and an increasing number of printed brochures, business cards, and other materials. Core business! Probably around 50 jobs, not all of which have made it into the portfolio yet! That means I’m averaging at least one website every two weeks which is pretty awesome and may explain why my garden is in a total state of disarray!
- Expanded services (1) to include domain registration and hosting services late last year. I host around 70 sites some of which I’ve created, but the majority are local clients who only need hosting services. This is a part of the business I do want to grow in the next 12 months.
- Expanded services (2) to include website concierge services. In a nutshell, I’ll look after your site for you – behind the scenes updates (WordPress, plugins, etc), content updates, social media management. Yes, I can be “you” on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels.
- Recently (just last week) expanded the business again and have taken on Zest Magazine. This is a free community magazine for the Northern Rivers and was in danger of closing altogether. I’m very excited about this and the opportunity to expand this independent publication that is produced in print and online. A few friends have commented that it’s lucky I don’t sleep much … and that this venture will mean I get 3 hours a night instead of 5. Hmmm
- Revamped this website. This has only taken me six months longer than planned, but one weekend not long ago, I thought I just have to do this, and spent 48 hours (literally) working on the site to the exclusion of all else.
- Discovered over and over again the joy of word of mouth marketing. Nearly all of my new work is by way of client recommendation which I just love – it means I’m doing good things for my clients.
- Written several guest posts for Joy and Resonance magazine. This is an online publication, and I ‘met’ owner, Shán, earlier this year. Her business was started under the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, which is how I started too.
- I was elected Chair of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce a few weeks ago. I’ve aways thought that if you want things to change/improve/make your voice heard, you really need to put your hand up and do something which is why I joined the Chamber in the first place. I’m incredibly relieved and thankful that I’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from the Chamber board and members when I first said I was interested in the position of Chair. This is a voluntary ‘job’ so I need to make time every week to devote to it and I have much learning to do, and lots of ideas and plans underway. In a world where gender often classifies what you can/can’t/should do, this role is significant because I’m the first woman Chair of the Chamber and I hope I can provide strong leadership skills and encourage more people to not only join, but get involved! I’ll get off the soapbox now!
- Created a couple of videos – Powtoon is awesome! Take a peek! Websites that Make your Business Shine and Plan Create Publish – The ultimate DIY guide to creating your own website!
- Sadly, I’ve lost one client, or at least this significantly large client has put everything on hold, although a small part of the project has been completed. I know this is more to do with their organisational change rather than the quality of the work I’ve been doing. It was a harsh but not entirely unexpected occurrence – those voices in my head told me something wasn’t quite right! The core of the “problem” was a shifting brief, aka fly by the seat of your pants – and when that happens, you’re never going to get the end result you want. Something I’ll be writing more about next year.
- Was a finalist for Best Home Based Business, and Best New Business at the Lismore Business Excellence Awards. Quite disappointed I didn’t win, but this wasn’t entirely unexpected because of my place on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and for that reason I was quite conflicted about whether I should’ve entered at all! It was however, a productive exercise because I was able to document what I’ve been doing. And it was a great night out!
- Community spirit! There are so many ways you can do this, and this year for business (and some social), I network with the Chamber of Commerce, Stella Network, Northern Rivers Entrepreneurs. Continued to be a regular blood donor and will be starting Club Red for the Chamber. Pro bono advice to new business owners about their online activities and a few websites for them too! Time consuming but rewarding.
- Started work on an app. This is a total first for me and I would not have considered diving into this unless an existing client asked, and I agreed – but not before they knew that it was a new area for me. Will keep you posted on how it goes.
- Because you can’t work all the time, cough cough, at home I’ve been getting rid of the carpet and sanding/polishing the beautiful hardwood floors that have been covered up for 30 years. Very dusty work! It’s taking me much longer than I thought, partly because I nearly electrocuted myself by not using a “shock box” on the industrial strength sander. I had all the right gear but didn’t use it. Oh dear and lesson learned! I’ll get it finished soon. This is one of several quite large renovation projects I’ve had on the go for some time and I’ve now reached the point that I just have to get them done so I can actually invite people inside and not be totally apologetic about the mess! And of course, there is something so satisfying about being able to rip things apart and vent some of the inevitable frustration encountered in the working day!
- And even though this is really nothing to do with work, I have to say that I am so proud of my beautiful girls. I know I’ve done a good thing as a parent when I see them taking their place in the world. They have been incredibly understanding and I have to say that without your family (and I include friends and colleagues in this too) supporting you, and with some whacky humour thrown in for good measure, well … things just wouldn’t be the same.
- I’ve also been very thankful that people can’t see me dancing around the house like a complete idiot when a quote is accepted, a job is finished, someone pays their invoice, or I just need a bit of a lift! There is nothing better than being able to just dance. I have my favourite playlist and on the top of that is Happy by Pharrell Williams because it just makes me feel, well, happy … d’oh!
And what was on my “list” that I haven’t done (yet)?
Well, if you take into account the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a high achiever and workaholic, I could probably add more to this list … but for the moment, these are significant things that I need to do something about!
- Get my local 2480.directory finished. It’s ben nearly done for at least a months, and really another 48 hours will get it out there.
- I admit it, I’ve been pretty slack at keeping up with my blog posts! In fact I’ve only managed 2 this year. I have a very long list of things I do want to write about, but it’s a time consuming business, and even though it’s important, looking after clients has been more important. I if treated myself as my own client, things would be sweet(er)!
- I’ve yet to finish my DIY Website and Website Rescue Kits. I know this will be successful, but I keep putting it off because, well, clients are more important. Needs more than 48 hours, but I have to put some time aside to finish these projects that I started much much earlier this year! What was it that I was saying about treating myself as my own client?!
And what’s on for the next 12 months?
Aside from the obvious goal of growing the business, there’s a few things to focus on:
- Be better with my blog posts and adding to the portfolio. Goal: one post a fortnight, ideally one a week.
- Constant work on my customer service and follow up skills. This is something that I do need to work at and it’s also rich fodder for blog posts about the lessons I’ve learned this year and how there is always room for improvement, especially for a solo/micro business who has to be the master of many ‘trades’.
- Decide whether or not I want to employ staff, get a bigger office, expand or stay the same. I do know the answers to all of these – it’s more a case of how on earth do I do that! I have a secret wish for a shopfront – I can see it – seriously, I can see it – but I’m not quite sure how to get there. Not uncommon for a lot of businesses I think but as I’ve been at a critical tipping point for a few months, I will need to do some serious decision making and planning, and perhaps thinking outside the box for a solution!
- Improve the cash flow. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s been tough. I’ve pretty much started from less than zero – which has made me work even harder. I think a lot of small businesses suffer from poor cash flow and it’s not always easy to find a solution for this. No, working harder/longer hours isn’t always the best path. You need to work smarter – I wonder how many people have said this before me! So, even though it has been better this year, I still have a way to go.
- Do more mentoring – I really enjoy this and I think this is something I can do as part of my involvement with the Chamber of Commerce. Even though you may not think you have anything to share, trust me, everyone does. All you have to do is remember what it was like when you started your business. There are so may lessons learned along the way that you can share!
- Restart my gratitude diary. It works. Seriously, it works and we all need to consciously say thank you to the universe sometimes and pay it forward. Karma can be a … well, I’m sure you’ve heard that one!
The “things I’ve learned along the way” (scroll down to the end) from my first birthday post last year still hold true but I would add to that, “don’t be too hard on yourself”. Ridiculous really, coming from me but I do need to remind myself that not everything will be perfect, no matter how much you want it to be. Aim high, but be prepared to compromise (just a teeny bit).
So, have I achieved what I wanted this year? 95% yes but there is always room for improvement!