new year

4 big changes I made in 2016, to help shape my 2017

Happiest of new years to you! If you’re an entrepreneur like me, you’re constantly planning, setting goals, dreaming up your next offering or service, the next best way to generate some cash flow and hoping to double your income from the previous year. You’re thinking of the best ways to do all of the above, while still doing what you love, being authentic and providing your clients with the best value possible, with everything that you deliver to them.

I started 2015 still working for an agency full-time, but freelancing on the side. I started 2016 having just left that beloved agency, my fabulous boss and co-workers (who I still miss dearly) – and preparing for the transition to working for myself full-time. Now, here we are in 2017 – and I’ve been working solely for myself for exactly 12 months. With every twist and turn, pro and con and up and down that I faced in 2016, I learned many invaluable lessons in not only business, but also in life. In order to grow, we can’t just dream, think or plan. We have to physically take action and DO. For this to happen for me, some changes had to be made, so that I could work quicker, more efficiently and serve my clients better, without feeling complete burnout. If you’re in the same boat that I was a year ago, try out one (or all) of the big changes that I made, which not only impacted my 2016, but will also continue to benefit me in 2017. You will definitely see results. Happy change making!

1) I hired a business coach.

In March of 2016, I came across Jenny Shih, an uncompromising business coach who believes in “success on your terms.” Jenny emphasizes that you can do what you love, while also living a life that you love. I came across her name somewhere along the line of following Kendrick Shope’s emails. (I heard about Kendrick through the Being Boss podcast.) She came highly recommended, so I made contact with her assistant, originally interested in one-on-one private coaching. Instead, I came to learn that she was actually getting ready to open a group-coaching program called “Make $10K [Every Dang Month.]” It was exclusive to just a small group of female entrepreneurs who had been making a consistent amount of money each month, but were ready to double it — and learn the ways to work towards that. I applied and was accepted! I was involved with this coaching from May-October, learned how to look at my business differently and put better systems in place to run it. Hiring a coach and joining this program was the biggest financial investment that I made in my business to date, but you have to spend money to make money. When you are ready to take that next step and make more, you need counsel outside of family and friends. You need to learn from someone who has been there and knows how to grow an audience. Even with very simple ideas and strategies, Jenny helped me to see things more clearly and instilled a new confidence that I could do what I wanted, charge what I wanted and still be of good service to my clients. Every business owner will reach a point sooner or later when they are ready to hire a professional to help them grow their business and I’m so glad that I found Jenny. I also became good friends with the five other fabulous women in the group, which segues into the next big (and best) change that I made in my business. 

2) I joined a mastermind.
Thanks to “Make $10K” and Jenny, I was able to form a mastermind group with the rest of the ladies in the group. I feel very fortunate because a lot of entrepreneurs pay to be in high-level groups like this, which meet weekly. While I made a big investment initially with “Make $10K” and got to join this group as part of it, the ladies and I still meet weekly, even though the group coaching ended last year. We all wanted to stay connected and still meet for two hours every Monday, so, we do! It’s inspiring, emotional, educational and full of friendship and fellowship. We all do different things for a living and are spread out throughout the U.S., but we all have bonded, bounced around great ideas, built each other up when needed and learned how to grow our businesses. We’ve gone through not only professional changes, but also personal ones — and been there 100% for each other along the way. I’m so grateful for this group — they are my go-to when I need help brainstorming the next big thing that I want to do.   

3) I put new systems in place for more efficient workflows.
Thanks to Jenny’s (and the group’s) help, I learned about (new to me) platforms to use in my business, so that I could work smarter and not harder. I work hard enough in my business and enjoy it, but now, I can automate a few things a little easier, so that I get some time back in my day to focus on more important things – like client work. I started working more in Google Docs, so that I could keep my client and income tracking, website copy, goals, service/offer outlines and other necessary items all in one place for better organization and easier editing. I started using Asana as a way to manage and keep track of my client projects. I also setup an account with Buffer, so that I could upload and schedule my social media posts for each week. These are all simple tools to use, but they really help me to stay a little more organized and on schedule. 

4) I packaged my services + updated my pricing.
I always read that in order to serve clients better and to make more money, you need to package your services. I used to give custom quotes to potential clients and I started experimenting with branding packages in 2015, but it wasn’t until the “Make $10K” group coaching that I learned to really dive in, figure out what I wanted to do (and didn’t want to do) and add more value to my services. While you can always revisit your offerings and change things up, I learned how to increase my prices so that I could focus on 2-3 branding clients a month, make a little more money — but most importantly, give more to my clients. Not only can I carve out more of my time for them, but I can deliver more tangible results, give them continued support even after the logo is designed, the website is live and the business cards are printed. I can provide more strategy and deliver to them much quicker. I also transitioned a lot of the one-off services that I was doing consistently for some regular clients to monthly retainer models. These work out great, because I can invoice one time, the client pays one time, they know exactly how many projects I will complete each month for them and I can plan my month better. Again, it’s simply better organization and clearer expectations that are met all the way around. I will again be making some new changes to my services for 2017, so check back here to my site in the next couple of weeks. A lot will stay the same, as I liked the way things worked overall in 2016, but I’m adding a few more bells and whistles that I know will benefit my clients and what they need for their businesses even more.    

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Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's a new year! Are you ready for 2017? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more! 

3 tips for finishing the business year strong

I can’t lie, although I’m a huge fan of summer and fall and really can’t stand the winter at all (if you have horses or other animals like I do, you feel me!) — it IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go. As we move through November and start prepping for all of our various Thanksgiving travels and multiple family dinners, we are inching a little closer each and everyday to the month of December, the biggest holiday of the year and the close of our business year, too.

With all of the craze that the holidays bring — shopping, pageants, musicals, baking and more — it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, curl up by a fire and watch the 24/7 sweet (but corny) Christmas movies airing on the Hallmark channel. *Yes, I’m guilty of all of those things.* And, while it’s perfectly fine and acceptable to enjoy the month and spend time with loved ones, I also know that it’s important to keep my nose to the grind and finish out the work year strong. After all, if you’re like me, you’ve put too much time, energy, heart and hard work into your business 11 months already — it wouldn’t be fair to let clients and some extra cash slide to the wayside, just because you’re stuffing your face with fudge and cookies. (Again, guilty.) Here are a few tips to help you keep working hard (while enjoying everything wonderful that the holidays bring) and finish reaching the goals that you set for yourself in January…

1) Check in with clients.

This is #1 for me. I love my clients and they are the bread and butter to my business. Obviously, without them, I have no work and make no money. Although I often do this throughout the year anyway, it’s especially important and the perfect time now to say hi to the ones you maybe haven’t done work for in a while and see if they need anything. Or, with the regular clients that you’re still doing consistent work for, check in to tie up some loose ends with either projects that were put on the backburner this year, or set up meetings to help plan for 2017. Plain and simple, just offer to be there and available for anything that they might need. They will appreciate the extra thought and effort.

2) Offer some special incentives.

You don’t necessarily have to discount (and to some that means de-valuing) your services, but you could plan a small launch (with some holiday flair of course) or offer some free calls or quick mini sessions. Whether your goal is to make money or not, think of ways to provide value, so that people will keep coming back to you and hopefully some new ones will find you. Send out emails around any of these ideas that you want to play with and get a few of your subscribers on board. It’s a great way to keep connecting with your current following and/or earn some extra cash that you can save away, pay some expenses with or spend Christmas shopping!

3) Plan goals for the new year.

By now, you probably know what worked for your business and what didn’t in 2016. So, take all of that into consideration to help you start planning for 2017. Is it time to get better organized or put more systems into place to help you work more efficiently? Is it time to hire a VA to assist you with emails, blogging, social media management and more? Is it time to really invest in your business and hire a coach for 2017, to help you brainstorm new strategies or look at your business differently? Or, is it time to cut back — work only on what you want, take more time off or start outsourcing/delegating work to contractors? Whatever the case, take a few days to really think about what you want to keep the same and change for 2017. It’s the only way to be smart about your business and truly grow!


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!