Annual Review for 2018 - The Year I Dared To Believe

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One of the great learnings I’ve had since starting my business is the value of reviews. They allow you to acknowledge your wins, reflect on learnings (super important to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again) and stay focussed on what you’re trying to achieve.

Since starting my business, I’ve completed a monthly review on the 29th of every month. Reading back over the wins and learnings each month has been so powerful and has allowed me to stay focussed on what I want to achieve.

This week, I conducted my first ‘annual’ review. Annual for me this year is 4 months, as I started my business in late August.

My review centres around 3 core questions:

  • What went well these past 4 months?

  • What didn’t go so well and what did I learn?

  • What am I working towards in 2019 and how will I ensure I make it happen?

WHAT WENT WELL THESE PAST 4 MONTHS?

Invested in an awesome high-end Business Coach. I’d been thinking about starting my business for a long time - well over a year, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I felt completely paralysed by the magnitude of what I wanted to achieve, and completely unprepared for the mindset blocks that kept stopping me in my tracks. Investing in a Business Coach was the first real commitment I made in myself and my business. Making a financial investment raised the stakes too - it made me much more committed to action and moving forward. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the start of my business, I’ve had the support and encouragement from my coach and high-achieving masterminders - I’ve built strong foundations and haven’t wasted time on non-valuable tasks as I’ve had a clear direction.

Built a business from scratch. It would be easy to leave this one out as a given, but this is the big one. After years of procrastination, I made a commitment to start my business. I worked every available hour around my full-time job and mum-to-a-crazy-toddler-commitments and took the consistent action required to build the foundations of my business including working with my first paid clients, launching my website, beginning a blog and starting my email list.

I quit my day job to focus on my business full-time. When I launched my business, I had no idea how long it would take me to quit my 9-5. I was surprised at how quickly I realised it wasn’t for me anymore. I felt passionate and excited when I was working on my coaching business and started to feel demotivated as I went to work every day doing something which my heart wasn’t in. It didn’t take me long to realise I had to go all in. I finished my 9-5 on 21st December 2018, and am so excited to be able to fully focus on growing my business in 2019.

I made a weekly content commitment. The past 4 months balancing working full-time, being a mum and building my business have been exhausting and tough. Some weeks I struggled to fit in more than 3 hour’s work on my coaching business, and this was mostly taken up with coaching clients. However, I knew I needed to grow my email list and I knew I wanted to write a blog to support this goal (part of the ex-English teacher in me!). I made a commitment to write one blog a week and to publish this every Friday by 4pm. This routine has taught me the importance of consistent commitment. Even in the weeks where I had little to no time, I reprioritised and found space to write a new blog. I feel so proud to have 6 blog posts on my website, and I’ll keep this commitment up in 2019.

I focussed on my health and my fitness. I’ve always been a sporadic gym-goer and flit in and out of exercise regimes and diets. Since starting my business, I’ve realised how much my body impacts upon my mind. I still haven’t found a consistent groove, but I have been eating well-balanced healthy meals, have cut out snacks, play netball once a week, and try to exercise 3-4 times a week (even if these are only short bursts). I even did a handstand for the first time in years. This Christmas, I’ve felt the best I ever have in terms of body, mind and fitness and am genuinely excited to push myself further in 2019.

WHAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL AND WHAT DID I LEARN?

Rate of business growth. As I started building my business, I felt frustrated at how slow my progress was because I simply didn’t have time to give it the focus it needed. What I learnt here is that part-time effort means part-time results. I had to accept that whilst I only had a few hours a week to work on my business, I wouldn’t see the same growth as if I was working on it full-time. This frustration was definitely one of the things that pushed me towards quitting my 9-5 sooner. I also learnt about the importance of consistently showing up every day, and how much of a privilege it is that I will have the time to do this from January. 

Completing my coaching qualification. I had intended to complete my coaching qualification by the end of 2018. When I launched my business, I found I just didn’t have time to work full-time, grow my business and complete the required hours to achieve my coaching credentials. My coaching qualification was the ball that got dropped. I’m not sure I would do anything differently though. Getting in the arena and coaching clients in my niche has accelerated my learning massively. I’ll be diving back into my coaching qualification in January with much more confidence. 

Boundaries between work and family. One of the reasons I started my business was so that I could have more balance and flexibility to spend time with my family. The past 4 months have been full on, and my business has definitely leaked into my personal life. I’ve had trouble switching off, have worked when my son's been there and working late into the evenings resulted in trouble sleeping. From January, I’ll be setting clear business hours and will review this each month to see if I’m getting the balance right.

Growing my list. I started my email list in November, and wanted to grow my list to 150 by the end of the year. I’ve fallen short of this goal. My list growth so far has been fairly organic and I haven’t given it much time and attention. My learning here is that I need a clear strategy behind each goal. Simply setting myself a goal of 150 subscribers in 2 months, with no detail on the process and how I was going to achieve it is not an effective strategy!

WHAT AM I WORKING TOWARDS IN 2019?

Getting my clients awesome results. I’d like this to be at the heart of my business, so it’s my first goal. Part of this is being the best possible coach, and I’ll be finishing my coaching qualification in 2019 to ensure I continue to develop my practice. I’ll also be developing my own signature system to help busy mums grow their businesses based on what I know works. As mums, we have so little time so high-impact growth strategies, and achieving more in less time are my key focusses.

Growing my audience. As my audience are the people likely to buy from me, growing my audience (email list and social media) is going to be a key focus for me this year. Some ideas I’d like to experiment with are:

* Guest blogging
* Weekly FB lives
* Growing my Instagram
* Running a local workshop
* Free challenges
* Training webinars
* Experimenting with FB ads

Replacing my previous full-time income. I know a lot of people aim for 6 figures, but this is a not a focus for me this year. This is my year to create solid foundations, grow my business using effective strategies and efficient processes and get visible. I’d like to scale gracefully, and so this year I am aiming to make the same income as I made last year in my previous employment managing Customer Strategy and Marketing.

Reading consistently. I used to read a lot and it’s something I really feel has been missing from my life the last few years. As part of my new morning routine, I’ll be reading for 15 minutes and I’d like to read before bed as well to encourage me to switch off from work and relax. I’m going to read a mixture of business/self-development books and fiction. Learnings from the former I’m going to record in Evernote as I go, and review and implement the learnings at the end of each month as part of my monthly review.

THIS YEAR’S THEME

2018 was the year of self-belief - the year I dared to believe that I could achieve my dream and set up my own business. After years of procrastination, I committed to build my business. I made an investment in myself and and I quit my 9-5.

There’s lot of other words I can think to describe this year - the year of commitment, the year of Holy-Shit-Did-I-Just-Do-That? It’s been one massive leap after another, and sometimes I’ve felt like I’m walking off the edge of a cliff. But self-belief feels powerful, and I’m going into 2019 feeling strong.

2019 is going to be the year of visibility. I’ve never (as crazy as this sounds) been hugely into social media, so building an online business is a big step for me. I’ll be stepping out of my comfort zone, showing up consistently online and telling the world (well, mainly busy mums like you) who I am and why I am so passionate about what I do.

What’s your biggest learning from 2018?

I asked 10 women and mums in business just that. You can check out what they said here.