“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Hal Borland
It’s that time of the year, where – if you’re anything like me, you’re winding down (or hoping to), checking off lists, baking piles of Christmas cookies and creating memories. It’s also that time of the year where you start getting those emails talking about how to get ready for 2018 – stick to your resolutions or get your planning guide today! You know the ones – you can hop on over to your email inbox and I PROMISE you have at least 5 sitting there right now.
And while I love nothing more than the way a new year can infuse us with new energy and new ideas – one of the things most of us miss is soaking on all the lessons of the previous year before we move on.
For me, the end of the year (and for that matter the beginning of the year) is a true time of reflection. An opportunity to look back and learn the lessons, unearth the wisdom and set a path for earnest growth. It’s also a time to celebrate everything we’ve done and who we’ve become – from the small to the large.
Rather than set out a standard, here’s what you do for 2018, I wanted to help you discover the treasures of 2017 so that the turn of the clock is a “going on with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”
Which means a way more successful 2018 – because how can you set course if you have no idea where you’ve been.
So, cue the holiday music, put on a pot of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and let’s just make an event of this. To help you get going, I’ve outlined 8 must-cover steps when you review your last 365 day journey.
(1) Celebrate Your Victories
How often do you skip over your victories or brush of your amazing qualities? Most entrepreneurs are often too busy to really relish their accomplishments. Moving onto the next or keeping up with the bottom line, there really isn’t a lot of time to celebrate because, well, you gotta pay the bills, right? Well, yes, but reflecting on our accomplishments actually has an important role. When you look back at your victories you gain a sense of pride and feel good. But, more than that, you can look back and see what you did right.
That’s the stuff you’re going to want to do more of. So, looking back and seeing what worked actually has an important role. Maybe you mastered customer service or you doubled your business income. Looking back and seeing what we did and identifying the qualities you brought to the table is key to knowing who you have to be and what you’ll want to focus on in the upcoming year.
(2) Close the Books
One of the things I fully believe is that you can’t make sound financial decisions for the future if you don’t know where you stand. Rather than making this a scramble to boost your numbers last minute, the key focus should be on understanding where you stand. Are there subscriptions you aren’t using that you need to cancel? Are your expenses out of control? Maybe you’re behind on your billing. The end of the year is the perfect time to get a handle on all of your financials – not only because your accountant will need it, but you want to start this year off differently – with a real financial plan.
If you’re someone who is afraid of taking a look at your finances, I get it.
Checking out our financials sometimes has the opposite effect of looking over our victories. But, there truly is gold in this exercise. When you look at your habits – spending or bookkeeping, it helps you automatically identify some of your new year’s resolutions. Some of the things you can do better or even some of the ways you’ve already improved and want to keep going. Take the time to do this exercise without judgment. If you feel any resistance of are tempted to pull out the internal baseball bat – talk yourself down. Set a timer to do your work – maybe all you can handle is 5 minutes. Fine. Whatever it takes. The key is to do this exercise with curiosity so you can gain wisdom.
(3) Revisit Your Pricing Structure
I’m constantly telling my clients to revisit their pricing structure – not because I want their services or products to be outrageously expensive, but honestly because I think that most people tend to undervalue themselves. On the opposite end, I sometimes see people buying into whatever on-line course they’ve paid for and price themselves at such a point that they’ve priced themselves out of the market.
Your pricing needs to consider more than what you think you can get for your product or services.
You need to also consider your ideal client, the market, your own investment and definitely let people know you value what you’ve got to offer. Look to see whether you’ve discounted your services too often and if you have – check with yourself: was it a matter of being overpriced or was it a matter of improperly identifying viable clients before you set out to engage people with your work. I often see people discounting because they believe people won’t pay for it – the reality is that their messaging in their social media, blogs, website etc. isn’t properly conveying the value people will receive, often attracting people who might not then be right to work with you.
Remember, if you aren’t getting paid for what you’re doing and growing your business – in the end, all you will have is a great hobby.
(4) Revisit and Revise Your Story
Every good business tells a story. Your business should be able to address your ideal client’s key problems, provide a clear solution and be able to convey it in a simple, clear manner. One big myth I work to dispel with my clients right away is that you can’t have a message that meets everyone needs – if you try and do that, you’ll meet no one’s needs and won’t grow your business.
Are you engaging in message FOMO?
Do you tell yourself that if you narrow down your ideal client just to one or two groups that tell a cohesive story that you’ll be missing out? If you feel you “can’t” narrow down your ideal client – then you might be engaging in message FOMO – fear of missing out on someone. Here’s the deal, if your story is all over the place – one minute working with one type of client and the next with a completely different type then how on earth is your ideal client (or anyone) going to know if they want to work with you.
If it’s confusing or difficult for your ideal client to figure out what you do, then they will click away and go for your competition.
Make 2018 different. Spend some time in these last few weeks looking back over the message you shared with your ideal client. See if you were all over the board, or did you consistently stick to a clear vision and message. If you did, bravo – you’ll still want to see if you need to make any tweaks or figure out how your message is going to expand in the upcoming year. Doing the same ole, same ole might not be enough to keep them coming back for more.
(5) Did you show your loyal tribe your love?
Did you know that 77% of people are considered brand loyal? And of these, 37% make repeat purchases and are loyal to a company and 40% make repeat purchases aren’t necessarily “loyal”. (Facebook) All too often we spend most of our business investment thinking about how to get new business and grow our tribe, but we forget about the people who are already loyal to what we’re selling.
Loyal customers are worth the investment.
Take a look and see what kind of love you showed your tribe this past year. Did you give them killer customer service? Special VIP attention? How about letting them know they were special by valuing their opinion through a survey or feedback form? If you did, fantastic. You’re already ahead of the game. If not, nurturing your loyal customer base might be a place you start in 2018. Even if they’ve worked with you or tried your product, understanding that this important customer base can help you get the word out is vital. Don’t ignore them because you think you’ve finished with them.
Keep your loyal customers engaged, feeling special and by all means test out new products or services with them first. Their feedback can be invaluable to your business.
(6) Write out your top five mistakes of 2018
I won’t lie, this isn’t going to be your favorite task – at first. Looking over what we’ve done “wrong” over the last year is tough, It’s like asking us to review our teenage pictures from years ago, the hair, the makeup – ewwww. No one likes doing it, but our mistakes are actually our biggest treasures. Within each one of our mistakes or missed opportunities is a valuable nugget for us to take away and learn from. Believe it or not, the road to mistakes isn’t paved with perfection – it’s actually paved with our mistakes. Well, it is if we’re willing to learn from them,
Each mistake is merely a step to build on and grow from.
If you can’t look at your mistakes and really discover the wisdom that lies beneath the pain and discomfort, then how can you know what to avoid in the future? Seriously. If you’ve mapped out where you’re going in 2018 without checking to see what wisdom you want to bring, it’s time to do that right now. And – let me say this one thing – it’s important – that doesn’t mean that you don’t go back in and do some of the things you did before. You just do them better. Even if your podcast failed, that doesn’t mean you don’t do a podcast. It just means that you go and learn why it didn’t work and do it better. Running away isn’t the same as taking the lessons and applying them forward. I promise if you take the time to really look at mistakes and missed opportunities, you are going to find some really amazing gifts that even spark a new creative streak!
(7) What books did you read?
Books? Are you kidding? Who has time to read? Listen, I hear you. I probably didn’t read as much as I wanted this past year to help me grow because I was head down building my business. But, if we really want to grow, finding and reading books by people who can teach you about your industry or how to grow your business can be invaluable.
Even though we have so much information at our fingertips, books still provide more detail and insight on specific topics.
I can’t tell you how much reading the right book has made a difference for me in the past. Check in and see what books you’ve read. Are there books you put on your list and didn’t get through? See if you still want to read them and put them back on your list for 2018. And be realistic – set a schedule and see what you can do to expand your learning if you feel you fell short.
(8) Lastly, who were the people of 2017
Most of us go into business to help others or provide a much-needed service or product. And usually, even if we are a solopreneur, the year didn’t pass without the help of some key people in our lives. Take stock of who really helped you grow this past year – whether that was financially, emotionally or mentally. Write out a list of people who were influential in your business in some way. What was it about them that you value and is there a role you want them to play in 2018?
Don’t forget the simplest act of all – thank you.
Share some gratitude. Thank the people who were there for you. Who picked you up and carried you when you were tired, overworked or just feeling plain doubtful? Go out and thank them and let them know how much their support meant to you. You never know how that thank you could be just what they need today.
And one last thing, before you complete this exercise, pick one word that symbolizes what 2017 meant to you. Write it somewhere you can keep. And then, write down the word you want 2018 to represent. Keep these nearby as you develop your plans and continue on your path. It will be neat to see where you end up at the end of 2018.
Happy Holidays – Linda & the Soul Genius team.
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