Review of my biz in 2017: What worked, What Didn't, and Where I'm headed in 2018

2017-review-julienne-desjardins

It's the New Year!

I'm ready. I’ve decided on my 2018 goals, and I've been tackling them a bit each day. (Lara Casey says, "Focus on little by little progress, not perfection." I love that.)

But first, I want to take a minute and wrap up 2017.

I did a wrap up post like this for the first time last year, and I started that post with a brief overview of my biz.

In case you're new here (hi!), let’s pause and do that again:

  • 2013: Started freelancing
  • 2015: Went self-employed full-time
  • Work-at-home mom to 2 year old, Luke; offering digital marketing support to small biz & solopreneurs

In this post, I'll share:

  • Successes from 2017
  • Debrief on what didn’t work
  • Overview of what I’m planning for 2018

Alright, so let’s get started with the good stuff!


Education

Skill Building

1. Became an Infusionsoft Certified Partner (I worked really hard, and am extremely proud of this!) {affiliate link}

Courses & Workshops

1. Attended a one-day workshop with Dana Malstaff from Boss Mom in Massachusetts.

2. Stepped out of the box and took an eCourse from Diane Von Furstenberg. Her perspective on marketing, packaging, and customer insights was really inspiring! 

  Photo cred: Kaitlyn Pierce at piercesocial.com

Photo cred: Kaitlyn Pierce at piercesocial.com

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3. Attended a talk by Seth Godin and won a "golden ticket" to his VIP meet & greet. He spoke on empathy in customer service, and about "if failure isn't an option, then neither is success."

 

 

A post shared by Julienne (@julmasdes) on

+ one cool place I went!


The Numbers

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1. Increased gross revenue more than 60% from 2016

2. 17 guest features, including 4 podcast interviews and 3 summits

3. Created a Pinterest group board that now has 100+ members! (We're accepting new members! Join here!)

4. My Facebook Group, Solopreneur Strategy, turned 1 year old, and crossed 500 members

Clients and services

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5. Served clients in 20 U.S. States and 5 countries (The countries were: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States. (You can see the states on this graphic!)

  84% from retainers, 11% from one-time projects, and 5% from affiliate income & coaching calls

84% from retainers, 11% from one-time projects, and 5% from affiliate income & coaching calls

In case you're curious, here's a breakdown of where my revenue Came from in 2017.

By design, I earn most of my money from (wonderful!) clients who put me on marketing retainers - rather than one-offs.

I've blogged about my reasoning for this before, (you can read that here) but the short answer is: retainers work well for my life as a stay/work at home mom.

 

+ a little soapbox!

And, for what it's worth, I wanted to throw in a little reminder here. Your small business is YOURS. It reflects your life. Your habits. Your dreams. Some people wouldn't want their pie chart to look like mine up there. And that's OK.  

This graph shows 24 months of my business income, as an example. Those purple arrows? Those look like drops, but they're actually successes! They're an ILLUSTRATION of MY LIFE.

They're my maternity leave. My time off when my 10-month old son had surgery. And the 3rd one denotes the first time in the 4 years I'd owned a business that I took a REAL vacation where I didn't work.

Sure, the ultimate goal is to take time away & not have a noticeable difference in income. But small biz ownership is a process. Give yourself grace.

You know what really matters on that chart? That dotted black line that shows an upward trend.


What I invested in

1. Filed for my LLC (Used US Legal Forms. They walked me through each step of the process. Really recommend them.) {affiliate link}

2. Professional headshots (shout out to Ayres Photography)

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3. Sponsored 3 conferences - the Boss Mom Retreat, Creative at Heart, and the Signature CEO Conference

4. Finally bought that iMac I'd been saving for! (Did you know I run my business debt free? Read more here.)


People

  • Established my team. It was a process to find the perfect fit people who work well together, but we've done it! Now my clients can benefit from a web developer, copywriter, and a graphic designer when they need those services. And I have my own VA!

  • I met a long-time client! Kathleen, from Health Coach Solutions, & I have worked together for 2 years. We had an amazing rooftop lunch in Southern California, while my family played on the beach below! She's my first virtual client I've met in person!

julienne desjardins - kathleen legrys

What didn't work

When I think back on 2017, I feel a mix of pride and reflection.

Proud because I exceeded many of my goals. I did more than I thought was possible as a work-at-home mom, working 20 hours a week.

But yet, I'm reflective because: for some of my goals, I totally flopped.

1. I grew "too" fast

Like I said above, my business grew a ton last year. But as that upward swing started to happen, in Q1 & Q2, I didn't have the team set yet to help me with client deliverables and customer service. I lost a ton of sleep, missed time with my son, and forgot how much fun small biz ownership was supposed to be. 

I got things in better control in Q3 & Q4. (And I'll talk more about this in my 2018 goals section.) 

2. I didn't carve out time for content creation

Because I was so focused on client deliverables, I almost completely stopped content creation. I had some big opportunities that had to wait, and I'll tackle them this year. But I'll focus on leaving myself more space to create in the year to come. 


What's coming in 2018

1. Switched planning systems

For 4 years, I've used Leonie Dawson's Biz & Life planning workbooks. In 2017, I struggled with meeting content creation goals because, even though I set measurable deadlines, it was too easy to push them off in favor of a client project. Also, Leonie completely shut down her online communities this year, and it was hard for me to find people to work with.

This year I'm using Powersheets, which has monthly tending lists that are more in your face about what you miss. And I have an accountability partner who's counting on me to show up to our monthly check in with stuff done. I'm expecting great things from this!

2. Why I picked a word of the year for the first time, and why it's "restore"

For the first time ever, I haven't set some huge, stretch goal for my biz's annual revenue. I'm focusing on maintaining my current level, while restoring my health (sleep, less coffee!); my habits (freezer cooking, hobbies); and my relationships (family time, client satisfaction). 

One big thing I've already committed to on this front is a conference at Disney World (not too shabby, I know.) This is held through the Disney Institute, and is focusing on Disney's approach to customer service. Participants from all over the world will workshop through our challenges together, and then we'll go into the parks to do field work. I am so outrageously excited about this, I can't even tell you. I'm anticipating big break throughs while I learn from a company that's, obviously, an industry leader in client experience. (And, yes, my husband & son are coming and we're doing Disney right when mama's done working!)

3. Retiring some services & offering new ones

I've been at this a while, obviously. Some of my services that I offer are from a bygone era, where I focused more on admin VA support. So I'll be retiring some offerings, and building out new packages. (So long vacation coveragehello Infusionsoft retainers!) 

I also will be working to diversify revenue streams. I'd like to increase affiliate and coaching income a bit. Those are 2 things I haven't really promoted very much at all. 


I know this is a packed post. Thanks for sticking with me.

And, as always, I like to be as transparent as possible. So if you have any questions about the details in this post, don't hesitate to ask!

Leave a comment below or join my Facebook group and ask whatever's on your mind.

(And if your question is more than I can answer in a quick reply, consider snagging one of my private pay-what-you-can coaching sessions.)

Happy 2018! "Goal get em!"