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Make a better 2018: 10 lessons I learned

Every year I’m in business, I learn new lessons. Life and business are full of them--knowledge we gain just by moving through each of our experiences. I also believe that this knowledge gives us an opportunity to do better.

As Louise Hay said, “When we know better, we do better.”

That’s what it’s so important to me to look back. Not just to reflect on what went really well, but also to think about what I learned. What do I know now that I didn’t know then? How can I use this information to improve something in my life or my business?

Here are a few of the lessons I learned in 2017 and the knowledge I’m taking with me into 2018. I hope this helps you as you plan for the new year.

Start planning earlier.

I started my annual planning for 2017 in November 2016. Plenty of time, right? Wrong. While I had a plan, I struggled to create and implement pieces of the plan. In fact, some things never made it past the planning stage because I simply ran out of time.

This year, I started planning in September and by the beginning of October I was beginning to create and format things. I’m much more prepared this year.

Having an assistant moves things faster.

I was so lucky to have an assistant for the planning and prepping stages in late 2016 and early 2017. Things were getting checked off my to-do list and I was feeling awesome. But in late March, my assistant made a location and career move and was no longer able to help me out. At this point, I was feeling so far ahead, I thought, “I got this!”

Apparently not. Things slowed down and I kept switching projects to later and later in the year. In September I knew it was time to find another assistant. And once I brought one on board, things finally got back to getting checked off the list. Whoo hoo!

Plan for an assistant before you need one.

One piece of bringing on my new assistant was training her. Luckily I had some training tutorials from my previous assistant, but not everything.

But now I do. I created a shared Google Drive, organized by different tasks and each task has a tutorial to go with it. It feels good to have standard operating procedures and a new assistant training program.

Systems are a lifesaver.

As I mentioned above, I created many standard operating procedures for my assistant. But I also put a lot of other systems in place too. Working with Jill at J. Ryan Solutions, I was able to create workflows for each of my coaching programs along with a checklist system for daily, weekly, monthly and annual tasks. No more worrying if I was missing a step or forgetting to do something. We even worked on these same checklists for home cleaning, home maintenance and personal/family care. It’s awesome to no longer try to remember everything in my head because I know it’s in the system and I’ll get notified when it’s due. Or even better, it’s automated to be done for me!

Hiring a copywriter makes me more productive and creative.

Holy cow, Batman! This was my first year to work with a copywriter on an annual blogging contract and I’m a bit shocked with the results. I’ve never been a consistent blogger but this year I was. Having Abby at Write Solutions on my team has been awesome. I added more than 48 blogs to my website this year and I had several ready for 2018 before 2017 even ended (like this one).  At one point, there were so many content ideas in the works that I had to meet with Abby just to make sure we didn’t forget any pieces.

It’s been amazing how much easier it’s been to come up with content ideas when I don’t have to be responsible for every small detail of every blog. It’s allowed me to stay in my creative zone--where I have the most fun!

Accountability gets shit done.

This lesson came from both my own experience with being held accountable and as I held my clients accountable for work. When I told my mastermind I was thinking of creating coaching programs for business partners, they kept asking me how it was coming along. Sure, it felt a bit like pressure. But it was because they could see my passion and wanted me to succeed. And guess what? I not only creating a new program, I created three specifically designed for business partners.

I also saw this with my clients. They implemented new projects, launched new programs, updated websites, put together presentations and so much more--because they shared their goals and I held them to it. Having someone there with you makes the process more real and keeps you engaged longer. This ultimately leads to completing things that may have otherwise been put on the backburner.

Coaching is more powerful and valuable than even I believed.

Having been a coach since 2006, you’d think I would know the power of coaching--and I do. But this year I had the opportunity to be coached by a personal stylist, which reminded me of the power of coaching. I worked with Loren of Through the Closet Door and she offered me information, guided me to implement that information, kept me accountable to taking action and reviewed my progress. What stood out the most was that coaching is what made all the difference.

I had worked with a stylist before, but the coaching aspect was missing. My previous stylist gave me knowledge about what colors, textures and shapes were best for me (which was an amazing experience) but she didn’t review my closet to show me what I had gotten correct, where I missed the mark and why I missed the mark. I didn’t have someone to go shopping with me, which means I missed out on the opportunity to explore and practice with immediate feedback. And she also didn’t sit down with me to review how I was doing, to celebrate my successes and offer next-level knowledge. But Loren did. And now I have a closet of clothes I love, I find it easier to put together outfits and I am confident in my signature style.

Masterminds rock.

While I’ve hosted my Sparks Mastermind for several years, this was my first year joining one. And WOW, it was powerful. I gained new ideas, confirmed the value of other ideas, helped others out and even gained referrals. It was awesome! The best part was (once again, like the coaching), I experienced the value of masterminds as my clients have been experiencing for years. Plus, it gave me ideas on how to improve Sparks too. Now that I think of it, that’s a lesson in itself.

Your growth = client growth.

Participating in a mastermind allowed to bring new knowledge to my Sparks Mastermind, which ultimately helped my clients. But I also saw my clients learning and growing--and then using that new information to benefit their clients. One coaching client attended a conference where she discovered a group coaching model that she could wrap her head around. She implemented the idea in her business and it worked! It provided her clients with more value than she expected it would. This allowed her more time in her schedule so she could implement another program, allowing her to impact even more people.

Explore new options even when you don’t think you need them.

I had a perfectly good online scheduling system. It had all the features I needed, so why look into anything else? Well, I’m glad I did. I found a new scheduler that had exactly what I needed--at $5 less per month. But it didn’t stop there. The new system required a change in credit process providers too. Which got me to thinking that if I was going to do all this changing, why not look at banking options too. And sure enough, I found a bank with no monthly fees, saving me another $15 a month.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. I decided to take a look at all the business tools I was paying for. I knocked by MailChimp account back to the free version (as the automations I use were now in the free version), saving me another $10 per month. All in all, I saved $360 per year that I can now allocate to marketing instead of business costs. Imagine that! All from looking into a new scheduling system. You can bet I’ll be looking at options for business tools again this year.

So what lessons have you learned in the last year that you can implement in your business or share with others? What will you do better in 2018 because of what you learned in 2017? Let me know!

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