2017 in Review
What a year it has been. As any new parent can probably relate to, it was a blur. Yet, as I sit to reflect, now, there were some great themes and lessons learned, which I’m always happy to share. So, let’s dive in.
Becoming a Mom to Sweet Hazel
My little Hazel was born in January. But before I can say more about what the experience of becoming a mother has been like, I have to give a little honest context and say the real real: I thought I would dislike being a mom.
Like, I would love having kids (especially when they were older, possibly adults) but not actually enjoy the actual motions and routines of mothering. Too much to share out loud? I think a lot of my friends have the same fear so I’ll leave it.
I was shocked, oh about 60 seconds after Hazie was born, to realize that this was going to be the greatest and grandest job out there and I remember the sudden flash of thought that I was really, really going to like this new role. As she nestled into me, I realized that this profound love for this little human hazelnut was going to rule all. Fast forward a year later and that has only proven to be truer than I ever could have even imagined at the time.
She has awakened my world in ways I never imagined. One of my favorites includes rediscovering the world through a child’s eyes.
There was this spectacular moment late last year while traveling when she noticed birds for the first time, as a large flock of swallows flew overhead. Suddenly her eyes grew large and she gleefully started screaming and wriggling every which way to watch these creatures paint the sky with their zigs and zags.
It not only captured her parents, but a sizable crowd lingered to watch this baby see, with delighted wonder and for the first time in her life, mother nature’s arial show. Something the rest of us had all probably long taken for granted and likely wouldn’t have even noticed in that moment.
Hazel has also been my favorite reminder that it’s never too late to have a great childhood. I’m living mine now with her.
The BIG Focus: Narrowing Down
As many of my friends and coaching clients have heard me say over and over again, it takes awhile for a business to feel productive (actually, by most professional estimates, about 3 years).
Meaning: you’ve figured out what you offer and to whom you offer it and how you offer it to them.
In the beginning you say yes to a lot. In fact, it’s your job to do so. Because what you start your business selling will probably NOT be what you ultimately end up selling.
But a few years in, your job shifts to the grand focus of scaling up your best product(s) or service(s) and you find a new muscle you may have not flexed too much before: your NO muscle. And trust me, this muscle is tougher to develop. It looks like this:
✔️You stop hedging (taking on work outside of your core offerings “just in case” or because it’s familiar).
✔️You say no more than you say yes.
✔️You double down on your sole offering(s) and you go deep.
One of the best examples I’ve ever seen of this was one of our advertising clients who, from her library of half a dozen offers, decided to focus on one, only one, for a year to see what would happen. She went from $200K the year before to $1.2M the year she decided to focus. Of course she grew a team and her advertising budget to support that result, but it’s a great example of what can happen when you focus on what you discover works best for you and your company.
This brings me back to just after Hazel was born. I knew I couldn’t sustain two sides of my company any longer without some major help (those who have known our journey, know that our agency had two branches: one where we worked on the full digital footprint for brick and mortar spas and second burgeoning branch of business devoted to Facebook advertising for a variety of businesses including online companies).
A few conversations with our team revealed that nobody felt energized enough to step into a leadership role of taking over the side of our company that was the biggest lift (the marketing side), so with heavy hearts we made plans to begin closing it down over the following quarter.
This, by the way, was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in business. Our clients were shocked initially but, and this is important to share, every single one of them congratulated me on narrowing down, especially as a new mother. Our team was worried initially, but it turned into this wonderful moment as we encouraged our clients to continue to work with our team members individually (and most did). We culminated the transition with a beautiful closing ceremony for our team, led by one of our greatest consultants and dearest business friends, at the end of May. That day was HARD!
That was the original thing I started.
It was where almost all of our security was (or where I thought it was).
It was in an industry I thought I would always serve.
It was half of of our revenue.
More than half of our team.
The next morning, the day after it was officially wrapped up, I woke up feeling lighter than ever.
And then Launching Successful Ads Club
With so much space freed up from closing the highest energy side of our company, I had so much more space! I got to dig into the advertising side of our company again full force. Our clients and contracts got bigger and bigger. We booked out months in advance. Our best month with our full agency (both sides of the business) was the month Hazel was born. Our second best month this year came two months after closing down the marketing side. I share this with one purpose only: to impress upon you the benefits of FOCUS. I was so scared to narrow down, but I have to say, on the other side, it was the best business decision I ever made!
But here’s what else we did: we launched a complimentary product that filled one of the biggest gaps in the market: ongoing support for people running their own Facebook ads. A boutique membership for business owners who just need to know they’re doing the right things with their accounts and want tips on how to optimize their results.
We called it Successful Ads Club and launched it over Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to sign our first 75 members in those first 10 days. Of course, with memberships you have attrition and all sorts of things, but we’re going to grow this to several hundred members this year and it’s honestly one of my favorite projects I have ever done.
It’s such an incredible feeling to help a business owner master and control their own lead generation and to see the results of people savings hundreds and thousands of dollars per month just by tweaking and testing what we recommend has been awesome. This whole project was funded, time-wise, by the space that was created. Not just the actual time, but also the mental space to even think it up (I’m ALWAYS thinking up ideas) and getting it into action (the REAL work).
Now, all of our ambitious goals of doubling revenue went right out the window once I realized the transition to becoming a parent was going to be far more, I’ll say it, excruciating than I imagined. Not because of Hazel, but because of myself. For example, I gave myself 3 weeks of maternity leave (what the heck was I doing?! Never, never again…that’s not even humane). Any mom would tell you that’s just going to make for very rocky experience in transitioning into literally what is an entirely new existence as brand new parents (new role, new responsibilities, new schedules, new way of BEING). I had no idea what I was in for and the transition I was about to go through. And I didn’t give our family nearly enough time to adjust before I was back to work and trying to figure out what just happened to our life and find a new “balance” (not gonna happen anytime soon, I finally figured out a few weeks in). On top of that Hazel had colic and reflux and so there was an extra layer of complexity.
Then, we closed half our company.
So, if we’re talking business and revenue goals, we ended exactly what we did the year before, revenue wise. BUT what did happen was our probability rose like 👍. That was a huge win and for this year I’ll take it.
But the biggest win is probably that we didn’t close the entire company. Cue the crazy laughing emoji. Listen, I say it tongue in cheek, but I know you first time moms with work or businesses out there can relate. Isn’t this the wildest ride??
And yet, as we’re nearing a full year, and everything is normalizing and coming into focus and my old drive is returning full force, somehow it seems like it was just always meant to be this way. We’re getting to schedules and routines that work really well, Hazel is almost a toddler and has two adoring parents chasing her around for giggles all day, and we’ve figuring out a scale to my work that works for this season of life. It’s far from perfect, but it’s really, truly getting there.
I can’t wait for what’s to come as we continue to grow our little family and our business, and I’ll keep sharing out all the lessons all along the way.
Thanks for reading and see you soon!