It’s that time of year when we start looking back on all that we achieved throughout this year, and look forward to our dreams and vision for the next year. Or in the case of 2020 – the next decade.
While I love the clean slate that a new year provides, I find that I don’t always take the time to look back and reflect on the lessons learned, connections created, mistakes made and the big wins of the past year.
So as I sat down to do my own reflection this year, I thought I’d call on a few friends that I have worked with or spent time with over this year. These are people that I admire as I witness the big steps forward they have taken in their business. Each of the business owners you’ll hear from below have grown their business and their profile in significant ways. They’re all backing themselves and their business – but each in their own unique style.
So I asked each of these wonderful women to share their biggest marketing or business lesson from 2019 and their tip for business owners in 2020. Grab a cuppa and enjoy the lessons learned, and lessons offered.
Lou Duggan – Cake to The Rescue
I first met Lou when we were both speaking at a conference in June. I was immediately struck by her passion, her smarts and her incredibly caring nature. It’s the basis of her ability to build a community around her business Cake 2 The Rescue – DIY cake kits that take the stress out of creating memorable and much-loved birthday cakes for your kids. As Lou says on her website – Hero status with minimal stress.
So over to Lou’s biggest lesson from 2019…
“As an ecommerce site I’ve learned the value in truly nailing your SEO at a grass roots level. Not the kind of SEO that you pay someone to do on a monthly basis with little feedback or results after the first flurry of activity. The basics! Product descriptions, correct image naming, meta descriptions, key word research. The joy of getting smart about your SEO is that the time and money you invest has continuous and long term impact on your business. Facebook Ads may get people to your site quicker but you only get what you pay for and when you turn them off the traffic will stop. SEO is a long term view.”
And Lou’s biggest tip for 2020….
“Find as many opportunities as possible to be visible and build personal connections with your customers. It will not only cut through the noise of social media, but also help you to quickly cement that crucial “know, like, trust” relationship which is conversion gold. It’s also a fantastic way to create a consistent 2 way line of communication which can be utilised to gain customer feedback on products and services, build excitement for new launches and gain opinion on future concepts and ideas you are working on.”
Lisa Corduff helps extraordinary women get unstuck and create real and lasting change in their lives. She uses practical and powerful mindset strategies (and a stack of inspiration!) to help you identify and breakdown the barriers that hold you back – because the world needs more women owning their worth and power.
I first met Lisa when our boys were in the same kindy class, when she was in the early stages on her online business. I’ve since followed (stalked, maybe) as she’s evolved her business over the last few years and invested in a huge way in her own learning and personal development.
Lisa has a relatable way of teaching us to change our perspective and consider new ways of being that impact our business and our whole lives in positive ways. I’ve recently taken part in Lisa’s Ready for Change program and recommend it highly to anyone who wants to get unstuck!
And so over to Lisa…
“This year I started to get really honest about the amount of things my business was doing. So many programs and memberships and coaching and events and in two very different markets. I wasn’t doing anything to the level I knew I could and so in 2019 big decisions have been made to massively simplify the business. This has taken courage and leaning into a lot of discomfort. But hey – as a business owner we have to get comfortable in the uncomfortable – because that is where all the growth is!
My advice for 2020 is to take ownership of everything that is and isn’t working in your business. Stop the blame game and own it! As business owners I think we can fall into the trap (I know I did!) of believing we are not getting the results we want because … the kids are sick … a contractor let us down … Facebook ads are expensive … the algorithm is a bitch! Successful entrepreneurs take ownership and find creative ways through. Their success is not defined by their circumstances. “
Angela Henderson a business coach for women and an author, entrepreneur, speaker, blogger, podcaster and more. Angela has had two successful businesses – the first being Finlee & Me, an ecommerce site and kick-ass blog, and the second being her work as a business consultant and coach.
I first met Ange several years ago at Problogger, and we reconnected this year speaking at a conference together. I also attended Ange’s Finding Balance in Business Retreat in October, and can honestly say it was one of the best business events I’ve attended. Her generosity, attention to detail and genuine care for each person in the room was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Ange is honest, no bullshit (but always served with compassion) and has unrivalled business smarts in both the retail and service-based business areas.
And here’s Ange’s advice…
“My biggest mistake was hanging on to tasks that no longer were part of my role. I was playing the role of the employee vs the role of the CEO at the beginning of the year and this was holding me back from growing my business. Once I started acting like a CEO vs an employee in my business things have taken off.”
And Ange’s best tip….
“Pay to play. One of the best things you can do for your business is pay to play. What I mean by this is invest in yourself. Invest in your business. And do this by going to local events, national events and international events. Start small and then work your way up, because it’s these events that you have conversations. That you’ll create connections. And ultimately you’ll see your business grow.”
I first met Clare at an event for the Brisbane members of the LMBDW Facebook group. I then had the opportunity to work with her on some aspects of her website. Clare has a head for (and background in) numbers and strategy, but a drive and curiosity that sees her kicking goals in marketing and social media.
Clare is a super-connector – someone who can bring together groups of people and make you feel like you’ve all known each other for ages. Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious – and we all need people like that around us. She has also launched her Clare Wood podcast this year – and it’s a great listen with practical and down-to-earth advice for all areas of business.
Over to Clare…
“This year I really learned about the power of INVESTMENT. In 2019 I built out a team, and have spent a lot more of my profit as reinvestment back into my business and it has been worth every cent. This year was really about uplevelling my marketing through social media, newsletters and a podcast. In hindsight, I wish that I had uplevelled my profile and investment into my business sooner, so my advice would be to back yourself and really go for it. Life is too short to play small
My best tip for the new year, is don’t let fear hold you back. We are all scared of something- maybe it’s putting your face out there on social media, maybe it’s hiring someone you really need in your team. Instead of framing it as “Imagine if this went wrong”, why not position it as “Imagine if this works” and focus on the exciting opportunity that might look ahead if you push through that fear and live boldly…”
Amanda is an expert in one of my favourite things … champagne! She’s an incredibly knowledgeable person who runs two businesses, both sharing some of the finer things in life. I met Amanda through social media and have loved getting to know her more this year at my Table for Ten lunches. One characteristic that has really stood out for me is her generosity and willingness to support other businesses.
Over to Amanda…
My biggest business or marketing lesson from 2019
“2019 has been a big challenge for me. I started the year wanting to find balance between the two businesses I run and family life, as well as finding some time for me. The first thing I did was decide to drop a couple of bigger events from my list and scale the events I did have on down.
The result was that I felt I had more time to do ‘other’ things and said ‘yes’ to a whole lot of requests and demands on my time because I supposedly had all this ‘extra’ time. Only I didn’t really have ‘extra’ time, the time I had created was supposed to give me space.
I also made the mistake of thinking that since I supposedly had less on my plate, I didn’t need to manage my time as carefully, so I didn’t fill in a planner and work out how I should best organise my time.
The result? I had a completely manic year and basically can’t remember a thing I have done since April and find myself at the end of the year wondering where it all went.
However, I did make some really good connections and seem to be slowly finding my tribe. Finding like-minded small business owners who are happy to share your business with their network, via word of mouth or through social media has been the best thing that has happened to me this year. It’s taken a long time, and I have always been loyally sharing other people’s content or businesses, but found it was never reciprocated. I was starting to feel very jaded about networking. But through some really positive experiences this year I have discovered that it is all about finding the right people. Once you are truly in with a group that genuinely connects, it all just happens. There is no secret formula to finding that synchronicity, it just takes time and a bit of luck. Recommendations about your business from people who have a similar target market and are well respected in their group is probably the best form of marketing because it is so genuine.”
My best tip for business owners for 2020
“The one take away that I have from 2019 and would strongly recommend to anyone moving into 2020 is to invest in a good planner and plan, plan, plan. Break the year, months, weeks and days down to achievable chunks and prioritise the work you have to complete on a daily basis. It’s a way of holding yourself accountable, especially if you run your own business and don’t have a manager who is setting expectations for you.
One other tip is to trust you own instinct. You know your business than anyone else. There will be plenty of people who will come along with all sorts of advice and ideas, but if you don’t think they will work in your situation, don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise. You will end up wasting a lot of time, only to realise that you should have listened to your own self to start with.”
Jeni O’Brien is the owner of Red Roo Australia – a uniform and branded merchandise company based in Brisbane. Jeni could be described as a serial entrepreneur, having owned and run several businesses throughout her career. She has a strong commitment to customer service and a readiness to adapt and evolve in her business. I’ve been working with Jeni this year and it’s a pleasure to work with someone who is driven to take action and ready to learn.
Here’s what Jeni had to say
I have had many learnings for the 2019 year, there has been some rapid growth personally and a lot of self-awareness required this year. We implemented new software, hired two new people, revisited our end goal, took on a business coach and marketing consultant, purchased new decoration equipment and implemented a uniform fulfilment centre for our biggest client. I think everything we have done means we are coming into 2020 as a business ready for growth and development. I summarise four of my main learnings below:
- Business Partnerships – recognising when it is time to go separate ways for the benefit of the business and your personal relationship.
- Hiring people around you – recognising that it is time to hire, and that by having a ‘I can do everything myself’ attitude can start to hinder the growth and potential of the business.
- Recruiting in the modern day – wow this was eye opening. My first job when I moved to Brisbane as a 20 year old was in recruitment, and haven’t times changed. The speed to which you need to respond to applicants, and the questions and your interview format is completely different to 15 years ago.
- Growth Strategies – This is an area that is an ongoing learning for me because I don’t believe that there is a one size fits all approach to growth strategies anymore. There are many avenues that can be taken and determining which ones are a fit for you and your business is difficult to answer. It really becomes a day-to-day, week-to-week decision making process that continually adapts and as long as you stay aligned to your inner values and committed to the vision of your business, the journey should (hopefully J) plan out.
My biggest tip for the new year, and something that I am conscious of – is not becoming complacent and stagnant in your approach to how business is done, or should be done. Get ready to move and be flexible to where the market leads you! Listen to your clients.
We are looking forward to the adventures for 2020 and what it will bring for us personally and as a small business.”
And me…Kym O’Gorman
My biggest lesson from 2019…
The biggest lesson I’m taking away from 2019 is the importance of connection … real connection, preferably in the real world. I’ve had the opportunity to go to a major social media conference earlier in the year and a business retreat later in the year. I’ve also held the Table for Ten lunches as a way to bring together like-minded business owners. And as much as I love social media and the digital space, nothing will replace the relationships built in real-world, face-to-face catch ups. They create opportunities, foster collaborations and yes, attract clients.
My biggest tip for 2020…
My biggest tip for next year is to show up. In fact, that’s my word (or technically…words) for 2020. While in-person relationships will always be important to my (and your) business, the platform that social media offers lets us build trust and awareness with people we haven’t yet met, or who might not live/work near us. So next year, I strongly encourage you (and myself as well) to show up more on social media using videos in Stories, IGTV, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on your own website … wherever your audience gathers or puts their attention. Show your true self, the humans behind your business. That personal presence is vital to stand out and succeed in this busy, often impersonal digital world.