It is a bit cliché, but let's do it anyway. It is customary to finish the calendar year and reflect on what went well and what you want to improve on in the upcoming year. There is nobody on this planet who would say that 2020 turned out the way we forecasted in December 2019. The pandemic was unexpected and changed EVERYTHING.
In April of 2020 my world got turned upside down. If you have read my other blogs - -you know the story. My employer (who I was insanely loyal to) ended my role and sent me home. You would also know that it did not take me long to decide that this was the kick in the butt I needed to change course. And I have been so grateful to meet so many energized entrepreneurs and to be a small piece of their entrepreneurial story.
As I reflect, I think that the one thing that I did right at the start of my own business journey was I wrote down what I planned to achieve. I set (for myself) some "bite sized" goals to accomplish. I needed a way to measure my own success. And I learned anything at that last employer it was this: Make yourself accountable and be just as willing to learn from your failure as you would be willing to celebrate your success.
So. Did I do what I set out to do? Let's check in:
REGISTER A BUSINESS: This one was not hard and it was established pretty early on. I wasn't sure when I wrote it down if I was going to incorporate or be a sole proprietorship. I wasn't sure if I was going to register for HST right away (ultimately I did because I thought that I would look like a bigger business if I was charging HST). I was not sure what I would even call myself. This really was the launching point for the business. Writing this goal was an important part of having the confidence to say "I can do this". I would say that I achieved this goal!
GET A SOCIAL PRESENCE: So, managing a virtual accounting firm, to me, meant that I had to be really good in all areas of the virtual world. I needed a good website. I needed Facebook, Instagram, Google, Yelp to make sure that when people thought of their accounting/bookkeeping/tax preparation needs that they stopped and said "What about that accountant I see posting"?
In the beginning, I tried to hard to be everywhere, that I ran the risk of failing at this goal. I was everywhere, but not adding much value to the audiences.
In the last few months, I have focused on being consistent in my posts and being authentic. Making sure that the posts reflect the personality that you will receive on the other side of the phone during that initial consultation. I have started to get some good feedback, and I am much happier with this element of my business. This is starting to attract my ideal clients. I would consider this goal - a work in the right direction.
GET 4-5 CLIENTS: There was only a limited time that we could afford for me to not have some clients. It is just the reality. If I was going to keep this going, I was going to need clients. When I wrote this one down, I did not spend a lot of time on who my ideal client was. I knew I wanted some small/medium businesses. But, I assumed that in the beginning I did not have the luxury of being picky.
I learned quickly that I needed to attract the ideal clients - right from the beginning. It would be an important part of ensuring that as those client grew, that I would grow with them. It was also important to ensure that I did not get frustrated. If my clients were not what I was hoping for, how could I enjoy my business?
I am thrilled to report that as of the end of this year, I have 13 active clients. I also have 3 clients with whom I expect to start doing some work in Q1 of 2021. I have learned that the original 4-5 would not have been enough - because the volume of work that these clients have needed at this stage is not what I had imagined. But, the types of questions and work that I have been asked to help with has been extraordinary. This has definitely been a success!
I have had, considering the challenges and hardship associated with 2020, a successful year. I took a dream that I had and I showed myself that I am good enough to do this. I have received such overwhelming strong feedback. It has felt like I am doing what I was always meant to do.
I am working on my 2021 goals. I am using some measurable metrics - things like: Shift the client ratio (because I have types of clients) from 70-30 to 50-50. And then I have some softer goals like "Grow visibility in the community" - because I would like to sponsor something local, if I can. I think that for 2021 I am going to create a 1-year view so that I can keep my eye on my progress. We will see in December how well that worked out.
I encourage you to write your goals. Choose your words carefully. It is a good way to be accountable to you. If you keep your goals in your mind, it is easier to adjust them and modify the intent. By writing them down, it forces you to think through WHY the goal may have needed to be changed.
Go into your goal setting realistically. Not all goals will be achieved. Learning from your "failures" can be some of the best ways to ensure that future success can be achieved. We often will learn more from our failures. But, if you don't have a way to stop and think about WHAT you learned, you will miss the opportunity to learn.
I encourage you to take this time to do your own "performance review". What did you do well? What could you have done better? Be honest. And then use that reflection to set goals for next year. Challenge yourself to improve. Challenge yourself to be better. Forgives yourself for not being perfect.