Taking Time to Review and Celebrate 2018
Happy New Year!
New Years always have that bit of extra meaning to me because my birthday falls on 30th December so it’s a new “age year” as well as calendar year, which gives any planning or intention setting that bit of extra significance.
I like to do my planning for the year in early January, when my head is most clear after my Christmas break – but first I find it important to stop and review and celebrate the previous year, in part because it’s all too easy to make progress but not give ourselves credit for it and instead focus on those things that are not going quite so well – and I know I’d fallen foul of that by the end of the year.
So why not join me to take a moment to celebrate the 2018 that’s just passed before we leap fully into 2019. Grab yourself a cuppa and work through these questions yourself.
1. What were my biggest achievements in 2018?
My biggest acheivement in 2018 was to achieve the “One Thing” goal I’d set for the year (I’m a big fan of the book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller): To grow the Business from the Heart Membership (which was then brand new having just enrolled 114 founding members) to a point where it would become my main revenue stream.
This wasn’t without trepidation: “Will anyone value this from me when there are so many memberships out there already? Can I really make this low monthly investment model work for my business? Will enough people join to make it worthwhile?”.
But I’m delighted to say that I achieved the goal, ending the year with 265 lovely members!
A second achievement was that I celebrated having a now 99% online business by spending April with one of my best buddies, Sophie Mahir of Artists Marketing Academy in Perth, Australia. It wasn’t a holiday and I still worked every day (in fact, I was in the lead up to the first launch of the membership so I worked a lot!), but it was great to be living in Australia, having my lunch breaks by the pool, and spending the weekends exploring the beaches and funky Perth cafes on the weekends (this is me in my city “office” one afternoon).
When I first started my business I actually had a dream to be fully nomadic and live and work from a campervan! But as the business grew it kept me tied to London (in a good way) with regular live events, speaking gigs, and meetings for my mentoring group – so finally being able to travel and work was a definitely something to celebrate!
2. What were my magic moments in 2018?
Here are just a few of the “magic moments” that stand out when I look back over the year:
My founding members decided to stay!
This was a HUGE moment for me. I’d enticed my founding members at the end of 2017 with a “no-brainer” offer and a big vision – then tied them in for 6 months. At the end of June it was time for them to decide whether to continue their membership – so it was the moment of truth for me – would they want to? And 86% of them did! This way exceeded my hopes and expectations – and gave me the reassurance I needed that despite all the areas of imperfection (and there are plenty) I was on the right track with what I was creating.
A shiny new members area
Another magic moment was the “unveiling” of my brand new shiny members area. Creating it was a huge big job because it involved migrating 5 years worth of existing training resources, and reorganising them into a pathway and training journey that’s easy to follow. Then there was the design (I wanted it to feel like a great place to be) and the navigation, so people could easily find what they need. When it was finally ready I couldn’t have been more delighted, and it also gave me a huge boost in confidence when it came to promoting and selling the membership. There’s still a long way to go until it’s “perfect” but for where I am now I love it – and I know the members do too.
I took a year off from my live event
Another magic moment was more of a “non-moment” in that this year I made the big decision to take a break from running my annual event Selling from the Heart Live. Last year I’d decided to make it a 2 day event from now on, but I soon realised that with my core focus being on the membership community trying to do a good job of this event with all the weeks of organisation that go into it would simply be taking on too much. So I’m giving myself a pat on the back for recognising the need to let something go in order to prioritise my main focus.
Carrying on camping!
And a personal “magic moment” has been reconnecting with my love of camping. I love the feeling of freedom that comes living entirely outdoors but it’s something I’d stopped doing, I think in part because I don’t find it that easy to motivate myself to pack up a tent and head off to a field alone. But my new boyfriend loves camping just as much me so we’ve taken to getting away for a night or two once a month during the summer and I’ve loved reconnecting to that more outdoor-loving part of me. It’s also reignited that old campervan dream (though I’m not so sure I want to live in one permanently any more!)
3. What were my biggest disappointments?
Like last year I struggled a little to identify my disappointments. It’s not that there weren’t any, but I think that over the years I’ve developed a certain resilience in business and am able to see the bigger picture and understand that things won’t always run smoothly – that’s just not the nature of business (and life!). Plus, despite the raft of smaller disappointments all the “bigger” things that I set out to do have all gone really well. So from this year I’m changing the question to:
What were my my biggest disappointments or failures?
Well, one of my epic fails was to not learn from the lessons of last year! In last years review I wrote:
“even though I love every minute of my business – I learned that if I don’t take time out for me I can still get depleted and burn out. I learned that I need to get much better at scheduling my time out well before I feel I need it, and that feeling excited about my work isn’t a good enough reason not to take enough time off!”
Once again, I’d been so excited about the new membership, especially once I had the founding members on board helping me create it and giving it momentum that I felt I didn’t need (or particularly want) to take a lot of time off and only took one “proper” holiday, in the summer.
But when I look back at just how much I did in 2018 – building the entire membership, including a new pathway to guide people on their business journey, the new members area, creating all my “launch assets” from scratch (sales page, landing pages, email sequences, webinar content and slides, live video trainings etc). Launching twice, plus a mini-launch for my Get More Clients Saying Yes! course, at the same time as delivering to the existing members, 2 work trips to Canada and a month in Australia I can see it was a lot. Especially when I’m not one of these people with boundless energy and stamina (I’ve always balanced my work alongside health challenges). So yet again by the time my long Christmas break rolled around I really needed it!
This year I’ll be scheduling my holidays in advance and taking them whether I “think” I need them or not. (Someone hold me to that please!).
Another series of what felt like small “failures” came each time someone cancelled their membership. I was working my socks off to get the membership as good as I possibly could, given the resources (time, money and people) I had available, and each time someone cancelled it triggered a moment of “what am I doing wrong?”.
I finally took the advice of my mentor and started tracking my figures – to discover that my monthly cancellation rate is only 3% which is way below industry averages (generally a 10% cancellation rate each month is considered good!). So that was another moment of reassurance for me and helped me to reframe that cancellations don’t automatically equate to “failure”, they are just part and parcel of running a membership – and actually I’m doing really well!
4. What lessons did I learn?
I’ve learned that I need to be OK to with my members getting value from the membership in whatever way works for them, whether that’s attending every single member event and being active in the Facebook group, or quietly working through the trainings and never showing up to ask questions. I was spending a lot of time worrying that if I couldn’t “see” someone they were not getting what they needed. But I’m slowly learning (with the help of emails and feedback from members) that someone doesn’t have to be highly visible to be transforming their results and how they feel about their business through their membership.
I’ve been reminded how important it is for me to have what I call “space” in my life and business. Towards the end of the year everything seemed to speed up to a crazy pace where it felt all I was doing was running to keep up. When I’m over-busy I find I can’t see the wood for the trees and am actually a lot less effective than when I have plenty of “space around the edges”. So the tail end of 2018 was an important reminder to not let the “to do” list get the better of my quiet time!
Another thing I’m slowly learning is the importance of letting go a bit more to let others do a great job for me. I’ve been getting a glimpse into how my high standards (erm, is that another way of saying perfectionism?) can hold me back – wanting to check and double check things before they go out, and keeping a too-close eye on the work my team are doing, all of which takes away from time I could be using to grow the business, serve my members and do more of the work I most enjoy. In 2019 I need to get comfortable handing over the wheel of the bus more often – even if that means the bus gets dinged and dented and driven off the road from time to time!
5. What are my top 3 business goals for 2019?
This year I’m making my “One Thing” Goal – the one that will drive all of my activity and decision making – to grow the membership to 400 members.
This might not seem like a huge goal at first glance, especially considering it’s currently 265 but there will be some drop off, and so 400 feels like a good next milestone to get the membership revenue to nice healthy turnover, which in turn will give me the extra money and resources I need to make some of the improvements I want to make to the member experience and training resources, and to get more support behind the scenes so that I can show up “front of house” even more.
It’s also a realistic enough target to be achievable without needing to “push hard to make things happen”, so I can start the year with that sense of “space” I need to do my best work.
In order to acheive this one big goal the top 3 goals are:
1. To up the ante on my marketing to reach a lot more people than I do currently. This is likely to look like a lot more livestream video (specifically Facebook Lives), creating new Free Giveaways for people to opt-in on my website, and developing new joint venture partnerships since this has always been the marketing approach that’s given me the best results.
2. To continue to improve the trainings and resources inside the membership area – it’s pretty comprehensive now (a recent joiner said “I can see that there is everything in there I’m going to need for at least the next year” ) but there are still gaps to fill, and I’ve got big plans for streamlining the existing trainings to make them easier to consume.
3. Finally I want to systematise and streamline the way the business operates behind the scenes. As a Star profile (wealth dynamics) I’m great at the big picture thinking and the people-facing work (training, mentoring, marketing and sales) but my weaker area has always been organisation. Whether that’s managing my admin in the most efficient way, or managing the people around me to get the most out of them. I know that if I could get things working better behind the scenes it would free up even more of my time to do the work I do best and enjoy most.
And that old campervan dream…
And one of my personal goals this year is to buy a campervan this summer so that I can dabble a bit more in my nomadic lifestyle and working “on the road” – though I no longer think I want to completely give up the comfort of my gorgeous flat in London!
6. Why do these goals feel important to me?
Because even 7 years after I ran my very first workshop where I taught “heart-centred sales” to a room of 13 coaches I am still as crazy in love with my work as ever, and I’ve also got better and better at it as the years have gone by. I never tire of mentoring and teaching small business owners on how to grow their business, and even if my energy or motivation is flagging it picks right up the minute I get on a live call with my members.
So to continue to do more of what I love and do best– teaching, mentoring and coaching small business owners to grow a successful business while staying in alignment with their values – I need to reach even more people through my marketing. And to do that I need to spend less of my own time tangled up in the admin and details behind the scenes.
And improving the membership resources is important because, as my own mentor always says:
“The success of a membership doesn’t depend on how many people you can get to join, it depends on how many people you can get to stay after they’ve joined”.
A membership isn’t a “quick hit” type of a business model like running a one-off course can be – for a membership to work the members have to be happy, engaged and feel they are getting value all year round. And for that to happen I need to be constantly improving, streamlining and tweaking things based on member feedback – there’s no room for complacency with a membership!
Over to you
I hope you’ve also taken a few minutes out of your day to answer these questions. What are you celebrating from 2018? And what are the lessons learned that you’ll be applying in 2019? I always love to hear from you so please share in the comments below.
And if you’re curious to look back, you can read all about what I celebrated back in my review from last year: Taking time to Celebrate 2017.