If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that we can’t always be in control of every aspect of our business (or our lives!).
There’s no doubt we all have things we would have liked to pan out differently this year, but there’s also no point dwelling on what we can’t change. So if you’re looking for something more positive to focus on, I thought I’d share 20 things you can do before the end of 2020 to set up next year for success - no matter what 2020 looked like for you!
Who knows what 2021 will hold, but these are things we can all put into action now to give ourselves the best chance of an epic year ahead.
1. Set some goals!
I know, I know, everyone talks about this but it’s not always as exciting as it sounds. If you struggle to set goals around growth or revenue, start with an outcome that does light you up and work backwards from there. Maybe you’re on a mission to put 1000 educational toys in the hands of kids around Australia over the next 5 years, so set a goal of 200 sales per year!
I’m guilty of neglecting my goal setting when things get busy, but when I do make time for this, it definitely helps keep me motivated.
2. Join a community
If you’re a solo business owner, you’ll know just how lonely this life can be. Joining a business community can arm you with moral support from people who understand, the chance to brainstorm with other entrepreneurs and invaluable guidance on your business journey. Personally, I’m part of The Modern Marketing Collective and DBL Squad, but there are so many options out there. Take some time to find the one that’s perfect for you!
3. Remove one thing you don’t enjoy from your life
It could be outsourcing a task in your business that’s outside your genius zone, ditching a service that you don’t enjoy offering, or even getting help with a household chore to free up more time. Try to take one thing off your plate and leave room for more of what’s really worth your time.
4. Eat a frog
Okay, don’t actually eat a frog. I’m talking about tackling that one “icky” task that you know you have to do, but it’s been sitting on your list for way too long. Now is the time to deal with it, and go into the new year with a little less weight on your shoulders!
5. Invest in something to up-level your business
Now I’m no business coach, but I think anyone who’s been their own boss will understand that sometimes you need to bite the bullet and spend wisely on things that can help your business grow. It doesn’t need to be a $10,000 retreat or a $20,000 website if that doesn’t make sense for you right now, but even something as simple as fresh headshots, product photos or professional branding (wink, wink) could have a massive impact on your credibility - and sales!
6. Spend some time on self-improvement
Keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape is not only a must to stay fit and healthy, but when you aren’t feeling right, you can’t do your best work either. Trust me, I know it’s hard to make your health a priority when there are 1001 other things on your to-do list, but even making small tweaks every day helps. Baby steps!
7. Rest and recharge
Again, I know this is a luxury for most of us (any other mums reading?) but as a designer, I know I can’t keep my creative juices flowing unless I take some time out once in a while. A 6 week holiday around Europe might be off the cards for a while, but even taking one weekend to fully switch-off from work could do you wonders. Go on, try it. You have my permission.
8. Don’t neglect your hobbies
Seriously, when was the last time you actually did something just for fun? I’m lucky I get to do one of my favourite things - illustrating - almost every day, but sometimes I also want to create things just for me.
If you’ve forgotten what your hobbies even are recently, I challenge you to find one to try in 2021.
9. Make some “business besties”
Going to networking events has never really been easy, but in 2020? It’s been pretty much impossible for most of us. This is tough because having a support network of industry peers to brainstorm and bounce ideas with is so important.
Even though it will never be the same as connecting in person, I promise you it’s still possible to make amazing and meaningful connections on social media too. Yes, really! It’s not easy at first (I’m still working on this myself) but you just never know who you might meet if you put yourself out there a little...
10. Set boundaries
Yep, I know this one is hard, and it’s something I think I’ll always be working on myself, but we have to do it. One thing I’ve taken away from 2020 is realising what things I actually miss doing, and what things I was saying ‘yes’ to just because I felt obligated. Time is the only thing we can’t get back, so spend it wisely! This goes for your personal and professional life too.
11. Get your systems and processes sorted
I touched on this when I shared the 5 steps I took before going full time in my business, but I can’t tell you how much time (and headaches) this has saved me so far. If you really can’t handle the thought of doing it yourself, look at engaging an Online Business Manager or Virtual Assistant who can take the lead for you!
12. Hone in on your ideal customer….
If you’re anything like me, your ideal customer has probably morphed and changed as your business has grown. You might have started out thinking you’d work with certain people, and then realised that you’re actually offering the most value to a totally different group! When you’re not working with dream clients, nobody wins. So step back to figure out what your ideal customer looks like, and write it all down to create a “persona” you can reference later.
13. … And make sure you’re actually attracting them!
This person isn’t useful if it just sits in a folder never to see the light of day. You have to remember this ideal customer profile every time you write a social media post, draft a blog, send an email or run an ad. The more you can tailor your marketing to help this person, the more you’ll actually attract ideal customers to your business!
A big part of helping every marketing message attract the right customer is to have a highly consistent and strategic brand. If you think your brand might be in need of a refresh after working out who your ideal customer is, grab my free Brands Visuals DIY Audit to find out.
14. Give your collateral a facelift
While we’re on the topic of design (what’s new, Kat?) whether you’re planning a rebrand or not, now’s the time to invest in some fresh promotional goodies too. If your current social media templates, merch or business cards aren’t exciting you, replace them with something you can be proud of. You can make a better impression, and you’ll be so much more motivated to actually put yourself out there!
15. Do a spring clean
I’m lucky that as a designer, I have some pretty mean skills when it comes to filing systems and keeping my documents organised. But if your online workspace is a bit of a hot mess? It’s time for a clean out.
16. Up-level your workspace
Speaking of hot messes, how about your office? Or, erm, your kitchen table?
If you’ve been working from home more often this year, you’ve probably realised just how important a dedicated (and organised) workspace is.
Of course, it has to be functional, but personally I need to make my workspace a little inspirational too. It could be hanging up some of your favourite artwork, photos of your family and friends, a list of your goals - whatever keeps you motivated and inspired.
17. Ask for feedback
Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and what you feel you should be offering that we forget to do the most important thing… Just ask your customers what they want!
Use an online survey to make it easy, ask specific questions, and offer something to thank them for their time. The insights you get will be invaluable, and your audience will see that you genuinely care about their needs.
18. Ask for help
I’ve touched on outsourcing already, but even if totally letting go of tasks feels too hard (or too expensive) right now, you can still lighten your load by simply getting help from an expert.
Getting some advice, help or training that makes you more effective and efficient might be all you need to get out of this rut we call “2020” and into an amazing 2021.
19. Say thank you
This idea is all about gratitude. Take a minute to think about all the people who helped make your 2020 that little bit brighter, and send them a thank you note (or even better, a personalised gift). It will strengthen your relationships (regardless of social distancing) and give your own mood a boost at the same time.
20. Reflect and reward yourself!
We started this blog by talking about goals, and obviously we all need to keep watch on how we’re improving into the future, but don’t forget to “zoom out” and reflect on how far you’ve come as well. If we only ever look into the future, it’s easy to feel like you haven’t accomplished much, because you’ll always be focused on the next milestone. So take 10 minutes to write down everything you accomplished this year (big or small) and celebrate all of it.
To say this year has been a rollercoaster would the understatement of, well, the year! But regardless of how your 2020 looked, I hope these ideas give you some inspiration to turn things around and make the next 12 months as amazing as you deserve them to be.
Oh, and about that business besties thing? Here’s one you can all get started with - me! Feel free to give me a follow on Instagram so I can connect and cheer you on, or send me a message if you need a little help with any of the design or marketing tips above.
Here’s to a safe, happy and healthy year ahead!