Entrepreneurship is one hell of a rollercoaster. Someone recently described it to me as ‘a series of “oh shits” followed by “woo hoos”, which I thought summed things up nicely.
One of the biggest “oh shits” I face when running my business as a solopreneur is decision making. I’m definitely a type A gal, assuming that A stands for anxiety, and if I’m not careful I can find myself mired in decision paralysis for weeks, or even months before deciding where and how to invest my time and money.
And I don’t think I’m alone. Running a business is hard work, especially when you’re a sole trader. Sure you can run the pros and cons of any new opportunity past your business buddies, your significant other, your cat…but no one is as invested in your company as you are.
When it comes to taking action, it’s all on you.
Which is why I find having a watchword of the year so useful.
Choose the right word and you can use it as a guide, a compass, a North Star showing you the way.
Let me show you what I mean…
In 2018 I had two watchwords: preparation and patience.
In January, I started a post-graduate course in Translation Studies with the Open University. I was also still working at my part-time job teaching preschool children. That alone is a packed schedule, add client work to the mix and you can probably guess just how closely I resembled the proverbial headless chicken.
Various business opportunities came my way during the year that, had I said yes, would’ve left me with an overloaded schedule, compromised the quality of my work and had me reaching for the vodka before breakfast. I had to put my blog on hold, suspend my membership of Atomic (a fab group run by marketing champs Andrew and Pete), and cut back on my local networking.
It was frustrating as hell!
But I knew my watchwords. I had decided that 2018 was about preparation and patience. My study and my existing clients/projects were the priority. (Incidentally, as a strategy, it totally paid off — I’ve been able to give up the teaching gig and I passed my uni course with a Distinction and have even more fancy letters after my name — ya dancer as we say in Glasgow 😊)
2019 has a different watchword so I’ll need a different strategy. The new watchword is partnerships.
I know that I love working with other creatives and the driving force behind why I do what I do is the pleasure of helping other entrepreneurs hit their business goals. So ‘partnerships’ is a no-brainer.
With ‘partnerships’ as my North Star, I know that I need to focus on finding new folks to collaborate with and I want to provide you guys with a more rounded service so that I can be instrumental in helping you build your brands. It means a move away from specialising just in web copy — I don’t want to write your web content and then send you off into the big bad world alone, I want to help you create lead magnets, build your email lists, and sell even more of your juicy products and service packages. A true partnership!
So what does that look like in terms of business decisions?
Joining a marketing membership platform (I’ll be going back to Atomic for sure!)
Getting myself and my brand out there again — creating content, in-person networking and hopefully attending a few events/conferences.
Creating new service packages so I can offer my clients a collaborative approach, in conjunction with other creative professionals (oh look, more partnerships!)
And probably a whole bunch of stuff that I haven’t thought of yet. With my watchword at the forefront of my mind, I’ll know whether any opportunities that come along in 2019 will help or hinder my goal for the year. Which will make the decision-making process eleventy billion times easier. I hope!
Could a watchword work for you?
Struggle to prioritise your marketing efforts;
Find it hard to know which opportunities to grab and which to body swerve;
Want to invest in your business but aren’t sure where to throw your cash;
Hide under your duvet, whimpering, and comfort eating Pringles whenever there’s a big decision to be made.
Setting yourself a 2019 watchword might just be the answer. And of course, before you come up with your ‘word of the year’, you need to know where you’re heading.
This is the perfect week to do it. Hopefully, you’re starting to wind down before the holidays and you’re probably beginning to reflect on everything that went right — or wrong — over the past 12 months.
Grab yourself a notebook and write down what you absolutely loved about your business this year. The stuff that made you happy dance, the stuff you couldn’t wait to share on your social feed, the stuff you want more of.
Like me, it could be about building more partnerships, or, like my 2018 self, it could be linked to an element of professional development you want to explore. It could be something like ‘connect’, where your business goals are linked to the relationships you want to build, online or off, or it could be something super cheesy like, ‘believe’, if you’ve had a particularly rough year as an entrepreneur and you’re teetering on the edge of returning to the 9-5.
I’m generally not one for ‘woo’, but I do reckon that as soon as you hit upon the right word, your gut will let you know. It will just make sense. And when you find your word, plaster that sucker everywhere — your desk planner, your calendar, your mirror, hell, stick a post-it note to your forehead if you have to.
Use that word to guide your 2019 business strategy and see where it takes you.
I’d love to know if this is something you do in your business? Share your word in the comments and how it’s shaping your 2019 strategy!
Like this? You’ll probably find this one helpful too: Top tips on how to invest in your startup.