Looking Back and Ahead: Confessions and Entrepreneur Goals

Design TLC Lunch

Today I was excited to have lunch with some local people who have supported my business throughout the years. As my business has grown, I am so grateful not only for my clients, but for all of the generous, talented, smart people who have helped me be successful and “up my game.” One of the career goals of an entrepreneur is to foster a community that helps us grow as a business, friend and human being!

I wish I could have gathered together all those who live far away as well! I love the online WordPress and Genesis WP communities. I have been helped by strangers who now are friends, even if we have never met. I am sure I won’t remember everyone who has inspired me, provided solutions, offered assistance and given me advice, but I want to list a good number of them, just to demonstrate HOW MANY people have impacted my life and my business this year!

So thank you shout outs from the bottom of my tender loving heart go out to (in no particular order!):
Davinder Singh, Tom RansomSridhar KatakamRobin Cornett, Carrie DilsLiam DempseyChris Lema,  Chris Wallace, Jon Brown, Brian Hogg, Jeff King, Shay Bocks, Jackie Delia, Tonya Mork, Zac Gordon, Jim True, Anthony Paul, Adam WarnerMatt CromwellBridget Willard,Ginger CoolidgeNatalie MacLees, Leland Fiegel, Liam Dempsey, Andy Stitt, Andrea Whitmer, Craig SimpsonWalter LopezEvelyn PowersCasey DriscollDylan BarlettBeth Soderberg, Karen Bate, Jamie Choi, Rachel Warren, Vicki Price, Michelle Czernia, Maura Fredericks, Alex Robertson, Grant Price, Joe Howard, Jennifer Mulchandani, Christine Wilson, Amy and Susan Masson and more! If I left you off, I hope you know I am still grateful for your help and support.

Year in Review

What I Learned

While every project I work on has something new about it, and an opportunity to learn, in 2016 I was motivated to learn some specific new skills. I worked a bit more with version control, using SourceTree and BitBucket. I started Tonya Mork’s Know The Code Genesis Theme lesson and also some plugin development skills. I started using sass and svg’s in the last quarter, and look forward to expanding my knowledge of those techniques in 2017.

I also continued development of the joint venture, Nice Work, with my partner, Evelyn Powers. This has been a tremendous learning experience, both in learning to work as a team and also expanding business skills that have made me a better entrepreneur and strategic thinker.

Finally, I embraced Beaver Builder this year. After resisting this page builder for a while, I finally gave it a try and it has changed my world! I find it easy to work with and to customize, and believe it is an asset for my clients and helps me work faster and create better looking websites.

Career Goals of an Entrepreneur

My business income grew slightly in 2016, but more importantly, the projects I worked on were more extensive and of higher value. I am learning to better estimate and value my time, making the work I do more profitable.

I started a more focused blogging practice this year. I conducted a 30 day blogging challenge in the spring, which really jump started my comfort level with blogging. I use CoSchedule, which helps me schedule and be accountable for having a semi-regular blogging schedule.

Tara Claeys and Amy MassonI attended 4 WordCamps in 2016: Miami, New York, Baltimore and WCUS. I also took part in CaboPress. I made a lot of new connections and made some new friends.

I was interviewed on WERA’s Awesome Women Entrepreneurs radio show. I had fun telling my story and being on the air!

Finally, I revamped my Design TLC website this month. My main motivation was to create a more fleshed out maintenance plan offering and to increase my rates. I did some research on what others do in this space, which was helpful.

One of the barriers to my offering/selling maintenance on my website has been complications with bookkeeping. I use QuickBooks online, and having multiple clients on different recurring schedules, all paying the same amount, was a nightmare in QB because the transactions do not import with the customer data. So there would be 5 “Stripe Customers” paying $50 in March, and I (or my bookkeeper) had to manually match each of these payments to a specific customer’s recurring account. It was not worth the amount being paid to manage the transactions this way, so I stopped online payments in 2015/16. A breakthrough occurred when I talked to some others who use this process – they don’t match the customer to the payment, but instead use their membership/recurring payment system on their website to keep track of a customer’s status, and all payments in QB are listed as generic customers purchasing a recurring product. Sorry if that is too much detail, but I would think others might face the same issue and hope this is helpful!

What’s Planned for 2017

I have 4 main entrepreneur goals for 2017, some of which I have already begin to implement:

      1. Work on my self-confidence and inner “story.” While I love the WordPress community, sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in. This “imposter syndrome” is often discussed these days in blogs and WordCamp talks. I know I am not alone! What I have discovered about myself is that combined with my already shaky self-esteem, this phenomenon is causing me to be be filled with self-doubt when interacting with the WordPress community. I am very confident when talking to clients, but with my peers, I often feel like everyone knows more than me, is more successful and does a better job. This year, I am going to try using meditation to help me change my inner story and love myself a bit more.
      2. Advance my development skills and coding knowledge. My reasons for making this a goal are two-fold: first, I like to learn and will feel more confident if I have a better understanding of code and level up my skills (so this helps with goal #1). Second, having stronger skills and deeper knowledge will help me work faster and accomplish more, to be more profitable and have more time for other things (see goal #4). The key to this goal is that I am going to DEDICATE 4-5 hours a week to online learning. I am blocking off Fridays for this and am going to try to stick to it and hold myself accountable. I have a local colleague who is making the same commitment, and we plan to hold each other accountable as well.
      3. Start a local Meetup and give back to the community. This also will help with goal #1, in that I find that helping others learn is the best way to confirm my own knowledge and to also learn new things. I love meeting people who are new to WordPress and sharing my tips and experiences, and seeing the lightbulb go off when something I say helps them get a better understanding of what they do. I also love meeting others who are in a similar place with their business, or who are more advanced than I am.I would also really love to get involved in a charitable event, like Website Weekend, to help some non-profits by doing pro-bono work with other WordPress professionals in a “hackathon” type of event.
      4. Adopt a hobby that is not fitness or computer related. My days are basically made up of two activities: early morning fitness, like running, biking or boot camp and working at my computer or with clients to make websites. While these things make me happy and I am content, I do think that I should diversify a bit more. I would like to do something musical this year. I think this will be a second half of the year goal, but I am keeping it on my list. My youngest child will be heading off to college in the fall, so I think this will be a good time for me to have another focus and activity besides my business.

WordCamp NYC

I have seen a few others sharing their Year in Review and career goals of an entrepreneur for the new year. It is inspiring to see what others are doing and it is helpful to put goals out there to help us be accountable.

What are your goals for 2017?

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