2017 was our official third year as a business and we learned a lot. A lot, a lot. All that learning gave us a better idea of where we want to take our business this year. Here’s a look at what we are celebrating and what we’re looking to improve in the new year.
I went part time, and it was probably the best thing I did all year.
I cut back on Mad & Dusty and started working part time at our local yoga studio. Not only did I get a sweet discount on freelance uniform staples (yoga pants, yay), I got to be around people again. (A surprising win for this introvert.) Adding a part time job took a lot of pressure off our business and allowed us both to pursue projects we feel passionate about. I started using my limited time more wisely. And Bonus - I've gained a much better understanding of brick and mortar small business - the struggles, the wins and how design plays a part in that. This is probably the best thing I did for my business last year.
We joined our local network.
We love our creative group here in town. Small Town Creatives meets monthly at Reformation Brewery. Each month we dive into a creative topic and build relationships. It’s been great connecting with people I see around town all the time. Dusty and I even got to help coordinate a Holiday Pop Up Shop with 20 local makers.
We traveled and enjoyed this business.
Last year, we took a little trip to Savannah in combination with Plywood Presents. We spent our anniversary in New Mexico. Then Christmas came and we stayed put. I feel like this year more than last, we really took time to enjoy the things that this business allows us to do. Spend time together. Travel. Learn. Year 3! It's been really great.
We did a bad job with bookkeeping. :(
I was so used to checking in once a week and once a month. When our sale tax filing changed from monthly to yearly frequency, I dropped the habit. I was lucky to form a partnership with an excellent bookkeeper. She offers quarterly bookkeeping help. Yes, please. I’ve also got weekly check ins on my schedule again.
We spread out too wide and lost our focus. We got too narrow and lost a few clients.
Our third year in business was a learning year. (I’ve yet to experience a not learning year.) We had grown too wide. Then we got suuuper narrow and focused into offering only 2-3 project types. It’s a smart business model, and it mostly worked for us. I now realize - I really enjoy it as a starting place with clients, but I need to think of ways to continue working with the great people we've met. (Web check ups, packaging, photography maybe?)
We had trouble closing projects.
I know a designer who charges a fee anytime a project runs over. I love this, but I’m a little scared to do it! Eeek! We did implement timeline and project templates, but I still struggle with wrapping up projects. A few of our clients have needed to pause their project midway. Totally cool! But it's been a struggle to get some of those back online and finished. I will be spending some time defining the project close process and what to do if a project needs to be put on hold. (Let me know any suggestions!) Time to refine.
How did your 2017 go? I'd love to hear about it! If you have any suggestions on the above ^, let me know! I'm so glad we get to do this together.