Before setting goals for the next year, I like to take some time to reflect on the previous year. It's a chance to evaluate what worked, what didn't, and relive the best memories, like the places I traveled and the things I accomplished in my business. In this episode, I want to take you along on this journey with me, sharing some practical business insights I learned in 2023 that can help you grow your business in the new year. Additionally, I'm going to be sharing two things I'll be focusing on in 2024. As always, I’m sharing practical tips in case you have the same goals as well!
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Reflecting on 2023
Before diving into the first two lessons, let me share a glimpse of 2023. 2023 was a BIG year for me. I was able to sort out some team member things (that I will share more about below).
Additionally, it marked the end of nursing Colin at the end of April. So, for most of the year, I wasn't nursing a toddler or baby anymore, which is quite unbelievable. If you've been a nursing mom recently or ever, you'll understand the impact it has on your life when you stop nursing. Now, I'm about to enter that wonderful phase again as I'm pregnant with baby number two, due very soon. Also, in June of 2023, I found out I was pregnant again. Hence, I've spent half of this year being pregnant, which has been a major highlight. It feels like time has flown by. How am I already in the third trimester? How is the baby almost here? I have no clue.
This year, I went on eight trips, half for work and the other half for fun vacations or family holidays. I managed to strike a better work-life balance this year than during Colin's entire life so far.
In my life as a mom, I have a toddler boy who's a little over two years old and I'm also pregnant with a second baby boy. In 2023, we had childcare three days a week throughout the year, except for holidays. This allowed me to focus more on work and maintain consistency. In contrast, in 2022, we didn't have any outside childcare, and my husband and I were handling everything together. It was a different experience. This year, I felt a sense of stability and strength with my schedule. So if you're currently in a different season, remember that things can change and I feel you there! I know I’m about to enter into the season again where that's less of the case!
I also launched a lot of new templates this year, which was so much fun. There were many new add-ons, full site templates, and all sorts of designing things. Additionally, I introduced an exciting new course called the Podcast Success Blueprint. Interestingly, launching this course wasn't initially part of my goals for 2023, but as we adjusted our objectives throughout the year, it became a reality. It's been really fulfilling to see it come to fruition! I'm currently working on completing it, which is a lot of fun. It was a BIG year!
Now, let me share two of the lessons I learned.
1. Being in a season full of “yeses” is fun BUT there’s also growth happening in seasons of “no”.
This year was filled with more yeses for me. I said yes to podcast interviews, speaking engagements, online summits, partnerships, and trying new things. In contrast, in 2022, I had fewer public-facing commitments and a more irregular work schedule with a newborn. I also took maternity leave during that year and moved to a new house right at the beginning. So, a lot was happening!
This year, I traveled more for work, attended more conferences, and took part in more online ventures that involved some level of risk because I hadn’t tried them before. I participated in two online summits and taught free classes for Dubsado users and Showit Designers. I have to admit - it was a lot of work, and some opportunities were easy to say yes to, while others made me think, "I'm not sure if this will be worth it, but let's give it a try and see." I was also interviewed on over 20 podcasts this year, so there were plenty of yeses there too!
But here's the lesson for me. 2023 was a year of saying yes. I had more stability in my life and business, and one of my main goals was to increase visibility. So it made sense to focus on that. All the yeses felt good, and I didn't have any resentment. I was excited because it all made sense.
In 2024, I'll have fewer yeses because I'll be on maternity leave for part of the year and focusing more on behind-the-scenes work in my business. And that will feel good too. There's still growth, just in a different way. So I encourage you to remember that everything has its season. You might find yourself in a year where you're nursing a baby and only working during nap times, or where you went back to a 9-to-5 job and feel defeated, or where you said yes but feel like it was to the wrong things.
Regardless, life and business have their seasons. For me, in the little years of parenting, the different business seasons are shorter-lived and you move between them quickly. But when you're in the thick of things, it may not feel that way.
A Tip for You Going Into 2024
Think ahead to 2024 and consider what you want to say yes and no to. Identify the opportunities that sound delightful and the ones that may be distractions. Will it be a yes season or a no season for you? Both have their value! Creating a list of things you're interested in saying yes to and things that will be no can be beneficial AHEAD of time so you don’t feel reactive in the year (and you can feel more confident in your decisions).. Store it on your computer or a document for easy access (somewhere easy to find - not a notebook you’ll never look at again). Remember, you can always change your mind, but having a reference like this can help you make better decisions.
Having the right people in the right seats within your team is everything!
Last year, I faced some team struggles, which were my responsibility. I had difficulty with hiring and determining the right roles for people. It wasn't that anyone on my team was doing anything wrong, but I felt overwhelmed and needed more support in certain areas. It was like a mental chess game for me. This was particularly challenging because I had already hired for positions that were easier to fill, like customer support and design assistant. However, I struggled with deciding if I should hire certain roles that should have additional responsibilities or if someone already on the team should handle them. I struggled with keeping my team small while expanding. I was constantly asking myself, like should this role handle this or that, or should someone already in the business take care of it, or should I outsource? It was all very confusing!
I also hired a marketing assistant this year, which I honestly believe was the most challenging role to fill. There's something about marketing as a job that's harder to define in terms of job descriptions and finding the right fit. That's one of the toughest roles I've ever hired for. Marketing as a job can be tricky to define in terms of job descriptions and finding the right fit, especially for small business owners and personal brand businesses. As someone who genuinely enjoys marketing, I found it challenging to determine what tasks I should delegate and what I should handle myself. It's an interesting process, but definitely took some time to figure out.
At the end of 2022, I had also just hired a podcast manager (I kind of consider this a 2023 hire since I hired her right at the end of the year). But now, as 2023 comes to a close, I feel confident in having a strong, exceptional team in place. I can't express enough how much this boosts my confidence as a CEO and improves the overall smoothness of operations. Managing a team is indeed work, and I'm still learning and figuring things out. So I just feel like I'm still always learning and figuring things out and growing as a leader, literally through every conversation, every project, all the things. But this has been huge for me this year, and it's been interesting stepping into a more visionary role in some areas of the business.
If You’re Growing a Team This Year, Here’s My Advice!
If hiring for marketing positions feels difficult, it's because it is. As small business owners, finding the right marketing help, whether it's for social media, email writing, or hiring an actual marketing manager, can be more challenging. So if you're experiencing this difficulty after previously finding hires to be less challenging, it's because marketing is inherently more challenging. I really believe that!
And then, as you grow your team, take the time to play that mental chess with yourself. Weigh out different options that could make sense for your team structurally. Trust me, it's worth every single minute. Even though it may not feel like you're seeing immediate growth in the business, spending an hour typing into a document or drawing diagrams on a piece of paper can set your business up for future success.
I know it can be hard to figure out, and I'm still figuring out aspects of it myself. But when I first started, I had so many documents in my ClickUp “visionary area” dedicated to figuring this out. I spent so much time on it, asking others, listening to podcasts, and seeking resources. And let me tell you, it was worth it. So, every minute you invest in this might be challenging, and you might feel like you're never going to get someone in the right seat or that it's too hard and confusing. You might even think it's easier to do it all yourself. But I want to encourage you that it absolutely is worth it.
Bonus Lesson: Having a Word for the Year Was HUGE
So here's a bonus lesson I want to share before I look ahead to 2024. It's about having a word for the year (I talked about this in episode 245, just a few episodes back). I truly believe it's a can't-miss episode for you as an entrepreneur. Having these words provided me with direction, focus, and a lens to make decisions in my business throughout the year.
And listen, I know it's hard to predict a whole year. As a business owner, I personally like to think in quarters. It's challenging to decide what exact thing I'm going to do in November of this year when it feels so far away. You never know how your life and business will change. However, I did choose to have overarching goals and my three words for the year. All my goals fell under those words.
And to be honest, I did decide not to pursue some goals because they didn't align anymore when the time came up. You might still change your goals too. But for me, focusing on my three words of the year gave me clarity and allowed me to make different decisions in Q4. I had accomplished what I set out to do in the prior quarters. It’s OK to change your mind!
Now - Let’s Talk About 2024!
Personally, with the baby due at the end of February or beginning of March, I almost kind of think about after he arrives as being 2024 and the first couple of months almost feel like “still 2023” for me.
So my goals for 2024 will be different from 2023, which was a more stable year. And that's okay. Different seasons of life require different things from us. Looking ahead to 2024, I'll have more personal life goals and a different focus. My business will still be important, but I have fewer goals, and will be focusing more on a few bigger projects. I'll also be spending a lot of time at home with my new baby boy. Just like with my son Colin, we don't plan on using outside childcare for a while. So I'll need to be resourceful and make the most of nap times, just like I did in the past. In 2023, I had more help with childcare, so it was less of a challenge. But I remember that naptime hustle from when Colin was a baby!
Here are two things I’m focusing on for the year:
#1 I’m Rebranding my Business
I'm rebranding my business, which is pretty crazy. I haven't shared it on the podcast yet, but I did talk about it a bit on social media. It's been a long time coming, but I want to clarify that I'm not changing my business name. I'll still be Elizabeth McCravy, and the Breakthrough Brand podcast will stay the same. I'm not changing the names of my courses either (in fact, I’m in the process of trademarking them!).
However, I am updating the visuals for my business, like the fonts, colors, and logos. I'm even designing a brand new website. My current site is quite large and not very cohesive because it has grown over time with new additions and changes. So, I'm really excited to create a new website that is more cohesive and takes my business in a different direction. This is why I'll be focusing more on behind-the-scenes work in 2024 rather than front-facing marketing. It's like the calm before a big reveal and a big change.
Behind-the-scenes of My Rebrand
The work involved in the new website and rebranding is a lot, but I'm thrilled about it. I'll share more details closer to the time, and I plan to do a whole podcast episode about the rebrand once everything is done.
I'm currently making some changes to improve the shopping experience, like my affiliate program and the hosting of my template shop. It's a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but it will be worth it in the long run. The rebranding process is still ongoing, but you'll start seeing some changes on social media gradually. I prefer making adjustments in smaller increments that make sense for me. The new brand is more cohesive and aligned with the direction I want my business to take in the coming year. While it’s a significant investment, I’m so excited for the direction I’m heading!
#2 I’m Focusing on Visibility Again in 2024 (But in a Different Way!)
If you listened to episode #245 where I shared my words of the year, you’ll know that traffic was one of my three words for the year in 2023. And by traffic I meant more eyes of my business and products. We had specific goals for increasing visibility and trying new things in terms of word traffic. We also aimed for summits and other similar activities. It was a major goal for the year, and I had a lot of fun and exciting experiences (like I mentioned above - there were a lot of YESES).
I won't publicly reveal my words for the year on this podcast, just like last year (I think I will do a big reveal at the end like I did this time!). However, I'll be focusing on visibility in a different approach that aligns better with my current season of life as a new mom. So if you take anything away from this I really just want you to know that sometimes your business will go through seasons and that’s GOOD and NORMAL. What made sense for me last year won’t make sense this year.
Setting 2024 Goals
So there's a little snippet of my 2024 goals and year plans. In January and February, I'll be focused on coursework for Podcast Success Blueprint and preparing for maternity leave. Then, I'll transition into other things and take maternity leave. The year will feel shorter, but I'm still excited and optimistic about it all. I hope you take the time to reflect on your own year before setting goals. It's so helpful.
Lastly, don’t forget that you can be flexible with your goals. Just because you decide something in December or January doesn't mean you can't change your mind in October and do something completely different. It's a commitment, but one that you can revisit. Sometimes the method to achieve a goal changes, but the overarching vision for your business remains. You might scrap a goal but come up with another one that still works towards that vision. So, reflect on your year, think of goals as commitments, but know that you can change them. A helpful tip (at least in my experience) is to think of the year in quarters. Have an overarching vision, but break your goals into quarters. It's been really helpful for me at least!
Take My End of Year Survey!
Lastly, thank you so much for an awesome year of podcasting! I'd love to hear your feedback and what you'd like to see more or less of in 2024. Your input will help shape future episodes and products. The survey is anonymous, and you'll even have the option to ask me anything. As a token of appreciation, 10 lucky participants will win Starbucks gift cards. The survey deadline is early January, and you can get started here! Thank you!!
Fill Out My End of Year Survey Here!
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December 19, 2023