Let's talk about having a word of the year for your business! I've alluded to having a word of the year (I actually had THREE words of the year) on the show many times so if you're a regular listener, you've heard me talk about this already but today I’m sharing WHAT those words are, why I picked them, why this matters, and how you can do the same!
On top of that, I’m going to share practical ways that having a word of the year has positively impacted my business this year, and I'll also give you tips on how to keep your word of the year at the forefront of your mind for the entire 365 days. I know how easy it is to choose a word and forget about it. Ready to get started?
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What is a Word of the Year?
Let's start by talking about why having a word of the year is so beneficial for your business. I feel like the concept of a word of the year has gained popularity in recent years, in the realm of goal setting, but I think that it is commonly associated with personal life goals. I know I’ve practiced this for a long time in my personal life, and I do find it to be an important part of goal setting for the new year. And while some years I did really well with it (I even had a necklace made with my word of the year once!), some years I felt that my “chosen word” fell short because I would forget about it as the year went on. By the end of the year - sometimes I couldn’t even remember what my word WAS.
Regardless, I've always enjoyed doing it in my personal life but never incorporated it into my business. So, let me quickly explain what a "word of the year" is with some examples in case this idea is new to you. Essentially, it's a word that defines how you want to show up and live your life in the upcoming year. Some examples of words of the year you might hear people say are: flourish, grounded, happy, adventure, brave, faithful, joyful, play, peace, and rest. These words can then guide your goals and actions for the year. For instance, if your word for the year is "play," you might set goals to engage in more fun activities and be more playful. If your word is "rest," you might prioritize taking breaks and spend less time on your phone or other distractions.
This is a popular trend during this time of year—choosing a word that represents your goals and discussing it while setting resolutions. However, it seems rare to hear people applying this concept to their businesses. Am I the only one who does this? It's surprising that not many business owners have a separate personal word for the year from their business word of the year. Personally, my word of the year often has nothing to do with my business. Instead, it'll have to do with my motherhood, my marriage, my faith, my health, things like that.
Why Have a Separate Word of the Year for Your Business?
You are not your business. And I believe that by declaring a shared word of the year, we unintentionally blur the line between ourselves and our business. Your business is a separate entity with its own objectives and possibly other employees. You are merely a part of your business, not synonymous with it. On top of that, having a word of the year for your business can provide focus and guidance when making decisions throughout the year. Personally, this approach helped me view business decisions through a specific lens.
Choosing Your Word of the Year
First, when it comes to coming up with your words of the year, the process is similar to how you would approach personal words. It involves brainstorming, journaling, and aligning it with your goal-setting. Remember that these words should be connected to your actual business goals for the year.
For me, I came up with my words in December of the previous year and started incorporating them into my activities in January. I didn't share them widely because they felt special and private to me, almost like a secret. I wanted them to be personal for me and the people working on these goals with me. I did share them with some close business friends and my husband, who I remember discussing with to finalize one of the words. My entire team knew about them, and we even had a meeting centered around these words.
I didn't announce them loudly because I valued the privacy of it (it still feels a little funny to share them here today!). So, as you think about your own words for the year, whether in business or personal life, remember that it doesn't have to be something you share with everyone or post on social media. It can be something just for you and the people who are helping you achieve these goals.
My Words of the Year for 2023 Were Templates, Team and Traffic
For templates, it obviously refers to my Showit website template shop, which actually celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. Within that goal, I aimed to revamp various elements of the template shop and create more templates, including specific add-on templates that I wanted to design this year. Templates were a major focus in my business, and although I didn't accomplish everything I had planned to do (and want to do) this year, I made significant progress.
For team, what does that mean? For me, it meant making some new hires and improving team communication. I also implemented new systems and restructured some processes which was a big focus for the year. Two of the hires I’ve made more recently were ones that I believe are some of the hardest hires to make in your business. And looking ahead to next year, I'll be starting maternity leave in early March, so my team will continue to play a crucial role in my business. As the year comes to a close, I've been delegating more and figuring out how to navigate maternity leave.
Lastly, for traffic, that really means visibility and marketing. So I’ve been putting myself out there more and maybe saying yes to some things I would not otherwise. It also meant doing some different strategies on Instagram, getting on TikTok for the first time and things like that.
Choosing YOUR Business Word of the Year
Choose your goals for the year based on what you want to achieve. They should align with your vision and business forecasts. Don't just choose them because they start with a T or something like that (although I did love that I was able to choose three words and use alliteration).
When considering what to work on in your business this year, first think about the areas you want to focus on. Businesses are multifaceted, so you'll have different objectives at different times.
Here's some questions I would ask yourself:
- At the end of the next year, where do you want your business to be?
- What are the biggest changes you would like to have “been through” by next year?
- What will be defining things (that might even already be on the calendar)?
- What are the goals you have for the year already?
- What words sum up those goals?
Next year is going to be a whole new ballgame for me. I'll be welcoming a baby after just two months and then I’ll be taking maternity leave. We won't be using childcare for the second baby for about a year, so my work life will look very different. That means my goals for next year won't be the same as before. Take a moment to consider what's already on your agenda and what significant changes you'd like to see in your business by the end of the year.
This also doesn’t have to be done in one sitting. I probably sat with my goals over a few weeks before deciding on my focus for the year.
How My Words Impacted My Year
First of all, I ran all of my goals and new ideas that happened as the year went on through this lens. Let's be real, you're going to start the year with some goals, but then by Q3, you may have new ideas. I know some people have this perfect 10 year business vision but as a small business owner, I don't know how you do it. I don't know what things are going to look like at that point. I find some things happen slower and some things happen faster than I expect and then I’m asking myself, “now what?”. These words help you decide the answer to “now what?”.
You guys have heard me share this quote by James Clear where he said, “success generates opportunities and distractions”.
I think that sometimes an opportunity is literally just a distraction disguised. Whether or not it's an opportunity or distraction literally depends on your unique goals. What might be an opportunity for your other business friend might actually be a distraction for you because y'all are in different seasons and you have different goals. So that was a huge way these words played a part for me because I was looking at all the opportunities this year and being like, “is that an opportunity or is it a distraction? How does that fit into my capacity? And also how does it fit into these goals for the year?”
Here’s an example with my word “traffic”
I've been on about 20 podcasts this year. Not all of them have aired yet, but I've recorded 20 interviews on other people's shows. I actually recorded one right before doing this episode, and I have more scheduled before the year ends. I've spoken at one in-person event and taught two live webinars for software companies (Dubsado and Showit). I've also participated in two summits, and I'm about to start working on a third one, so it will be three in total in 2023. All of these align with my goal for this year, which is to increase traffic. If traffic wasn't my goal, these opportunities might have been distractions.
Looking ahead, next year I'll probably be more selective with online summits and other things like that because my capacity will be lower. I think it's important to evaluate each opportunity through the lens of my goals and consider if it aligns with what I’m working for. Even if it does align, we still will sometimes have to say no to opportunities we don’t have the capacity for.
The Biggest Takeaway For Setting Your Words of the Year
The key takeaway here is that while these words serve as the foundation for setting your goals for the new year, it's important to remember that it's okay to change your mind once you've achieved those goals or if the goals you set no longer align with your vision. There might be instances in your business where you initially think a certain course of action makes sense, but once you start taking action, you realize it doesn't. In those cases, you can use these words as a guide to assess whether the decision aligns with your business objectives.
Keeping Your Words of the Year Top of Mind All Year Long
The first step is to align your goals around these words. Each of my business goals for the year fell into one of these top-line categories. This approach ensured that my goals were not random and made them easier to remember.
Telling your team is also a great way to keep your words of the year top of mind. Have a team meeting to discuss the vision, goals, and their significance. Seek input from your team to make informed decisions aligned with your annual goals.
On the same note, I think it's helpful to tell other people. Don’t be afraid to have it come up naturally in conversation, because this kind of thing is nice to speak out loud. That being said, you can also hold it tenderly close to you as well and keep it private if that feels better for you. I've done a mix of both this year.
Lastly, place your chosen words where you can easily see them every day. Whether it's in your office, another space in your home, or even in your car, find a spot that will serve as a visual reminder. Personally, I wrote my three words and my personal word for the year on a dry erase board last December, and they haven't been erased since. They are simply written in blue dry erase marker, nothing fancy, but I see them every day right in front of me. Another idea is to use sticky notes and place them on your desk or mirror. You could also write the words on the outside of your journal or planner, or even make them your computer or phone background. Some people even use their chosen words as passwords to constantly remind themselves. The key is to find a way to bring these words into your everyday life so that you don't forget them.
Setting Your Business Words of the Year
To sum it all up, I hope this convinces you to choose a word for the year for your business, not just your personal life. Maybe this will also be the first year you choose one for your personal life too. If so, that's amazing. I really hope this episode helps you. Thank you for letting me nervously share my own words for this year, and cheers to all of us setting words for 2024.
Can I Help You Grow Your Business in 2024?
As you dream and vision cast for your business in 2024, I would love to help you take things to the next level. Whether you need a new website template to elevate your online presence or just want a specific template to add onto your existing Showit website (to spice things up a bit), my Showit Template Shop can help.
Or perhaps you're a designer who wants 2024 to be the year you really go for it and you hit those profit goals (and client goals and social media goals). Check out Booked Out Designer which is my program for brand and website designers, all about building an in demand design business.
Or maybe for you starting a podcast is on your 2024 goals list (or you have a podcast and you want to start really scaling it), I'd love to help you with that too. My new course Podcast Success Blueprint, which will be opening again in 2024, would be perfect for you.
Lastly, I also have the Profit Sheet, my financial spreadsheet for organizing and tracking your finances as a service-based business. I can’t wait to support your business in 2024!
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December 5, 2023