How to close out one year and make room for the next year - (New Years resolutions that actually stick.)

 

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR

Reflecting on the past year allows you to do a few things.

You can see what worked and what didn’t work, what you liked doing and what you didn’t like doing (yes this is important!) and what you want to focus more on and what you want to focus less on.

With everything you do in your leathergoods business, you should be measuring and tracking progress so you know if the marketing method or promo strategy is actually working. There is no magic bullet and every business is different so determining what worked and what didn’t is super important and the end of a year is a great time to do this. I also try and do this quarterly and monthly on a smaller scale as well so that i’m always checking in on my progress and if I need to change course I can easily.

When you reflect on the past year you can see not only what worked but also what you liked doing. Building a business is hard work but it doesn’t have to be painful to be successful, right? Otherwise you might as well go and work for someone else. Reflecting on our business allows you to pivot and change course so that you’re always creating a business that you love as well as being successful.

Once you know what you you liked and didn’t like then you can determine what you want to focus more on and what you want to focus less on. This is where the planning for the next year comes in. Plan for a better year then this past year.

WHY YOU SHOULD PLAN FOR THE NEXT YEAR

If there is one thing that I learned this year, it’s that reacting is way more stressful and less efficient then following a flushed out strategic plan. When you plan you’re able to set a strategy in place and be on the offense rather then defense.

If you don’t plan, then you’re just running defense in your business constantly. You’re putting out fires, thinking of things that you want to do on a whim and executing them poorly or running around in circles with no clear direction and getting overwhelmed.

But if you plan out your year (sounds daunting but it’s not, i’ll show you how below) then you can get ready for whats about to happen in the next few months or quarter. For example, instead of it being December and thinking, oh I should do a holiday sale this month because everyone is in the shopping mood and I wonder if I can get some last minute press mentions in gift guides (never going to happen!)

When you plan out your year, you know that in Sept you need to be working on developing your pitches to magazines. And if you want to do a sale in Dec then you can start to think about this in Oct. You can start to plan your social media strategy, your email copy, tweeks that you’ll need to make to your website, etc.

There is so much more that you can do and you can do it in a bigger way when you plan ahead. When you wing it, you have a smaller impact and you’re much less effective.

STEPS FOR REFLECTING AND PLANNING:

So how do we go about doing this reflecting and planning. Below are my 6 steps for reflecting on this year and what you want next year to look like. I like to do this by playing the rose and thorn game. Maybe you’ve heard of it. What went good in your business (this is your rose) and what went bad in your business (this is your thorn)?

When going through each step I want you to do a total brain dump. Write down everything big or small that comes to mind.

Step 1: What were your roses for the year?

What were the best and most successful things that happened in your business?

What were your accomplishments and wins?

These can even be small things like, finally updating your about page or organizing your shipping supplies in your studio. List anything here that you feel really good about.

Step 2: What were your thorns for the year?

What were the worst and most unsuccessful things that happened in your business?

What did you do that you either hated doing (even if they were successful) or that just weren’t successful?

What were the fails?

This could be something like you did a few holiday markets that were total flops, or you blogged 3 times a week and you hated every minute of it.

Step 3: What would you like to do less of in the next year?

What did you hate doing this year? Even if it was successful, if you hated doing it, consider what you could do that you don’t hate. Remember that we’re building a business that we enjoy running here.

So if you’re blogging 3 times a week and it is bringing you traffic but you hate it. YOu hate writing and your dread it, maybe think about bloggin only once a week or once a month. Or maybe you start to use other peoples content on your blog. So you can still get the benefits of traffic to your site, but you don’t have to be the one to come up with the content.

Step 4: What would you like to do more of in the next year?

Is there an area of your business that you really want to focus more on. Do you want focus on certain projects? Do you want to do more online retail sales? Do you want to get more press? Do you want to collaborate with other brands.

Step 5: Plan it out

Now create a calendar. You can choose how detailed you want to get with this. Maybe you just want to plot a few projects for the year or maybe you have very specific projects each month. Maybe you know you want to do a sale monthly, so you’ll want to plan how that sale is going to go the month before.

Make sure your plans are achievable. Don’t try and do everything and create this calendar that is so planned out that you don’t have any room for pivoting or changing course. We can plan every single detail but life happens and things don’t always go our way.

This should be a fun exercise. Keep it aspiration and dream a little. Try not to get bogged down with the details at this stage.

HERE’S MY 5-STEP ROSE AND THORN PLANNING EXERCISE

Step 1: What were your roses for the year?

  • I launched a new program Lucrative Leathercraft which helps leathersmiths create successful product based leathergoods businesses. If you’ve seen any of my videos link to youtube, watched any of my live streams, or read any of my blogs, you know that i’m super passionate about helping other leathersmiths figure out the business side of things.

  • I’ve continued to help many people learn the traditional leathercraft methods that i’ve learned from a master leatherworker through my course Mastering Traditional Leatherworking basis

  • I’ve had some serious breakthroughs on my leathergoods business (yes this continues to happen even after years of running a business)

  • I started to automate some administrative processes related to social media and marketing in both this business and in my leathergoods business which feels good.

  • I grew my overall network by %

  • I got super specific with my brand purpose and zero’d in on more specific target audience

Step 2: What were your thorns for the year?

  • I felt constantly like I was on the run this year, jumping from one task to the next, never feeling like I had down time.

  • I tried to plan things out, but a lot of the time I was reacting and not as efficient with my marketing and promotions as I could have been

Step 3: What would you like to do less of in the next year?

  • I don’t want to do any craft markets that aren’t fully vetted - markets can be really beneficial but I just find them to be a lot of work

  • I’d like to do less of my own graphic design and instead hire someone do this for me

  • Less reacting and more planning of content, email copy, promotional materials, social copy.

  • Stop spreading myself so thin and feeling like I have to keep up with everyone else and compare myself to everyone else.

Step 4: What would you like to do more of in the next year?

  • develop deeper relationships with my audience so that I can craft content and videos that can help people on a deeper level

  • I want to add more step by step promotion guides detailing step by step how to drive traffic to your website, to the Lucrative Leathercraft course.

  • focus 75% of my energy on driving traffic to my leathergoods website

  • I want to build a business that administratively runs itself so that I can focus on what really matters which is helping people to learn traditional leatherworking methods

  • Put some Pinterest strategies into place to market my leathergoods

  • Focus most of my energy on retail sales

  • Do more youtube videos

  • Grow my list using different strategies like giveaways, seasonal sales, collaborations and press mentions.

  • Focus more on monthly profit goals

Step 5: Plan it out

  • Get more specific with my brand

  • Build my list with marketing and promotion

  • Focus on monthly profit

  • Focus on the low hanging fruit and the things that are going to build my business

Your turn! Whats was your rose and thorn from 2018? What do you want to do in 2019?