Wow. I honestly cannot believe how quickly this year has gone. I actually kinda maybe completely forgot about my little biz turning one because life has been hectic! I wanted to take this opportunity to note down my reflections on my first year in business - the good and the bad and everything in between!
**PS this is a bit of a long one so maybe grab a cuppa before you sit down to read!
A year ago I decided I wanted to do something more with my life. I'd been working in school administration for 10 years and although I can safely say I really did love my job, I felt like my skills were being under-utilised.
After years of having my own blog and handmade store, I knew I loved the behind the scenes side of things. I also knew not all business owners were in the same boat as me so I felt like there was a market I could tap into. I was lucky to have made a lot of connections through my blog and online store so picking up my first couple of clients was surprisingly easy.
Fast forward a few months and I realised to grow the business any further, there was no way I could keep up with it and my 9 - 5. I took a huge leap of faith and decided the time had come to hand in my notice. This meant the last term (as crazy as it is anyway) was even crazier as I tried to make sure the handover to the new person would be as smooth as possible whilst still completing my normal jobs, running my VA biz as well as a handmade online store AND a sewing blog and YouTube channel.
I saw the warning signs that my anxiety and mental health was suffering but I just knew I had to push through and hoped things would get better in the new year...
I actually had a bit of a rocky start to 2018. 3 of the clients I had in 2017 that I had counted on returning in 2018 didn't (for their own reasons nothing to do with me - phew!) This was a bit of a stressful time as I realised I would have to put myself out there a lot more if I was going to succeed.
To be honest, I felt like I muddled my way through the first half of 2018. We started a renovation on our house (an extension which included us gutting the back rooms of our house) so we had no kitchen, no bathroom and it meant I had to work from my mum & dads during the day. It also stretched us financially without having that stable second income - super stressful times!
As a result of this and the craziness of the last half of 2017, my mental health got to a really low point. My anxiety (something I've been dealing with for a long time) turned into mild depression and there were some days I struggled to even get out of bed.
I knew something had to change a) for my own health and wellbeing and b) if this business was going to succeed.
I had been following Emily Spicer-Stuart for a while and decided she was the business coach for me. I really dislike the fluffy business coaches out there (no offence to anyone!) and really liked Emily's down to earth personality.
The $250 for her power hour was the best investment I could have made for my business. I knew the direction I wanted to take the Lorraine Virtual but just didn't know how to get there. Emily came up with some really great suggestions going forward and gave me clear action steps for how to get there. She was also happy to look over my new package offerings and provide feedback which I am so grateful for.
I also decided I wanted to undertake a full brand refresh at this point. I wanted something more true to me and a bit more modern. I upgraded my logo, branding & website and this truely made the world of difference going forward. I felt completely refreshed!
I also signed up to the free webinar from Kat Walters which popped up as a sponsored post in my newsfeed (I usually don't click on these but something drew me into her) It was all about transforming your Instagram feed (she calls it "How to turn your Instagram account into a stylish mean money machine" - not what it was called when I signed up or I probably wouldn't have - I really dislike that kind of wording!) I knew how I wanted my feed to look but I had no idea how to get there!
The webinar is the most amazing, value packed free anything I have ever signed up for. I would have actually paid for the full course had I been able to afford it. I learnt so much about my feed and put what I had learned into action straight away!
Out of all of this, I ended up dropping my hourly rates and moving to packages & retainer packages instead. Why? Hourly rates were fantastic at the beginning of my business as I learnt how long things would take etc. But they are not great as a stable income and I wanted more structure so we could budget for a few months at a time.
Did I end up loosing a few clients?
Was it worth it?
Honestly the best decision I could have made for my business.
I am now attracting the right kind of client for my business (I was sad to lose the clients I did as some I had been working for since the beginning of my biz. There were no hard feelings at all and they completely understood the new direction of my business.)
One month into this new business structure and I was a few hundred $$ off of my monthly income goal (which was about half of what I'd made the whole financial year before from Lorraine Virtual!)
This month? We are 7 days in and it looks like I'm going to hit that goal well before the month is over.
It is safe to say the last year has been an absolute rollercoaster! There have been huge highs and very low lows, but I now feel like I'm on the right track and I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying my work!
If you made it this far (well done!) I hope you have found something to take away with you from my reflections. This small biz life is tough but oh so rewarding xx