The stats are in, the numbers have been counted and I’ve grown profits by 26% in 2018.
My initial goal was 60% as I was feeling highly ambitious in January, however, I have not stuck to this new years resolution. As I started taking on more clients, I found the pressure to be too much, especially as I had a young child to take care of. I began feeling like the focus I should have is on maintaining current customers, as there had been one or two clients in 2017 that I didn’t retain to a year, which I found incredibly stressful.
Here’s how I achieved 26% growth this year.
Concentrating on retention
My priority this year has been keeping current customers happy, it always has been, but I put some extra special effort in. I did a big overhaul of my strategy and upskilled by learning to create more video and animated work. I had some year reports to do, and I worked hard to show in my analytics that the campaigns had been working. I also aimed for more face to face meetings so that problems can be identified quickly. Because of this, I have only failed to retain one client in 2018, and this was due to budget issues on their side as they were the smallest client. This still taught me a lesson that I should only be taking on work where I am sure the client has budget for the entire period.
Turning down more clients than I take on
When I first started work, I was taking on whatever clients I could find as enquiries were scarce. This year, I’ve had more referrals than I could handle. If a client hasn’t been the right fit for my area of expertise, or if they’ve been on the smaller side and I’ve had concerns about their budget, I’ve referred on the work to competitors who are happy to take them on. This has left me more time to concentrate on current work, and has meant when a client comes along who is a perfect fit, I’ve been able to undertake the work.
Last year I did a lot of events and had a lot of speaking opportunities. This year, I’ve only done work with the University when it comes to engaging with the community. Doing events, networking and classes was just an expenditure of energy, I wasn’t getting a good return from the time I put in, so I decided to conserve my time. In 2019, I would like to put more focus on community projects online. If I’m doing a class or seminar, I want it to be online so that I can reuse the content and reach a bigger audience.
Working with the same agents
Instead of growing my business by reaching out to new agencies, I decided to just continue the work I was doing with my existing agents. We have a good relationship after over a year of contact with one another. To add more agencies to the mix would just be overstretching myself at this point. It would be very easy to establish new relationships with new agents, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin.
Playing the long game
26% growth is smaller than I initially would have liked, however, if I again grow by a further 30% next year, I will have reached my short-term goal income in 2 years instead of one. All in all, two years is not a long time. If I can reach my ideal, dream world income, my next step will be to expand out to a wider agency, get some talented employees and start thinking about things in terms of revenue rather than take-home profit.
Learning to deal with stress and pressure
When I was ignorant about how other business owners feel about the pressure that’s placed on them I realised that stress and pressure isn’t something that needs to be reduced. I learned that pressure is part and parcel of entrepreneurial success. Reading the book Relentless by Tim Grover was a big eye-opener for me. Does Michael Jordan feel pressure and pain before he has a big match? Hell yes. The bigger my business grows, the more pressure I will be under. This has made me feel a lot better in a way because I know that it’s something I need to learn to manage, rather than something I need to reduce. In the normal world, people try and live as stress-free as possible, in the entrepreneurial world, pressure is something we actively seek as we’re aiming to substantially increase our profits. Now I know this, I’m not afraid of the additional pressure when I onboard a new client.