The best business decisions I made in 2018

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Well, here we are. Staring at the end of 2018 and most of us wondering how in the heck it went so quickly. I can’t help but love the end of a year and the start of a new one. My absolute favorite few days are those between Christmas and New Years. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and the Christmas season. But by December 26, I’m ready to shut it down. And like most people, I feel like I can change my entire life in those six days between the end of Christmas and the start of the new year. And while I’m planning a post on goals too, this one is more of a look back at what worked in 2018. I think before we can set realistic goals for a new year, we must spend some time reflecting on what went right (and wrong) first.

So here they are…my best business decisions of 2018 (and if you stick around until the end, I’ll share my worst decision, too!)

  1. Saying “no” to projects that did not fit my mission

I realize being able to say no to a potential project is a luxury and some entrepreneurs cannot do this. I’m thankful however that I have been brave enough to turn down projects that did not fit with my mission. Some days, this was a real struggle - particularly during times where my project slate wasn’t necessarily as full as it could have been. But, in the end, it turned out to be a great decision that allowed me to really focus on clients that fit with why I started One Nine Design. Also, by saying no to the wrong projects, my schedule was open for those who would find me and be a perfect fit. Looking back, it all worked out exactly as I would have hoped.

2. Batching my work and tracking my time

Some time right after the first quarter ended, I realized I was not being as efficient as I could be in running my business. Some tasks were taking me way too long, others were being neglected until they were emergencies, and my weeks were all over the place. Meetings were interrupting my work flow just as a I got into a groove and the girl who loves a routine was feeling out of sorts most days.

I took a few days to track my time and figure out my priorities that really mattered in my business. Once I could see where the problem areas were, I fixed them. I chose two days a week that I would take meetings. I chose one day a week to work on graphics for everything I needed (my website, client sites, social media, etc.) I blocked off specific time for writing content. And I stopped beating myself up about sending the dog to daycare one day a week, haha!

This new system helped me streamline so much better and was absolutely crucial to figuring out a summer work schedule when my kids were home.

3. Purchasing a Simplified Planner

This is my second year using the simplified planner and it has made such a difference in staying organized throughout my week. I have a system of “Sunday Prep” where I make sure my written planner matches what I have in my iCalendar, and I use this time to set goals for the week. Because I have so much room to write (I’m using the daily version), I can also make my personal to-do list for household stuff, kid stuff, etc. At the end of the day, whatever isn’t checked off is moved to the next day. Fridays become my catch up day and I re-visit each day in the planner of that week and make sure everything has been accomplished.

4. Making giving to charity a priority & deciding to give my time, too

When I started One Nine Design, I knew that I would absolutely give away a portion of what I earned to nonprofits I believed in. Having worked in the nonprofit industry for years, it was a natural decision that was pretty easy to make. However, I did not realize how that decision would continue to fuel me on difficult days. In the days (and sometimes weeks) that motivation was lacking, I would take time to research organizations that were new to me and might make sense for me to support. I would read stories on Kiva about entrepreneurs who needed small business loans and their stories impacted me more than I expected. And even after giving away more than I anticipated for the entire year by the time August rolled around, I wanted to do more. I made the decision to serve as a board member for a local nonprofit, Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley. My husband and I had already been donors for a while and I knew some of the staff from my previous work with United Way. But making that leap and commitment gave me a renewed sense of purpose for the fall season and now into winter. I love being on the other side of the board table and finding creative ways I can help with my time, not just my money.

5. Prioritizing self-care

I know self-care has turned into the buzz word of the year, it seems, but man do I love it. Working from home and being mostly isolated during the week is sometimes my favorite and other times, a bummer. I’ve learned in the past two years that I have to make time to get outside of my home office and that looks differently, depending on the week. This year I stopped putting this off and started scheduling it. My favorite self-care days looked like:

  • Going for an afternoon walk with the dog at the park

  • Listening to podcasts all the time (often while also walking the dog)

  • Reading a ton of books (30 so far in 2018)

  • Having lunch with friends

  • Binging the entire Gilmore Girls season :)

  • Getting facials at One Skin Care Studio

My list could go on and on but I’ll stop at five! Here are just a few runners-up that didn’t make the top five….

Wow. Just writing a recap of these decisions has made me happy, too! I hope you’ll find something here that might resonate or encourage you as you plan for 2019.

Oh and I can’t leave you hanging! My worst business decision of 2018? Wasting money on technology tools that I didn’t evaluate closely enough. I am a sucker for the 30 day trial, the free basic version which forces you to upgrade, etc. Somewhere around October, I had lost track of all the $9.99 and $14.99 stuff I had signed up for. Now my to-do list includes a clean-up of my monthly and quarterly expenses and a whole lot of unsubscribing!

I hope you’ll take some time to make your own “best of” list and share a link to it over on my Facebook page! And check back because I’ll be writing a post all about 2019 goals very soon!

Merry (almost) Christmas!

-Andrea

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