Annual Business Review: Why 2014 Was My Best Year Ever
As part of my annual business review process, I went back through my journal in which I had charted the progress of my coaching practice and the challenges starting a business threw up. I knew how I wanted my business to develop and I had started to market my services. But because I decided to move house in the autumn of 2013 and to take a big trip of a lifetime to India over Christmas and the New Year, I purposefully waited until January to actively seek clients for 1:1 business coaching. During the course of 2014, I moved from my business being little more than a dream through the start-up phase to being on the edge of exponential growth. And so I wanted to offer some words of encouragement to those of you who are in the early stages of setting up your business, wondering if you’ll ever get your business off the ground. So here’s what I did to make 2014 such a great year.
I Put The Past Behind Me
It doesn’t matter how high we rise and how successful we are, at some point we’re bound to a roadblock and stumble. When we’re continually pushing ourselves higher and higher, the law of averages means that at some point we will take a tumble. And when we’ve fallen down this wormhole, it’s important that we develop the skills to get ourselves out quickly and regain our confidence. During 2013 I realised that I'd allowed my unhappiness in my previous CEO role to undermine my self-belief to a point where it was preventing me from getting my business coaching practice off the ground. And so I resolved to put the past behind me and move forward into 2014 with a positive attitude. Taking a dream trip to India over Christmas and the New Year was my reward for making it through a very tough period in my life, and a means of creating amazing new memories to sustain me during 2014. More importantly this trip was my way of figuratively drawing a line between the past and the life I wanted to create for myself going forward.
I Set A Clear Vision and Goals
One of the reasons I chose to travel in India was because I knew the experience would be confounding, overwhelming and challenging, taking me right out of my comfort zone. It’s when we shift out of our comfort zone that change happens. I started the New Year by seeing the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, built by Shah Jahal in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. It was simply stunning. I then went to Ranthambore National Park on a quest to see a tiger. When I planned the trip, I was determined to visit one of the national parks where this is a relatively higher concentration of togers. Lots of naysayers said I wouldn't see a tiger - being endangered and incredibly well camouflaged. But on my first safari, I had the very good fortune to spend an hour watching the alpha male of Ranthambore National Park, Ustad, as he was sitting with his kill. It is considered very auspicious to see a tiger, and so I took this as a good omen for the year. And a lesson never to listen to the naysayers!
During the very long, seemingly interminable train journeys (Indian train journeys are an edifying experience) I had plenty of time for quiet reflection. So I used this time to think through what I wanted to happen in 2014. I came back with a clear vision for the type of #workfromanywhere business I wanted to create, and a plan for how I would achieve my most important goals. When I got home, I created a vision board for 2014. And I pasted images from India in the corner as a reminder that more 'good things' would happen in the coming months.
I backed my vision and goals up with a written plan that I adjusted on a monthly basis; I set aside dedicated time every month specifically for this purpose. Over the course of the year, I reviewed and refined my business niche until I hit on what makes my heart sing and will enable me to use my particular skill-set to best serve my clients. I worked on a 3 month plan as I found looking too far beyond this period too overwhelming. And in July, I took myself off to the South Coast, and spent a happy and productive couple of days reviewing and refining my vision and goals as my confidence in what I could achieve had soared.
I Took Steady, Consistent Action
I knew that the only way I’d get traction and build momentum in my business was if I took steady consistent action. I made sure that come what may, I always hit my monthly goals. And it's the results that came from being so consistent that gave me the belief and confidence I have in my business now. Darren Hardy's book, 'The Compound Effect' explains brilliantly how we can get ‘Big Mo’ (momentum) on our side to deliver exceptional results. I highly recommend you read it.
I Got Highly Focused
This took me a while ‘to get’ as I’ve an incredibly active mind and I’m always coming up with new ideas. It was listening to videos by leadership guru Robin Sharma, as well as observing the single-minded dedication of a friend who is a surgeon that persuaded me that I had to stop some activities as these were distracting me from achieving my vision. And so I got really, really focused and stopped doing anything that did not serve my business.
- I purposefully didn't bother with a website until the autumn, relying on my LinkedIn profile to do the job instead.
- I became very particular about who I associate with, and 'let some people go' during the course of the year.
- I worked incredibly hard! But I also tried to balance this with rest periods so that I didn't burn out.
I Received Support Through A ‘Business Mastermind’ Group
During 2014, I was part of an incredible ‘Business Mastermind’ Group run by Catherine Watkin. Many business owners try to ‘do it’ on their own and this is such a big mistake. There are so many benefits to being a part of a mastermind group that I cannot recommend strongly enough that you join one.
1. Support - You have a group of other people willing you on and helping you to succeed
2. New Ideas - Members of your group will give you different perspectives and critical feedback. You learn what's currently working well in other businesses, and apply this to your own business.
3. Resources and Connections - Members of your mastermind group will each have their own list of contacts and will be able to introduce you to people and resources that will help your business grow.
4. Partnerships - You will find other business owners in your mastermind group in complementary businesses that you can partner with.
5. Collective Wisdom - Members of your mastermind group will possess experience, skills and ideas that will have taken them years to develop but they are willing to share with you.
6. Accountability - Your mastermind group will keep you inspired and accountable, so you achieve your goals.
My Top Three Business Goals for 2015
1. Get my “Your Plan For Profit’ Programme to a wider audience of business owners across the globe.
2. Set up a ‘Your Plan For Profit’ mastermind group and support them to ‘master business,’ go for their highest goals and have their very best year ever.
3. Travel more with my business – the US is high on the list.
Back in January 2014, I had no idea that the year would turn out the way it did. But if you put one foot in front of the other, stay focused and take consistent in pursuit of your goals, then you too will have a great year.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau
Wishing you a phenomenal 2015!
Join the Conversation
What lessons did you learn in 2014? And what advice would you give to other business owners to make 2015 their best year ever?
Explore Additional Resources
If you enjoyed this post, then you may also like:
- Make This Your Best Year Ever
- Consistency: Slow & Steady Wins The Race
- Overcome Procrastination: Do What You Don’t Want To Do
I have 25 years’ experience in business, including 8 years as a CEO. I trained at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.
I now run a boutique business consulting and coaching agency, Best Year Ever. If you’re interested in working with me, you can find out more about my business consultancy and coaching practice HERE.
Will 2016 be the year you look back at as the one that transformed your business and took it to the next level?