The New Year is upon us, and what better way to clink virtual champagne glasses than with a 2021 Annual Review!
2021 was my first year at You Need An Amber. In fact, I established the LLC on Saturday, December 26, 2020, and then got to work in January.
This isn’t my first business – it’s my THIRD – so I was pretty confident in setting up the business side of things: the LLC, financial stuff, website, etc. This is the fun part….the creative part….the distracting part that doesn’t actually translate to money in the bank.
I’ve been around the online business block since 2013 to know that all of the things “they” say to do that does not result in money: create an opt-in, build your email list, hire a VA, blog every day, start a YouTube channel, etc.
I was consciously focused on the revenue side of things – you know, bringing in cash.
I needed clients. Work to do. People to meet. A pipeline to build. Projects to complete.
I’m here to build a business, right?! And, a business needed money. And clients. So, I turned my hustle on and got to work.
WHAT WENT WELL IN THE BUSINESS
Not getting ahead of myself
Remember all of that fun stuff I mentioned earlier that you get to do when you start a new business? (I’m talking about the downloadable PDFs, starting a podcast, creating a logo, etc.) I didn’t work on those projects right away. I wanted to; I really did, especially because that’s the part I feel really good about. But, I waited until the time was right.
I spent my time – 3+ months, actually – getting clients and establishing proof-of-concept before I spent any money on a website, a professional email address, contractors, extra software, or business cards.
And it worked!
I didn’t build out my website until 4 months into the business. I also used a Gmail email address for the first few months too. And, you know what happened? NOTHING. I still got clients. I still helped businesses. No one seemed to care about any of that stuff.
Proof-of-concept was more important than the fun bits.
I am proud to say I worked with 24 business owners in 2021. These clients range from financial advisors, website designers, product designers, coworking spaces, photographers, non-profits, retailers, and more.
I worked with some of these clients for 2 weeks and some of the clients have been with me since the beginning. There was even one bad breakup that I would never publicly discuss, but know that bad breakups happen to everyone.
For my first year in business, this is a huge success.
At one point in the year, I had 11 clients…at the same time. #TooMany
Yes, there are ebbs and flows in every business, but at one point, I was overloaded with work. I hired a summer intern. I brought in ongoing contractors to help with tasks that took up a huge part of my day. Hiring contractors was 100% necessary to help me stay on top of my tasks even though it took a bit away from my bottom line.
Totally worth it.
Running a business
I mean, this is what I do for others, but you know what they about the cobbler’s children. It’s easy to put yourself last or to delay your own business’ tasks because you’re working on client work. I didn’t really do that. My books are (mostly) up-to-date; my legal documents are in order, and all invoices are paid. And, I made a profit.
In fact, my profit margin for 2021 was 85%. And, I’m giving myself an 8% raise in 2022, so that’s a WIN.
Accepted into the Director of Operations Certification program
In true Amber fashion, I have to stay on top of my continuing education. Sometimes that looks like physical books, audiobooks, and podcasts. Other times, I’m binging YouTube videos. Then, I found The Ops Authority and the Director of Operations certification program. I am about 50% through the program and am learning a ton about how to be a better project manager, strategic partner, and overall operationally focused.
I’ll be thrilled to have this certification under my belt.
I went on 4 trips this year: Mexico, San Fran, San Diego, and Miami. Andrew – my special man friend – and I are scuba divers, so we went to Mexico to do a bit of diving. Unfortunately, the weather gods were not on our side, and we didn’t get to dive, but it was a great trip. We flew to San Francisco was for my friends’ wedding, and a few days later were in San Diego visiting Andrew’s brother. Miami was a surprise trip for Andrew’s 40th birthday to try our luck again at diving. We were successful; the dives were great!
Travel is one of my favorite things to do!
WHAT DID NOT GO WELL IN THE BUSINESS
It wouldn’t be fair to only talk about the things that worked, because that’s not real life. I don’t try to pretend that things are perfect, and I hope you don’t either. One of my values “excellence always” means talking about the hard things and staying accountable to yourself as a way for continued improvement.
I got overwhelmed with too much client work because I struggle to say “no,” even when it’s not a good fit.
Yes, I made a profit. Yes, I had so much work that I had to hire contractors. But I was overwhelmed and overworked many, MANY days.
Can I be honest?
I like to be the hero. I like to solve problems. I want to fix what is broken. Sometimes, I take on projects that aren’t a good fit just because I know I can be helpful. While that’s good for the other person, that’s NOT good for me. And then I feel overwhelmed and overworked.
I didn’t pay myself on August 1.
Remember those ebbs and flows I talked about? At one point in the middle of summer, a bunch of projects naturally came to a stopping point. Nothing bad happened, just a coincidence. That meant that for August 1, I didn’t get a paycheck. (I pay myself on the 1st and 15th of the month.) This was a REAL wake-up call about the importance of having a business savings account and a consistent pipeline.
WHAT I WANT FOR 2022
For 2022, I want simplicity. I want to work on fun projects. I want to be excited about the work I do. I want to create programs and products that are inclusive and dynamic and valuable.
Mostly, I want my clients to feel at ease and to give them the white space in their calendar to live the life they want.
And I want to travel…because I always want to travel.
Cheers to 2022!