2021 Year in Review: My four big lessons: What are yours?

No doubt about it, 2021 has been a year to remember (or maybe forget). The impact of extended COVID lockdowns and restrictions has touched us all. For some it has seen business growth and new opportunities. For many it has meant loss of income, reduced work and stagnation.

One of the big shifts COVID has created is a drastic shake up in how people, and organisations, look at where, when and how work gets done. It has really accelerated the acceptance of remote and virtual working arrangements and all the experts seem to predict flexible work conditions and preferences for hybrid working arrangements will be here to stay for the long term in some form or another.

The last twelve months have been significant for me too, and reflecting on the year that has been 2021 revealed a couple of big lessons that I will be taking in to 2022.

Lesson #1 You have to show up online

This isn’t ground breaking and you probably see it in your social media feed all the time. But my experience over the last year really brought home to me the importance of being visible online. COVID pushed us all online more than ever before. But that left many businesses playing catch up to build and then shape their online presence.

As service-based business owners, this is even more important because we are essentially selling ourselves – our skills, our expertise, our perspective and our personality. To build trust with prospective clients we need to put ourselves out there – front and centre! Which I have found really hard, coming from a corporate EA background where I was used to running the show behind the scenes. But it is critical for growth – personally and professionally.

For 2022: I am going to build on my digital presence and look for more opportunities to show up and go live to build trust and connection

Lesson #2 Your brand needs to reflect your personality

When I started my business my only point of reference was my career as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world. I didn’t have any friends or family who had started their own business. I didn’t really know where to start to create a logo or a website. I wasn’t even aware of all the elements involved in creating a ‘brand’.

Over the past year I’ve gotten feedback from some prospective clients, current clients and my coaching group that my business brand didn’t really match my personality. There was a disconnect. My business brand felt very ‘corporate’ and generic. My personality is bubbly, open and fun. I am professional, and take my work very seriously. But I also love to have a chat with my clients about their weekend, their families and share some stories. But my professional brand wasn’t always attracting clients that shared these values and expectations.

So, I made the decision to rebrand, without fully realising how extensive that process can be! It certainly isn’t an overnight job and – if you want to do it properly – you need to do some soul searching. You need to be honest with yourself about who you are and what you stand for. So that you can attract the right kind of clients that will align with your values and respect your priorities.

For 2022: I am excited to launch my rebrand and open myself up to opportunities to work with new clients.

Lesson #3 Growth begins outside your comfort zone

Earlier this year I started thinking about what I could do to push myself professionally. I was seeing a lot of posts in my social media feed about a VA conference and caught myself thinking this would be something I would like to do in the future. When I am more ready. Literally a few weeks later one of my clients asked me if I wanted to speak at an international summit for mums starting out in business. It seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up! So I signed up to be a presenter at the All Women Rock Global Summit 2021.

Was I terrified? Yes! I was so worried that no one would come to my presentation. That no one would have any questions to ask. And of course, on the day, at the last minute, my internet plays up and I make a mad dash on a Saturday morning from my lounge room to my local co-workspace!

But it was so worth it.

My presentation was focused on providing practical tips and insights into how new mums can manage the juggle as they set up a business. It was all the things I wish someone had told me when I was starting my business. And from the Q&A afterwards, I know that sharing my experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – helped summit attendees feel more confident and prepared for what was to come. Which feels amazing.

For 2022: I will be looking for more opportunities to share my experience as a business owner and help others build their businesses.

Lesson #4 Believe in yourself

It might sound corny, but it is so important! Especially as small business owners and sole operators. We can be our own harshest critics, undervaluing our worth and underestimating the value we deliver to our clients.

Perhaps the biggest thing I am taking away from 2021 is confidence in myself as a business owner. I know the value I bring to my clients. And my rebranding is a statement to the world that I don’t need to hide behind a generic brand anymore. Because I am comfortable with who I am, and confident that I will attract the kind of clients that will want to work with me.

For 2022: I am backing myself

What are you taking away from 2021? What will you keep doing, or do differently in 2022?

If handing over some of those business development tasks you really don’t enjoy is on your wish list for 2022, or accountability is something you need to work on, then get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I can help.

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