For me, each new year brings with it fresh hope and bigger dreams. Being an introvert and highly contemplative person, I’ve done my fair share of reflection and decided that the theme for The Blog Spa this year is “Growth and Transformation”.
Having taken some courses from MindValley to work on my growth mindset, some of the things I’ve learnt from Marissa Peer is to “make the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar” and to “do what you hate most”. The latter is a lesson I know I really need as somebody who procrastinates a lot in the morning by staying in bed to read (Who really enjoys writing marketing posts and looking for sales leads, right).
But in the light of changing my actions so that my life can too change for the better, I’ve started 2017 doing tasks I’ve procrastinated for months (years) and a promise to myself to majorly up-level my business this year. So….. *drumroll please* after being self-employed for 5 years, I’ve officially registered as a sole-proprietor, yay! I think this was something I avoided doing for the longest time as I know it would involve a lot of other admin work and expenses (icky) but it’s time to bite the bullet and be more serious about my business.
I’ve also decided that this year, I’m going to be rebranding The Blog Spa as most of my current clients are actually not just bloggers but creative business-owners of various industries. I need a new brand that can reflect this direction more accurately. While I’ll always enjoy reading blogs, I’ve learnt that most bloggers I’ve had contact with are only blogging as a hobby and not willing or able to invest too much in their personal brand. In contrast, business owners tend to be more driven and motivated. I’ve found that I could relate more to them personally and well-suited to serve them with more impact.
Having said that, while my eclectic skills allow me to serve a variety of different-sized businesses, I’m aware that in order for me to survive and thrive well as a solo show, it’s important that I narrow down my niche and get clear on who I can serve best. While that is always an evolving process, I’m in the midst of refining my niche with the help of the Positioning Manual and an upcoming strategy session with a marketing consultant that I look forward to.
One area of my business which I’ve not enjoyed doing was bookkeeping which was getting messy as I have clients in both Singapore and USA, and need something that can track transactions in different currencies easily. After researching and trying out about 10 accounting software, my final pick was Zoho Books which in my humble opinion is a piece of highly under-rated but extremely well-designed accounting software with advanced invoicing features (Goodbye, Excel sheets and faded receipts!). Zoho is a software company that believes in investing in product development more than marketing and advertising so you don’t read much about them on the internet as compared to Quickbooks, Xero or Wave. My message to all of you out there reading this is not to always trust all the reviews you read about on the internet as many of them are written with affiliate links, and to always do your own research diligently before investing in anything. Know that what works for others may not necessarily work for you, so get clear on your unique needs and find something that can fulfill those the best.
I’ve also hired an independent accountant to help me set up my accounting software and guess what, it feels really really good to outsource a task, especially something I know I don’t have much interest or knowledge in. The past years, I’ve been a bootstrapper and independent soul guilty of the “I can do everything myself” DIY syndrome and having gone through fits of entrepreneurial burnout, I’m going to learn to let go of control a little this year and to allow others to support me. ( Heave sigh of relief ) I know budget is tight but it helps to take steps towards the right direction so I can go focus on other things more urgent and afterall, an expert will know more and do the job better than I can. Other than Zoho Books, I’m looking into using more software and apps to help me run my business easier and more professionally, such as a project management software called Asana and a scheduling software called Calendly which are both thankfully free to use.
I also plan to invest in a business-training course for WordPress consultants called WP Elevation in Feb this year. I’m really excited about joining this community as I badly need more camaraderie and peer support. People see the “glamorous” side of my business but they don’t realize how difficult it sometimes is to manage and make business decisions everyday on your own.
Last but not least, I really do need to brush up on my marketing activities and sales skills which are sorely lacking. Honestly, the thought of putting myself out there chills me to the bone but I know I need to get over this eventually if I want to succeed in my business. I’m always on the lookout for a suitable marketing or business coach to help me with this so if you have a recommendation and know someone who is kickass, pls let me know!
After everything mentioned above has been done, I expect to raise my fees by a fair bit to justify that I’m getting better at what I do and also to offset my rising operating costs. If you’re reading this and you know you need a new website, you might want to grab my services before that happens. Also on the cards are new pre-set packages for my services. I’ve yet to decide what those are going to be but I’m working on those.
That’s all for now, folks. I hope the blog post gives an idea of what I’ve been up to and what’s going to come in the near future. Thanks for reading and all the best to all you business owners out there! Always keep moving forward, we can do this. Here’s to growth and prosperity in 2017!