Let’s talk about six (years in business)

Celebrating success is something we should all do more often. When we achieve success as a small business owner, we tend to swiftly move on to the next job and forget about all the good stuff that’s just happened.

I am as guilty of this as the rest. That’s why, every year on the anniversary of registering my business I force myself to stop, take stock and write a blog reflecting on my accomplishments.

Six years is by far the longest time I’ve ever stayed in the same job. But running your own business isn’t a run-of-the-mill job. It’s several different roles in one. This variety is perhaps one of the main reasons why I’m still doing it. I love that no two days are ever the same. Over the last four days, I’ve finished my year-end bookkeeping, attended planning meetings for two different committees I sit on, quoted for two new copywriting jobs, started drafting a client’s website content, interviewed someone for a case study, managed the design and print of a document, and written this blog post.

That’s accountancy, project management, business development, writing, journalism and marketing skills all used over just a few days. I’m not sure there are many jobs out there that require you to possess all of these skills. So to all my fellow small business owners out there - don’t forget to celebrate your own success because you’re absolutely fabulous at what you do!

An eclectic mix of content writing projects

2021 was another year of learning for me. Client website projects included electric vehicle charging, hair extensions, tutoring, poetry for business, school bursaries and pay as you go printing, while other content writing covered private schools, ice cream, pharmaceuticals and two brilliant family-focused charities. I had more repeat clients than ever before and almost a fifth of my business came through valuable referrals, for which I'm eternally grateful.

So aside from learning about other people’s businesses and customers, what other lessons did I take from year six as a small business?

Lesson one - When people value what you do, price isn’t a deal-breaker

The first thing I discovered in 2021 is that being brave (literally) pays off. As the end of year five approached, I toyed with the idea of increasing my fees. I put it off for a while because I was scared of what might happen. Mostly, I was scared of losing clients. Then I decided to be brave and test the water with some new clients. They didn’t bat an eyelid at my new day rate, so I rolled out the fee increase and justification to existing clients and, guess what? They didn’t blink either. No client decided to walk away and the small increase has made a significant difference to my bottom line. All that fear and fuss over nothing!

Lesson two - Do more of what you love

An intuitive business coach once asked me ‘What kind of projects do you most enjoy working on?’ My response to her back in 2017 wasn’t so different to now. I love writing helpful and informative people-focused (not direct sales) content for small business websites and marketing literature. Health, wellbeing, lifestyle, travel, financial services and people development are always fun areas to work in. Back then, I also said I loved the feeling of helping people get a foot in the door through CV writing. That remains true and I’d add to that LinkedIn profile writing, of which I’ve done a fair bit over the last 12 months.

Getting under the skin of a business or organisation is something I do well. So helping larger clients to develop their tone of voice, key messages and writing guidelines has been something of a natural progression. Creative projects like rebrands and straplines also float my boat. I love nothing more than settling down with my Sharpies and a blank piece of paper to think up weird and wonderful options!

Lesson three - Make realistic plans

I’ve seen a lot of posts about people binning new year’s resolutions in favour of new year’s not-to-do’s (a list of things you will not do this year). I’m not a fan of making any kind of resolutions, especially at this time of year when all I want to do is hunker down in front of the fire with a good book! I’ve learnt that I have enough to-do lists in my life without adding more unrealistic goals.

My plans (not resolutions) for 2022 include:

  • Getting back to a consistent blog-writing routine and writing about all the things I love.

  • Finishing the SEO course I started in the autumn and sharing my learnings in a series of blog posts.

  • Spending more time working on my business with my new coaching buddy.

  • Taking a bit more time off and hopefully having some holidays to look forward to.

I know there’s nothing mind-blowing in there and that’s the way I like it. These four things are absolutely achievable for me. I don’t feel a need to make any wholesale changes to the way I work or run my business. Comma Sense is doing just fine the way it is.

Success celebrated! Now it’s time for me to get back to work...