Looking back on the past year, it’s not enough to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. I’m constantly taking inventory of what worked and what didn’t in my business. But I want to encourage everyone to share their experiences and lessons. If we were all more open in this industry, everyone would rise together. In an effort to practice what I preach, I wanted to outline what I learned at LBD in 2019.
OVERALL LESSONS IN BUSINESS
Less is more.
I burned myself out plenty of times this year. Hustling is great and I am in a major season of that right now, but its not sustainable. Working on really honing in on what LBD has to offer and how to achieve that without burning out for 2020.
Remember the big picture.
Remind yourself weekly of your overall annual goals. This helped me stay on track when I was getting distracted. As opportunities arose, I’d jump right on them, even if they weren’t the perfect fit. Keeping my ultimate goals in focus helped me push things across the finish line. I learned to pivot a lot this year and to always grow.
Identify and own your niche.
Really hone in on what your niche is and what you want to be really good at. The sooner you recognize you can’t be everything to everyone, the sooner you’ll become an expert at what you do. This has been weighing heavily on my mind over the last month.
I have learned I don’t want to cast such a big net and reach anyone who wants to work with me. We have really curated our offering. We’re getting rid of certain services, raising project minimums and adding more ideal employees to help us achieve even more in 2020 without having a million things on our plate.
Anything is possible.
In 2019, I learned I really am capable of doing anything. Design Camp was only a dream at the beginning of the year and it’s coming to life right before my eyes. I said I would have an office by end of 2019 and I get keys to my space on Wednesday! I never knew I was capable of so much. This year was a lot of growth for the business and next year even more so. But I know I can do it, I am not scared of success anymore, and I am opening my doors to a ton new possibilities for 2020.
No is a complete sentence.
While I truly believe I can do anything, I’ve also learned I can’t do everything. This goes back to niching down and focusing on your big picture goals. I said yes to a few projects/collaborations/speaking engagements this year that I was overbooked for/wasn’t passionate about/didn’t align with my overall brand goals for the year and they were a contributing factor to my moments of burnout. This year I learned to say no and realized I serve myself, my clients and my brand partnerships better by doing so.
Hire for roles, not tasks.
When I first started growing the team, I would hand off tasks to them instead of hiring for a full role. It can be tricky making your first hire to decide what to delegate in entirety, but until you delegate a role, you’re just causing yourself more work. This allows your team members to manage their own tasks, not sit around waiting for you to task them. They have ownership over their role, can actively contribute to it, and it’s off your plate. I really feel like this was the biggest pivot we made this year.
LESSONS I LEARNED WITH CLIENTS THIS YEAR
We need to tighten our processes.
We are continuously tweaking, repeating and improving our processes. This year there were a few instances when I really identified the importance of this. Tightening our processes allow for a smoother client process – eliminating the opportunity for surprises, disappointment or miscommunication. In 2020 – our processes will be on lock. ✅
Every process should be documented.
Not only did we need to tighten our processes, we needed to define them and document them. Having all your processes spelled out in your brain isn’t really a process. We learned that the hard way this year MANY times. You need to be able to have them written down in working document (we use Google Docs for ours so we can edit and revise) so you can hand them to your team as you hire, have a baseline checklist for every step of every project, and have a safety net if you ever have to step away from your business.
Client education is crucial.
In the day to day grind, it’s so easy to forget that our clients don’t know the gray area that comes as second nature to us. Educating our clients during on boarding, before a project begins, a dozen times while the project is happening, and again at the end is info overload – it’s imperative. Full furnishing projects, new construction or full remodel projects are likely the biggest investments clients will make in a year and keeping them informed and up to date makes my job easier in the long run. Set up those processes, create the education once and recycle it from project to project.
Identify and understand your ideal client.
I was trying to serve everyone in my business. I wanted every project that came my way. As soon as I started understanding what projects I was most passionate about, what type of projects were most lucrative, and the type of people who booked those projects—I leaned into that ideal client and focused on marketing to them.
The details will cost you.
A few weeks ago I shared a VERY costly mistake when we ordered the wrong slab for a project and the client (obviously) noticed right away. While it has never happened before, we know it could happen again in the future. Not only did we have to replace the slab, we had to pay for the removal and installation of the new slab. Our clients were gracious, patient and understanding, but that mistake took thousands out of our business this year. Mistakes are a part of human nature. Limit the opportunity for costly mistakes by delegating a team member (who isn’t your ordering specialist) to proof every detail. Pay attention to the details or it will literally cost you.
WHAT I LEARNED IN THE INDUSTRY THIS YEAR
Nurture your tribe.
My community of people are amazing and still never cease to amaze me how I got so fortunate to have a small group of designer friends to reach out to for help, bounce ideas and vent to. Creating a mini-mastermind group takes more than just reaching out. It’s something you have to keep up with, connect with and show up for. I learned that even when I feel too busy, making time to show up for my tribe is always a top priority.
Sharing knowledge comes back 10 fold.
Although I’ve been super lucky to find generous, brilliant, willing women to connect with in the industry, I still see so many people hold their business experience and expertise privately. This year I learned just how much keeping secrets from colleagues hurts the industry and in turn, hurts your business directly. This year there were dozens of times I felt sharing my knowledge came back to help me 10x as much. There truly is room for everyone.
Networking really is EVERYTHING.
I can’t stress this enough. I really never knew how important this was until this year. I have had so many wonderful opportunities this year from networking with people in this industry. It takes showing up to industry events (Market is the perfect place), engaging with other designers online on their accounts, attending show houses… essentially, leaving your office.