2008 Postmortem, Part 2: Ch-ch-changes

86010_page_flippin.jpg(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — In addition to being something of a strange year, 2008 was also a transitional year for me and my business. I believe this played a big role in my goal attainment (or lack thereof). Change requires a lot of work, and oftentimes, a lot of paperwork. And if you don’t deal well with change and like to pretend it’s not happening by procrastinating, well, that can take up a lot of time. Which is kind of the point, but I digress.

So, changes in 2008:

  • I changed my business model. At the end of June, I went from a sole proprietorship (Kristen King Freelancing) to an LLC (Inkthinker Communications). Note to self: next time, wait for the end of a calendar year. Taxes are about to suck hardcore.
  • I did a lot more speaking engagements (but still didn’t get paid). Factor in preparation and planning, travel, delivery, and follow-up, and you have a lot of hours gone. Note to self: GET PAID.
  • I fired two regular clients, my long-term clinical research editing gig and my paid blogging gig, both of which finished up around the end of October. (I’ll post another day about why I decided to move on from these gigs.) Note to self: Stagger planned income loss so I have time to make it up.
  • I put a lot of eggs in the basket of another regular client, who I’m alarmed to see is responsible for 60% of my annual income. If that one goes down, we’re screwed.
  • I took steps to position myself to attract clients with deeper pockets, but I failed to follow through on aggressively marketing to those clients, which is a major contributing factor to having so many eggs in one basket, and vice versa.
  • I took on several long-term projects, some of which are still going on and draining my energy. Note to self: Plan better, be more firm on timelines in contracts, and be more disciplined about getting stuff off my desk faster.
  • I traveled far more than I usually do. Conferences, family emergencies, and vacations (relaxation? what’s that?) that were NOT part of my game plan really threw me for a loop. Note to self: Put things on the calendar farther ahead and allow more breathing room in the schedule.
  • I stopped keeping regular business hours. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I got loosey-goosey, which led to lots of procrastination and time wasting when I really should have been working and marketing and invoicing, etc.
  • I failed to adequately care for my health. Last year, I didn’t eat right, sleep enough, or do several other things I know I really need to do to be functioning at minimum levels, much less progress-oriented levels.

Although not all of these changes were necessarily bad things, I didn’t plan for them or deal with them as well as I could have. And the health thing, well, that’s just bad news for anyone.

What about you? Did you have any business or habit changes last year that you think had a significant effect on your business? Or any changes that could have if you hadn’t overcome them? Leave a comment.

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(image: Ricardo Colombo)

12 comments… add one
  • Devon Ellington Jan 29, 2009

    I’m a huge believer in cutting loose the clients who are a big drain, and not relying on any one source for the bulk of the income.

    Just think of how much you learned from each of those points, though. Sometimes you just have to experience it.

    Also, don’t forget all the WONDERFUL things you did last year.

  • Lisa Dale Jan 29, 2009

    Wow Kristen. You offer some really interesting food for thought here. I’m a work 24/7 type, but I don’t actually think I’ve ever really looked at how much time I spend on what. Until this past year, I’ve just been writing my novels. But now that the first book is out and on the shelves, it’s a whole different ball game (marketing, promotion, ugh!), and so I think it’s time to reassess. This is a great post.

  • Michele Jan 29, 2009

    Yeah, I agree with Devon. She makes a good point in focusing on the good things. Or, wonderful as she put it. It’s hard to focus on those things sometimes, eh? Especially if we’re worried more about all the stuff we didn’t do.

    I admit, I was lazier last year, too. Was it in the air? I don’t know. Maybe it was! LOL

    Either way, the most important thing is that we learn from our experiences and grow from them. Most times we can’t help what goes on in our lives. Things come up that we didn’t plan for. That’s just life…

    And, my grandmother always told me the egg thing: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – and don’t count them before they’ve hatched. Easier said than done! ;-)

    *smiles*
    Michele

    Michele´s last blog post..Don’t Let Your Past Keep You from Your Future

  • Kristen King Jan 29, 2009

    @Devon, @Michele, that’s coming in a future post. :) Thanks. :)

    @Lisa, glad you enjoyed it! And from what you’ve told me about some of your goals this year, I can tell you’re already on the right track. Keep up the good work.

  • Becca Jan 29, 2009

    Awesome plan. Sounds like the site, and YOU, are really going to get some major overhauling. Change is good. Personally, I’ve decided to start working on my blogging skills so I can hopefully start making some money that way. It seems to be the up and coming thing right now, even with businesses. Good skills to have in this economy.

    :-)

  • Kristen King Jan 30, 2009

    @Becca, I’m starting to get a handle on that: change is good. :) Exciting for you that you’re working on more blogging in 2009. Very cool.

  • the communicatrix Jan 30, 2009

    Holy moly—I do believe I have found someone who is even more ambitious in her, um, ambitions than I.

    You’re moving on a lot of fronts at once, and that’s an easy way to get overwhelmed. (And if it’s not crystal-clear, here, let me make it so: I’m talking about myself, here. No finger wagging. Heaven forfend.)

    The other thing I’ll point to that may be of some relief to you is a theorum I came across in my blogular travels recently from one Stanley Marcus—of Neiman Marcus—called the five-to-one recession rule of sales. (And dude knew his sales!) To save you a click-thru (time is money!), if your market is reduced for whatever reason by 10%, you’ll have to work 50% harder just to make your same numbers.

    So that you came in that close actually speaks to how hard you worked, which makes you my total new hero, esp. given all the curveballs life threw your way.

    Finally, I’d like to give a shoutout to my gal, @dyanavalentine, who pointed me in your direction. You’re humming on all cylinders, lady, and doing it authentically and transparently, and that is my kinda blogging.

    One final thing (ugh…I write long…): if you want to implement a lot of major changes and you haven’t tried this already, give Leo Babauta’s method a try. He’s of the small-changes-regularly school of thought and while it feels like it’s never moving fast enough for my taste, the change does seem to be sticking. FWIW.

  • Kristen King Jan 30, 2009

    @communicatrix, girl, you just write as long as you want, and not just because you are one of my favorite bloggers ever. That recession rule of sales is very cool — I didn’t know about that, but it makes sense. So that’s definitely encouraging! I appreciate the tips and the encouragement, and I’ll check out the tweeps you suggest. Come back soon.

  • Nigel Lamb Jan 31, 2009

    What a refreshing read. Thanks for the honest insights. Having read though it there is a lot there that I can relate to. Planning is something that I do day in and day out for my clients, but not so much for myself. Where do you strike the balance between customer care and looking after yourself?

  • Kim Woodbridge Jan 31, 2009

    Wow Kristen – you’ve really examined this thoroughly. Thank you for sharing it.

    You should definitely get paid for speaking (cause you’re smart and funny). And, yeah, dump the problem clients. I’ve already done that with a couple of them.

    I think the main thing I need to focus on right now is consistency. I go through phases of intense energy where I’m working on a bunch of things at the same time. Then I get burned out and I go through a phases of laziness. I need to balance that better.

    Kim Woodbridge´s last blog post..How to Style a Sticky Post in WordPress 2.7

  • Kristen King Jan 31, 2009

    @Nigel, you raise a great point. We do a lot for our clients that we don’t do for ourselves, and that’s not right.

    @Kim, consistency is a big issue with me, too. I think we have similar cycles.

  • Devon Ellington Jan 31, 2009

    Just more comments on a few things:

    Kristen — I keep a semblance of your query challenge on my own — the past couple of years I’ve topped 120 by June, so it helps keep me focused.

    Kim and Kristen — I found that, no matter how busy I am or think I am, if I don’t have enough down time, what I call “percolation time” , the quality of the work suffers and I burn out. Strict scheduling doesn’t work for me — I need huge swaths of unstructured time — but I’ve learned to build in percolation time. A lot of my best ideas come on walks or in the shower!

    (I think I”m the squeaky-cleanest person in my building this week). ;)

    Devon Ellington´s last blog post..Saturday, January 31, 2009

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