- Network, network, network. I attended several networking functions throughout the year and met some really great people. I've even been able to refer some of the people I met to paid gigs of their own. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Chit chat and small talk don't always come easy for me, so these activities challenged me - in such a good way.
- Give back. I took on one pro bono client this year. Working with the Denver VOICE has been so rewarding. I love the mission and the people are fantastic. Not only that, but the contacts I've made by working with the VOICE are priceless.
- Sell, sell, sell. Word of mouth is the most successful way to get new clients. Hence networking and volunteering. I pass my card out whenever I get a chance and try to meet with new and old contacts at least twice a month. I also printed holiday post cards to send to many of my contacts this year. I received great feedback on them - an inexpensive, yet powerful way to keep my name out there. Although I don't think it's necessary to have a website, I'm glad I designed one for the business. It's certainly easier to point people to my website than to lug around a bunch of writing samples.
I'm so happy with much of how I conducted business in 2012, but there's always room for improvement.
Try and Try Again
- Manage time wisely. Time management has always been a weakness of mine. I tend to thrive on deadlines, so when there's not a hard-and-fast date for a project, I wait until there is one. This has led to some late nights. I can definitely improve on last minute rushes by preparing in advance. I also need to resist tidying the house up and other time wasters while working at home.
- Keep good books. The small details - entering expenses and tracking trends - are also a weakness. It's not that I can't do them, it's that I leave them until last minute. I also don't have a good system to track these things outside of Excel and I can't justify buying a program - yet. On the same note, I tend to pay taxes at the very last minute as well. That's something I'm definitely planning on working out in the year to come.
- Cut unnecessary expenses. Although I know that networking expenses are an important part of doing business, I'm going to try to stick to meetings over coffee rather than meetings over lunch.
The perks of working for myself and at home are limitless. Here are the highlights:
- I can run during the day, which makes winter-time running possible. This is the first winter I've really been able to keep up on running and the flexible schedule is to thank.
- I purposely schedule meetings within a five-mile radius of my house so that I can ride my bike. I can't remember a week when I didn't ride my bike to a meeting.
- Sick days with the kids aren't so stressful because Nate and I don't have to juggle days off any more. Similarly, we don't have to piece together daycare when school is out and daycare is closed.
- Most importantly, I can spend more quality time with my kids.
- My schedule is flexible so that I can accept adjuct teaching opportunities when they pop up.
Although I never planned for my professional life to look like this, I feel like it's balanced and rewarding - just what I need at this point in my life. Happy one-year anniversary to Struckman Consulting. Here's to many more!