I’m going to miss 2019. It’s hard to say what the “best” years are, but in terms of growing a business, this one was pretty darn good. I’ve been trying to figure out why it was good, and I’ve come up with seven reasons.
This is relatively new for me, but I’ve started taking Uber to some of my off-site meetings, and it’s been shocking good. It’s not that I mind driving, or that the Uber drivers are all perfect, but having that few extra minutes to catch up with life is so wonderful.
A great example of this was just a few weeks ago. I went to the Northeast Cobb Business Association luncheon, and I took an Uber back to the office. Along the way, I caught up with messages that I had missed in the past 90 minutes during the luncheon, sent out a few quick replies, sorted out my afternoon, and then walked into the office. As it turns out, the team had been waiting for me with a variety of things to discuss, and the Uber ride put me in an excellent place for it. Because of Uber, I already knew what was in my inbox and how my afternoon looked, so I was able to dive in without needing that “gimme 10 minutes first so I can see what’s urgent.” It was awesome.
Uber may or may not make the list next year, but this year was a great start.
I didn’t read as much as I’d like this year, but I’m learning to make better use of what I consume. I read a total of 10 books and have done a few things to make them more valuable.
- I put each of the titles/authors in Anki so I can remember them. This doesn’t help a ton, but it keeps them a bit more fresh in my brain.
- I’ve been tracking my reading list in Notion, which gives me a place to keep notes and to quickly determine the next book to dive into.
- I’ve only done this one so far, for Seth Godin’s “This is Marketing,” but I took my Kindle highlights, pasted them into a blog, and then wrote some of my thoughts by each highlight. This was a great way to review the book, remember what I got out of it, and hopefully remember those lessons a bit longer.
I don’t have a set goal for how many books I’d like to read in 2020, but I think doubling from 10 to 20 would be an excellent place to start.
5. Notion CRM/Pipeline
I’ve been using Notion as a CRM/Pipeline for a while now, and it’s really starting to pay dividends. For too long, I would reach back out to a potential client and then assume that they would respond at some point. People don’t always respond, and as a result, they could slip through the cracks. Now, I’m much more focused on follow-up, and my team is helping with new ideas to create valuable ways to keep in touch with leads.
There are certainly tons of great tools out there that you can use for this, but with Notion, I’m able to constantly tweak how it works, and it’s always getting a little bit better.
I’ve been a member of the Kennesaw Business Association for about five years, but this year I really dove in. The first thing I did was add all of their dates to my calendar before the year began so I could work meetings around their events (to the extent possible), so I attended far more functions than in past years. I also became the Chair of the Membership Committee and was able to meet a ton of people through that role.
I’m finding that business associations aren’t a great place to just “get business” for a company like ours, but I’ve made hundreds of new connections this year, and the friend-of-a-friend connections have been growing wildly.
I plan to dig even deeper into KBA in 2020, and will be president of the association for a year in 2022. If you’re in the Atlanta area, it’s a phenomenal group to join.
3. Jason Blumer
We hired Blumer CPAs to take over our day-to-day bookkeeping, and the impact has been far more significant than I could have imagined. They didn’t do anything magical, but they helped with so many little pieces that the sum of their work has been incalculable.
- Our payroll now runs automatically.
- They manage our books every month.
- We have a very set way to handle owner pay and bonuses (versus eyeballing our bank account).
- We can look at our P & L anytime we need (versus spending a few days to get those reports).
- We have a formula to help determine when we can afford to hire our next employee (versus eyeballing our bank account again).
It’s all pretty basic stuff, but Jason and his team have done an excellent job of helping us find those holes in our system and solve them in an affordable and simple (to us) fashion. I’m excited to see what else gets tightened up in 2020!
2. We Took Time to Celebrate and Give Back
It was a hectic year, but we made sure to take some time and celebrate. It’s still something we need to do more of, but it’s come a long way. Our team worked very hard in 2019, and it was nice to get some celebrations in.
- We spent time volunteering with MUST Ministries as well as with Kidz2Leaders.
- We had a team Christmas party at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
- We had a holiday lunch with some of our favorite partners.
- We celebrated our 10-year anniversary by having a 10-year-old birthday party!
- We had various other little adventures, like morning meetings over breakfast and drinks after work a handful of times.
I always want to do more, and we will in 2020, but it was great to see us take this big step forward in 2019.
1. Our Team
It may be somewhat cliché to have this as #1, but wow, there’s nothing else I could put here.
- Ali was out for part of the year with her second child, but the team did fantastic in her absence. That said, it was wonderful to get her back. The positive impact she brings to every interaction with the team and with our clients is something no one else can duplicate, and it’s been amazing to have her by my side for the last 10 years.
- Ashlea has continued to take her development talent to higher levels. There were quite a few times this year when I’d say, “How long will xx take? 3 or 4 hours?” and she’d laugh and say, “Maybe more like 10 minutes.” Her growing arsenal of tools and plugins, combined with her desire to always be learning, is having a massive impact on every project we work on.
- It turns out that Brooke isn’t just an amazing writer — she’s a killer project manager too! She took on the role in Ali’s absence, but I think she’s found a new calling. Our projects have always run quite smoothly, but she’s taken that to a whole new level by staying on top of us and our clients to make sure everyone is doing what they need and hitting every deadline.
- If you ever reach out to us needing help, you’ll probably talk to Natalie. She’s fielded over 1,800 support tickets this year from our clients, and responded to all of them in an average of just 34 minutes! If you’ve ever put in a support ticket for anything, you know how insane that kind of response time is. She works incredibly hard to keep our clients happy and their sites running smoothly, and the numbers speak for themselves.
- Elena is the newest member of our team, and it was scary how quickly she became indispensable, both in terms of her skills and her personality. We expected her to ease in over the course of a few weeks, but by day two, we could hear her infectious laugh throughout the office. In terms of work, if you ever get the chance to work with a designer that is an enneagram 8, look out! There is nothing that Elena is afraid to tackle, and she does an amazing job with everything that crosses her desk.
I honestly wish I could freeze time and just keep this exact team forever. I know that companies are either growing or dying, so trying to stay fixed here wouldn’t be very wise, but I know I’ll look back years from now at this group and always get a big smile on my face when I do.
Onward to 2020…
Our first 10 years has been great, 2019 has been awesome, and I’m excited to see what 2020 brings us!
What great things happened to you in 2019?