Welcome to another Small Business Update, oh, and it’s with me! I always take the quieter slots around Christmas and New Year slot for myself, because it doesn’t seem fair to leave someone else languishing here, and I find it an interesting exercise in setting objectives and seeing what I’ve been up to. I started doing this in December 2011, then updated in December 2012, December 2013, and most recently, December 2014. At that point, this was my plan for the year ahead: “I will be reading more: my reading slipped a bit this year and that’s not good. More on my reading blog on 1 January about specific reading challenges for 2015. I’m getting back into my running and hope to be running longer and more regularly in 2015. And I aim to keep up with my crafts a bit more. I’ve already ramped up my volunteering to include parkrun and I’ll be making sure I keep up with that and other volunteering activities.
I want to finish writing up a longer-form version of my Iris Murdoch research and getting that out there somehow, whether that’s placing it with a publisher or creating an indie book again.
Although sales have dropped on Amazon for everyone (lots of people blame the boycotts or their new KDP Unlimited programme but no one really knows), I’m planning to rework my business books to create a self-mentoring guide for editors, produce a mentoring guide to go with the original books and also put together a guide for authors on working with editors, all to be out in … well, let’s say the first half of the year!”
Wow – that was a lot, let’s have a think about what I actually achieved.
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Hm, I think there will have to be some bullet points for these:
- Reading more – Yes, achieved! I read 10 more books in 2015 than I had in 2014, and I wrote a report about it over on my book review blog, here.
- Running longer and more regularly – Yes, achieved, I joined Kings Heath Running Club and have made some lovely running chums at my pace and distance. I ran four half-marathon distances, once a month from October, and got a personal best time in the Birmingham Half Marathon and at parkrun in December.
- Crafts – Not really. I made a small stuffed Christmas tree for a Crafternoon in aid of Mind, and did some colouring in. Running and the gym were great relaxation tools for me, though.
- Keeping up with volunteering – Yes! I continued volunteering for parkrun, winning a certificate and commendation from my running club for the efforts I put into that. I continued to help out at Social Media Surgeries. I ramped up the volunteering a bit when the Conservative Government got into power and started eroding the support for the vulnerable in society even more: I joined and helped with a local Action for Refugees group and also offered my editing services to a few volunteer groups pro bono, and should start doing stuff for them in earnest soon. I also helped collect up some goods for women’s refuges and homeless shelters that were being helped by friends in the running community.
- Finish writing up my Iris Murdoch research – The research is almost finished but I’ve been stalling writing it up.
- Create a self-mentoring guide for editors, produce a self-mentoring guide to go with the original books and put together a guide for authors on working with editors – I’ve half-done the self-mentoring guide for editors and that will inform the self-mentoring guide to go with the others. I’ve canned the working with an editor guide, it just doesn’t fit in really with my business books theme.
Hm, not tooooo bad.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Not much has really changed in terms of the work I do. I lost one big contract because the agency I was doing the work for lost the contract – nothing to do with me and a hazard of working with companies in between you and the client. I managed to make up most of the work.
One thing that really changed was that I’ve earned a bit less this year, because I’ve had MORE TIME OFF! My new hobby of running has taken up time at weekends, doing all sorts of fun things like travelling around doing cross-country races, and I’ve ended up taking whole weekends off quite a lot. This is A Good Thing.
Another change was that I moved all the detailed info on my business (and cholesterol-beating) books to their own website, Liz Broomfield Books, back in August 2014. I have had some guest posts from other writers and tried to keep it up with reviews and other bits of news being posted. I forgot to mention that last year, so that’s one change for the last couple of years.
While we’re on websites, this one continued to flourish. I’ve kept the small business chats going, and I’ve been blogging about social media stuff a bit, as well as Word and business tips. The blog has seen over 1,000,000 hits in the past year (although that meant I had more people contact me about guest posts!).
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’m not sure that much has changed or provided learning experiences for me this year – the business has settled down, most of my work is from regular clients, and it all runs fairly smoothly. I’ve proved the world doesn’t end if you go on holiday, have flu or take weekends off. I’ve also learned that however mature your business is and however smoothly it’s running, you do still end up working every evening after dinner for a week somewhere in the year.
Any more hints and tips for people?
I said this last year, too – trust your gut instincts. I didn’t, and I ended up in a slightly difficult situation which I have now resolved, but took time and energy.
Also, overthink your terms and conditions. Even if you don’t think somebody could possibly ask you to do x or y that you wouldn’t be happy to do for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean somebody won’t do that. Write it into your terms and conditions before you have to face that situation.
And watch your jargon – you might know what you mean when you send a customer accompanying information, but think about it from their point of view and explain what you send to them in clear terms.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
OK, I’m going to be reading more because I started to make more time for reading over Christmas and I’m continuing with that.
I’m going to keep running a half-marathon distance or more a month, and hopefully (very carefully and slowly) running a marathon later on in the year.
I’m going to complete the self-mentoring for editors guide and produce a print and e-book version by the middle of 2016.
I might write up my research or I might not!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.