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The lessons I learnt in 2020

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I had planned to be all ready for 2021. My social thoroughly planned out, launch dates confirmed, and forecasting completed. But, it’s not, and one of the things this year has taught me is that it’s ok and that I really needed the last two weeks to rest, reflect and spend some time with my loved ones. 

We can’t always plan and be ready for everything life throws our way and sometimes trying to plan when you’re not in the right headspace can be counterproductive. 

Rewind to January 2020

This year kicked off with the launch of my website!  It was an exciting time; I’d mapped out the year and planned to expand my group workshops into other areas in Sussex as well as working in house with businesses to help them use Social Media to grow.  Working online was something I had done in the past, but as someone who loves working face to face, it certainly wasn’t a massive part of my plan. When I look back to January, I recalled l that someone actually contacted me to ask if this is something I would do! 

January and February were super exciting. The business was growing, and I was lucky enough to meet some fantastic l people via my group training, networking events, and co-working.

At the time COVID was starting to be reported on the news. But to be honest, it wasn’t something I worried about, nor did I think about how it might impact my business. 

On Friday 13th March, I ran a fully booked workshop ‘How to Build a Social Media Strategy.’ The group consisted of 2 x retailers, a hair salon owner, a counsellor, a coach, a photographer, a charity founder and a reflexologist (all of whom were to weeks later find their businesses closed).

They were a great group, but the atmosphere was sombre, and there was a definite tension in the room. It was all becoming quite worrying, and there were whispers of school closures. I started to make plans to move my upcoming workshops online.

The following week my husband, Ben, became quite ill and we decided to remove our children from school and nursery and to stay at home! I don’t think either of us knew that they wouldn’t be returning. 

Lockdown Begins

The day after we went into Lockdown I couldn’t sleep, I woke up early and set up a Facebook Group and I wrote: I wrote an email about what to say on social media during the CoronaVirus pandemic, my tips were:

  1. Stay Visible
  2. Adapt your content
  3. Educate and suggest activities
  4. Go live and be informative.
  5. Consider paid ads

Crucially it didn’t differ that much from my usual advice, (but I knew so many people were worried about promoting their products and services).  This is still the advice I still give and have followed ever since, albeit with the addition of including a break when it all gets too much and as I sit here at my kitchen table (a place I have spent more hours than I can even think about this year!) I reflect on what 2020 has taught me. 

The ten lessons I learnt: from 2020

  1. You can’t plan for everything: Yes, its great to have a plan and set goals, but they need to be moveable, slightly flexible and about the process as much as the outcome. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: ‘life is a journey, not a destination.’ Although I will advocate that you can’t review how far you have come if you had no plan in the first place!
  2. It’s ok to say no: No to the work you don’t want to do, no to that person who keeps asking for a discount. No doesn’t make you a nasty person, and it doesn’t necessarily offend anyone. What it does is stop you from going insane, as well as leaving you more time to do the work and things you love.
  3. Procrastination is a choice: It also steals your time and your headspace. It is essential to think things through and learn from our mistakes.  But I think for most small business owners 2020 has meant we have had no choice but to embrace the things we were putting off. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have started my Facebook Group, launched my online course: Unlock your Social Media Confidence or changed my website and branding after six months.
  4. It’s ok to ask for help: Being self-employed and starting a business is lonely. Particularly when you are trying to homeschool, juggle your children’s emotions and your own and support those around you! I have asked for help! I feel fortunate to have made some great online and offline connections this year. From the 20 people who helped me validate my new course ideas,  through to the supportive networking and online coaching communities I am part of.
  5. Try not to compare yourself to what you see online: Social Media is great, I love it, and I know it has the power to change people’s businesses and provide a supportive environment. But comparing yourself to your competitors and others in your field isn’t healthy! The likelihood is that the person you are comparing yourself feels the same as you, they are probably struggling, worrying and perhaps feeling nervous about what they put out there.
  6. Your business is unique, and you need to believe that: There will be competition within your market, but people will choose to work with you because they know, like and trust you and because they know you can help them!  That won’t be everyone, but you need to believe in who you are and what you do.
  7. Be kind to yourself: It’s not possible to do everything all the time! I think women are so guilty of doing this that we forget to take a break. I spend so much time worrying about whether my weekly email has gone out on time, how much time I spend on social media, whether my house is clean and what my kids are eating (the list goes on). But I’ve come to realise: a) no one notices and b) they probably don’t care as much as I think!
  8. You don’t always know, who is listening and how you have helped: I have had strangers message me recently to say that my emails, Facebook group and/ or social media posts have really helped them. These are people who rarely comment or interact, but it proves the importance of being visible and sharing useful content. If someone has helped you reach out to those people and tell them. You will be lifting them up!
  9. Focus on growing your mailing list: I didn’t have one at the beginning of the year, but it has grown steadily, and those people are on my list! My emails appear in their inbox, and sometimes they open them and sometimes they don’t, but I know I am not reliant on the social media algorithms to dictate who sees my email.
  10. Launching a course is hard. It’s scary: I launched Unlock your Social Media Confidence in October. I felt like a broken record after two solid weeks of Facebook Lives, IGTV, daily emails and Social Media posts. But my website traffic increased, my open rates didn’t drop, and my mailing list grew! Not everyone will watch, see or remember what we post or write, so we need to keep telling them. 

I also learnt that I am not cut out for homeschooling, full-time parenting, and really hate crafts! But I’m okay with that and so are my kids- they are already asking when they can get back to school and nursery! 

Finally, I just really miss people and although it will never be the same as face to face interaction I am so grateful to live in an age where we can communicate with written words, photos and video! I also feel fortunate that I can and do now work with people all over the world to help them develop and implement a social media strategy they feel confident about and that aids growth. 

2020 you certainly weren’t a year I would want to repeat, but when I look back at my photos and messages and the connections I forged. I do feel a little bit thankful. I hope I learn some more life lessons in 2021 but surrounded by people!