Another year has come to a close.
It’s time to reflect on how 2018 went.
And that can feel… like getting your teeth drilled at the dentist’s office.
I’ll admit, as much as I believe in how great the Year In Review process is, that doesn’t make it entirely pleasant to actually experience. But the benefits make this sometimes painful process worthwhile.
You’re invited to read my analysis of what happened—good and bad—for my business in 2018.
The reason a Year In Review is so helpful is because of how it can re-frame our way of thinking about a problem. I’ve shared several articles about doing this, which you can find here:
I began sharing my own Year In Review (YIR) in 2017. Take a look at it here. 2017: My Business Year In Review
So without further ado, here is my Business Review for 2018.
A Look Back at 2018
As you can see in What to Do If Your “Year In Review” is a Disappointment, this past year threw a few curveballs at me. But despite the setbacks and the need to adjust my business goals, I was able to accomplish a lot of qualitative value.
Evaluation of 2017 Goals
In last year’s YIR, I picked 5 areas in which to improve.
Goal 1: Write More Blog Posts
This year I published 51 posts compared to just 34 posts in 2017 (a 50% increase). My target was to get 50 posts out into hyperspace, so I definitely met this goal.
The number of published words on my blog also dramatically increased, from 53,850 words in 2017 to a whopping 94,185 words in 2018. That’s an increase of 75%.
I also really wanted to to publish topics that are relevant to my clients. In sessions, I heard some recurring theme about the biggest business threats that kept my clients up at night. It became clear that most barriers for a small business owner actually originate with the owner’s internal struggles:
- the inability to dream big, or
- to set specific goals, or
- to overcome fears that hold them back, or
- to feel comfortable selling, or
- to publicly share their opinions about important topics.
A search for resources that answered these questions revealed a lack of good articles or images, so I decided to start sharing my thoughts on my blog. I also made a conscious decision to share my own stories and experiences in order to provide clarity. I hope you find my writing useful, because every article on my blog comes from a deep analysis of myself first.
My writing topics focus on of the things that cause small business owners to fail, such as:
- What Transaction Avoidance Syndrome is and how it can ruin a business
- Why Pain is Useful in Decision-Making,
- How to Do a Year In Review,
- The dangers of Multi-Level Marketing,
- Common mistakes business owners make (see Strategy Tools and Risk Intelligence),
- How to think of New Content for Your Website
- Ways to Overcome Fear (especially using the 4 Responses to Fear diagram, which has become my biggest source of website traffic from Pinterest and image searches, which you’ll read about later in this post).
Goal 2: Publish More Videos
My second goal for this past year was to publish more video content. In all, I shared 19 videos (compared to 18 videos published last year).
The most popular videos were:
- Why I Hate MLMs: My Story (268 views)
- 10 Reasons Naturopathic Doctors are Awesome (74 views)
- What Happened After I Got a Professional Color Consult (44 views)
One change that has made a big difference is that I began transcribing all of my videos and turning them into blog posts. My process goes like this:
- I plan the content,
- Record it,
- Edit the video,
- Publish the video to YouTube (with a thumbnail image),
- Re-listen to the video, and
- Transcribe the words and publish it as a separate post, with a link to the video.
I created original cover image graphics for each video. This doubled as a Featured Image for the corresponding blog posts. Since my video editing skills and software/hardware is limited, the final result is far from perfect. But I am happy with the viewer response and the way this cross-posting method has added so much fresh content to my website.
The main reason I was able to publish so many videos is due to a decision to step out of my comfort zone by doing 2 projects:
- a 5-part Facebook Live series of 5 videos in July and August: Vision & Mission, Company Culture, Profit Margins; Niche Market and Ideal Customers are yet to be released.
- a 10-part Minimalist Manager series in September and October.
Goal 3: Create More Images
In 2018, I added 141 original images to my website and an additional 99 images on Instagram… for a total of 240 images. This is compared to 2017, when I created and published 49 original images. So I definitely met this goal.
Goal 4: Leverage Search Topics
This goal had to do with increasing my Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Although I’m still learning about SEO from my friend Michael Quinn (the Search Engine Marketing Expert), I did try a few new things this year that had a HUGE effect on my web traffic:
- Added 34 more terms to my Definitions page (for a total of 167) and beefed it up with links to my other blog posts.
- Created an MLM Definitions page with 48 additional terms (a grand total of 214 terms between the two lists).
- Consistently included meta tags (title, caption, alt text, and description) to every image, which made a huge difference in people finding my content.
- Included headers and sub-headers (H1, H2, H3, H4, and H5 tags) on every blog post.
- Wrote all my content in a conversational tone, instead of “preaching at” people.
- Cross-posted all blog content to social media sites.
- Refreshed the content on my site’s main pages (front page, Solutions, Consulting, and additional details)
Another change that made a tremendous difference in my web traffic was adding a new page called Complete List of Direct Sales and MLM Companies Worldwide. I started to collect a list of every Health & Wellness company that uses a dangerous business model called “Multi-Level Marketing.” My list grew to 403 separate entries, which I categorized alphabetically. This page alone has generated a huge boost in web traffic and brought a lot of new visitors to my website. Keep reading to see some numbers and graphs.
Goal 5: Streamline My Services
My final goal for 2018 was to simplify my service offerings to clients.
In the past, I was offering hourly coaching/consulting sessions that included discussions and planning, but no tangible takeaways or written reports.
In 2018, I relaunched my services and added a Discovery Session, which includes a virtual phone consultation and extensive final report with specific recommendations. Based on this change alone, I added several new clients who were looking for an honest opinion of their business, but without the long-term commitment of a larger program.
For clients who want accountability, I now also offer a 6- or 12-month Strategic Risk Program which includes one monthly consulting call, intensive training, and a deep-dive evaluation of the 5 core areas of a successful business:
- Vision, Mission, and Values
- Company Culture
- Profit Margin
- Niche Market
- Identifying your Ideal Customer
Here is an overview of my current services.
What Went Well (Wins)
So a lot of things went really well in 2018! As you can see above, I accomplished every single goal I’d selected at the end of last year.
In 2018, I:
- Served clients in several industries (naturopathic doctors, chiropractic doctors, mental health professionals, and other service business owners including financial, marketing, and non-profit).
- Drafted 3 e-books (not yet published).
- Developed 1 course on Skillshare called How to Create Effective Feedback Loops in Your Business (not completed).
- Published 52 blog posts (compared to 34 posts in 2017)
- Added 34 more terms to my Definitions page (for a total of 167) and beefed it up with links to my other blog posts.
- Created an MLM Definitions page with 48 additional terms.
My work was also recognized worldwide.
- An Italian company named Ora Consulting owned by Francesco Giovannelli translated and published My original article What Happens When We Avoid Pain in Decision-Making? as “Il processo decisionale: il dolore della decisione” [which translates as “The Decision-Making Process: The Pain of Decisions”].
- One of the images I created, The 4 Responses to Fear, was viewed an average of 1,000 times a month on Pinterest.
- Five people also contacted me to request the use of The 4 Responses to Fear in presentation or training material (1 adoption agency director, 1 mental health professional, 1 college student, 1 professional group coordinator, and a chapter association president).
Here is a summary of the posts I published in 2018:
Is Your Strategic Plan in SHAPE?
How to Think of New Content for Your Healthcare Practice Blog
How to Complete a PESTEL Analysis
What I Learned from Creating a Word Art Self-Portrait
How to Calculate the Impact and Probability of Business Risk
6 Versions of the 3 P’s as seen on CNBC’s “The Profit” with Marcus Lemonis
How to Create the Perfect Workplace Environment
How to Create an Ideal Customer Bubble Graph
Understanding the Culture of a Company, Part 1: Surface Culture
Understanding the Culture of a Company, Part 2: Deeper Culture
Why Unconscious Aggression is So Hard to See as a Leader
How to Recognize Implicit Bias After What Happened to Starbucks
What You Can Do to Boost Risk Intelligence After Losing Staff (PART 1)
How to Calculate What Staff Turnover is Costing You (PART 2)
How to Estimate the Qualitative Loss From Staff Turnover (PART 3)
What to Do When You Realize Your Customer Is Not a Good Fit
What Happened After I Got a Professional Color Consult [Video]
Vision and Mission FAQs: Facebook Live #1 [Video]
Analyzing Profit Margins FAQs Part 1: Perceptions
Analyzing Profit Margins FAQs Part 2: Profitability
Company Culture FAQs Part 1 of 5
Company Culture FAQs Part 2 of 5
Company Culture FAQs Part 3 of 5
Company Culture FAQs Part 4 of 5
Company Culture FAQs Part 5 of 5
The 4 Responses to Fear as a Leader
Dangerous Business Models
7 Reasons MLMs are So Attractive to Established Business Owners [Video]
What’s the Difference Between Brick-and-Mortar, Franchise, Direct Sales, and MLM?
Why I Hate MLMs: My Story [Video]
11 Ways Multi-Level Marketing is Like a Cult
199 (Potentially Dangerous) Titles Used by MLM and Direct Sales Reps
Which Titles to Use if You’re an MLM or Direct Sales Rep
Examples of the Sneaky Promises MLMs Use to Attract New Reps
I’m Starting a New Minimalist Manager Challenge
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 1: No Sugar
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 2: Vision Board
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 3: Leftie Day
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 4: Organize Office
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 5: No Facebook
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 6: Gratitude Day
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 7: Get Offline
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 8: Meditate 3 Times
Minimalist Manager Challenge Part 9: New Location
Strategic Vision Board
Year In Review
On the subject of optimizing my website, here are some more stats that show the results from the changes above.
- I published 51 blog posts (compared to 34 posts in 2017)
- Total of 94,185 words published in 2018 (compared to 53,850 in 2017)
- Average of 1,847 words per post in 2018 (compared to 1,584 in 2017)
- Site traffic increased dramatically, from 1,231 visitors (2.247 views) in 2017 to 11,010 visitors (17,221 views) in 2018.
- The number of site interactions also increased, from 21 likes in 2017 to 215 likes in 2018, and 2 comments in 2017 to 12 comments in 2018.
Take a look at that huge jump from December 2017 to December 2018!
Most popular pages
- Complete List of Direct Sales and MLM Companies Worldwide with 3,934 views
- Definitions with 2,034 views
- 31 “Year In Review” Examples to Inspire You with 1,009 views
- Overview of the 5 Types of Strategic Risk with 969 views
- My Review of the Law of Attraction Planner with 753 views
- What Happens When We Avoid Pain in Decision-Making? with 676 views
- How to Make a Strategic Vision Board: Introduction with 393 views
- “year in review examples” (9 views)
- “types of strategic risk” (6 views)
- “grace laconte 4 responses to fear” (5 views)
- “weighted swot analysis” (4 views)
- “5 types of strategic risk” (4 views)
- “vision board feng shui” (4 views)
- “grace lacontes strategic planning frame work” (3 views)
Views by Country
- United States (8,126 views)
- United Kingdom (969 views)
- India (859 views)
- Canada (774 views)
- Australia (637 views)
- Malaysia (314 views)
- South Africa (299 views)
- Philippines (284 views)
- Israel (277 views)
- Singapore (271 views)
Clicks on Images
There were 950 total clicks on images I created.
- The 4 Responses to Fear detailed (133 clicks)
- The 4 Responses to Fear (78 clicks)
- 4 Domains of Leadership Strengths (56 clicks)
- Basics of a Weighted SWOT Step 1 (49 clicks)
- Decision-Making Matrix (48 clicks)
- Strategic Planning Framework (45 clicks)
- SMART and CLEAR Goals (35 clicks)
- The 5 Basic Fears (31 clicks)
- Risk Matrix (29 clicks)
My work with clients also served as the inspiration for dozens of new images, many of which have been shared and used by people around the world. The most popular image, by far, is the 4 Responses to Fear, which gets over 1,000 views a month on Pinterest.
My website traffic came from these sources:
- 9,936 from search engines (9,579 from Google, 204 from Bing)
- 376 from Facebook
- 204 from Pinterest
- 141 from WordPress Android App
- 125 from WordPress.com Reader
- 45 from YouTube
- 45 from http://theminimalistmanager.com
- 30 from Twitter
- 28 from LinkedIn
What Did Not Go Well (Failures)
Yes, a lot of great things happened. But there were some disappointments too. Here are the not-so-nice things that happened in my business in 2018:
As mentioned in my Disappointment post, this year I stepped back from consulting projects quite a bit.
I cut back my schedule with limited hours, partly to adapt to increased family obligations, and partly because I chose to stay home all summer (and every school break) with my three children. This adjustment brought a lot of benefits, but it definitely caused my business to see lower profits.
I experimented with two different direct mail campaigns that resulted in a 2% overall response rate, which was a much lower ROI (Return On Investment) than I’d hoped for.
No public speaking.
I did not get the chance to speak at conferences this year, which had been a steady part of my schedule for the past 5 years. This is for a few reasons: less availability, family obligations, and just plain not asking for the opportunity. (It pays to ask!)
Lack of products.
I also did not launch any products, did not publish any e-books, and did not sell anything this year other than my consulting services.
Yet despite the setbacks and lack of quantitative growth, there was definitely some creative growth. The amount and type of content I shared was much more successful than last year. I will get into this a bit more later, so keep reading.
Although I love to write, my blog posts were not published consistently in 2018. I find it really difficult to stick to a rigid timetable.
This is partly because I love to design things (see my Word Art Self-Portrait), so senseless deadlines take all the fun out of my creative process. I feel much more freedom when I can wait for inspiration to strike.
Unfortunately, consistency is one of the most important aspects of a good website. So despite my natural inclinations, I know that my blog would be read a lot more consistently if I published on a set schedule.
That’s something I will be adjusting in 2019: creativity mixed with purposeful limitations.
Strategic Growth Sphere Evaluation
I had some great successes and frustrations in 2018. As I tell my clients, a business needs to grow in 4 directions at the same rate:
- Financial (Profit)
- Learning & Development (Proficiency)
- Workflow (Processes), and
- Customers (People).
In my business year for 2018, there was obvious growth in the Proficiency and People sides of the sphere.
However, the strategic sphere for my business was a bit lop-sided.
I have neglected to focus on the Profit of my business, which resulted in Broken Growth. One crucial detail from last year was that none of my goals had a specific financial objective. While it’s fantastic to share great content, create original images, and reach more people, if it doesn’t translate to a sale (quantitative objective), then it really isn’t sustainable. I’ll be sharing my plan for 2019 later in the post.
My Processes are also in need of more consistency, so as a result some Chaotic Growth was happening this past year.
In addition, the People side of my sphere was also a bit uneven due to some Sales Fears that kept me from connecting with new potential clients. So I experienced some Disconnected Growth as well.
I will be addressing all of these problems in my new goals (keep reading to find out what they are).
The 3 words I chose for 2018 were:
There were several times when I wanted to give up in 2018. The Minimalist Manager Challenge gave me the opportunity to share a real-life journey of stepping into some really uncomfortable situations. I also chose to adjust to the increasing needs of my family commitments. Rather than feeling trapped, I made the decision to see limitations in a positive way.
Anything worth doing takes time. In 2018, I learned to be more accepting of delays and interruptions, and to evaluate them with curiosity about what was really happening. This opened my eyes to recognize empathy toward what others are experiencing.
Looking back at the last 5 years of being a consultant, I see a lot of inner growth and progress. I enjoy strength training, where the goal is to increase physical strength by building muscle fiber. This process starts with several muscle contractions, which leads to muscle damage (breakdown of the tissue), then muscle restructuring, recovery, and finally growth.
Growth cannot happen without some damage to existing processes, mindset, and ways of thinking.
This past year has taught me so much about this internal strength-building process and how important it is to welcome the pain of growth.
Books I Finished Reading in 2018
This year, I completed 21 books (compared to 26 books last year). Although I spent less time reading in 2018, many of these took more effort to complete than average.
Here they are:
- The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (2001).
- The United States of Europe by T.R. Reid (2004).
- No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson PhD (2016).
- The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (2012).
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’Engle (1962).
- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood by Bill Bryson (2007).
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to France (1999).
- The Runaway Jury by John Grisham (1996).
- Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel MD (Author), Mary Hartzell (2004).
- The Partner by John Grisham (1998).
- The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (2013).
- Film in Five Seconds: Over 150 Great Movie Moments – in Moments! by Matteo Civaschi and Gianmarco Milesi (2013).
- The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980).
- The Racketeer by John Grisham (2012).
- Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown (2017).
- Real Answers, Real Authors by Jill Mettendorf (2013).
- Lance Armstrong’s War: One Man’s Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France by Daniel Coyle (2010).
- The Street Lawyer by John Grisham (2010).
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff MD (2018).
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015).
- The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson (1990).
I’ll share another post with my analysis and thoughts on each one.
Also, as a read-many-books-at-once kind of person, I’m in the process of reading several other books including:
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure by Juliet B. Schor
- Best of Eastern Europe by Rick Steve
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Prague
- Non-Manipulative Selling by Anthony J. Alessandra PhD
- The Assertive Woman by Stanlee Phelps MSW
- The Martian by Andy Weir
Once I finish them, they will be included in 2019’s Year In Review.
My Favorite Quote of 2018
Here is the quote that has resonated with me deeply:
“It’s extremely powerful to hear someone say, ‘I get you. I understand. I see why you feel this way.’ This kind of empathy disarms us.”
Word of the Year for 2018
The word I picked for this year was:
My business grew in several ways this past year. I produced more content, created more images, confronted some difficult professional challenges, and shared what happened to me on a public forum.
What I’ll Continue in 2019
There are some exciting new things in store for 2019! My 3 biggest goals are:
1. New Sales Techniques
I will be experimenting with some non-traditional sales approaches this year. In the past, I patterned after well-known marketing experts but felt really uncomfortable with the “boilerplate” methods they described. This year, I’ll be using my intuition and connecting with Ideal Customers in a way that feels more authentic and natural to me.
And I’ll also be sharing how my experiments go, so keep an eye out for new posts on this topic.
2. Publish My First E-Book (Finally!)
For some reason, the idea of writing a book has kept me absolutely terrified.
I do enjoy writing, and I love to share my thoughts and perspectives on topics that are helpful to others. But despite the encouragement from both clients and my business support team, I’ve been holding back. My main fears are public ridicule and 1-star reviews. Oh… and publishing something that really deserves 1-star reviews.
(Check out the 5 fears we all share).
For 2019, my goal is to make more products available in the marketplace. I will be “productizing” the content on my website, as well as the material I’ve developed in client projects.
These products will be in the form of e-books and online courses. Three projects are currently in draft mode, so I plan to finish them by the end of 2019. These include:
- The Minimalist Manager: How to See Discomfort and Business Growth in a Whole New Way
- The Ultimate SWOT Toolkit: How to See and Fix Hidden Risks in Your Business
- The Ultimate Year In Review Toolkit: How to Make Sure Your Business Will Reach Its Goals
In addition to frequently searched topics, I have been working on dozens of new topics that are yet to be published. Be on the lookout for new topics this year, including:
- 21 Examples of Niche Practices in the Natural Health World
published: 29 Medical Conditions that Make an Excellent Niche Focus
- 109 Practical Niches for Your Natural Health Practice
published: 27 Niche Ideas for a Specialized Massage Therapy Business
- The Value of a Devil’s Advocate Perspective
published: 7 Things HBO’s Chernobyl Taught Me About Devil’s Advocates
- How to Pick the Right Niche for Your Practice
published: What Does it Take to Develop a Triple Niche?
- What Happened After I Noted Every Violent Term in the Business World for a Year
- How Words Reveal Our Core Philosophy: Examples from Around the World
- Where in the World are 403 Health & Wellness Direct Sales Companies Based?
- 9 Mistakes I’ve Made as a Consultant
- 4 Reasons to Offer Concierge Services in Your Practice
- How to Analyze Your Vision, Mission, and Values: Linguistic Focus
- 23 Ideas for Multiple Income Streams That Will Boost Your Profit Margins
3. Refresh My Speaker Page
My third goal for 2019 is to rehaul my list of speaking topics. When I created the current one, it was a starting point, and I did speak in a variety of places over the past few years.
But since then, my business has become more specific (my niche is helping independent natural health practitioners to increase their profit margins).
Once I have updated my new speaker sheet, I will share it with associations and groups related to small businesses and will be filling my speaking schedule for the next couple of years.
If you’d like to invite me to participate in your virtual or on-site event, let’s connect.
That’s the end of my review from the past year of my business.
I wish you a successful 2019!
Let me know what you think of this Year and Review. I would love to read yours as well; share your link in a comment or message me directly.
Interested in hearing how you can improve your company’s profit and business value? Find out more here.