4th Quarter Recap | 2018
Where do I begin with this Quarter in Review? I’ll begin by saying happy birthday to myself! Today I turn 25 years old! As I am typing this, I am starting to see the irony in doing a quarter review on the celebration of my first quarter of life! Happy Birthday to Me!
Auden & Company will be turning two soon and I have been doing a lot of reflecting as 2018 is coming to a close. Year one was so euphoric for me! I loved seeing the way Auden & Company blossomed and connecting with the people who supported my vision!
So as we moved into year two with Auden & Company, I was so pumped to leave the day job life behind. Knowing that I would be going full time in January of 2018, I prepped for going full time by solidifying clients for the first quarter of the year. I had secured 3 new banding clients and renewed social media marketing contracts for the first half of the year! Let me tell you guys, I was feeling myself! UNTIL the universe decided I needed some humbling experiences!
According to the SBA, 30% of new businesses fail within the first two years and 50% of new businesses fail within the first five years. NO PRESSURE! Honestly, year two for Auden & Company has been hard yet I have learned so much in this year that I can only be grateful. I am turning my negatives into lessons and I am sharing what I learned from each of these lessons!
Lesson 1: Bad Inquiries. My biggest struggle in Year Two was dealing with an influx of bad inquiries. Listen, I know in the design field there is the dance you have to do with your client to build that level of trust that oozes trust me with your money. I am 110% all for coffee dates and answering my client's questions in full. Nurture the trust and your clients will be loyal to you.
I had issues with people who believed in Auden & Company and loved the vision we had for their business but then wouldn't put the downpayment down. They could have met with me three times to go over the process, received their contract, and welcome packet, then kind of ghost me. I don't accept ghosting as an actual no so I would follow up to see if they had questions about anything in the contract or welcome packet. The email I would get back was generally a personal issue that resulted in them losing access to the money allocated to their project.
I would get clients who were good, contract signed, downpayment made but somewhere along the line, they would stop our line of communication, MID PROJECT!
I would get clients who were in a rush even though I indicated that branding is not to be rushed & if we put the time investment into it that we would be building a brand that could withstand the test of time!
Lesson Takeaway: These experiences allowed me to create a list of red flags and create a process for vetting inquiries better! This also reinforced that I am allowed to say NO to clients that aren’t right for Auden & Company. I do not have to say yes because they have agreed to pay. If the stress of a client will outweigh the reward and passion for the project then I will SAY NO!
Lesson 2: Not Getting What We Are Worth. You all have heard “Creatives Undervalue Themselves!” This is a recurring headline that I’ve seen over and over again in many articles written by various creatives in various parts of this field. I knew from the get-go I was undervaluing myself. When I started I only really had a rough idea of how labor intensive some projects would be! SO I always knew that I would be adjusting my prices and dealing with the fallout of that!
I did adjust my prices and had the conversation with clients about when prices would be going up and why. Some opted wholeheartedly to support Auden & Company while others opted to not move forward! I knew this was going to happen as this is part of business growth.
My struggle with this, is that I CANNOT do anything half ass. So if I quote you at a price for a service there is no room for editing down my offerings because I will always give 110% no matter if I am doing half of the offering or the full offering.
Lesson Takeaway: The people who value your work, your portfolio, your company culture will work with you! The right clients will find you & they will pay the price! I believe the best lesson in this is to know your worth, fight for your worth, and don't compromise! Even if it means it may be bumpy for a little bit.
Lesson 3: Lack Of the Proper Processes. When I went full time in January and lost one client and the downpayment for that client, that was my first taste in improper processes. I adjusted pretty quickly with that one by making an edit in my contract. As time went on and I was subjected to different aspects of my business that I wasn’t to, in year one, I really started to take a look at if I had the proper processes set up to deal with all of these situations. I did not! So I needed solutions.
During the summer, The Co interns helped me create processes for just about every base of operations! I was open and honest about the problems I kept running into and left the table open for collaborative communication!
With that we were able to really hone in on the contracts, leading to the formation of multiple contracts in different areas. We created a better vetting process for clients, to gauge the seriousness of each inquiry. We worked on the onboarding process and the off boarding process for clients. Worked to better client communication on all levels and more.
Lesson Takeaway: Processes will be the savior to your company. If you don't have fail-safes in place for your business then you are working against yourself and the growth of your company. I really started thinking in a manner of if I launch this or offer this, do I have the policies in place to support, if something went awry.
Lesson 4: The Seeds of Doubt. When everything seems to be going astray. When you feel like you are losing a grasp on the direction of your vision. When you can't seem to get a hold of the steering wheel to readjust. That's when seeds of doubt are planted in your mind. Because you are coping with more let downs than victories, your mind tends to become your worst enemy. With everything above especially the bad inquiries I was feeling like I was not doing something right! Maybe I wasn't cut out for this? Rather than give in to the doubt, I looked for solutions and redirected my energy to other parts of my business.
I didn't want to wallow in self pity or doubt, so I regrouped and refocused my energy to content creation, to finding great collaborators, networking, and repositioning the services offered, here at Auden & Company.
Lesson Takeaway: Doubt will kill your dream! It’s important to recognize where the doubt stems from. By acknowledging the doubt you are recognizing that you can improve! Which of course leads to a solution!
Lesson 5: The Power of Networking & Community. The ABSOLUTE best part of year two for me was being immersed in the girl boss community in Cleveland! I have always read that you should foster a community within your business of like-minded individuals. People who just get it!
Being able to hear stories of the woman-owned businesses in Cleveland through panels, Instagram, and our Chat Sessions here on “At The Desk” has honestly been the one of the best parts of year two! Simply just feeling the support from other business owners in person, on Instagram, and through articles is magical!
Lesson Takeaway: Invest in the people who invest you! The power of community will always help push your business to the next level! Community is support!
The Highlight Thus Far:
The internship program was my highlight of this year thus far! It reignited a passion I have for educating!
Growth & Plans for the Rest of the Year
So after all of that, I am still invested in the growth of Auden & Company! I have issued a booking freeze for Auden & Co. Well more like we are booking for 2019! In these last three months of the year rather than work in my business, I will be working on my business!
I was so devoted to other aspects of my business that I have not had time to work on my business! I have been harboring some ideas that needed some TLC in order to be ready to launch in 2019! Workshops (Hint) Resources (Hint)
Becoming Better Friends with my Insta Buddies:
I have connected with a lot of awesome people on Insta that I would love to meet with in real life! So while I am giving myself a break, I will be doing some real life connecting for the next few months.
Investing in Auden & Co:
Can you guys believe that I am almost two years into my business and I have not yet to get photography for my business! In my defense, I had a lot of failed attempts! Thank the heavens for Anita! Not only am I investing in brand photography but also time into the education and resources portion of Auden & Company!
I have had the pleasure to speak on panels and to share my journey with people thus far! I would really love to harness my experience to help guide others. I am not quite sure what my personal passion project will be yet! But it will be one that empowers, that speaks authentically, and that uses my platform to engage and to support!
When I started writing this recap, I was torn of which direction to go in. I wanted to share the sunrays through the thunderstorms but what I really wanted to do was to say entrepreneurship is not all sunshine and rainbows. IT IS HARD! I wanted to be able to share that this was a hard year for Auden & Company but that every hardship had a lesson!
I wanted to write this as a gentle reminder to check on your friends who operate small businesses, ask them if you can volunteer around the office. Bring them some wine and tell them they are taking a few hours off!