10 Things That Have Helped Me Boost My Business in 2014

It’s reflection time people. That time of year when you look back on the year, try and remember what the hell you’ve done and work out what you want to do differently in 2015.

One of my favourite things about being freelance is the number of options available, which means no one year is the same. For me, this year was challenging in good and bad ways. It definitely felt like a trickier year, although I suspect this is down to growing pains leading up to becoming a a Limited Company in September. I’ve realised that when I approach the edge of my comfort zone, I have a tendency to self-sabotage which stops growth. This year has definitely been about moving beyond that.

The first half of the year was focused on building up my coaching and training skills, something I’ve really enjoyed. It was also the time of year in which I launched my online ecourse. I signed up for some new mentoring groups and some more 1-2-1 coaching, something I plan on doing a lot more of in 2015.

The second half was full of good news, but challenges too – from October the nausea and tiredness of pregnancy kicked in and I pretty much had to write any new plans off until the new year. Taking a break, while frustrating, isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – it’s the perfect time to reflect and work out what I was really excited about returning to. The last half of the year was also the time when I became a finalist in the 15 for 2015 freelancers, a competition run by IPSE.

I set myself an income goal this year, and fell slightly short – mainly because I lost the last three months of the year to hiding under the duvet. I still saw an increase on last year though, and I feel like I’m in a much better position going forward. Next year, my focus is on growing the business and making it as flexible as possible before the baby comes along. I love thinking about a fresh new year.

There are a few people and tools that have really helped me boost my business in 2014.

Jo Gifford and the Dexterous Divas and Dudes

I’ve known Jo through Twitter for years now, but this was the year I joined her Dexterous Divas and Dudes group (it’s free!). Facebook mastermind groups really took off in 2014, but I ended up leaving quite a few as there was either too little engagement or too much spamming from members. Dexterous Divas and Dudes is a group of online entrepreneurs asking for advice and helping others. On top of that, there are weekly promotion opportunities, mindfullness topics and workshops to learn more. I’ve made some great contacts through this group, and the workshops in particular have been very valuable.

Denise Duffield Thomas

Lucky Bitch, Denise Duffield Thomas’s program and ebooks, have made the biggest change to my money mindset this year. The biggest mindset shift was the guilt over wanting to earn more -the idea that it was ‘greedy’. I’d highly recommend her audiobook on this topic.

Sile Walsh

2014 was the year I realised that ecourses are brilliant up until a point, and then your money is better spent on 1-2-1 consulting. A 1-2-1 session with Sile Walsh left me with a notebook filled with notes and a head filled with ideas. She’s very intuitive and spotted the obvious blocks in my business straight away. Easily worth the money I invested.

The Leonie Dawson planner

This year, I invested in the Leonie Dawson planner, and I’m really enjoying filling it in and reflecting on the past year as well as making plans for 2015.

The Members club

Carrie Green is probably the closest we’ve got in the UK to Marie Forleo, and her Members Club is one of the best investments I’ve made this year. For $25 a month, I get a new bundle each month, on topics ranging from doing your own publicity to running successful Facebook adverts. Her Facebook group is also a really friendly and helpful resource. The price goes up in January, so you might want to sign up now before it does.

The High Tea Cast team

I’ve been writing for The High Tea Cast for a year or two now, and the Facebook group of other writers has been brilliant for both offloading during stressful times and sharing ridiculous/funny things. Having that support group has been vital this year.

Evernote

Onto the tools! I’ve finally embraced Evernote this year, after the realisation hit that you have to approach it with an all or nothing mindset. These days, I use it to scan in any correspondence, save favourited Tweets, create weekly plans, save PDF/ebooks and write blog posts. It’s a vital tool for my business and I couldn’t work without it.

Plus, it gives me the illusion of organisation. Hurrah!

Buffer

Buffer has upped their game this year with the introduction of their suggested content, and in turn its really helped me keep on top of my social media. I’ve seen a real jump in numbers on my social media accounts, and I really think a buffer has contributed to that.

Unroll.me

Another tool I played around with last year but only fully embraced in the last few months. I HATE dealing with my email, but have a nasty habit of constantly subscribing to things. Unroll.me keeps me sane by rolling up all the non urgent emails into one summarised email.

The Email Game

Finally, Jo Gifford introduced me to The Email Game, an online tool to tear through your emails when you’ve let them slide for a few days. If emails are slowing you down, a couple of sessions with this online tool a day will help you keep on top of things.

So, over to you. What groups/people/tools have helped you boost your business in 2014?

9 comments on “10 Things That Have Helped Me Boost My Business in 2014”

  1. This isn’t a person, group or tool, but the biggest thing I’ve done differently this year is investing more time in face-to-face networking, rather than just communicating by Skype, email and social media. I’ve been based in various different countries over the last couple of years so meeting people face to face has been difficult, but in November I decided to dedicate time to going to London and meeting with editors and PRs I’d worked with for years but never actually met! I can’t tell you if it’s made a real difference my business yet as I only met with them last month, but I’ve already had a few more commission than I might have had normally, so I’m feeling positive!

    • Ah my reply to this didn’t work! Basically, that’s brilliant – and so lovely to hear what a difference it’s made to your business. I’m going to take a leaf out of your business and connect with people a bit more 1-2-1 in 2015 (even if the idea sends my introvert brain into a panic)

  2. Some really useful tools, tips etc. in there Emma and congrats on the baby news! Some of those people and tools I use already, I think the Leonie Dawson planner will be of great use to me this year. I’m at quite an early stage having only given up a full-time job at the end of Aug 2014. The last quarter of the year saw me doing some unconnected work to my business in order to bring in some income to live off. Starting now my intention is to use some of these tools (or similar) to build up my reputation and connections. The last part of 2014 I still felt a bit all over the place trying to decide what was going to be of use to me and I think that’s a really hard thing to try and do. Sometimes you can think that something will be great only for it to turn out the complete opposite. I had that with a few networking events I went to where the people there were not my target audience and neither did they have the contacts that I perhaps might have benefited from. But for the price of a cuppa, it was fine.

    I think this is a really useful post Emma and I’ll have a look over at some of the people you’ve been connecting with. I’ve struggled a great deal to find a mentor and because I can’t afford to pay just now I came across http://getmentoring.org/ so maybe 2015 will be better.

    What would be interesting to know is was there anything that you tried that wasn’t suitable for you? (Most likely not a bad tool or people, but not appropriate for your type of business)

    Keep up the good work and good luck for 2015!

    • Thanks Catherine! I really like Leonie’s planner, if for no other reason than making me reflect on the previous year and get my brain organised for the next one. I definitely know what you mean about thinking something will be great and won’t – although on reflection I’ve often ignored my gut instinct that it wasn’t quite right.

      I’ll definitely have a look at that mentoring site! Hmm things that haven’t worked. I’ve found at times I’ve signed up to several ecourses with good intentions, but haven’t had the self-discipline to follow them all. I now know I need 1-2-1 coaching with my learning (and that’s something I’m bringing more into my course).

      Have a lovely 2015 Catherine!

  3. I’ve been using TeuxDeux this year, which has really helped my productivity. It’s just a simple online to-do list, nothing fancy, but it keeps everything in one place and looks neat – unlike my paper versions which always end up a mess!

  4. Amy, TeuxDeux looks great 🙂 Like Emma I use Evernote, which I’ve used for about 3 years now. Just sometimes though when you’re on the go you want to look at a really basic stripped down TO DO list. Whereas I find Evernote great for all the other stuff, but it easy to get distracted with all the Notebooks etc.

    I’ve yet to get past my 1-2-1 fear…. I cancelled 2 events in 2014 because of fear. I’m no further forward in challenging that as yet. I’m fine with people I know and if I had someone to go ‘with’ I’d be ok too, but on my own I find it really hard.

  5. Thanks for this round up. I’ve not been to your site that much, but two of those links at least look really interesting. Especially Jo Gifford’s site as she’s female, British and has a thriving FB group. I am so in. Fed up of only ever getting to hear American chaps talk about making money. I’ll also be looking up Denise Duffield-Thomas as what’s not to love about a lady who smiles and swears like that? Congratulations on your news too. I’ll be following your baby + self-employed exploits with interest.

    • Thanks for your comment Liz! And great to see you’re a member of the group, I’ve got a lot out of it (and yes, I know what you mean, I like the British straight forward and to the point approach of being practical).

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