Welcome to the very last episode of the year! If you’re listening to this episode as it airs, it’s xmas eve 2020. I’m recording this in my brand new home office – which is such a lovely way to end an otherwise pretty shitty year. I have a cozy reading nook, ambient lighting, plants – and a door. A door! Finally some peace to record. (Although there’s currently someone outside my window crushing rocks. Wonderful.)
Aaaanyways, the end of a year seems to automatically make me reflect on what was and what will become, and the shitfest that was 2020 is no different. In this episode I get a bit personal as I talk about the plans I had for 2020, how the events of the past year have affected those plans, how I feel about it, and what visions I have for my brand and business in 2021.
Now before we start, I want to say that I have so much privilege in all of this. I’ve not lost a loved one to Covid, I’ve not had to deal with racism, I live in a country with extremely good welfare systems and I’ve been able to comfortably (albeit nail-bitingly) watch the US election circus from across the pond. I am lucky and privileged, but 2020 still sucked. I can’t imagine the level of suckiness if you had to deal with other issues too.
But right. 2020. Where do we even begin?!
I had decided that 2020 was going to be an epic year for my brand. As I was working on my vision board back in December 2019/January 2020, I put down three words for the year to come:
Visibility, courage and growth.
I’d put images of podcasting on there, images of family, fun and freedom, and I’d set myself a hairy but within reach financial goal for the year.
And then March came along, and the world just turned upside down. It was literally like… one day my other half went to buy booze for our wedding, which was at that point about three weeks away – and the next day we knew we had to call it off. Schools and daycare shut down, everything went into lockdown. I can’t believe how fast it happened, it felt surreal.
Again, we’ve been so lucky over here. My teen’s teacher’s were amazing – they switched over to digital teaching immediately and it was all smooth sailing. But we also have a five-year old daughter who was all of a sudden at home all day. With me being a one-woman-show, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with client work – or even worse: that client work would dry up altogether.
My hubby and I (we just pretend that the wedding went on as planned and that we’re married even though we’re not) first tried to both work while the five-year old played and watched telly. We quickly realised none of us were able to get any work done that way, and switched to a split day model of working where we would each get 4 undisturbed hours of work in the day – and then we could both do some work in the evenings to catch up. That worked so much better. We were both able to keep up with our work commitments, but my stress levels just went through the roof.
Would my booked projects fall through? Would new inquiries dry up? When would the world go back to normal? I mean… we still don’t know!
As it turns out, none of my clients bailed on me, and I kept getting new projects. I think a lot of that is thanks to our government providing financial aid to businesses during the pandemic, in order to keep the wheels of the economy turning. So I’ve had quite a busy year, really. Schools and daycare facilities were able to reopen after a couple of months (I cried when that happened, I was so grateful to be getting my full days back!) over here and it was “business as usual” again for me – that’s the good news.
The not so good news is that my energy levels have been pretty low. We’re talking rock bottom, just want to go to sleep alllll the time low. I’m not a medical professional, but I have this theory that the uncertainty and constant buzz of below-the-surface worry has been slowly but surely draining all my mental energy. I’ve tried to find ways of recharging my batteries and de-stress, and I’ve turned to nature a lot. Getting out into nature and just breathing in fresh air has been such a luxury (and I realise once again how lucky I am to live where I live, with immediate access to hiking trails where I can hike for hours without seeing another human being). I guess nature has been my therapist this year.
I had big plans for 2020, but the energy just hasn’t been there – so I’ve focused on serving my clients and keeping things steady instead of taking those big leaps and growing my own business. Which is fine. And I refuse to beat myself up over it. You shouldn’t beat yourself up if your plans went tits up either, c’mon… you’re running a business during a global pandemic! That’s cause for celebration if you ask me! So give yourself a pat on the back.
So, business wise… and by that I mean what’s been going on with my own business development, a few things have happened in spite of Covid. Or maybe because of Covid. Or both. One thing that happened was that I made the hard decision to close down my free Facebook community. It was feeling more and more like a chore, which wasn’t exactly helping my energy levels, and I also realised that most of the members weren’t actually my ideal clients. So that group was archived… but in October, after two years of heavy procrastination, this podcast saw the light of day. See, sometimes you have to let something go to make room for something new, and this was something I’d been wanting to do for years. I know it’s far from perfect, but I am just so flipping proud of myself for making this happen. Remember, I did have the word courage on my vision board, and that acted as a good reminder to push through and do this. After that initial fear and panic as the first three episodes went live… it’s been so much fun! I’ve already had some truly inspiring guests on, and I’ve made new connections… Why did I not do this sooner?!
As for visibility, I’ve said yes to pretty much every opportunity that’s come my way this year – even if it was scary as fuck. So I’ve been a guest on a couple of podcasts and I said yes to doing a talk at the Innovation Festival among other things. I’m a total introvert, and my inner critic is strong, so this definitely took some courage too
As for growth? Well, my financial goal… didn’t happen. But that’s okay too. It looks like I’ll land on roughly the same revenue and bottom line as in 2019 – which I’ll take as a victory in these crazy times. But financial growth is not the only kind of growth, and I feel like I’ve grown as a business owner and as a branding professional this year. Honing in on my skills, making decisions and plans for the future of my business… which brings us over to plans for next year.
2021, I have such high expectations for you – you’d better not screw us over like 2020 did!
If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that flexibility is more important than any plans. The ability to adapt and change direction when something comes up is crucial. With that said, we can’t stop planning per se, we just need to be ready to adapt. So I do have some plans for the coming year. And I’m perfectly aware that some of them might have to change.
I’ve actually decided to keep the same words on my vision board this year. Visibility, courage and growth. They’re good words – sorry if I sound all trumpesque, but – they’re good words and I don’t feel like I’m done with any of them. There’s still work to be done. There always will be. I’ll be keeping my hairy but achievable financial goal from 2020 too.
My first plans for 2021 come into effect in the new year. I’ve revised my services, my pricing and packages, so if you want to take a look at how we can work together in 2021 – check out your options on my website at petchy.co. I’ve got a much stronger focus on the strategic side of my work – because that’s what sets me apart from just any ol’ graphic designer: I craft strategic brand identities with a no bullshit approach and a sprinkle of tough love.
The other thing I’ve done is that I’ve invested in some business coaching. So I’m in a group programme that runs until May – and I can’t wait to see the impact it will have on my business! I won’t lie, I’m very much a lone wolf, but I do realise that sometimes I need external input to see what my next best move will be and what will get me closer to my goals. One of those goals is to get a bigger international presence, another is to shift from working mostly with startups (not one bad word about startups, but they often have limited budgets that don’t allow us to do as much of the deep strategic work that I so love) to working with more established brands; people who have been in business for a while and are ready to invest in taking their branding to the next level.
I also want to develop and further grow this podcast over the coming year. I’ll be reaching out to some of my dream guests – so if you have a topic you’d love to learn about or someone you’d love to learn from: please drop me an email to let me know!
Before I go, I wanted to remind you that you can nominate a charity to receive a free rebrand in 2021. When I launched my pro bono initiative last year, I vowed to make it an annual thing if I was in a position to do so. This year it’s even better, because I’ve teamed up with two other amazing entrepreneurs to offer a full rebranding package worth over €6k to a charity or non-profit organisation. In addition to the visual brand identity package I’m offering up, Rosie Di Lecce and Melissa De Klerk have very kindly offered to donate their time and talent in the form of strategic copywriting services and webdesign. So this really is an amazing opportunity for the chosen charity! Applications close on new years eve, so in one week.
I’m rounding this episode off now, as I’m pretty sure you have better things to do on xmas eve than to listen to my ramblings. For that same reason, there won’t be an episode next week, but you can always go back and catch up on any episodes you might have missed. The next episode airs on the 7th of January, when I’m joined by Helen Tremethick – a brand voice strategist & business coach who helps entrepreneurs find the courage, confidence, and clarity they need to grow and scale their businesses.
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful festive season and a happy new year. As we say here in Norway: god jul og godt nyttår!
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