Blimey… what a year 2023 was on all fronts – business and domestic!!!
Each year I sit down between Christmas and New Year, as many of you already know and many of you do yourselves, and set my intentions for the coming year. Usually, I release an article before the 1st January, sharing some of what I come up with. This year, it’s been tricky to do that as I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to write should be in the public domain! This version of this article you’re reading is draft 152. (Possible exaggeration there – and at the same time, not far off the mark!) I’ve edited out a lot as it was too personal, I’ve left you enough to get the gist though.
You see, I usually start off with a round-up of what we achieved as a business in 2023.
The truth is, 2023 was a hard year.
12 months ago, when I sat down to do this exercise, I was in a place where I felt like I’d achieved everything I had ever dreamed of. Or at least a dream I set back in 2016! It was difficult to know where to go from there, hard knowing how to dream bigger and get a vision for that. So, my decision was to maintain and enjoy what I’d achieved.
I want to call it complacency – it wasn’t. It was self-care. I knew what was coming on a personal front and needed to ensure I had the bandwidth to deal with everything that was coming my way. I had a team in place that could run the business without me while I navigated the beginning of what was going to be a tough period personally. I’d left my marital home and was setting up from scratch. My daughter and grandchildren were going through a difficult time following a traumatic event, and I needed to be more available for them too. I’d experienced a bereavement that was exceptionally close to my heart and was quietly processing that too.
I knew I couldn’t do everything – even I’m not superwoman!
I needed to create some space. As a business owner, entrepreneur or whatever swanky label you want to use, keeping the balance between business and personal can be hard and only a handful of people, at best, get to see the full picture. Whatever the challenges are, we must recognise them and ensure we’re applying an element of self-care. That doesn’t necessarily mean a day at the spa – sometimes it means protecting time, so doing all you need to becomes possible.
With all of this in mind, I went into 2023 thinking I was in a good place on the Green Umbrella front – I went in without a plan. Wow – what a mistake that was! 2023 was the hardest year I’ve seen in the almost 11 years I’ve been in the business. Clients didn’t pay; Clients went bust. For total transparency, the reality was that we had to cut back and fight for survival. All the while trying to make things look like all was good and business as usual.
When I look back, the words “plan to fail” keep popping into my head. 2023 served me a hell of a lesson. Even when things are fantastic, we need a plan that moves us forward. I’m a big believer in incremental gains – I didn’t even plan for that. Big mistake.
2023 has been a tough year for many businesses across a number of industries. Did the media hype of a looming recession get into the heads of business owners – yes. Did some feel the reality of the situation – yes. Did marketing become a nice-to-have cost rather than a must-have investment – yes.
And it had a hell of an impact on us!
What does 2024 have in store?
We survived 2023, and 2024 is when we get back to thriving.
#1 We’re Going To Get back out there
One of the things I did last year was to not over-commit myself. I will hold on to this; however, I will increase the number of face-to-face events we attend. I said no to many opportunities last year as I had spent a great deal of 2022 in my car travelling the country. We’ll be doing more, but still not as much as we did in 2022. (100 speaking gigs in one year is a lot; that was what 2022 looked like!)
#2 Focus on strategic partnerships
We have some amazing formal and informal partnerships. These need to be developed, nurtured, and we will be using these to our advantage. That sounds cold…
The thing about strategic partnerships is that when they’re genuine, they offer support on a holistic level. Not just lead generation. In the last few months of the year, some of these partnerships have proven to be a saving grace for me personally as they were there to listen, showed empathy and support and reminded me that there was a difference between having a difficult time and failing. I thought I was doing the latter – they showed me it was the former.
#3 We’re staying in our lane
2020/2021 forced us to double down on the marketing services we offer outside of social media, and we lost our focus for a while. This led to somewhat of a diluted message. Having been through things in detail, seeing what’s working and serving the business – and what hasn’t there are some services we’ve cut, and some that will phase out; some we’ll only offer to existing clients. We’ll be focused on being a social media agency that has done for you and done with you services. We’ll coach, train and mentor in marketing, and these two areas will be the primary focus of the business.
We’ve always had a 70/30 split with our client base being predominantly independent recruitment businesses, which has served us. I’ve looked at creating niches in other industries, and the truth is, this has only taken my focus away from an industry I love being a part of. The world of recruitment offers a bunch of opportunities we haven’t explored. So now it’s time to go forward and see what’s in that unchartered territory!
2024’s elaborate plan is staying under wraps!
I’ve shared the top three for this year’s plan with you, and there is way more. Like many businesses, 2024 will be about recovery and rebuilding. The market continues to be tough, although things do seem to be settling down. I have no idea what the year has in store for us, for me personally. What I know to be true is that by the end of this year, we will all be thriving again… as long as we have a plan and keep delivering on it.