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The 3 Best Things I Did For My Business & Brand in 2011

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About this column

This post was inspired by Megan Auman’s annual “Best Things I Did for My Business” posts. You can find her 2011 post here.

2011. What. a. year.

3 best things I did for my business and brand in 2011

3 best things I did for my business & brand in 2011

If you were alive on Earth this year, I’m guessing it was a challenging one for you in at least one major area of your life {health, finances, relationships, creativity, etc.}. I can’t think of a single person I know — online peer, client, personal friend, or family member — who didn’t have what they’d describe as a really rough year.

Was it in the water? In the stars?

Regardless, I’m seeing and feeling us all breathe a collective sigh of relief to be stepping out of this year and into a new one.

This last week of the year is always a good time to be thoughtful and critical about not only what didn’t work so well that year, but more importantly, what did work well.

Inspired by Megan Auman’s insightful post, I’m collecting my own ‘best practices’ for Abby Kerr Ink for 2011 right here. Perhaps this’ll become an annual tradition for me, too.

The 3 best things I did for my business & brand in 2011:

1} Discerned my truest teachers. Drank deeply. And wised up.

2010 was my first year as an online-only business {95% non-local clients at that time; currently 100% of my clients are non-local}. That year, if I subscribed to one e-newsletter or RSS feed, I subscribed to 250. {No joke.} My inner archivist/curator was flattered . . . and nearly maxed out.

I entered 2011 unsubscribing from lots of feeds and email lists, which was a terrific decision. I honed my weekly blog reading down to about 15 or 20 subscriptions, and as soon as two or three installments in a row from any one blogger failed to educate/enrich/deepen my learning in a way that I experienced as meaningful, relevant, and timely for my phase of business growth — I clicked the Unsub button. I still follow this precedent for myself.

I intuitively honed in on about 5 or 6 entrepreneurial/business coach voices that resonated deeply with me in terms of strategy, mindset, and perspective. I vetted these teachers carefully to make sure that as far as I can see, the talk they talk is the walk they walk. I watched and learned from these teachers through their blogs, their launches, and the way they conducted themselves in the space. {“The space.”}

Also, I selected 3 branding/copywriting peers to keep an eye on for business development, impact, and strategy. I think of them as my Worthy Peers. Two of them were a bit ahead of me in terms of reach and biz growth, one of them behind me. All three I deeply dig, respect, and have watched this year {mostly from afar} as they connected with their audiences, launched their own products and services, turned out great content, and grew their influence. I highly suggest you ferret out your own Worthy Peers, too. It helps you track of how you’re different from your competition, and gives you extra incentive to keep upping your game. {A full post about Worthy Peers to come.}

I also chose one business mentor with whom to invest deeply in my learning. Something interesting happened when I did that. Not only did I start having a more lucrative and sustainable experience in my own business, but I reconnected with my own power center. I got shaken free of the belief that one person has the system, the answers, the template for a successful business. {Not that this was the promise I was sold, or bought into.} I re-embraced the truth that ultimately, at the end of every phase of learning, it’s your business and you, plus your right people. There are no gurus. Learning is a wonderful thing — my inner Sage really gets down with some good learning — but my inner Ruler writes my own story, 100% of the time. I’m responsible for my results — the triumphs and the flops. And that inner knowing is worth every penny.

2} Deepened and strengthened friendships with online peers. And realized afresh the interconnectedness of everything and everyone.

2011 was the year I formed and solidified my brain coterie — my group of  trusted peers who are growing their online businesses at about the same rate I am, and with similar values underpinning the biz dev — but more than just mastermind partners and people to work through new ideas with, these women rapidly became some of my dearest friends.

{You know who you are.}

I can’t speak enough about the value in sharing this online business experience with likeminded friends. If you haven’t found those deep friendships in the entrepreneurial community yet, be patient. Don’t rush it. Your people will appear around you when the time is right.

3} Raised my prices.

Raising my prices allows me to filter for — no, not wealth — commitment. As consumers, we invest most in what we value most, or in what we can’t get at the same quality for a lesser price. More than what the market dictates, brand experience truly does govern what consumers pay for goods and services. Time after time, I will sow my dollars with the brand I most want to affiliate with because of how it makes me feel, the possibilities it allows me to open up for myself, or the experience it creates for me. When it comes to investing in services {and sometimes in physical products}, I choose brand experience over features articulated and over price. And I’ve found that my right people clients do, too.

Time after time, I found that clients who questioned my prices upfront or wanted to negotiate in some way about features-for-dollars, well, they just weren’t my right people. Not by a longshot.

One note about price-raising: I raised my prices not arbitrarily, but when I could better articulate and actually deliver more value over time to my clients. And when I noticed that I work better with fewer people at a deeper level, over time. And in order to do that, prices have to go up as smaller, lower-priced services go by the wayside.

So that was my business in 2011 in a nutshell: deeper learning, deeper connection, and deeper value reflected in higher prices.

Thanks to Megan Auman for inspiring this reflection. Now I’d like to hear from you.

What were the 3 best things you did for your business and brand in 2011? Tell me in the comments. And Happy New Year!

Photo by Powi.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria Hayden December 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Abby,

I just opened my online business this year after I launched my first home decor/linens line.  This insight that you shared has me really thinking about what I need to improve upon and especially as a new business for 2012! Thank you for sharing your own experience and helping others to grow too! Wishing you a New Year ahead filled with many new endeavors and success!! Have a wonderful week!

Hugs,
Victoria 

Reply

Abby Kerr December 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Hi, Victoria! —

Thanks for commenting. Glad to hear you’re feeling momentum from what I shared here. I, too, love learning from other people’s business experiences and reflections. Wishing you a 2012 of fabulous growth with your home decor/linens line! :)

Reply

Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm

What a fantastic idea Abby! I might do the same. When it comes to my business I am FAMOUS for focusing on what isn’t right and fixing it and I never talk about what I do right and it’s a good practice. I am really curious to see what I come up with because it isn’t something I usually do. It is great to get a sneak peek at the interworkings on your brand! I want to know more! So mysterious! haha. 

I really connected with all of these but especially the no guru thing. That is a HUGE part of my business and point-of-view so I loved that you said that. And I am the same way about “teachers” I have SO FEW businesses I really love and trust ( yours being one of them!) and I need to cultivate that some more. I am such a DIY type that I get all my advice on the go or when I feel lost about something so I never really get a constant stream of inspiration unless I take a class

And the brain trust sounds awesome! I have a ton of people I really like and talk to but none of us are on the exact same page (mostly because I move REALLY fast) but I really want to make that a point in the new year! 

I think i’ll do this on my site too! Thanks for the inspiration! I wasn’t sure how to properly address such a BIG year :)

Reply

Abby Kerr December 29, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I hear you, Shenee! 2011 was a *big* year for almost everyone I know.

You are indeed a quick implementer in your brand — you don’t let grass grow under your feet!

Interesting input here from you about your not connecting full-on with many/any teachers/mentors up to this point. Wonder what it would take for you to feel as if you’ve found your mentor-type person. Or maybe the hunter-gatherer learning style works for you. Own it!

Looking forward to seeing your post! :)

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Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I just wanted to stop by and say I love doing this! Awesome exercise. I just got back from vacation and dipping very slowly back into business and this is a PERFECT way to ease into it all without blowing a gasket — it’s a GREAT exercise so far and is leaving me inspired. I’ll link to it when it’s done. thanks! 

Indeed! I wonder if my quick to implement is good or bad? I can never decide. I always wish to be more patient but I talk to people who would want nothing better than to be faster at things and I appreciate it more. 

About mentors — I am a very intuitive person and so when I interact with businesses, I get a good sense of who they seem to be and their intentions and if something feels off or if I have a weird experience I can’t read/buy from them. EVEN if they might have great information. By nature, I don’t invest much money in businesses because of the fast evolution so I think I should just embrace that. Never heard it referred to it as “hunting and gathering”! Love that! 

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Laureen Marchand December 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm

It was a year, wasn’t it? Learning/expanding/consolidating/growing/letting go – no wonder we’re all so tired! For my business, the three best things I did were 1) leaping into the interwebs (all that knowledge and mentorship!); 2) expanding my business (new website, blog-with-plans, wider influence); 3) coming back to my first true love, my own artwork (the source of all energy). Whew. And you were part of the changes. (http://www.grasslandsgallery.com/blog-2) Thank you.

Reply

Abby Kerr December 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Laureen —

Thank you for this lovely comment. Thrilled to hear that you’ve reconnected to your first true love — your artwork. {Reconnecting to mine — fiction writing — is on my list of dreams & goals for 2012!} Wishing you so much creative space & momentum in the New Year. :)

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Laura Simms January 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Abby, this is dynamite. I lurve sneak peeks into businesses I admire. I recently reached out to a peer for some feedback on a project I was working on. I hesitated because she’s a coach, and I didn’t want her to fee like I was angling for free coaching. It ended up being a great exchange and strengthened our relationship. 

Thanks for this post, and I’d happily lap more details about any of the points you listed. Wishing you a great 2012!

Reply

Abby Kerr January 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Hey, Laura! —

Thanks for commenting. :)

I, too, love the inside peak post. Glad to hear your Worthy Peer came through for you and that she’s getting value out of the exchange, too.

Looking forward to sharing much more in 2012.

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Ricardo Bueno January 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Really liked #3 – raising your prices. And not for reasons of “financial reward,” but because I think you’re right, people who question or try to negotiate simply on price, aren’t the right people. 
For years, I had a hard time with this. And when I was a solo-preneur, I really struggled with it because I wanted to accommodate everybody. It wasn’t until I stood my ground that my business improved. So good on you!

Reply

Abby Kerr January 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hey, Ricardo! —

Thanks for sharing your experience on raising prices. Interestingly, in my 6 years as a small business owners across two industries, I’ve never heard *anyone* say that raising prices has not been one of the best decisions they’ve ever made in their biz. Good things happen when we scale upward, no matter what the application.

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http://www.rvdynasty.net/ May 24, 2016 at 8:59 am

eu in domeniul auto sunt mare fan “made in italy”si daca e sa ma decantez ptr cineva e …alfa romeo,taticul motoristilor….cu toate scuzele de rigoare ptr fanii”made in germany”

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