Reflection Before Resolutions 2019 | 5 compelling questions I'm reflecting on to set my business up for success in the New Year | Nicole Victory Design

Reflection Before Resolutions 2018

I'm continuing my tradition of reflection before resolutions in 2018 to help set myself and my business up for success in 2019. See where Nicole Victory Design has been and where it's going.

January 11, 2019

As I sat down to write this, I started rattling off all of the new brands and websites I was honored to be a part of in 2018. It was a busy and rewarding year! However, in the interest of keepin’ it real, 2018 was also filled with a lot of the same struggles I’ve vowed to eliminate in the past.

Then I had a wake up call.

This year ended In a scary place for me; in an oncologist’s office getting a consultation for surgery. Never in a million years did I think that I could potentially be facing a cancer diagnosis.

After the initial shock wore off and I had catastrophized to the maximum, like I typically do, I got mad at myself.

You know what I was mad about? Not that I didn’t grow my business more, not that I didn’t network as much as I should have or booked more clients.

I was mad at myself for not doing all the things that I’ve WANTED to do such as traveling, reading, exploring more of my home city of Chattanooga, working on personal creative projects, and making more time for friends. These were things I promised myself I’d do at the beginning of last year, and I couldn’t help but feel I had fallen short.

The new year is that time to hit the ground running with all the goals to accomplish and promises to be made.

However, I’m realizing the answer to keeping promises to myself isn’t setting more and more goals, the answer is directing my energy and focus towards what aligns with my values.

I’m choosing to simplify my life by finally putting systems in place for my business, remove situations that no longer serve me, remove mental and physical clutter, and do what feels right. I will continue to work hard as I always have, but I’m also going to be more intentional with my time and thoughts.

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

For 2019, I’m going to focus on working with clients who are aligned with my energy and values, not only to benefit myself, but ultimately to create a more powerful collaboration for my customers.

I will no longer allow toxic people, situations, or thoughts to occupy my time, and instead, I will nurture opportunities and turn my attention to work and hobbies that fulfill me.

If you’ve read this far, I didn’t meant to leave you hanging! The surgery went well, and I don’t have cancer!

Now that I’ve dished out some tough love to myself, it’s time to reflect and reset. I’m answering these 5 compelling questions to reflect on that will set me up for success in the New Year.

What are you most proud of this year?

I’ve really niched down my business and have started to work with more small business owners in the health, wellness, beauty, and fitness industry. Living a healthy lifestyle is a personal passion of mine, and getting to work with like-minded small business owners in this industry is so inspiring!

I hadn’t planned on niching down my business this year, but I started started saying “no” to projects that I wasn’t passionate about. I’m terrible at turning down work, but I’m learning that saying “no” to projects that aren’t a good fit leaves room for more successful collaborations.

Aside from my business, I’m extremely proud of the success of my cut flower garden. After discovering Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden book last year, I devoted most of my free time to learning about gardening. Flowers have brought me so much joy and starting the day arranging fresh bouquets from my own garden just makes me so darn happy!

What’s your biggest mistake or what are you least proud of this year?

Each year I make additional improvements on the business side of my entrepreneurial journey, but there’s always lessons to be learned. Last year, a steady client of mine decided they just weren’t going to pay me. I was met with excuse after excuse, and, unfortunately, I don’t have much recourse. It’s infuriating that a client thinks it’s ok to just not pay for services provided.

Non-payment is a huge problem in the creative services and freelance community, but I did learn a very valuable lesson.

I will always get a deposit for every single project moving forward. ALWAYS, no exceptions. A deposit means my client is invested in their business and invested in working with me. I’m at least guaranteed some payment by collecting a percentage up front.

I’ve been pretty consistent with using contracts for large projects, but I am considering setting one in place for ongoing, smaller projects to protect myself.

What process or processes aren’t working for your business or what would you like to improve?

Last year I vowed to streamline my intake, booking, contract, and quoting systems. I made some progress in this area, but I have some additional work to do to make these systems work more efficiently.

I want to simplify the services I offer, and plan to accomplish this by standardizing my design packages. This will help me have a more efficient plan of action when a client books a specific service.Its been a few years since I’ve raised my prices and in 2019 my rates will be increasing. I used to try and work with every single client that contacted me, but I’ve learned that not every collaboration is a good fit.

My design process is detailed and extensive, and I devote my time to really learning about my client and my client’s customers. My experience as a designer, my process, and my skills have value. This year I will be focusing on working with clients who not only see my value, but are also willing to invest in their businesses.

What’s your number one goal for the new year?

I’m going to be an overachiever on this question and choose more than one goal.

The first goal listed below is the MOST important to me. I’m putting it out there, so I can hold myself accountable.

  • Finish my new website, update my portfolio, and print new business cards

    A common problem among designers is making time to update their website and portfolio. I’m usually so caught up in my clients’ businesses, that I tend to put my own marketing on the back burner.

    2019 is THE year I’m going to make this a priority. I’ve been investing more effort into connecting with local businesses here in Chattanooga, and not having a business card is a definite face-in-palm moment for me as a graphic designer.

  • Set up my basement studio space

    I still struggle with setting aside artistic playtime, but I’m getting better about working on personal projects. We have an unfinished basement full of clutter from garage sales that never happened, boxes never unpacked from our move, and unorganized chaos.

    I want to clear the clutter and create a space separate from my office for painting, crafting, and furthering my flower growing hobby.

    Designing a space for me to just create and have fun will make me more committed to embracing artistic playtime.

  • Last but not least, I’m going to be more mindful and embrace gratitude.

    A light bulb went off for me earlier this year after reading French Women Don’t Get Fat. The author talks at length about how French women celebrate and enjoy life, especially meals where they eat slowly and fully enjoy and taste their food.

    Reading this book made me take a hard look at how I go through my day, typically inhaling leftovers while hovering over my computer. Very rarely do I thoughtfully and mindfully enjoy a meal or take note of my surroundings when I’m at home.

    I’ve also struggled with anxiety my entire life, mostly because I’m either worried about something that happened in the past or focusing on the potential doom and gloom of the future. There I go catastrophizing again!

    I started to do something about this life long affliction and discovered guided meditation. I used to look at things like meditation as too “woo woo” and a waste of time, but the beneficial and calming effects I’ve experienced from meditation have made me a believer!

    I plan to slow down and truly enjoy the pleasures in life and take time to relax and calm my anxious self.

How will you bring more value to your clients?

Every one of my clients has unique, individual needs when it comes to branding and marketing their business. Part of being an effective designer is to stay educated on the latest software and best practices in the ever-changing landscape of technology.

I will also continue to say “no” to clients who aren’t a good fit, so I can devote my time to the best collaborations and keeping my skills up-to-date.

I don’t like design trends and prefer to focus on classic and elegant visuals that create timeless brands. However, it’s still important to stay educated on design trends…so I can avoid them!

I will continue to keep myself educated by learning new platforms and recommending the best solutions for each client.

Here’s a summary of my 2019 plans:

  •  Finish streamlining basic processes such as quotes, contracts, and questionnaires. I want my intake process to be simple, yet personalized. I’m going to make this happen!
  • Finally redesign my website and update my portfolio.
  • Continue to keep learning and improving myself not only professionally but personally. Being a well-balanced person and continuing to educate myself makes me a better designer.
  • Eliminate toxic people, situations, and thoughts from my life. Practice meditation on a regular basis and embrace gratitude.
    Clear out the basement clutter, set up my studio space, and set aside time for personal projects in this new space.
  • Make more time to read. I’ve set a goal to read 24 books in 2019. I think 2 books per month is an easily attainable goal.
  • Grow more flowers!
  • Spend more time exploring Chattanooga with my husband and friends.

How are you reflecting on your life and business this year? Leave me a comment below.

Happy New Year to everyone!

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