It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>
We are getting ready to dive into 2012 and it's a good time to take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year and start setting new goals for next year.
With that in mind, the question I asked our experts this week….
What was your big takeaway lesson from 2011 – either good or bad?
Dr. Mani of MoneyPowerWisdom.com says:
In The End, Quality Always Wins Through
The BIG thing this year was the Google Panda ‘slap' that devastated many websites and online businesses. While opinions differ, the consensus is that the algorithmic update was harsh on sites that tried ‘gaming' the system in different ways – while it rewarded those who provided value and quality through their content.
Having been in content marketing as an Internet infopreneur since 1996, I've always favored the approach of writing (or recording) useful content that informs, entertains or inspires viewers and readers.
I cringed through the phase when software generated ‘spun' word-soup and $2 per 350-word SEO optimized trash not only thrived, but also dominated SERPs – crowding out the really high quality expert content that matters more.
Now, even though the ‘slap' hurt some of my Web properties, I'm overall happy with the shift in emphasis back to creating quality content that's valuable to human readers.
It's a shift every infopreneur welcomes – and proves that quality will always win through. That's my biggest takeaway from 2011 – and it will impact the way I work in the years to come. I'm also positioning myself to take advantage of the growing demand for top-notch content by providing syndication of my content to other publishers (details at www.EzineMarketingCenter.com/syndicate/)
Connie Ragen Green of ConnieRagenGreen.com says:
2011 proved to be my best year ever since coming online in 2006, and I was anxious to take a closer look at what could have made this possible. There were three target areas that I focused on that accounted for my increase in income without having to spend any additional time working in my business.
#1 – I finally outsourced everything in my business that I wasn't good at or did not enjoy doing. This meant that by the end of the year I am actively engaged in each day are writing and product creation.
#2 – This year I made it a goal to seek out JV (joint venture) partners with whom I shared a common interest. This helped me to grow my list and create more products and courses than I ever thought possible. It's also lots more fun to work with partners sometimes than always working by yourself.
#3 – I wrote two more books. Becoming an author has given me more credibility and visibility, and this has led to greater profitability. Take some time and repurpose your blog posts and articles into digital and physical books and it will change your life forever!
My biggest takeaway from 2011 is that you can accomplish anything you want to achieve in your life, both personal and professional, if you are just willing to write it down, focus on it every day, and then take massive action to achieve it within your time frame.
If I can do it, you can do it, too!
Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Organize Your Online Business says:
My biggest takeaway lesson from 2011 was the Power of Systems. I was “out” of my business for nearly three months, battling a bad case of depression. During that time I didn't even send an email! Yet the systems I have set up over the years continued to work – with traffic sources like articles and scheduled blog posts leading to optin pages – which led to autoresponder sequences – which led to sales. Membership sites continued to chug along with content dripping out automatically. My affiliates continued to promote. Customers continued to be served through our help desk and friendly support staff. Affiliate payments continued to come in. All in all my income actually increased in that three months!
I cannot stress enough the importance of laying a solid foundation and putting all of your systems into place. If I've changed one thing – it's to pay even MORE attention to my systems!
Shannon Cherry of The Business Building Live Intensive says:
Looking back on 2011, I've really come into my own in my business. I feel more confident in my abilities than ever.
But sometimes learning to follow my gut, not what others thought should be done was a difficult lesson for me.
I asked a few colleagues how to launch my own live event coming up in 2012. All of them had done events before, so their insights were valuable. I started on a path, following what they had done, and it didn't feel right to me. But I ignored my feelings because I felt what they said mattered more. Then as I took a break from the project, I saw these same people lose thousands of dollars at their live events. So what had worked in the past, as I had thought, wasn't working with the success it once did.
Lucky for me, as a planner, I had time to revamp my whole marketing plan. And now I feel confident that it will be not only successful, but something I will have fun doing. (And if it's not fun at all, why bother?)
I had to learn that advice, even good advice from great people, is just advice.
Lynette Chandler of Tech Based Marketing says:
Reflect, Purge and Focus that's probably the biggest lessons for me this year. I realized going into the year I was doing several projects that made me unhappy every single month. Completely unproductive and definitely not good on the bottom line.
Once those things were identified, I purged them. It sounds so easy now but wow it was such a tough thing to do then.
It's kinda like breaking up with a boyfriend 🙂 but I did it and feel so much more energized and ready to pour myself into the areas I've chosen to tightly focus on. It has already paid off and I'm so looking forward to 2012.
Lain Ehmann of Business Love Potion says:
2011 was a year of huge change and growth for me and my business. The biggest lesson I learned is that though planning is essential, you have to take the cues from your market and audience.
I've floated a few things out there that I thought were going to be sure things, but no one grabbed them. At the same time, something I threw together without anywhere near the detail and analysis was a huge hit. Who woulda thunk?
Sure, I could hold true to my beginning-of-the-year planning and refuse to change my plans. But at what cost? It's much smarter to go where the market tells you it WANTS to go, even if you think you've got the best plan and products in the world. Maybe you got it wrong, or maybe you just didn't notice this hidden demand. It doesn't matter. Take advantage of the momentum and go with it!
There's an old saying: “Would you rather be happy or right?”
I encourage you to amend that and ask yourself, “Would you rather be profitable or right?”
I know which I choose!
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
Wow! Those are really really good answers. Now the pressure is on. 🙂
What did I learn this year?
1. The power of coaching.
I always knew that I was blessed beyond belief to have friends who I could turn to when I needed to think something through. However, I guess I never realized that others NEED what I have and that I can absolutely impact their lives by helping them one-on-one. But this year, I've seen my coaching clients take HUGE strides. It's so funny because oftentimes it happens in the first 15 minutes and they say “OH MY GOSH! I never thought of that even though it's so obvious!” Not exactly an ego-booster for me (lol!) but it does make me very happy that their fuzzy overwhelmed brains can get the clarity and focus that they so much need to move ahead.
Recommended! If you need someone to tell you “THIS project” is the one to focus on or “THIS traffic technique is what you need to be doing” – I recommend my friend (and mastermind partner).
Kelly McCausey is GREAT with direction especially if you're still unclear in your message.
Or you'll find mine here: Nicole Dean Private Confidential Coaching. (Yes, I have many clients whose names you'd recognize. But I can't tell you who they are. I promised them confidentiality.) 😉
OR here's my coach. Who coaches Nicole Dean?
2. Beyond Transparency. It's ok to be Personal.
I've always tried to be personal on my blog and in my newsletters, keeping my readers up to date on what is going on in my life. I've tried to connect and show them/you that I care. And, I try to be transparent.
However, I'm always amazed by the love that I get back when I do share the more private areas of my life. For instance, when my Eddie puppy died this year, I was devastated. It was emails from my community (yes from YOU) that got me through it.
And, again, as I'm hosting a child from a Children's Home in Latvia over the holidays – I received prayers, well-wishes, and even monetary gifts towards her travel. I am absolutely humbled and am so grateful for you.
Now I'm not saying to talk about last night when you sneezed while you were drinking a glass of milk. But, share … and see what happens.
3. Hire Based Upon Personality as Much as Skills.
You can always teach someone a new skill, but you can't easily teach a person to have a postive outlook. I don't know about you, but I want to spend my work time with positive people. It's an ongoing process to outsource effectively, but there are plenty of people who are in need of work – so pick the ones that make your day.
4. Balancing Being NICE with Being STRONG.
I know a lot of women, especially, have a hard time with this. In fact, one of my coaching clients talked with me about this exact topic yesterday.
We WANT to be nice. However, we're also running a business … so we can't always be nice, or we'll get walked on.
So, direct communication is essential in order to get things done. You can be nice, but the second you see an issue address it, so that it doesn't build into a situation where you have to get mad.
Examples that you can use:
- “I need to clarify ______.”
- “I need to know if you can meet the deadline that we agreed upon. If not, I'll have to get another contractor to do this project for me. Please let me know by (date) or I'll assume you're too busy to take on this work and I'll reassign it.”
You'll notice that I use the word “need” rather than “want”. I only do that during a conflict situation to emphasize that this is not optional.
- “Yes, I understand your situation. However, … “
- “No, that will not work for me. This is what I need… (and when)”
Did you know I have an Outsourcing Course? You can check it out here: Nicole Dean Outsourcing Course. (Needs to be updated.)
5. The Bigger Picture. Making Our World a Better Place.
As you know, I've been talking a lot lately about your legacy and your impact upon the world. I try to make decisions on my business based upon a bigger picture – will it help my customers and will it help my customers to better serve their customers?
Well, this year, I decided to go bigger. First, you may have noticed that I have new graphics in my side bar.
One is “Making the Web a Better Place” and the other is “Making the World a Better Place”. If you have a suggestion of an organization that I should feature on my blog that is making our world a better place, please let me know. Include a link to a graphic, too.
PS. Have a wonderful weekend!