What I Learned in 2006
Never minding the fact that I'm still scrambling to do the myriad of tech and marketing projects that I'm absolutely convinced I can do before the end of the year, Ben Yoskovitz has asked us entrepreneurial types what we learned this year. So from my state of denial that my year isn't over yet and I still have time to Get Things Done, I bring you:
- Read the manual before you call tech support. In the time you spend on hold, you could probably figure out the answer yourself... unless they have a crappy product, in which case, you should probably just throw the darn thing out the window right now and consider yourself happier for it.
- Online friends are real. The more of my blogging and podcasting buddies I meet in "real life," the more I realized what sustantial relationships can be formed through social media.
- Natural client attrition is 10-40% per year. Yes, that means clients that fall away through no fault of one's own--they lose trade show budgets; the person who is a big believer in using a spokesperson moves to Uruguay; they stop doing big shows. It took Susan Baushke's recent seminar at the Chicago DMA to hit me over the head with this one--after five years of 10-20% growth each year, the natural attrition finally kicked in. That is, in order to continue to grow 20% a year, I need to market for 30-60% growth to account for natural attrition.
- RSS is an addition to, not a substitute for other communication. Yup, made this mistake. I dove into blogging and podcasting and built up quite an audience (thank you!). So I discontinued my email newsletter, thinking, "Well, hey a blog is the same thing, right?" WRONG! Not everyone can manipulate RSS yet, so I had to re-invest a lot of time and money into starting an email newsletter from scratch.
- Online networking is an addition to, not a substitute for in-person networking. I love my online life, but I grew to miss my local networking groups, so I joined a great new group designed to support women entrepreneurs. Chatting, blogging and sharing podcast promos and shoutouts is really fun and markedly beneficial to my business, but it's also important to meet someone and see the actual ring the coffee cup leaves on the table.
- The person is not the job. I lost contact with a few key advocates when they left the companies, and so I lost the business and the contacts. Always, always, ALWAYS get a personal email or cell phone, just in case they leave the company, so you can still keep in touch!
- I need a system for contact management. I'm project-oriented, so I tend to work on something for a few days or weeks (see how PERFECT this profession is for me??) and then move on to something else. So constant, consistent contact management is a challenge for me. The Oprius software is helping, but still working on this one.
- Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper and laptops don't mix. Two new hard drives later, I learn to keep my beverages far, far away from my electronics!
- Western Digital's XHD's do NOT work with Macs. After countless hours on the phone with tech support, I gave up. I spent more time on the phone (over seven hours at last count) trying to get the product to work, then discovered via message boards that other Mac users have determined that the software simply doesn't work with Macs. Hard lesson learned!
- If you don't love it, you should probably stop doing it. Every time I get the chance to speak, I'm reminded of how very much I love it. I love the challenge of organizing information to make it engaging, thought-provoking and informative. I love making an audience smile, laugh and think. And I LOVE questions! The day I stop enjoying speaking is the day I will quit.