5 Business Lessons We Learned In 2018
Every year we look back at what we’ve achieved and what we have to look forward to in the new year. In 2018 we experienced growth that allowed us to bring on new team members, and we’ve vastly expanded our abilities to deliver real results for our clients. As 2019 comes rushing in, we’ve decided to share the 5 business lessons we learned in 2018.
BE FORWARD LOOKING
In 2018 we learned the true value of maintaining revenue projections and doing weekly bookkeeping meetings. New business sales are the lifeblood of any company, and continual cash flow analysis keeps the bottom line in check. We developed strict discipline with watching “cash in / cash out” always with an eye towards the future. It helped us achieve a YOY improvement that didn’t seem possible this time last year.
If you’re still trying to maintain your books, manage payroll, and crunch all the numbers for taxes and expenses, do yourself a favor and immediately invest in a good bookkeeper. As a business owner you have much better things to do with your time. Divining Point partnered with a bookkeeper (Greeley Street Consulting) who handles all things related to accounting, payroll, and taxes. It’s made all the difference in keeping us solvent.
Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. It’s always moving forward over hills and troughs. If you’re still in business today – and you’re not heading for certain dissolution – then you have much to rejoice. But if you’re not executing a proactive strategy for future sales, then you’ll experience dips in your cashflow that could sink your chances for success.
CELEBRATE YOUR FAILURES
Sure, your achievements are opportunities to move forward, but your best learning experiences come from failure. In the second quarter of 2018 we made a conscious decision to part ways with some clients who needed a level of service we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide or who no longer met the criteria for our ideal client.
Two months later, two of our larger clients terminated their relationship with us.
The client-agency relationship with these clients was cordial (and appreciated), but they had an underlying cynicism about marketing – and a reluctance to communicate – that hindered our ability to solve their problems.
Suddenly we were thrown into a tailspin that presented real risk to everything we’d worked for in the first half of the year. We were immediately forced to do two things:
- Conduct a thorough postmortem to see what happened and why.
- Find new business fast.
What we learned during the postmortem was not only cathartic, it also helped us quickly generate new business opportunities.
In retrospect, the loss of clients was the best thing that happened to us in 2018. We were freed from unhealthy client relationships delivering services that drained our time and resources. At the same time, we were given the opportunity to fine tune all of our processes from top to bottom, which in turn enabled us to find success with other clients who needed us. It is a business lesson that made all the difference for our future.
The unintentional bloodletting of the Summer of 2018 breathed life into our company. It confirmed something we knew all along: an unwilling client isn’t worth the effort. As our favorite prophet of marketing, Don Draper, once said, “You already know about Jesus. He either lives in your heart or he doesn’t”.
Divining Point prides itself on producing measurable results for companies who believe in the value of a rock solid brand and who work hard to deliver great service from beginning to end. We don’t want to work with a company who scoffs at these concepts or thinks that marketing is just an expensive set of bells and whistles.
Our greatest success this year was going to market with a new attitude.
We won’t waste time your time or ours if you can’t see past your biases, honestly communicate with us, and eagerly embrace the change we bring to the table. By replicating this learning, we’ve expanded our client portfolio and improved our service delivery along the way.
As you can see, your failure can be your greatest success, and you can achieve remarkable growth if you learn from these experiences. Look at your business objectively and see how you can replicate success so that it builds up your company. Don’t dwell on failure. Get better.
It’s rare these days to have the same team for longer than a couple years. The US is experiencing all time lows in unemployment, and employees have more job opportunities available to them than ever before. Couple this with a young workforce that naturally drifts from position to position until they find their place in the world. It’s natural to experience turnover, but it adds disruption and significant costs to the operation of any business.
In 2018 Divining Point experienced turnover for a myriad of reasons. In one case we had to remove a toxic presence from the company. Another employee left for personal reasons during the summer when we changed our industry focus. Two other employees accepted generous offers from competitors. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!
In every case we amicably ended our relationships. At no point did we have to terminate a position for financial reasons, for which we’re thankful. Each time we replaced these employees with new team members who further strengthened our company.
The lesson here is be prepared for turnover. It happens. It’s not very fun. It temporarily introduces disorder into the efficient process you’ve worked hard to create. But it’s a hallmark of good leadership – and teamwork – if your company can gracefully and respectfully handle turnover while continuing to deliver results for your customers.
COMPLACENCY IS A LUXURY YOU CAN’T AFFORD
There are hundreds of cliches you can use to describe entrepreneurship. Expect the unexpected. When life hands you lemons make lemonade. Don’t rest on your laurels. You get the picture.
Your business is a living organism that is always moving, always evolving, always experiencing setbacks you didn’t predict. You can’t afford to sit back and count money, even when sales are hot and profits are setting records. As soon as you stop hustling you stop growing – and your company begins to crack.
In 2018 we experienced all the growing pains every company encounters in critical growth years. We never allowed ourselves to be complacent or take anything for granted, and we’re better off as a result.
2019 is set to be another great year for us.
We strengthened our SEO capabilities to achieve top rankings through on page and off page techniques. We added a new Creative Director who will take our visual storytelling to a whole new level with exquisite photography and engaging videography. We expanded our capabilities to include email marketing, public relations, online advertising (outside of just social and search), and enhanced our reporting and research methods.