So You Had a Big Year...Now What?

A lot of advice from industry experts centers around solving problems of The Struggle: Not enough sales, leads, or exposure; the difficult conversations you have with underperforming employees; bleeding bank accounts and little money for marketing; how to make social media actually work for your business, etc. 

But what about when you’re experiencing success that’s never been seen in your organization? How do you avoid a sophomore slump and make sure you capitalize on growth? 

At our agency, we’ve doubled in size — team-wise and office-wise — and despite that, it has been easy to blow right by our accomplishments and start thinking about what might go wrong next year. I think it’s in every business owners’ nature to have that mindset. 

But that mindset can start a chain reaction of bad culture that trickles down throughout the organization and stifles the potential for similar growth next year. With that in mind, here are some ways to avoid sabotaging your success as we enter 2023.

1. Celebrate Your Accomplishments

When you’re first starting out in business, you’re scraped-knees-deep in The Hustle. There’s no time to celebrate, only crank out work. When all of that hard work pays off, it’s tempting to avoid patting yourself on the back and instead credit luck, or the economy, or a random event that worked out in your favor. 

Owning a business is an often brutal, cold, stressful, terrifying and frustrating experience — celebrate every moment of it that isn’t. Don’t let the quest for perfection convince you that what you’ve already done isn’t spectacular.  Celebrate your employees. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your business, and make a point of doing it more often than at the end of a successful year.

2. Harness the Momentum with Marketing

Marketing still makes business owners nervous, even in a good year. Maybe it’s because it’s pretty common to get burned by so-called experts. Maybe it’s the ever-changing landscape of algorithms and finicky Google SEO rules, or the shrinking organic engagement on social media sites. 

But being a hot business comes with built-in appeal: people want to hear what you have to say, how you got to where you’re at, what makes your business better than others, and what obstacles you’ve overcome to be successful. There’s no reason to not harness this momentum and turn it into content for social media, your website content and PR.

3. Accept That You're in a New League and Reevaluate

At some point, you’ll outgrow certain clients. Hopefully your clients will grow with you, but that’s not always the case — especially if your business isn’t directly responsible for influencing their revenue. But even for e-commerce and retail businesses, there’s likely a point in the growth cycle where you have to change who you’re targeting. Whether it’s refusing to take on a client under a certain dollar amount, reaching an untapped audience, or using what you’ve learned to create a new target customer persona, it’s a big part of continued success. 

For example, McDonald’s went from marketing itself as a magical place for kids, to a value-conscious place where adults and families can go to find quick, tasty food. Cereal companies like Lucky Charms figured out that almost half their customers are adults and changed their marketing accordingly. And high-end fashion company Gucci in the last 10 years has aimed to feel more approachable to more customers. 

4. Have a Clearer Idea of What Went Right

Seems obvious. But sometimes when you’re soot-covered-elbow-deep in The Grind, it’s easier to focus on the day-to-day stuff than examining why things are working so well. If you don’t know exactly what went right, you can’t replicate it. Maybe your customers love your product. Maybe you seemed to get a good response to an ad campaign, or you noticed a lot more foot traffic than anticipated. But if you don’t know the “why” behind these things, how do they help build on your momentum? 

We had a client once tell us they got a huge response to an event by posting on Facebook and boosting it. But they weren’t able to measure specifically how many people came through the door because of the Facebook boost. By collecting that specific data (via QRs, UTMs and website forms) for their next event, we helped them see that Facebook wasn’t the key contributor to the response they got. Not everything is going to be so clearly trackable, but the more that is, the less blind you have to fly.

Wrapping Up 2022 on a High Note

Success in extreme degrees is fleeting. If you own a business that had a great year, this is a pretty rare thing in the grand scheme of human existence. Celebrate it, harness that momentum, adjust to your new role in the world of industry, and make sure you’ve got a clear way to measure success in the future. 

But mostly take some time to acknowledge that what you’ve done is pretty amazing — even if success in business feels like what’s “supposed” to happen, it doesn’t make it any less sweet.


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