They say growth doesn’t happen unless you trip, fall, slide, and fail along the way! We like to believe that failure brings with it a hard-learned lesson.
We thought it would be more fun to share our business and marketing lessons of 2019, while also recounting a few of our accomplishments! And when we say business and marketing lessons, what we really main are the failures we experienced that taught us those lessons and how these marketing lessons for small businesses can help you.
Our 2019 word of the year was actually in Spanish… “PODER“.
1. Be able to
The word embodied sentiments of having the POWER to BE ABLE TO do whatever we set our minds to. It was the idea that anything and everything was possible and could be done!
Now, the problem with that is the idea that anything and everything SHOULD be done… which isn’t always the best idea when it comes to business or marketing. Read on to learn our main lessons in 2019 in business and marketing!
We’ll first start off with our business failures. These were actions we did (or didn’t take) that negatively affected our business – either directly or indirectly. A negative effect doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of money, it could mean a waste of energy and time or unhappy clients.
Some of our main business failures for 2019 are…
People-pleasing to the point of exhaustion and anxiety
We did A LOT this year! We hosted events in Madrid, virtual planning parties, worked with smaller projects, and went to plenty of networking events. The problem there is we did things, went to places, and maintained relationships that didn’t feed into our energy or learning!
We tolerated a lot of ~things~ we never enjoyed. The result was feeling exhausted, anxious, and made us cynics to the people within our community. We tried hard to fit in, show up, support, and be friendly with everyone that it depleted our energy to please others and “show face”.
Our fear of not being liked by everyone drove us to please so many people because we were so scared to say no or do things our own way!
Lack of clear boundaries with clients and collaborators
We love our clients and collaborators, truly! We love collaborations, sharing ideas, and finding new ways to incorporate different services or opinions to improve business.
However, our lack of clear boundaries with clients and collaborators turned into stress-induced situations on our end. Because of the underlying fear of “not being liked”, so we chose people-pleasing, our client experiences faltered and so did the relationship between a few of our collaborators.
It made situations awkward to approach because we didn’t have boundaries and no one set clear guidelines on what to do!
Unclear systems to track finances
This is a big one for us. As the creative type, numbers are not our forte. We love tracking data for engagement, social media stats, and crunching what worked and didn’t with content, but…
Finances? Gross revenue, net profit, business expenses, and investments?
Mm, this concept is an area we are working on improving!
We had a few systems here and there to track our finances. We’ve used homemade templates, bought templates from past coaches, and tried using the built-in Dubsado bookkeeping feature.
RECEIVE A FREE TRIAL AND 20% OFF DUBSADO WITH OUR CODE: TQPSTUDIO
None of those worked for us because it didn’t give us a ‘snapshot’ of every month and all the money that came in and also went out. We failed in this aspect because when it was time to sit down with our accountant and bookkeeper, we confused ourselves by writing payments down in dollars and euros!
In our marketing failures, these were things we failed to do to understand our market further. We created things or waited for moments to happen to us, because of our lack of knowledge surrounding what our ideal clients wanted! We also took a passive approach to marketing at one point because we had our own mindset blocks around worthiness and value.
Canceled #instagrameopicnic event
Last year we hosted a successful #instagrameopicnic event (our FIRST event in Madrid)! It was free for content creators to come and take cute photos for the ‘gram, network, hang-out, and snack! This year, we wanted to turn it into a workshop with 4 guest speakers to help content creators uplevel their Instagram game.
We had it all planned out! We contacted and made marketing material with our collaborators, and even had them share. We found a fabulous venue that was willing to collaborate and offer an array of food after the workshop. It was all planned with a launch strategy in place.
What happened? 1 person bought a ticket.
We had to cancel the event, contact the venue and tell them we didn’t reach our ticket sales goal and tell our collaborators it wasn’t happening.
Can you talk about embarrassing? That was 3 different people we flopped in front of and a venue space that could have thought we weren’t “serious”.
Zero sales after a launch
If you were following us over Summer 2019, you might remember “Sesiones del Verano: Creative’s Workday”. Yes, that entire series was a total fail.
We worked SO hard to create the series, recording videos, creating presentation slides, writing and designing sales pages, and what happened? Well, from the title of this subheading… NOTHING HAPPENED. None of the masterclasses sold, none of the extra products & templates sold, and the only part of the series that performed “mediocrely” were the in-person workshops in Madrid (but guess what, they weren’t profitable).
Part of the “Sesiones del Verano” series was never created or completed because we realized that there was no traction! We had one more masterclass planned and it was never recorded or released because we saw that no one was purchasing anything we had created. It was a big punch in the gut.
Passive outreach and fear of selling
In Q1 of our business, we had a waiting list of clients! It felt like people were finding us, they were reaching out, and they were ready to invest in their copywriting or content strategy needs. We didn’t have to do outreach or get on sales calls because we were at capacity!
Well, what happened after that was a big shock to us. While we knew we should’ve been pro-actively outreaching to make sure our leads pipeline was always full, we didn’t. We expected to continue having our good fortune without actively getting on sales calls, sharing about our client wins, and more.
At the end of Q1 and during the Summer months, we were in the cycle of deep “famine”. We had one-off clients here and there, but nothing sustainable. It was a huge shock to our business because we were riding a great wave of revenue during the first two months of 2019 that we didn’t expect it to dry out!
Want to set up a Content Marketing system that works for you, instead of you doing all the work? Download your FREE Content Generating Machine here!
Business & Marketing Lessons for Small Businesses
With all failures come lessons. Oh goodness, did we learn! From each of our business and marketing failures, we took away an important lesson for the next year.
LESSON on people-pleasing:
Our energy and time are WAY too valuable to be spending it merely “tolerating” circumstances, relationships, events, or anything else! If we want to serve our clients well, we HAVE to make sure that we are actively seeking and choosing people, places, and experiences that give back to us.
The hard lesson here is that not everyone will like The Quirky Pineapple Studio and we don’t have to like everyone, either. ?
LESSON on boundaries:
When there are constraints put on working and professional relationships, it doesn’t hinder the connection. Boundaries and guidelines aren’t there to “constrict” people, they’re there to make it clear what roles and responsibilities we play in other people’s lives.
Boundaries also help us work within our zone of genius and provide the best quality work for our clients because they know how we produce our best work and we have what we need to do so.
LESSON on finances:
To be a sustainable business, we need to sit down and get our money right.
In a business, it’s important to know exactly what your…
- Business expenses are (ANY overhead costs)
- Gross revenue
- Net profit
- Source of highest recurring client revenue
By knowing that, you’ll be able to sit down and see where to invest more of your time and money to produce the highest results, and where to cut losses. We’ll be sitting down with our accountant and bookkeeper to create a template that works best for us and what we need! By doing this we’ll have more control and knowledge over what’s working and not in our business.
LESSON on a canceled event:
We need to do WAY more market research and work within seasonal trends. It was our idea to turn the event into a paid workshop with 4 different guest speakers, but we never once asked our audience if this was what they were looking for.
The #instagrameopicnic was also planned right after the “spring break” season in Madrid, which is not ideal because people have other priorities for their disposable income… which is travel.
LESSON on a ZERO sales launch:
Shiny-object syndrome can actually RUIN your business.
It sounds dramatic, but we want to be honest with you. Shiny-object syndrome, coupled with FOMO, can really drive your business down the tubes because you’re creating and doing things that DO NOT align with what you enjoy.
This was our first-hand experience when we decided to create a “summer school” series for our audience. We were struck with ‘shiny-object’ syndrome and FOMO because we saw how successful it was for other businesses, so we wanted to be in on it. The actuality is that we want to create sustainable revenue for TQP Studio and selling one-off lessons or templates does not help that goal.
READ: How to Grow Your Business with an Editorial Calendar
LESSON on fear of selling:
The biggest lesson here is if you are afraid of selling, you will not make money.
Plain and simple. You won’t make money in your business.
We learned this the hard way because we had two amazing months to start 2019, we thought we could “avoid” the outreach and selling strategy entirely and have clients come knocking at our door. Our fear of selling put us in a feast and famine cycle of great months, to extremely low months.
Working through our mindset blocks to get over the fear of selling, the fear of outreach, and believe in our value and our work… we won’t be in the same situation next year!
BTW, want to work with us on copywriting or content strategy? Schedule a complimentary CLARITY CALL here to chat about what this could look like!
2019 Achievements & Wins
Besides the sure failures that we had… TQP Studio also had some great achievements and wins to celebrate! To quickly run through them, here’s what we’ll be popping the sangria for this year!
- Hired on a 2nd team member, Luana, our Social Media Manager!
- Was one of twenty finalists for the #20OntheRise campaign hosted by Honeybook and Rising Tide Society as a leading marketer!
- We secured $20K in revenue in one month this year!
- Joined a 6-month mastermind to uplevel TQP Studio
- TQP Studio turned 2 years old! (:
- Testing out TQP TV with IGTV episodes!
- Testing out TQP Radio, a podcast style IGTV where we share quick tips and advice on branding and content strategy
- Hosted our first Creative’s Workday event in collaboration with Field & Gown in Vienna, Virginia
- Launched in collaboration with Andrea, of It’s a Travel O.D., a 4-week mastermind called “Hit Publish in 4 Weeks”
- Created a course with Andrea on “How to Create Content for Social Media” on Udemy
- Collaborated with Amore Social and T Creating Co to product the Elevated Lodging Experience Workbook
- Created a PREMIUM course in partnership with Skillshare on “How to Write Captivating Website Copy that Converts Clients” (and you can get it for FREE right here, with 2 months of Skillshare premium)!
- Collaborated with Julia, of Julia Renee Consulting, on an SEO & content course! Access “How to Use SEO & Content to Rank on Google and Reach More Clients”!
- Our founder, Cassandra, was a contributing author to the BRANDING QUICKIES book! Grab your copy via Amazon!
- Anddd hosted our first retreat, Hit Publish Retreat, in Cartagena, Colombia! (Join the waitlist for 2020 dates here!)
Instead of trying to DO THE MOST like we did this year (even if it was great), we want to focus on going deeper rather than wider. We want to continuously serve the clients we already have and the people within our community, by making it easier to work with us!
Our goals for 2020 are:
- Make a consistent amount of revenue each month
- Streamline our current service offerings to capture the entirety of our client journey
- Revamp and relaunch our course, Content Driven Success
- Get featured on major publications and podcast episodes
- Serve our clients and community with high-level impact events
- Hire on another team member to help with operations and admin work by Q3
- Develop a consistent brand image on social media
- Finish Q1 with 2000 amount of followers with 30% engagement rate
Plans for The Quirky Pineapple Studio are to dive deep into what we do well, serve the people who trust us and believe in us, and continue cultivating impactful and strong relationships. We don’t want to ‘do the most’ or ‘do too much’, it is tiring. We want to serve those we have and serve them well.
2020 Word of the Year
Our 2020 word of the year is…
Steadfast has different meanings, but the ones we resonate with most are:
1. Not changing or losing purpose
2. Firm in belief, determination, or adherence
If you look up the word steadfast, it could be taken negatively as someone who is stubborn and unwilling to change. But, other meanings can be not to lose purpose, to have a strong belief and determination, and an unwavering spirit to keep pushing forward.
We want 2020 to be filled with STEADFAST conviction to continue to serve our clients doing what we do best, create an international community of people who want to make an impact with their work, and do it all while having fun!
We’re excited to see what happens in 2020 and are ready for this new decade! We’re glowing up, showing up, and getting ready for our year!
What’s your word for 2020?
Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too:
The Dirty 2018 Recap & 2019 Goals
How to Create a Successful Content Creation System
How to Make Smart Investments to Grow your Business
How to Plan your Content Strategy for More Visibility
Looking for some help with creating content that connects AND converts? Grab your FREE content-generating machine here!