If you’re a small business owner navigating the everchanging tide of running a business during a pandemic, I applaud you. I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this end of year review because I am exhausted (Anyone else in need of a nap and a good Netflix binge?). I’m not going to lie… 2020 was one of the most challenging years. But it was also my best year in business yet!
At the end of each year I love to take the time to reflect on what’s happened. The successful launches, new ideas and small victories. And also the failed plans and business flops. Today I’m sharing some of my highlights and celebrations from 2020! You’ll also find just a few of my goals for the new year and some of the challenges I faced last year!
I launched my podcast (and ranked on the charts!)
I didn’t really have plans to launch a podcast in 2020 (seriously… it was no where on my radar), but here we are! I launched the Empowerment Connection podcast in July of 2020 and it even debuted at #10 on the Marketing charts. I love having that platform as a way to share marketing and business tips with other women in business.
I put together a business mastermind for personal brand photographers
In January of last year I met another personal brand photographer from Alabama who was visiting Nashville. Kassady reached out and asked if I would be willing to trade some photos and hang out for a little bit. When we got together, I mentioned how I would love to put together a small mastermind for brand photographers. I longed for a group of ladies who knew the ins and outs of this niche of photography and a place where we could all grow together.
When Covid-19 and lockdown hit, I suddenly found myself with an empty calendar. I reached out to Kassady and asked if she would be interested in the mastermind. Within a couple of weeks I had a group of 5 personal brand photographers in, and we’ve been meeting virtually every other week since! Even though I’m in 2 other business masterminds in Nashville, I am so grateful for this virtual group and it has been such a life-giving experience to be a part of.
I launched the Timeless Mobile Preset Collection
Sad fact… I had been talking about creating editing presets for 10+ months before I finally launched them! (It only took a global pandemic to make it happen haha) I was so excited to launch mobile editing presets for the free Lightroom app. I had several clients request presets because they wanted their iPhone pictures to match the pictures we take together during their professional sessions. They’re available in my digital shop, along with my style guide which was another 2020 launch!
The Mandy Liz team is growing!
I hired my first virtual assistant last year! While I’ve worked with a handful of contractors, like copywriters and designers, my VA is the first contractor I’ve brought on that is part of my team. It’s been a challenge to step into a leadership role and I’m still navigating how to continue growing my team, but I’m a big believer in finding ways to automate, delegate or batch-work everything you can. Alexandra has been a God send and I can’t wait to keep growing with her in 2021.
I photographed my first Destination Wedding in Charleston, SC
If you’ve been around for a while, then you probably know I’m a destination bride. My husband and I planned a destination wedding in Paris (you can read all about that here), and I have a soft spot for intimate weddings and destination elopements. I was so excited when one of my wedding couples decided to change their plans from a traditional wedding in Nashville to a destination beach wedding in Charleston! You can see highlights from their dreamy seaside wedding day here!
Stickers, Billboards and New Services, Oh My!
It’s been a goal of mine to have one of my photos on a billboard for a couple of years now, and I finally got to drive past one of my pictures in December! One of my clients invested in Billboard ads, and the extra fun part is that I got to play a part in coming up with her marketing concept and billboard design!
Through out the year there are several little wins and unexpected changes that happen (especially with Covid-19 we’ve all had to pivot our offers or change direction). One of those wins for me was really focusing even more on the brand photography side of my Nashville business. I already had done good job of separating my brand work from weddings in 2019, but I honed in even more in 2020. (And there will be even bigger changes and announcements coming soon in 2021.) I made several changes and tried out different strategies to improve my marketing, but one of the fun things I did was invest in branded stickers. I love these cute little client gifts and they were so fun to dream up.
I think everyone will understand when I say 2020 was a struggle. It was emotionally and mentally challenging and it was harder to create balance between my business and personal life. As a business owner, it was interesting to navigate the challenges of wedding postponements and cancelations and the statewide lockdown. There was a short season when I was spiraling and really didn’t see how I could keep my business afloat.
As I was reviewing everything I did in 2020 and looking at the results and numbers, I felt really proud. My business coach reminded me that I accomplished everything (surpassed my revenue goal by $20k, created a passive income stream, soft-launched new services that don’t require face to face interaction with clients) while being shutdown and not able to book photoshoots for 2 months. 2020 was hard on a lot of business owners, but it’s also given me so much hope and confidence. 2020 showed me how quickly I’m able to assess the situation, pivot and serve my clients in new ways.
On a Personal Note
Here are a few personal moments that stood out!
This feels like a lifetime ago, but at the beginning of 2020 my husband and I enjoyed a week in New York City and it was pure magic! We saw Hamilton, The Lion King and Aladdin on Broadway, enjoyed fresh macarons from Laduree (fun fact- we ate these on our wedding day in Paris instead of cake) and just explored the city.
We welcomed new tenants during quarantine! Our front porch lamp became a home for a little family of birds. I actually set up a camera outside to watch them hatch and grow in their nest. This was the perfect distraction at the start of lock down!
This year brought heartbreak when we said goodbye to both of our senior cats. I had Blacky and Smokey since they were kittens and I even transplanted them from Argentina to Nashville so they could live with us. It was hard to lose them both this year (Smokey in March and Blacky in December).
Right before Blacky passed away I posted a video of her on TikTok that went viral! It was sweet to see how many people took interest in her and grieved with me when she passed. The last few weeks with her were hard and her health quickly declined. My little office was covered in cat bowls, pee pads and a mattress so we could spend the night with her when she didn’t want to leave the room.
Intentions for 2021
This year I decided to set intentions instead of a list of goals. Each “intention” has stepping stones or metrics I can use to see if I’m on track… But I wanted to leave room for pivots, growth and changes in my plans for the year. I think one of the reasons I struggled so much when the pandemic hit, is that I basically had to throw away my marketing plan I had created for the whole year. Suddenly all of my plans and goals felt pointless and unattainable.
In 2021 I’m choosing to focus on 5 of my products and services and only 4 big “projects” (I like to refer to these as bridges in my business… This year I have 4 bridges and everything else just doesn’t have as much priority.). My intentions for the year are:
- Slow down to scale up…
I want more rest and structure in my small business. I am focusing on automating, delegating and fine tuning my workflows. I also am looking at how to expand my team and find the right ladies to grow with.
- Launch additional passive income streams
- Keep growing my personal brand (this is where most of the metrics and goals come in so I can decide what is a good investment of time, money and energy)
- Increase sales to ideal client (with new services comes new marketing and messaging)