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2017 Recap & Planning for 2018

No lie, I've been putting off writing this post. It hasn't been because I've been super busy with clients or super busy filling orders for my online store, Stall 17, either.

It's because 2017 was a total drag and this post is going to be embarrassing as all hell to publish.

My first year in business with Writing Dressage, 2016, was pretty good. It was before I really settled on doing one-on-one coaching with clients, and all I was really focused on was blogging consistently and figuring out how I could best help equine small business owners. Basically, 2016 was spent doing a lot of thinking.

By the end of 2016, early 2017, I figured out what I wanted to do, and holy cow I was excited about it! I had all these plans about what I could do to help equestrians. In February, I wrote out a pretty thorough business plan, put together a vision board, and planned on having a bangin' 2017.

There was just one problem: I was a little overzealous in my planning. A little more than a little. I sort of forgot to factor in real life, and the fact that there would be plenty of road blocks to pop up throughout the year.

My 2017 vision board included the following elements:

  • Launch my consultation services
  • Book my first speaking gig
  • Look into sponsors for Writing Dressage
  • Start an equestrian entertainment magazine
  • Offer a scholarship
  • Land a literary agent
  • Traditionally publish Generation Y
  • Finish the rough draft of at least one more novel
  • Self publish a short story on my author blog

Elements I achieved:

  • Launch my consultation services
  • Finish the rough draft of at least one more novel

Everything else just kind of... didn't happen.

Some of it wasn't for a lack of trying. Others most definitely were.

In May, I went from part time to full time at my job, which is when the blog posts on my site started to taper off. (Anyone who tries to tell you retail is easy has obviously never worked retail.) I not only ended up picking up an extra 10-15 hours a week, I ended up becoming what is essentially our tiny store's equivalent to my department's manager.

Thus ensued the chaos. The girl they hired to fill the part time position I vacated ended up getting arrested for theft after a little over six weeks. Then they kept trying to hire people but nobody stayed more than two weeks, which meant me pulling overtime for a little over two months to cover. Then came the conga line of corporate visits, including one from someone who works directly under the CEO and another where NINETEEN people came to inspect the store from pretty much every angle. 

HELLO, STRESS.

No lie, I appreciated the checks, but I literally woke up, went to work, came home, and went to bed.

Everything I've ever read about living a healthy entrepreneurial life includes having a hobby totally unrelated to what your business is, which is why I picked up writing again. I've got a few ideas for a few series and I try to work on them in my spare time. While I did get the rough draft of the second novel in one of my series finished, that's literally all I did. I never sent out a single query letter (honesty hour: I'm a chicken!) nor did I finish the short story I had planned on self publishing as a freebie on my author blog.

I ended up way overextending myself at work, which left me little to no time for my true passions: this blog, my writing, and my horse. 

The only thing I really made an attempt at starting was that entertainment magazine, but even though I promoted it consistently for a good month, ran ads on Instagram, and everything else I could think of, I only got 3 or 4 submissions.

Talk about deflating.

So I'm doing things a little differently this year.

I'm dialing back on the amount and intensity of my 2018 goals, and I'm going to focus more on working for myself in my own businesses rather than working for someone else.

In December, I started a Patreon page where, for as little as $10 a month, I offer coaching in various forms to small equine entrepreneurs who can't afford to invest lots of money on my major packages.

In January, I finally opened my online boutique, Stall 17, where I sell apparel and gifts for equestrians. Right now, there are limited items in the shop, and some are cross listed on Etsy to help try and boost the store's sales and visibility. In April, I'm planning on launching my spring/summer collection, which will include things like tees and tanks, a couple art pieces, accessories like keychains and jewelry, and miscellaneous gifts like totes, water bottles, stickers, etc.

Just last month, I signed up to sell Avon. I even invested in the $100 startup kit that came with a bunch of full-size products, a ton of samples, books, and a fancy Avon bag that's practically a mobile store in a large handbag. 

As for my 2018 goals, they're far more realistic:

  • Make $5,000 in sales on Stall 17
  • Book 5 clients for coaching packages
  • Help 20 equestrians through Patreon
  • Adopt a new horse by Christmas 2018

Far simpler. Far more realistic. Far less intimidating.

More importantly, they're results-oriented and easily trackable, which I think was my biggest mistake in 2017. So many of my goals last year were far more difficult to track, and they relied less on factors I could control and more on factors outside my control. 

Granted, booking clients, getting Patrons, and making money all definitely rely on factors outside my control, but they also rely on factors well within my control. 

So, here's to a new year, horse friends. Drop into the comments and let me know how your 2017 was (especially if it was less than glamorous like mine) and what you're planning to do in 2018 to make it better. Better yet, hop on my mailing list. I only email once a month so I won't flood your inbox, and I include links to useful sources I find throughout the month in every email. Plus, from time to time I get really real about the behind-the-scenes chaos of running several businesses. Much like this post, it's not always sunshine and cupcakes, either.

Chat soon!

P.S. Don't forget to share this post with your friends!

In today's blog post, I talk about everything that happened during 2017--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright embarrassing--and what I'm planning to do in 2018 to make sure it's a much better year. Click the pin to read more!