2018 Lessons / 2019 Goals
It’s a brand new year, and that comes with a slew of look-back recaps and looking-forward resolutions. It can be easy to get caught up in either, but what’s more important for your business is how you’ll identify and plan for your goals in the year ahead. And The Apple Cart is no different. We’ve learned a lot this past year, and we’re excited to put it all into practice in 2019!
We took a much needed pause from most social media over the last two weeks, and it’s been glorious, but let’s be real: Social is what keeps us relevant in the eyes of much of our audience, and we can’t afford to ignore it. Instead, we need to find a way to create healthy boundaries and balance around blogging, Facebook, and especially Instagram to keep us productive but also connected and present for our families and the real world around us. That was a big takeaway for 2018, and so we’ve set the goal to plan more content in advance (monthly) and then disengage from our screens at regular intervals and during family time.
We also took on some new clients toward the end of 2018. It was an exciting time for The Apple Cart, and we felt like we had inquiries coming in almost every day. It was a rush—new shiny projects, new relationships, and new challenges. What we discovered was that not every client is right for us, and we still have some work to do to create an on-boarding process that is clear and effective so that we can identify who our people are and how we can work with them. Our strategy from this lesson is to improve our menu of services and create a standard template for kick-off strategies that will help us answer some of the tougher questions about our clients—namely what is working for them and what has to go to help them succeed. Not everyone is ready for success or even ready to improve basic marketing functions. We can’t market a business that’s broken—inconsistent food, lack of management, and poor customer service are issues that we can work on with a client, but unless they’re willing to do the work to fix them, our marketing strategies will always land with a thud.
And finally, both Barb and myself had some Big Life Moments this year—Barb’s daughter started high school and her husband started a new job. I gave birth to another daughter and ramped up my freelance writing to a new level. All of the changes brought us back to one truth: We started this business so that we could pursue the careers we love while still putting our family first. That means we have to be smart about how we grow our business, or it will overtake the time we have available to give to it. It means slow and steady growth, not spurts. It means we have to acknowledge that we can’t be everywhere and we’re not on call. In 2019, Barb and I have recommitted to taking on a manageable workload and to checking in with each other often to make sure we haven’t bitten off more than we can chew.
We’re excited to continue our work with our long-term clients like Cavalier Produce and Birdie’s Pimento Cheese. Both enjoyed great successes in 2019! And we’re thrilled to partner with Hatch Kitchen and the Virginia’s Finest program to bring our services to the next batch of Virginia’s culinary entrepreneurs. This year, we’ll also partner with Rebelle Con to bring excellent food and beverage experiences to their community! We’ll also welcome a few new faces, and we’ve got some projects in the works that we’re practically bursting to share…but not yet!
We want to know your lessons and the goals that have grown out of them! Feel free to share them with us in the comments, or join us at one of our upcoming workshops and share them in person. This month, we’ll help Hatch Kitchen members and other culinary entrepreneurs with two subjects that are constantly demanding attention: PR and HR!
Come out to StartUp Virginia and join the conversation with us and fellow business owners!
Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2019!
Stephanie & Barb