While so many of us have been (or are in the process of) setting goals, and detailing dreams for the upcoming year, I feel the need to reflect on the past year, to acknowledge what I have done, and how I have evolved, both personally and professionally.
2014 was a year unlike any other.
“No shit,” you might say. “You had a baby!”
Yes, in April, our little family was made so much bigger with the arrival of our little Lily. And ultimately, most of my 2014 days were devoted to loving and caring for her.
I had planned to take about three months off of Tall Poppies work (more on how I did that as a solopreneur in an upcoming post). As is turns out, I actually started on some projects when Lily was between 6-8 weeks old. Surprisingly, during those early days, I had time throughout each day to get a lot of stuff done. For about a two months, I also some help from my incredible mum. An opportunity popped up and I dove in.
It wasn’t without its hardships.
Two weeks into the project, I developed a mild case of shingles on my face. I didn’t feel stressed, buy my body was, and the extra exertion in my work-life, coupled with all of the stresses on my body from being a new mother took its toll.
If I were to stand on my soap box and tell another new mother what to do, I’d say:
“That time is so incredibly precious. Don’t commit to anything other than your new baby, yourself, and your partner. They should be your only priority.”
At the same time, I also wouldn’t change how I did things!
In fact 2014 was one big learning lesson after another about setting my priorities.
The beginning of the year, while I was between 6-9 months pregnant, was a roller-coaster ride. I felt like I had a great pregnancy, but some unexpected hiccups did occur. One Saturday, early in the new year, I felt dizzy. I thought perhaps it was just pregnancy hunger, but it kept getting worse, and worse… and worse. Long story short, I had come down with a once-in-a-lifetime (they tell me!) virus, called Vestibular Neuronitis.
For the first few days, I could barely open my eyes because my world spun so violently. I could hardly walk to the kitchen, and couldn’t drive for about two weeks. I walked like a drunk for six.
Very little could make me ‘stop,’ let alone slow me down.
This crap stopped me in my tracks!
As a solopreneur, what do you do when you can’t open your eyes to look at your computer screen?
For one, You get to know Siri!
Siri and I teamed up and I called my clients. Since my baby was due in a few months I was cramming in as much work as I could and I had a lot of deadlines looming. Just about everyone I spoke to was amazing. I felt so happy and humbled by how sweet and understanding my beautiful clients were. I didn’t know how long I would be down and out.
A few clients were a little stressed about it. Naturally. They have a lot riding on the launch of their beautiful new brand and website. This fact actually motivated me to work during that first crazy week.
As it turned out, looking at my computer screen was ok for a few hours here and there (but not above, beyond, or left nor right). There was one big launch looming and I actually got it done. Yup, call me crazy.
I was happy to accomplish this deadline on time, despite the hardships I endured to do so. However, it did open my eyes (pun intended) to some new traits of my ideal clients that I had not previously considered.
I realized most of the amazing women I have worked with are mothers, even grandmothers. Whether they are brand new to parenting, or seasoned, isn’t important. I simply realized that these wonderful women who shared this common trait also shared a common empathy for ‘hiccups’ like this crazy, once-in-a-lifetime illness (they assure me!) and in turn, they are flexible.
Now, as a new mother, I know why. Everyday is different, and doesn’t necessarily go as planned. Change really is the only constant.
I learned a lesson the hard way, and that is, that I need and want to work with people who will be understanding and flexible. I promise to do the same. Now I love a deadline, but not at the cost of anyone’s physical, or mental health.
I spent my final months of brewing up a baby also brewing up as many websites as possible. I had my best quarter ever, even with a very slow third month in that quarter since I ended up giving away projects when the reality that I could go into labor at any time finally sunk in.
As I mentioned much earlier, I had hoped to take three months off with Lily…
While I did start on a special project earlier than planned, the rest of the year has been very part time.
My husband also has his own business, so we decided to split our days. I hung out with Lily in the mornings, and he cared for her in the afternoons while I went to work. We felt that these half days were a little easier on each other, and on Lily, (well, more so on my husband!) than a loooong, full day.
We had a lot of family visiting throughout 2014 and they wanted to spend as much time with Lily as possible, so we didn’t commit to daycare until December.
This was a blessing and a curse. I feel so lucky to have had the company and help of my family throughout this year. Period.
Better yet, it has been an absolute blessing to have all this extra, unplanned time with Lily. When her 12 week ‘birthday’ rolled around, I just couldn’t imagine how my dear friends endure the agony of dropping their tiny little baby off to daycare five days a week, for eight plus hours per day.
At the same time, it was hard to consistently breakaway and spend time on Tall Poppies Design projects. While I had 4-6 hours scheduled to work each day, with a new baby, guests, and life simply interfering, it was often more like 2-3 hours. Sometimes none at all.
So at the end of last year, I reflected on my finances with a heavy heart. It wasn’t a banner year, but… we thrived, and best of all, we spent a lot of time with our new baby. This is, (sorry for the cliché), priceless. And that’s why I’m writing this post. I wanted to reflect on the year, to ponder the successes, and evolution of me and my little biz!
2014 wasn’t just about diapers, burp cloths, and baby smiles.
Here are just some of the sites I built:
As we speak, I’m putting the finishing touches on new websites for:
- SteamboatBooks.com (…Hey, while I mention this website: If you ever need a book recommendation, you should seriously sign up for Off The Beaten Path’s emails. I am consistently blown away by their staff picks!)
Launched! Web Designer Beauty School
I also paired up with the inspiring and delightful Krista Smith to launch a paid support program for the students of the Girls Guide to Web Design. After the support program’s raving success, this January, we are re-branding and re-launching this program as Web Designer Beauty School (specifically, Web Designer Support School for the help forum).
This new venture will now invite anyone to join us, not just Girls Guide course students; anyone who wants to learn elegant, practical web design, development and even business skills. More details coming soon! (Pop your name on our list if you are interested in learning more).
ASAP Websites! Beautiful, affordable websites. Pronto!
I also did all the ground work to launch a new Tall Poppies Design service: ASAP websites. In addition to custom designed, one-of-a-kind websites, I am also offering these special websites for people who need a site quickly and cheaply – without compromising on quality. Check out all the nitty gritty details here…
Working ON my business, not in it…
I purposefully committed to less projects in the latter half of 2014 not just because of Lily, but because I committed to an enlightening coaching program with Tara Gentile: 10,000 feet (now called ‘Quiet Power Strategy). I have spent months working ‘on’ my business, not just in it.
As a result, 2015 is going to be wonderful. I already know this.
I’m working with some seriously special women on their gorgeous websites – both custom designed, and ASAP website templates. And, The Web Designer Beauty School is going to life changing. For me, and for all the amazing women who join our community. It’s all so exciting.
And now that we have regular daycare. Watch out world!