Q2 2019 In Review: Specht & Co.
It’s starting to feel a little like Groundhog Day around here, and I’m finding myself saying yet again “I can’t believe another quarter has passed!” But like it or not, it has, and that means it’s time for another “quarter in review” post!
I started doing these posts in Q1 of this year and it’s proven to be pretty useful in reflecting on how far I’ve come, and also taking some time to look forward to the next quarter and set some goals for where I’d like to be. It’s also super fun to look back and remember EXACTLY where I was and how I was feeling at the end of each quarter, so I’m going to try to keep up with doing “quarter in review” posts for the foreseeable future.
Now let’s get to it!
Specht & Co.: Q2 In Review
Q2 was my second quarter running my business full-time, and by the end of June I finally started to feel like I had hit my stride and things were “working”. It’s been a LONG time coming and it’s taken lots of planning, sacrifices, hard work, and risk taking to get here so it really was a huge accomplishment to be able to sit back, look at my business, and think “I’m finally at the place that I’ve been trying to get to.”
That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles - there absolutely have been, and I’ll address those more in this post. But I hope that if you’re a new or struggling business owner reading this, my story can provide a little beacon of hope and inspiration that even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you CAN achieve your dreams, your business WILL grow, and you DO have what it takes to get there.
So now let’s get down to the specifics. . . .
I’m getting more “ideal clients”
If you read my Q1 Review, you’ll know that I’ve been working with some truly amazing branding clients since the beginning of the year. But what you DON’T see is all of the “extra” work I was taking on to fill the gaps between ideal clients and make sure that I was making enough money each month.
Throughout Q1 I worked really hard at filling spaces for my new Monthly Design Support service, and the idea behind that was to create a steady baseline income for myself, so that I would have more freedom to be selective with the branding projects I take on and ensure that I’m only working with branding clients who are a perfect fit for Specht & Co.
I’m so proud to be able to say that all that hard work in Q1 really started to pay off in Q2 and I am now ONLY working with clients who are a great fit for the services I offer, rather than feeling like I have to work with everyone I meet because I “need the money”. This has been an absolute game changer in my business because not only does it make it 1000x easier to sell to, and work with those ideal clients, but I also have the time and mental space to really put my best effort into their projects.
I’ve got some really awesome stuff in the works with amazing clients including an all natural skincare brand, a mobile veterinarian, an e-commerce business, and a few amazing online service providers. I cannot wait to share it all with you on Instagram and in next quarter’s review when these projects are wrapped up!
I started a mastermind
Where to even begin with this one. . .
As you might know from my Q1 Review post, I attended my first retreat with my coach and awesome mastermind gals back in March and I came away with SO many ideas of new things I wanted to try in business. I had recently joined the Scalability Lounge and was feeling super inspired by Haley Burkhead, and thus one of the things I decided I wanted to do was to start a membership community for new design business owners who were still side-hustling, and wanting to go full-time in their business. I talked through this idea pretty extensively with both my coach and my peers at our retreat and walked away with a fairly solid game-plan of how I would make it happen.
Then I got home and got scared / lost my motivation / didn’t know where to start / suffered from a crippling case of imposter syndrome.
It took probably another two months of kicking the can down the road, avoiding the topic, and making excuses about why “now wasn’t the right time” but eventually I was able to work with my fabulous coach Eryn Morgan to figure out a solution to my struggle.
I knew I had a TON of knowledge and value I could offer to these new design entrepreneurs, and ultimately what it boiled down to was that the idea of creating a full membership site AND managing it on top of my design business was a little (a lot) intimidating. So I started to brainstorm ways that I could still share all that juicy goodness without spreading myself too thin or getting in over my head, and ultimately The Business Of Design Mastermind was born.
It’s not a full membership site, but rather a small intimate group of myself and three badass boss babes who are ready to take the next step in their design businesses, and it is SO SO good.
We meet every week for an hour on Tuesday evenings and talk all things business from ideal clients, to pricing and packages, to contracts and business entities. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single week I walk away completely blown away by the community I’ve cultivated and the strides these ladies are taking in both life AND business.
It’s not a big, fancy membership but it’s proven to be absolutely perfect for myself as a leader and the ladies in the group as “students”, and it’s truly one of the most fulfilling and exciting things I’ve done in my business, possibly ever. I’ve learned so much about leadership, community, teaching, and most importantly that it’s totally okay for my ideas to evolve and adjust so that they serve myself and my community better.
We are all a work in progress.
I invested in extra support & implemented better systems
If you follow me on social media or have read any of my past blog posts, I’m sure you already know that since its inception, Specht & Co. has pretty much been a one-woman show. Sure, I’ve got my business coach and my husband to bounce ideas off of, and I’ve subcontracted a few things here and there (with VERY varied results), but really the success of the business has fallen 100% squarely on my shoulders. And so far, I’ve made it work. . . even better than I would have expected at times.
This quarter though, with the fruits of my labor from Q1 starting to pay off in the form of a fully booked schedule and “too many things” to get done each day, I started to notice things slipping through the cracks. Usually it was my own marketing - I’d pretty much stopped posting on Instagram, haven’t written a blog post since Q1, and new client reach out was basically nonexistent.
Next it started to become aspects of my personal life that I wasn’t showing up for. I’d stopped working out, stopped reading on a regular basis, and hadn’t had a date night with my husband in weeks. All because I was “too busy”. It was really starting to wear on me, but still I kept telling myself, “it’s just part of the game”, “you can handle it”, “you’ve gotta hustle to get to where you want to be, THEN you can slow down”. All complete nonsense, by the way.
But the real tipping point came when my client work started to slip. I noticed myself asking clients if they’d mind me getting their work to them one day later than planned (luckily I have the world's most gracious clients and this was never an issue or point of contention with them), or thinking I was done working for the day and then having the “oh crap” moment where you remember there are 3 more things that never made it onto your to-do list, and you’re definitely NOT going to make your 7pm dinner plans.
That’s when I knew that it was time to invest in some help. In hindsight, I should have done this much sooner. Do as I say, not as I do.
Step one in my “keep your business afloat and get your sh*t together” plan was to get some better systems in order for how I was managing my daily to-do’s and projects as a whole. After trying for a few weeks to “figure it out myself” I finally conceded that I am in fact NOT the best person in the world at systems, organization, and planning. So I called in the help of someone who IS the best at all of those things.
Andrea Layne from The Creative Spring came into my business for a 1 month program that she offers called Strategy To Action and all (most) of my problems began to fade away. Seriously, it really was that dreamy.
Andrea helped me start using Asana to manage my projects (no more to-do lists on a sticky note for this girl!), taught me how to improve my Dubsado automations and workflows so that I could save time on onboarding new clients and all of the not-so-fun back end stuff that comes with owning and online business, and most importantly she helped me make a step-by-step, completely actionable and not-at-all overwhelming plan for how I would meet my 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals.
After working with Andrea felt 100% confident in my ability to actually run my business in a way that was profitable and got me closer to my goals each day, and even more importantly I was prepared to bring a VA onto my team which is something I’d been thinking about for a long time (AKA step two in my “keep your business afloat and get your sh*t together” plan.
Time management, systems, and not having enough hours in the day or hands to work a mouse were definitely my main struggles in Q2 but I have learned SO much and grown tremendously as a result. And the good news is that my after doing all that work to fix those issues, my business is running better than ever.
My main takeaways from Q2 2019
Overall, Q2 was a thousand times more everything than I could have imagined. More fun, more stressful, more inspiring, more challenging, and more just plain awesome.
I’ve doubled my income from Q1 and am making more money than I was in my corporate job (which really was the ultimate goal in starting my own business), I’m able to share my knowledge and build a community of upcoming design entrepreneurs who are eager to learn from “little old me”, and I’ve got a killer VA starting next week to help me out with some of my client management, marketing, and admin things that are really just NOT in my zone of genius so that I can free up time for the client work that truly lights me up. I’ve started running again and I have a mile-high stack of library books waiting for me on my desk. And most importantly I love my business again.
I truly do wake up every day excited to get to work, and never ever do I feel like I’m counting down the hours until 5pm so I can be done for the day. It’s such a blessing to be able to work from home, be my own boss, and design my life on my terms and I hope to never lose sight of that.
If I’ve learned anything this quarter, it’s that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and our communities to do the hard things in order to bring our best self to life and business. Whether that’s making scary investments, sticking to a workout routine, setting boundaries in your business and personal life, or anything else that seems “too hard so I’ll just do it later”. I’m here to tell you that kicking the can down the road serves no one.
Do the thing now, even if it’s not perfect.