Twenty-fifteen, you’ve been a good year, but I can’t say I’m altogether sad to see you go.
We had some great times, like the September afternoon when a client called from out of the blue to propose a much bigger contract. Wow! I felt on top of the world that day.
You also taught me some key lessons about business, and I finally broke free of a vendor relationship that simply wasn’t working for me. Looking back, I wonder why I stayed so long, and I am now much happier in my new arrangement.
And then there was the economy. I can’t speak for others, but 2015 was the year I finally saw the unmistakable signs of a robust recovery, not the slow gains I’d seen in previous years emerging from the Great Recession. Business owners once reluctant to spend were suddenly calling me. Even the smaller clients seemed to have more cash they were willing to invest.
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But for all the good that happened, 2015 also brought its share of frustrations.
In early March, I enrolled in the SCORE business mentorship program. It was to be my big push for the year, a way to finally get the help I needed to lift my small business out of its adolescent stage into young adulthood.
We got off to a great start, but things fell apart in June, when my website got hacked. What a horrible feeling of violation that was.
Suddenly, instead of pouring my energy into growth and strategy, I was preoccupied with the unexpected burden (and growing cost) of having to design and build a new website. (That process will continue well into 2016.) My plans with SCORE would have to wait.
My biggest regret is that I never got back to the program, and I never gave my mentor the full explanation he deserved. That, too, was a lesson.
SCORE mentors are superb, and I’d highly recommend them to any business owner who needs help.
Now comes 2016, another chance to do it better. Seven years in, I have a growing case history behind me, so I know what has worked and I know what hasn’t worked.
For me, the next 12 months will be about focusing on the positive, because I’ve come to understand that developing a good business strategy has as much to do with replicating success as it does with eliminating errors. In fact, they are both part of the same process; the difference is attitude and deciding on which we will focus.
Happy New Year to small-business owners everywhere. Let’s make 2016 our best year ever.
Glenn Burkins is editor and publisher of Qcitymetro.com, an online news site targeting Charlotte’s African-American community. He is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Charlotte Observer business editor.