Christmas time is here… Happiness and cheer!

Sound familiar? This truly can be “the most wonderful time of the year.” In Christmas songs, there’s no mention of screaming kids at the mall, long check-out lines or the expense of accumulated Christmas debt we’re to expect on January’s credit card statement. All we hear are lyrics joyfully proclaiming Santa’s arrival and glistening snow.

If you’re like me, this time of year brings another type of joy—the end of one year and the fresh start to another. It’s a time of reflection for things gone right (or wrong) in 2010 and how to make things better in 2011. And if you had the type of 2010 I did, you’re not sad to see the year go away. Yes, we had many exciting developments and some amazing business growth. But business growth is not without growing pains.

Here are the top 5 things I learned in 2010. May you find something of value in them to apply to your 2011.

1. It’s important to invest in your business. In 2010, I attended over 10 conferences around the USA and multiple local workshops. The strategies I learned at these events drastically impacted the growth of the business.

2. Invest carefully in your business. This year saw me not only attend many events, but some of the events may have not been the best fit for me. As one of my mastermind partners, Therese Sparkins, states, “Sometimes you have to say ‘no’ to something great to make way for something awesome.” Due to this fantastic advice, I will be evaluating the events I attended, the actions I took, and investing more carefully in 2011.

3. Many hats = much stress. Most of you only know of the book coaching aspect of my business. The truth is, I frequently switch “hats” throughout the day between: book coach, graphic designer, book keeper, secretary, administrative assistant, video producer, writer, publishing consultant, website developer, and more. Sometimes the switch is made every few minutes. This “hat switching” has taken its toll in the form of gray hair and added muscle tension, and I know if you’re a small business owner you’re nodding your head right now. What have I learned? To outsource the “hats” I don’t wish to wear and find ways to manage the remaining ones I must still wear. And make an effort to narrow down which “hat” I most want to wear and grow my business to reach that goal.

4. Have detailed contracts. Unfortunately, you can’t trust anyone. Sorry, but it’s true. This year has seen us lose thousands in unpaid accounts and several past clients in collections. I used to do business with a handshake, which began these non-payment issues. Now our contracts have gotten more and more detailed as I encounter others who would wish to take advantage of our services—otherwise known as those who commit “service theft.” It also helps to have a great attorney to not only make sure your contracts read right, but who are able to fight on your behalf when you encounter these issues.

5. Take TIME. Between my travel schedule, family obligations and increased work load, little time was left to refresh my mind. This resulted in my brain feeling overloaded, short-circuited, and quite literally—dead. Even on “vacation” I would still work. I understand now the need to allow my brain to rest and re-create those all-important pathways to clear thinking.

There are many more lessons learned in 2010, but I want to hear some from you! What are some things you learned in 2010 that will change your 2011?

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