Updated: Mar 27
On March 16, 2021, I resigned from my full-time position at a host travel agency where I worked with thousands of travel agents to start working for myself. After being surrounded by a sea of independent consults, how can I not crave to create to have that independence for myself? These colleagues inspired me to risk it all and bet on myself by committing to create a business of my own based on my marketing and small business strategies.
Stack Strategies Co. is an established small business digital marketing agency. We create websites and digital tools for small businesses. Our speciality is educating and inspiring the business owner to move forward with their marketing plan and run their businesses smoothly.
Two years after being full-time in business, I feeling confident in Stack Strategies' mission and vision. Our brand, now, aligns with our goals. We work hard everyday to make an impact on our clients and audience. And we're expanding our efforts. Every day, I feel so grateful to get to complete business and marketing projects, teach my business and marketing methods, and I get to work exactly how I want to. This second year in business is the most serious so far, because this is the year when I feel ready and able to take on my biggest goals.
Before I go into what I have learned this year, we must...
THANK OUR CLIENTS, FOLLOWERS, SUPPORTERS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. Stack Strategies Co. wouldn't be possible without the endless support we receive. We pour our hearts and souls into the projects we complete and the information we share. Every project, meeting, opportunity, follow, like, share, story reply... every interaction means the world to us. It is a great honor to run this small business while supporting other small businesses.
THANK YOU to the marketing contractors who have supported SS by working with us. There is a small team of individuals who support our marketing company, and their willingness to learn, help and assist with projects keeps our business operational.
I said this in last year's blog post, but I am going to say it again... I learned so much this year! I am a firm believer that once you stop learning, you stop succeeding. This year, my skills have come so far and I am so proud of SS as a company!
Here is a gallery of our favorite moments from the past year... We didn't get to spend a lot of time with our clients face-to-face but tons of behind-the-scenes work went into over 50 projects!
Shoutout to Amanda Del Rosa for always producing the perfect brand photography for Stack Strategies Co.
Without further ado, let's go over our biggest business lessons from 2022-2023.
Finding Power in Your Routine
I started my year but reading the book the Power of Habit, which forced me to create a morning and night routine that changed how to completed work and life tasks. I feel I've mastered time management, which is crazy to say! Let's just say I work smarter, not harder. With a well-planned routine, you can accomplish your entire to-do list and still have time for yourself.
Once you've established your business with the basic essentials like the state registration (LLC), federal registration (EIN), business bank account, and clients start to become more consistent, naturally thoughts of expansion come to mind. How can I add more services or combine services? How can I get my business in front of more people? Should I get help completing my services? Can my company be more profitable? Questions like these keep my brain running a million miles per minute.
To expand, I needed to start planning. First, I made a plan of what work I will keep doing. Next, I took a few things off my plate. I brainstormed what I wanted Stack Strategies Co. to be. Then, I started spending almost all my free time updating my business, making a new business plan and marketing plan, and I determined new goals to accomplish my plans.
My plans include adding small business education options that will be helpful to my audience. (We're running the first one on March 30, 2023 and then there is a plan for more!) I, also, had a dream of starting a merchandise line that promotes small businesses. I have developed affiliate marketing opportunities that actually pay. I hired a virtual assistant to get tasks done. (Ask me directly if you want a referral, nudge nudge.)
There are many, many more business moves I plan to make. By staying educated and working sun-up-to-way-past-sundown I hope that I can create the business of my dreams. It's not that I'm overworking myself. The reason I am this way that I am so determined to expand into the business I envision. I have a dream to support small businesses in many ways. And those business owners need the help ASAP. I'm in business to support businesses, and Stack Strategies Co. is ready for the assignment.
Defining Your Business
A business step, that I first mistakenly skipped, was defining my business (mission, vision, values), creating an initial business plan and a formal marketing plan. My thoughts were to "do it when my business got serious." When things got serious, I didn't have a plan to fall back on. My "plan" was to do as much marketing as I could once a week and to take on business as it comes. NOT GOOD. If I would have created a plan, I would have had documentation to follow to keep my business on course.
When business got serious, at one specific point that I can recall, I had a boatload of projects, I had inconsistent help, and it was crunch time. As I mentioned before I find power in my routine. This applies when it comes to my business. To complete my services, I find power in following a checklist to make sure I do everything right consistently. In business, these checklists are disguised as business plans, marketing plans, and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). When things got tough, I needed those, didn't have them and didn't have time to create them.
Once busy season settled down, which I have finally fully determined when busy season is, I was able to catch my breath. I stopped accepting projects, for over a month, while I thought through my process of each and every service I offer. I defined how to get that service done from start to finish and follow-through. This is an SOP. I made an SOP for all of my services and business operations.
That clear vision led to the successful creation of my marketing plan (which is based on my services plus some extra fun business owner education) and then later my business plan. By defining my business on paper, I can let other people help me. I have a clear plan to follow. I can project where I'm going.
And that feels damn good.
Don't Use PayPal for Business for Your Main Business Account
If only I could scream this from the rooftops, "Don't use PayPal for business for your main services!!!" Gosh, when I figured out how much money I was paying in fees and transactions, I was sick. It wasn't five figured but it was close enough. That's how much I pay in taxes you guys.
Small business owners have endless opportunities when it comes to banking options. Once you register your business and have an EIN, the world is your oyster. You can go into your local branch with your paperwork. You can get a business bank account online without leaving your home with Chase. it is worth handling as soon as possible.
Making Time for Your Own Business
When I first started, I used to only make time for my business once a week. It was when I did my "marketing work" and everything else. It can't be that way. My business deserves at least two hours of my day. During this time I manage team members, making new services, audit profiles, make connections, make social media posts and reels, handle bookkeeping, send invoices, update my schedule... the list goes on and on. There is a never ending to do list. At this point, it's a necessity that I make time for Stack Strategies business endeavors.
Loving Your Business & Putting Yourself First
It is absolutely necessary that you take care of yourself as a business owner. We're talking about mind, body and soul.
There are days when I feel I physically "just can't." There are days when my emotions take over as a human, and the boss me has to give that girl the day off. There are days when I am absolutely EXCITED about my business, and the boss in me gets that girl a treat and a coffee.
Putting yourself first also means I have had to say "no" a lot. It's nothing against my business or clients, it's personally for me. I don't plan on doing this "marketing thing" short-term. My business is a lifestyle. I work hard for the business life I am building. I can't get burnt out over a tough month. I have a lot to do this year.
Be a boss. Applaud yourself. Listen to yourself. You know what you're doing!
Here's What's Next for SS
Stack Strategies Co. has a big year ahead of us. We have a years worth of our marketing plan lined up. Be sure to stay tuned on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
We've launched a store on our website and we are in the process of launching on Amazon as well! Our next merchandise release will be our summer series!
Education is a major focus for 2023, too. We're investing a lot of time in creating educational opportunities for small business owners, while investing in our personal skill development as well. And of course, you can expect the launch of several dozen websites and small business digital tools online to support business owners across the country.
There is no doubt in my mind that that next 365 days in business will bring more learning experiences. Stack Strategies is an established digital marketing agency who has completed over 100 digital marketing projects for small businesses nationwide. We are ready to take on whatever is in store for us from the Man upstairs. God willing, we will continue to soar!
Thanks for your continued support of SS!
Cheers, fellow business owners.
Stack Strategies Co. is an online digital marketing company based in Cleveland, Ohio. Stack Strategies creates custom WIX websites, travel agent websites with Travefy, and email automations and digital tools on a variety of platforms! SS leads the way in small business marketing by sharing tips and tricks on our Behind the Strategies Marketing Blog. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Alignable for business-building inspiration. Or contact SS for your next project!