I love being an entrepreneur for so many reasons. I make money for me, not someone else. I choose the customer service standards and values my company will have. And I can sleep in and work late if I want. Also, as my dear friend "Mr. Customer Service," Tim Chapman, recently said, "I am not living someone else's dream." Amen to that!
But one of the things I do miss about being a worker bee is the gold stars I received during yearly performance reviews. As human beings, we all crave that human type of feedback (which could possibly explain why eBay sellers get so territorial around their feedback) and the pats on the back.
OK, I miss the birthday parties with cake, too, truth be told. But as an entrepreneur and success coach of other entrepreneurs, I notice how little credit—or how few gold stars—we give ourselves. I think we're so busy most of the time trying to keep our heads and businesses above water, and going a million miles a minute, that we fail to realize the powerful totality of all of the things we achieve.
I want you to stop for a moment, grab a piece of paper or a Google Doc, and start writing down the amazing things you accomplished in 2009. I'll wait.
This is so important that at OSI Rock Stars we have a section in the discussion boards I included for this exact reason. It's called, "I Rock Because…," and our members post all their accomplishments—big and small—allowing other members the chance to provide that powerful feedback. It also gives the original poster the opportunity to receive that proverbial gold star, or pat on the back, from their peers.
As we look back at the ups and downs of 2009, and look to a very exciting future in 2010, I wanted to share some of the accomplishments the Rock Stars sent in for last year, as well as their goals for the coming year. I am so very proud of them and how hard they have worked. Their choices are providing increases in sales channels, customers and profits. I hope by looking at, even studying these businesses, their accomplishments and their goals, you will find areas that will also increase your profitable opportunities for 2010.
Henry and Patricia Neff, Buck Creek Marketing
Accomplishments: We became eBay PowerSellers and eBay Top-rated Sellers, increased our sales year-over-year by 600 percent, authored a book titled "How to Sell Books on eBay" and developed a software application for eBay sellers.
Goals: Launch the new software application and publish the book, triple our sales volume, create a new business plan, revamp our eBay store and launch one off-eBay Web site.
Dave Bosely, Artwork On Tile
Accomplishments: Expanded our presence on Amazon from less than 100 tile-backsplash murals to more than 900, becoming the largest mural seller on Amazon.com, launched an e-commerce store to complement our design catalog site and doubled the number of signature artists offering their original artwork on tile to more than 50.
Goals: Double the size of the e-commerce store and Amazon.com presence, expand the number clients we do production for and develop an offline catalog on CD/DVD.
Twirl Planet began as an eBay Store, but recently launched an independent Web site in addition to a storefront on Amazon
Cindy Hamilton, TwirlPlanet.com
Accomplishments: The business accomplishment I am most proud of is growing Twirl Planet to multiple-selling channels. Twirl Planet began as an eBay Store, but recently launched an independent Web site in addition to a storefront on Amazon.
Goals: Increase volume of repeat customers and targeted traffic through the use of newsletters, blogging, Facebook ads and other online social marketing.
Charlene Anderson, Purveyor of All Things Creative
Accomplishments: My biggest success in 2009 was being selected Designer of the Year by Step by Step Wire Magazine. This means that I will have a feature article along with several jewelry projects in each of the five issues of the magazine in 2010. I worked hard developing a relationship with the editorial staff and pitched the idea to them late last summer. As of today, projects for three of the issues are finished, and the first will be published early January.
Goals: Increasing sales by 10 percent, having my jewelry appear on the cover of a magazine and to have a one-woman show in a gallery here in Jackson, WY.
Janet Zeh, Zeh Original Art
Accomplishments: 2009 was the year I focused on the online part of my business. For several years, my online presence consisted of small daily paintings, which I sold on eBay while maintaining a daily blog. During the past year, after joining OSI Rock Stars, I set up a functional Web site to not only display my artwork, but sell it-with the addition of an e-mail newsletter, which is growing in subscribers. Also in 2009, I opened an eBay store which greatly enhances my eBay business.
Goals: I'd like to add more "life" to my site, and make it a place to which people will return through the addition of video and user-generated content.
My biggest accomplishment is simply taking the plunge, not procrastinating and just doing it
Sue George, The Golf Gal
Accomplishments: I just started my eBay store in 2009, so my biggest accomplishment is simply taking the plunge, not procrastinating and just doing it! I armed myself with hours and hours of education and research. I tested the waters, found a niche that worked for me& and I was off!
Goals: To make this business venture a financial success. I am planning to get my first eBay Store perfect and add several additional niche stores this year, so I hopefully never have to go back to a corporate job where layoffs are always possible. I would like my financial future in my own hands this time.
Maida Webster, Connectibles
Accomplishments: We are fabulous at product sourcing but were falling behind in getting everything listed—which was frustrating. I finally hired someone to help with listing, which has been a huge relief. We have also made a point of sourcing higher-priced collectibles inventory and increased our average selling price.
Goals: To increase our sell-through rate (approximately 42 percent) and figure out how to better manage the unsold inventory.
Kat Simpson, Kat's Kloset
Accomplishments: We began the process of spreading into a wider space via networking and social media. Attending the eCommerce Merchants Trade Association (ECMTA) annual event in Atlanta enabled us to make contacts across many sales platforms and begin using social media to introduce ourselves to a huge audience. Attending the eBay Radio Anniversary Program in Las Vegas later was a great way to introduce the business to some of the eBay executives who attended. Overall, our expansion into social networking has enabled a whole new marketing area for us.
Goals: To work consistently on our Web site to create a more customer-friendly experience. We have hired a designer to work with us on this project, beginning in February. We will also be expanding our inventory throughout 2010.
I have outlined what it is I want out of my business and now that I have a plan, 2010 can be an even bigger success
Jennifer Foster, Scarlett Collectibles
Accomplishments: I made the most profit I have ever made in one year. [In 2009], I found out who it is that I want to be, and what I want out of my business.
Goals: I have outlined what it is I want out of my business and now that I have a plan, 2010 can be an even bigger success.
Kathy Eickholt, Catladykate's Elegant and Depression Glass
Accomplishments: I doubled my sales by focusing on target niches where there is less competition and sourcing specific products that sell for above-average prices. I learned the power of keywords, and revamped my categories and product titles to align with words people use to find my products. I learned to market and drive business to my sites by positioning myself as an expert, increasing safety and security for buyers, and building a sense of community by positioning my stores as places where people who enjoy vintage glass shop.
Even though my sales doubled, I was able to reduce my fees compared to a year ago by better balancing sales formats and venues, and by getting the eBay top-seller 20-percent discount. My most important accomplishment is that I am confident I can grow my business by applying sound sourcing, branding and marketing to these and other niches, because I know how to think through business fundamentals to create and grow a business.
Goals: Launch niche stores for "How to Sell Glass," Depression glass, frugal wedding/bridal and fancy kids clothes and generate net income of $10,000 from affiliate marketing. Finish realigning my inventory to match my niches and goals, and build my Facebook site as a core part of my marketing by setting it as the glass lovers' community page. Start selling on Etsy.
To see additional successful businesses, their accomplishments and goals, visit us at I Rock Because…. I wish all of you a successful, prosperous and joyful New Year. Choose success in 2010!