The Biggest Mistakes I Made This Year – Year in Review: Part 1

Has the end of the year got anyone else all sorts of reflective? I could (and probably will) journal, meditate, and intention set until the cows come home… but if I keep it to myself, it can only help me. If I share it with you, maybe you can swoop right past making some of the same mistakes. So let’s hop right into, shall we?

The Biggest Mistake I Made in My Business This Year - and a free growth quiz - - Entrepreneurship Tips and Tricks - Entrepreneur Mistakes #TheImperfectBoss

To say 2017 was a year of (sometimes terrifying) change for my business would be a gross understatement.

Before 2017...

I relied 100% on referrals from previous clients for continued brand strategy and design work. To be honest, on paper, there was no reason to change… my income was bangin’, my projects were going great, but I was feeling a little stagnant.

And, after more than a handful of friends reached out asking for coaching and education-based services over the course of 2016, my buns were lit on fire to make some major adjustments. On top of that, I had been teaching design strategy at a local college and feeling a little cramped – there was so much I wanted to share that I knew could help.

It was time to shift my focus from creating #allthethings to empowering others to create for themselves. With these shifts came a whole lot of change...

  • It meant decreasing my income by over 50% to work ON my business more than IN my business. 

  • It meant a lot of late nights and some teary-eyed tired convos.

  • It also meant a lot of intentional growth, a strong sense alignment, and some really epic accomplishments.

To be honest, I learned more in 2017 than I learned in my entire BFA program and 10+ yrs works experience combined. Now, I’m ready to spill the tea with you.

The Biggest Mistake I Made in 2017

Hands down, my biggest misstep of the year (ahem, life) was not investing in myself until it was an emergency.

I'll give you one instance in particular – the launch of my signature course + coaching program, Social Media with Soul.

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Here's how it went down:

  1. Since I hadn’t yet made money on the launch (and invested a lot of billable time), I was afraid to financially invest in support for myself even though I knew I would need it.
  2. This was a huge mistake that led to major burnout (dare I say FRY out?).
  3. Then, it became an emergency situation, where I was scrambling for help at the last minute, making a million unnecessary mistakes trying to "figure it out myself", leading to way more stress than was necessary. 

To be honest, at one point I told my best friend Leslie...

If I made $1,000,000 on this launch, it still wouldn’t be worth it.

Overly dramatic? Very. True? In retrospect, kind of. See a list of embarrassing-but-true facts below:

  • I spent half of July and all of August sweating over my laptop, frantic and fried out rather than paddleboarding and savoring every drop of sweet summer.
  • I spent my 32nd birthday distracted by trying to "keep up" with Instagram while out for drinks with my hubs.
  • I spent a hiking trip trying to check my email trying to answer launch questions.

THE BOTTOM LINE: I could have accomplished the same amount with much more ease had I invested in hiring help for myself from the start.

Where I Lost Money in 2017

The #1 spot I dropped major cash without seeing the ROI was enrolling in online courses that I thought I needed and flaked on.

I wasted literally THOUSANDS of dollars on courses by the “big names” in the industry (I'm sure you have an idea who I'm talking about). 95% of the time, I ended up either:

  1. Making it through Lesson 1, realizing I made the same mistake again and getting upset with myself for being a ding-dong who should wise up.
  2. Making it through 75% of the lessons, having a question and nowhere to direct it, and getting stuck in that spot.
  3. Completing the entire course, learning nothing new, and feeling like it was a waste of time.

*Let me caveat that by saying that there were a few true gems amongst them, whose creators are highly invested and responsive in their communities.

Here's what I found out about myself:

When it’s a big sea of people, I tend to wander off and do my own thing (#rebel). I thrive in a smaller, tighter knit community and love a personal touch and one-on-one support.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Don't take courses from someone just because they're "Instagram famous" or have a bazillion followers. Find people who are active participants and foster great communities and follow them.


Where I Made Money

Every time I made money this year, it came from a genuine conversation.

I did not make one single "cold sale" the entire year... and, can I just say that I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Pretty much every single course enrollment, coaching client, etc. has been someone I’ve connected with first.

No one is strolling up to my Instagram and thinking ‘Hey I want to give her money!’ … and I don’t blame them, I don’t interact with accounts that way either.

This 100% validates the like-know-trust cycle – an audience member will first like you/your brand, then they'll get to know you, then they'll start to trust you. Once they begin to trust you, they start to open up and talk to you. This leads to meaningful, real conversations.

For me, whether the convo is on the phone, in DMs, or in a FB group.. there’s always a human connection involved in any transaction.


LESSON LEARNED: Transactional businesses are out. Human businesses are in. 

Show more of yourself on your social accounts, don't be afraid to hop on the phone for 10 minutes, take the time and effort to respond genuinely and care for people who reach out to you. These are your tribe – take good care of them.



Stay tuned for my next post in this series, where I'll dish on exactly what and how I'm investing in my business in 2018.

Have you made any of the same mistakes I've made this year? Can you relate to one – if so, which? Let’s start a conversation in the comments!


Chris Emmer

Graphic Designer / Branding and Social Media Strategist / Yoga + Meditation Guide / Your New BFF.

West Michigan based, small business + wellness obsessed.