How I Made 2014 My Best Year Yet

February 4, 2015

About this time last month I was sitting at a Panera Bread Co. outside the Charlottesville airport with my sweet friend Kat. We’d just wrapped up the first ever Creative at Heart Conference and we were both exhausted in the best way possible. Kat was being a rockstar friend and the most amazing host, taking me to the airport the morning after she and Taylor had pulled off a life changing conference for over 80 creatives and here we were, at Panera, eating an early lunch and chatting our little hearts out over warm soup and baguettes. During our lunch, Kat brought up a question that I hadn’t really taken the time to ask myself – what did you do to make last year such a success? Even though at the end of each year, I ask myself what did and didn’t work for the business, and my personal life, I didn’t give myself permission to take a giant step back and examine last year as a whole so I could pinpoint the choices and actions that grew b is for bonnie design substantially.

bisforbonnie-best-year-2014-graphic

 

After being in business for three years, I fully acknowledge that I have room for growth and never want to grow bigger than my britches. You’ll never find me walking around talking about what an omniscient and skilled businesswoman I am, because I really don’t like lying to people. But, when Kat asked me what I did differently last year that delivered results, I realized that last year really was my best year so far. I added four new print collections to the b is for bonnie shop, I grew my Instagram presence from 900-and-something followers to over 10,000 in less than nine months, and I more than doubled my earnings. I introduced my coaching services, signed contracts for public speaking engagements, and actively stepped into my desire to equip and empower fellow boss ladies through education. Now, I’m not throwing out these facts to impress you with my business savvy! Instead, let’s talk about what I did differently last year that lead me to this level of growth. I know what it’s like to just be starting out on your own, wondering where the next paycheck will be coming from, and if I can share some of my experience with y’all to save you a little stress or trial-and-error, then by all means let’s get to it!

Last year was a year of collaborating, working together with other creatives and saying yes to more opportunities. I can’t stress enough the importance of pursuing collaborations and blog features, especially if you sell a product. While some have had great success with paid advertising spots or banner ads on blogs, I prefer to pinch my pennies and send products from the shop to bloggers, Instagram mavens and fellow boss lady friends instead. Social media is essentially free advertising and if you’re using it correctly, you can significantly grow your following and up your sales in no time at all! By swallowing my fear and hesitation, and choosing to reach out to bloggers and social media influencers who were a good fit with the b is for bonnie brand, I not only shared my products with an entirely new audience, but I also laid the foundation for new friendships.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t have a deathly fear of heights or spiders or the monsters under my bed. Instead, I was petrified, absolutely rendered motionless, by the thought of failure. So much so that I would intentionally pass up new opportunities just in case I would fail and let someone down. Now thankfully I’ve grown leaps and bounds since then and I don’t let the fear of failure dictate my every move. However, fear has a way of sneaking back into our lives and wrapping its cold claws around our hearts when we least expect it. And, if we’re being honest, it’s a little scary to be brave and fearless in business! One wrong decision could ruin your chances for paying your car insurance bill that month, right? But I’ve learned that doing business, living life in the shadows of what if’s and scary unknowns wasn’t really living. So last year I made a promise to myself to say yes. To opportunities that scared me, to business ideas that were outside of my comfort zone, to new partnerships that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Some of those decisions were incredible! They lead to new relationships, learning new things about myself and my business, as well as new streams of revenue. And some of them were learning opportunities and have thought me what I can do better next time. You’d be amazed at what awaits you just on the other side of your comfort zone, friends!

Perhaps the biggest change that I attribute much of last year’s success to is the fact that I asked for what I wanted in life and in business. No more of that passive aggressive nonsense, no hoping and praying that big dreams would happen without the action to back them up. Instead, I chose to acknowledge what I wanted, be it more speaking engagements, more wholesale accounts or deeper relationships with my clients, and then I said it out loud. At the risk of sounding super New Age, there is something incredibly powerful about speaking your dreams or aspirations out loud. Releasing those swords and vocal tones into the world carries some weight, friends! No longer is that aspiration or hope something you hold close to your heart, silently and hidden in the comfortable dark. It’s something that you’ve breathed life into and have released out in the open for all to hear. You can’t take those words back once they’ve left your mouth. So you’re left with the choice to either wimp out or make it happen. And I’m proud to say that by asking for what I wanted, sharing it vocally and going after it, I met every single business goal I set for myself at the beginning of 2014. And you can do the same!

Each of these changes were incredibly simple and if I hadn’t looked closely, I easily could’ve missed them. They may not be earth shattering revelations that will revolutionize the way you do life and business, but I believe that they have that potential if you’ll let them. Opening your heart to others, punching fear in the face and being direct in all your dealings will only bring good things into your life, and I hope you’ll consider implementing one or two of these practices at least into your personal life in 2015. I think y’all can do extraordinary things with even the littlest nudge, friends!

What worked well for you in 2014, lovely? What are things you plan on doing differently this year? I’d love to cheer you on towards success! 

  1. Cori Schwabe

    February 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am

    This is so great. Thank you for being so uplifting and positive!

    When you were starting out, and your followers so low, how did you approach the blogger/influencer you were interested in having a collaboration with? I always feel timid to reach out, because I’m lost at what I could bring to said blogger/influencer. Do you feel they were interested and excited about a free product, new relationship, a content post, etc.?

  2. Bonnie Bakhtiari

    February 4th, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Great question! I tried to target bloggers and potential collaborators who would value my products and whose brands aligned closely with my own. Even though I didn’t have a huge following to bring to the table at that time, many people were interested in working together because I offered to send them product samples and explained why I thought my shop would be a hit with their readers. Good luck!

  3. Sarah Anne Hayes

    February 4th, 2015 at 11:08 am

    This is wonderful Bonnie and gives me such hope! One of my goals over this next month is to start reaching out to a few bloggers and Instagram mavens about doing some giveaways. I’m nervous, but excited to see the ways it could grow the business!

  4. Bonnie Bakhtiari

    February 4th, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I’m so glad to hear that! It can definitely be scary at first to reach out to new people, but the worst thing that will happen is one or two may say no. And that’s not the end of the world by any means! xo

  5. Jeannette

    February 4th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I love your authentic words. So great to see somebody who lives his dreams. Best wishes for 2015, … Your German Handletterer & Dreamer, Jeannette

  6. Alexandra {Heart Love Always}

    February 4th, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    This is the most amazing post!!! Probably my favorite of all the ones you’ve written (and I’ve loved a whole bunch)!!! Everything is so spot on and wonderfully put!!! I just love it and you for sharing!!! xo!!

  7. kenzie

    February 4th, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing your tips! I’ve done a few collaborations, but definitely needing to focus on doing more this year. I also think just the smallest of things can help to gain followers, etc. For example, my email signature has links to all my social accounts and some of which I know followed me directly from it!

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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