Episode 282: Intentional Business Trends for 2024

February 7, 2024

Intentional Business Trends Creatives + Service Providers in 2024

In today’s episode of the podcast, I’m chatting about the biggest business trends I anticipate impacting the way we show up both internally and externally in our businesses as creatives and service providers in 2024! The way we did things back in 2019 no longer applies, and for many of us that’s a fantastic thing. This episode shares creative ways to strategically do business your own way as we continue to dive into 2024 with intention. If this kind of topic is just what you’re looking for, then be sure to tune into the full episode above!

Intentional Business Trend Takeaways From This Episode:

  • Descaling Your Business:
    • I’m sharing how we’re now seeing an intentional shift away from relentless growth to thoughtful downsizing.
    • Now more than ever, it’s important to align your business structure with your personal goals as the CEO of your business, along with your financial goals.
    • Let’s normalize running your business in a way that works for you. Whether you dream of having a massive team or you want to stay a solopreneur, choose what works for you.
  • Rethinking Million-Dollar Goals:
    • At this stage in the game, do we really need to keep chasing after ever-increasing financial milestones?
    • How to assess your actual financial needs and redefine success accordingly.
    • Leveraging your self-awareness in determining your future business goals.
  • Return of Long-Form Content:
    • Blogs are back, baby! Did they ever really leave, though? In all seriousness, we’re seeing a huge resurrection of blogs, email marketing, and newsletters.
    • Why long-form content on channels you own (like your newsletter or your blog) trump short-form content on channels you’re simply borrowing (like TikTok and Instagram).
    • How creating more long-form content can pave the way for a deeper connection with your audience through meaningful, substantial content.
  • Doing Business Your Own Way:
    • We’re independent business owners so why do we insist on running our businesses like big corporate structures?
    • Why I skipped the January goal-setting frenzy this year, and what I’m doing instead.
    • Advocating for self-compassion as we evolve and experiment with our business strategies.

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Please note this transcript has been auto generated and may contain typos.

Bonnie (00:07):
Hi, friend, and welcome to the Brand Strategy Podcast, a show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity you need to build a brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie Bakhtiari, brand designer, strategist, and founder of the Illume Retreat. From sustainable Strategy to heartfelt Encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams, because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients, and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey, won’t you?

Bonnie (00:45):
Hey, friends. Welcome back to the Brand Strategy Podcast, where today we are chatting about some intentional business trends that I am seeing for 2024. Now, it’s worth noting that these are observations that I’ve been making over the last couple of months, and so some of them might not necessarily resonate with how you are running your business or how you choose to run your business in this specific season, and that’s totally okay. This is meant to, uh, kind of normalize some shifts that I’m seeing across the industry, and it’s meant to kind of give you a little extra permission in case you need it to just pursue doing business in the ways that work for you. So, some of these things are steps that I am taking myself. Some of these things are, um, actions that I’ve seen my industry friends, uh, you know, move towards.

Bonnie (01:36):
And these are really a collective level of shifts that I am feeling that we are going to continue moving towards in the coming months. Now, I think that it’s safe to say that since, uh, 2020, the online business space has changed a lot, and in some ways I think it’s changed for the better. I am seeing a lot more people who are committed to doing business on their own terms in a way that aligns with how they define success versus really following a blueprint laid out for them by some, um, you know, bro marketer or something like that. Now, as everything I share on this podcast is meant to be a, uh, source of inspiration for you and is from my experience and the experiences of my guests, it’s always up to you decide what advice you follow and what you implement. So, with that being said, uh, I don’t claim to be able to tell the future.

Bonnie (02:35):
I am simply calling out some themes that I cannot ignore, and I think that it would be fun to dive into them a little bit in this format in case you are noticing similar trends or, uh, in the off chance that one of these ideas resonates and sparks a more ease filled way of doing business for you in this specific season. So with that being said, let’s dive into it. We’re gonna do this a little bit rapid fire. So what I’ve really noticed over the last several months, and I believe that we are going to continue to see this in the coming year and beyond, is this concept of descaling your business. Now, for my coffee friends out there, it’s not quite like descaling your an espresso machine. It’s more like instead of focusing on growing, on scaling, on building the big team, on launching a thousand things at the same time, it’s more about pairing down intentionally in order to create a business structure that works for you, that aligns with your financial goals, and that aligns with the quality of life that you want to be experiencing.

Bonnie (03:44):
So in some ways, I’ve been seeing this, I’ve, I’ve seen quite a few of my friends, and this is kind of a conversation we’ve been having going from a team of contractors to back to that solopreneur lifestyle and that solopreneur structure. I wanted to start off with this one because I think it’s so helpful to normalize how fluctuations in businesses can look. I know that social media especially makes it seem like everything is always sunshine, and rainbows and everything smells like roses. But there are absolutely seasons in every business where things are plentiful. And then sometimes there are seasons where things are not so plentiful. And there are also times when we have the need to have a team, we have the need to bring in, uh, outside contractors or to hire part-time or full-time employees. And then there could be times when that just doesn’t work for us anymore.

Bonnie (04:40):
And that could be a decision, uh, that protects the businesses, uh, you know, financial health. That could be a decision that just aligns with the way that the business is, is moving forward in the future. Perhaps it’s, it’s a dramatic paring down of services or products or offers. Uh, but what I’ve noticed is how a lot of my industry friends, and these are people who, you know, we’re talking like multiple six figure earners or in some cases seven figure businesses, and these are women who have decided, Hey, I built my business with this big team and it’s worked really well for me, but actually I don’t desire to scale anymore. I don’t desire to go past this. And so knowing your capacity then allows you to make decisions that actually work for you. So I I’ve been seeing a lot of these people who are, uh, you know, pairing back the support that they need, or like I said earlier, going from having a lot of support in their business to managing everything in house.

Bonnie (05:40):
And I think that that can be really freeing for people. I I know that there have been seasons in my business where I needed a lot of support, and right now I’m in a season where I need more minimal support, so I have no need to be hiring like dozens of people. Uh, and I think that that can be really useful for us because if you’re feeling any pressure, if you’re getting any advice from coaches or, uh, you know, YouTubers or people on TikTok or Instagram who are telling you like, the only way to grow your business is to hire a team, yeah, but also no, like, like, yeah, there’s a lot of value in that and yeah, there’s some truth, but, uh, not necessarily also like . I I don’t really love that blanket type statement. For us, I think that it’s more about, hey, let’s make decisions that feel good, that work with, uh, within our means that allow the business to flourish and allow the business to move in a direction that aligns with your goals and also protects your quality of life and your wellbeing as an entrepreneur and as the human behind the business, right?

Bonnie (06:48):
I think that for some of us, when we grow these big teams, and gosh, this could be like its own episode in the future, , um, lessons learned from, you know, growing a team. But I think that what I’ve really noticed is sometimes when we follow that advice of, you know, Hey, in order to grow your business and really take this seriously, you need to have an assistant. You need to hire an associate designer. You need to scale to an agency model. And for some of us, that is fantastic advice. And then for others of us, um, we find that we are becoming managers and we don’t have the tools or the training to be managers, and we want to be, you know, the designer. We want to be the creative, we want to be the photographer, the copywriter, or the event and wedding planner.

Bonnie (07:34):
We, we don’t necessarily want to be managing this, you know, growing team of people. Uh, and so then there kind of comes this, this opportunity. Do we choose to acquire the skills we need to manage our people well or do we find that it’s actually in, in more alignment with how you want to show up in your business and what you want to do day in and day out to perhaps, um, outsource that management of your team, or in some cases scale back the team altogether. So with that being said, descaling your business happening right now, continuing to happen in the future, I do think, and I love this for people, it’s not, it’s such a, i I wanna say, it’s not a sign of failure to have gone from, you know, like scale mode to pare down mode. I think it is such a self-aware act to take as a business owner, as an entrepreneur.

Bonnie (08:31):
And so, like, I just, I love that for us. Okay, second trend that I am seeing rethinking million dollar goals. And what I mean by this is, for a while there, it was the goal was five figure months and six figure years, and then it was all about, you know, seven figure years. And it just keeps going up and up and up. And I’ve joined masterminds with the intent of exploring how to grow a million dollar business. I’ve bought books to that same theme. I’ve listened to countless podcast episodes and I’ve worked with coaches kind of around this theme. And for me personally, I know the more that I got into it, the more I was like, hmm, you know, like having a million dollar business sounds and looks so attractive and so great, but like, when I actually look at what I need to do to get there, I don’t know if I’m motivated enough to go after it.

Bonnie (09:29):
It, for me, it’s, it’s a matter of coming back to the why behind my business. You know, the money is a key part of it because this is a business and it’s not a hobby. And I will never, ever shame anyone for wanting to make, like, you know, glorious amounts of money. I will never shame anyone for wanting to make only a little bit of money, like, make however much works for you and make however much you want to. But I ask for the same kind of grace and the same kind of, uh, you know, like encouragement of, I’ve decided that growing a million dollar business right now is not the move for me. And I feel a lot of peace about that. And I, I’m having more and more conversations with people in the creative space and in the online community where, um, we’re finding that those goals of, you know, five figure months, six figure years, seven figure years, eight figure years, whatever, doesn’t really work for us.

Bonnie (10:28):
And for many of us, I think it’s because we’re seeing what the trade off is of in order to make that amount of money, here’s how much time I would need to put into it. And I have young kids at home and I don’t want to be building, you know, the seven figure business when they’re so little and when they need me the most. Or it could be, you know, hey, I actually did the math. I sat down and I calculated my financial need and my personal life and for my business expenses, and I don’t actually need to make that much money. I need to make less money than that. And that still gives me the quality of life and the lifestyle that feels very comfortable and very, um, freeing to me. Right? Um, my industry friend, Shana Skidmore always encourages people to find, to define the need, like to figure out what that financial number looks like for you.

Bonnie (11:17):
And I think that’s such smart advice because it can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of pursuing a specific financial goal as a business, but if that does not align with your financial requirements, is is that really worth it for you? And only you can answer that question again, I think it’s, I think it’s just the coolest thing seeing people and especially women. Um, I think it’s so cool seeing people creating these businesses that are massively profitable and that are generating whatever kind of wealth they want to. But I also love it when people say, Hey, I know what I need and I know what works for me. And it’s not the six figure business. It’s not the seven figure business. And so I just, I want us to continue to normalize giving people the space to rethink, you know, the million dollar goals and to go after whatever works for them.

Bonnie (12:13):
It’s not playing small, it’s not selling yourself short. It’s having the self-awareness to say, this is what I want and I’m gonna go after it. Um, and so if that is you, if that resonates with you, I just want you to know there are a lot of people who are feeling the way that you’re feeling. I have been hearing from so many people who are giving themselves the freedom to break up with, um, more conventionally attractive financial goals in their businesses. And it’s, it’s been a really beautiful thing to behold. So all that to say, the third trend that I’m seeing, and I know we will continue to see, and this one is not surprising, and you’ve probably already heard a lot of people talking about this, the return of long form content, specifically in the form of blogs, and specifically in the form of email marketing and email newsletters, um, more and more people.

Bonnie (13:05):
And I think that if you’ve been a long time listener of the podcast, you might have noticed a trend. Like, I think last year I talked a lot about breaking up with social media and like alternative forms of marketing, and I had a lot of guests on the show to that end. Um, and it’s, it’s because like collectively we’re like, oof, don’t really know if the social media is where we want to be spending our time and energy to generate leads for our businesses all of the time. And those of us who have been blogging for a while, you know, pointing to myself over here, I think I have been blogging since 2013, maybe. Um, so your girl’s been blogging for a minute, and although my consistency has fluctuated in the sense of like, my frequency has, has fluctuated, like I, I haven’t posted a new blog post in a while and, you know, like I’m, I’m gonna work on that.

Bonnie (13:59):
But, um, having that resource and having that channel that you own and that you can consistently point people to, like I am a big user of Pinterest, and so having even those old blog posts, um, that are still relevant to my ideal client, I can go back in, I can update them with new information. I’ve got those cross promoted on Pinterest, I’ve got them pinned on Pinterest, so I’ve got lots of posts that, um, people can discover using a visual search engine like Pinterest. They can come back to my site, read all about it, and take the next steps from there. So long form content, absolutely more of what we’re looking for. And I think from a consumer standpoint, I just know I wanna see from the, the people that I love and that I follow and that I love learning from. I wanna hear more of your thoughts.

Bonnie (14:53):
Like, I wanna read what you’re posting about in your substack. I wanna read or hear what you’re talking about on your podcast. I want you to show up in my inbox and share that little list of, you know, the things that you’re loving lately and the, the ideas that have been popping into your brain. Like, that’s the kind of stuff that I am just finding fun and I’m, I’m wanting to engage with. And we’re gonna see just the continuation of more and more of that kind of long form content. So I’m not saying you need to like go out and create this aggressive marketing strategy for 20, 24 and beyond where you’re like blogging every single day, but like, hey, what are some things that you know so well that it’s almost like second nature for you that your ideal client would love to understand? They would love to know that, like, as a, as a brand designer and strategist, one of the things that I’ve blogged about in the past are things like how to tell if it’s time to rebrand, um, the differences between rebranding and, uh, intentional brand refresh.

Bonnie (15:58):
I’ve blogged about things like, um, why, why you don’t just need a logo. Like why when you hire a brand designer, it’s better for you to invest in a brand and not just a la carte logo design, right? These are things that like, I could sit here and just like talk, talk, talk about them, and my ideal client, uh, finds that information useful. And so what I can do is I can take some time, jot down those ideas, um, point people to take a next step, which could be, you know, sign up for my email list or book a consult call with me, or, um, you know, head to my service pages to, to book a session or to book a project with me. And you can constantly have that information on your blog that you’re then using to point people towards, um, the ways that they can work with you.

Bonnie (16:49):
And it gives you the ability to, then you can take that blog post and you can talk about it in your, you know, your email list. You can talk about it on social media, you can talk about it on Pinterest, you can mention it in, you know, a, a blog post that, not a blog post, um, to say, um, a podcast episode that you might be, uh, a part of, or if you are on YouTube, right? There’s so many ways that we can take our content and repurpose it so long form content. Um, we want more, we want more depth, we want more heart, we want more that shows us how we can share common values with the brands and the businesses that we want to work with. And I think long form content is a really great way to do that. Okay. Um, the next trend that I’ve been seeing, um, which actually I think kind of follows suit with a lot of what we’ve been talking about so far in today’s episode, is doing business your own way.

Bonnie (17:48):
Like, this is nothing new. I am not pretending to be like this groundbreaking trendsetter here who’s like, Hey, guess what guys? We’re doing it all our own way. Um, no, we’ve been, a lot of us have been doing business our own way since we started our businesses, and that’s amazing. But, uh, where I see this more specifically coming in, it is, it’s more freedom in the way that we are separating our small businesses from corporate structure. And I’m also seeing more ways that we are separating how we run our businesses from capitalism. And what’s so cool about this is it is painting all of these incredibly beautiful mosaics of how business owners are showing up and structuring their businesses, their offers, their marketing plans in ways that align with their values and in ways that propel them towards their unique definition of success. So one example that I see of this, and it’s been so fun to like see people talking about this online, is, um, kind of breaking up with traditional goal setting.

Bonnie (18:53):
So right, uh, in January last month, that was kind of the, the big hubbub in , the goal setting community of when we’re setting our new goals, when we are, you know, filling out our power sheets or, you know, cracking the spine on that new planner. And we are starting the year strong and we’re making it happen. And the conversation that I’ve been seeing more and more is the normalization of, if you are not like all gung-ho after the holidays on January 1st to create this long engaging list of business goals and personal goals, that’s quite normal. Because if we actually take a look at what’s happening outside our windows, it’s winter and what’s going on in winter seasonally, it is a time of rest. It is a time of hibernation, it’s a time of going deep down and conserving energy. It’s a time for reflection, it’s a time of, of rest in order to build up the energy required to spring fourth in the springtime.

Bonnie (20:01):
And so people, and myself included, um, this year I did not set any goals for January. My, my goal for January was come back from the holidays, show up , you know, like kind of keep doing business as usual, and I will, uh, revisit things in probably March. Like I am exploring a way of doing business that feels way more seasonal. And so for me, winter is not the time for me to dig deep and to come up with all of these specific metrics that I’m pursuing or these new offers or these refined services or these, you know, sleek marketing plans. No, it is the time for me to be, be kind of move at a slower pace and be gentle with myself and be gentle with the way that I’m showing up in my business and I’m communicating with my clients and my students.

Bonnie (20:57):
It’s an opportunity for me to think about how it feels like day in, day out, like how does it feel to be pursuing these specific outcomes? And then as things start waking up outside, as, as you know, the world starts coming back to life in the spring, then energetically it feels like a better fit to me to, okay, now I have the space, I have the capacity, I have the energy, the days are longer. I can sit down at my computer and I can brain dump, you know, what I want to do. Like, I, I feel like winter is the time for me of thinking about, um, how I can refill my cup. And then spring is the time to, uh, actually, you know, pour out of those, those stores and really take action. So what I’m, what I’m noticing is quite a few people in my circle are not putting any pressure on themselves to set any big business goals until they, they feel like it.

Bonnie (22:00):
And I think it is such a beautiful way to be running our businesses in a more gentle way, in a slower way, but also in a more seasonal way. And, you know, just because the calendar changes on January 1st doesn’t mean you need to go to all this, this hubbub and, you know, kind of get yourself worked up into a little bit of, of a flustered state in order to keep up with what everyone else is doing. So if it is February and you, like me, have not really found it in you to sit down and set some proper business goals, um, I think that’s okay. I think that if anything, it’s fun for us to get to try this out and to, uh, dive into that when we want to, and when we seasonally and energetically have the availability and the capacity to do so, because I don’t know if you can relate, but coming out of the holiday season, um, gosh, just all that’s required of us, all that’s asked of us, all that we do and we experience and we partake of during the winter holidays personally does not put me in the mindset to, uh, you know, be a, be a big go-getter.

Bonnie (23:15):
Like, I don’t wanna go straight from holiday travel and eating way too much and all the kind of indulgence that that can come during the holiday season into thinking about how I’m going to, uh, strategically achieve a specific revenue goal, or I’m going to hit, uh, you know, a specific like, number of downloads for the podcast or something like that. Those, those are fantastic things to do. And if you are like the exact opposite of me and you’re like, Bonnie, that’s bonkers because that is my time. That is like my personal Super Bowl. I am like all in post-holiday goal setting flow, then that’s fantastic and I’m so glad that that works for you. But the beauty of getting to run your own business is getting to do what works for you. So giving yourself the permission to make those tweaks and experiment with those changes and see what that looks like and see what it feels like, and then observe the outcome.

Bonnie (24:15):
So I might find, because honestly this is the first year I’m really doing it like this, I might find that goal setting in the spring is the worst for whatever reason, and it doesn’t actually give me the outcome I’m looking for. Okay, that’s information. And I can work with information, I can take that data and I can inform my decisions for the future, uh, based on that information. Um, not gonna beat myself up if that’s how it goes. I’m not gonna tell myself a story about like, oh, I’m a bad business owner, or I did it wrong. I I’m just gonna say, Hey, you tried something new and it didn’t pan out the way you thought. Alright, that’s okay. Now, you know, let’s keep going. So I, I just hope that as you are exploring ways to do business in your own way in 2024, that you are gentle with yourself.

Bonnie (25:02):
Um, gosh, I really wish I could remember who said this. Um, so if you hear this and you’re like, oh, I know who we can attribute that quote to, please let me know and I will add it in the show notes. But, um, I came across a quote probably on Instagram that was to the effect of carry yourself gently because you are becoming someone you’ve never been before. And that is the energy that I am very much wanting for all of us in, in the coming months in this quarter. And in the rest of this year, I would love for us to carry ourselves with compassion and with gentleness as we are becoming not only the business owners that we’ve never been before, but the people that we’ve never been before, the versions of ourselves that we have yet to meet. And I think that it’s, it’s a very exciting, um, opportunity to get to see how you grow and how that impacts this incredible entity, this business that you’re building.

Bonnie (26:05):
So those are some of the big things that have been standing out to me in terms of what I am collectively seeing people, uh, move towards and what individually could be some themes that resonate for some of us, uh, tuning in today. I can’t wait to see what other things that I am that I’m not anticipating kind of pop up. It’s always so cool, like no matter how many years I’m in business, it is so amazing to get to see how much I don’t know, because it means that there’s always something to learn and it means that there’s always something that I can continue to, um, to explore and to dive into and to kind of dig into it and see how it works and figure it out. And so, with that being said, um, I’m curious if any of these resonate. I hope that a couple are, are sparking some ideas for you that are gonna give you something good and life-giving and fun and fulfilling to, to focus on in the coming months.

Bonnie (27:03):
But as always, if, if you’re, you know, tuned in today and thought, Hey, this is interesting, but it doesn’t really feel like the right time for me to, you know, take action on some of these concepts, totally great. Also love that journey for you. Um, but whatever 20, 24 and the coming months hold for us, and I, I know that I, I feel a little late like saying like, 20, 24, like, wishes for us when it’s February, but hey, whatever. Um, I, I just am hopeful that, again, as we are carrying ourselves gently and compassionately, as we become versions of ourselves that we have not been before, that we can give ourselves the grace and the permission to make as many mistakes as we need to make on those journeys. That’s kind of the energy that I’m wanting to hold for myself. And I would love to extend that same energy to you too.

Bonnie (27:59):
As always, thanks for tuning into the podcast. I hope that today’s episode was, um, you know, encouraging or gave you something, uh, of use to consider. But until next time, I’ll be cheering you on from Waco. Thank you so much for joining me today, friend. Before you go, I would be so grateful to receive your feedback on the brand strategy podcast. If you enjoyed this episode or the podcast in general has helped you grow your brand, I’d really appreciate it if you left us a review in iTunes. Your positive reviews enable the brand strategy podcast to continue to grow and reach like-minded creatives just like you. Thank you for all your support and encouragement as together we pursue building brands with purpose and intention. Until next time, I’m cheering you on from Waco.

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My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

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