Last September, October & November were some of the worst months for me ever in my website design business. As my primary job, I help businesses develop minimalist websites & branding to help establish them as a leader in their industry. My business, JPW Design Studio, has typically accounted for 60% of our family's income. Some months are way up and others are way down. A lot of my business's success has to do with what month of the year it is. For instance, December is the worst month ever, while January tends to be crazy. And Etsy has been a great help in keeping our finances stable. While it typically accounts for about 40% of our income, it is a lot more stable than my web design business. Things go up a little, and down a little, but it doesn't fluctuate in unpredictable and crazy ways.
But last year, I started to get jaded with my web design work. I got bored of doing the same thing over and over. And I think my lack of passion for my own work reflected in the fact that I wasn't getting a lot of business. I didn't try hard to follow up with new clients, or schedule an initial phone call conversation. I didn't think about how to grow my business to new heights. And I didn't think about what would help me become passionate again.
But some times, you have to hit bottom before you wake up. With 3 terrible months of web design business, I finally woke up to the fact that I had to start doing things differently if I want to take care of my family financially and my wife and 2 sons thrive in life. I needed to start studying marketing, how to sell better, how to grow a business, and how to change the direction of my business to match peoples' needs in 2018.
A few weeks ago, I was watching the show Shark Tank. One participant came on and was from a foreign country, immigrating to the United States. He said the first few months in the U.S., he had no money, sleeping on the floor in an apartment, in the dark, and he felt a cockroach crawl over him while he was trying to sleep. This person knew he was at rock bottom in his life, having absolutely no money or assets to have any sort of quality of life. He got up the next morning and decided to do everything in his power to create a life of his own that was meaningful and successful. And just a couple years later, he was on Shark Tank presenting his own business idea that would be shown in front of millions.
One of my biggest faults in my own work is that at some point, once I start to feel more successful than I imaged, I then stop learning. I start grinding out work and I forget to be inspired. But I often try to remember that presenter on Shark Tank. I don't want to be the person that watches all of my opportunity and success disappear. Success comes from hard work, but also learning, planning out new goals, and writing out the steps required that must be taken every day to reach those goals.
In December, I started reading books about business again, and about marketing - how to set goals, work effectively, inspire others, and pushing dreams to their highest limits. I read books like Smarter Faster Better and When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Now I am going through books like Virtual Culture and The Power Of Moments. Each of these books are writing my successful people, or written about how successful people operate. And they are changing the way I think and act in my day-to-day life.
A popular saying goes: "If you are not growing then you are dying." And that is completely true. There is no way to just "keep things as they are" and just coast along. If you are just trying to float, instead of fly, then eventually you will drown. That is why it is super important to keep learning, keep doing, keep growing, and keep trying.
When you try to build your dreams on Etsy, or in any other place, you have to push yourself further than you ever think you could go. And the best way to do that is to keep learning, talking with people, trying things out, get out there and test ideas, and learn from others.
I want to encourage you to make 2018 your best year ever. Don't just learn from one place, or one person, or one concept, or one idea. Keep growing as much as you can, so that you can push your own dreams beyond any limits.