With 2018 rapidly approaching, this is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. This is the second post in a two-part series on this topic. To read about my achievements in 2017, please click here. This post will focus on my goals for 2018.
Here are my five main business goals for the new year:
1. Improve the newsletter for Anita’s Garden
One of my main goals for 2018 is to improve the format of my gardening newsletter. I’d like there to be more of a link between my blog and the newsletter, as at the moment I feel that I’m simply reproducing content. I’d also like to shorten the length of the newsletter without sacrificing the breadth and depth of content. At 15-16 pages, I feel that the newsletter in its current format is simply too long and there is a risk that readers may lose interest.
I have received very positive feedback on the content of the newsletter, but one reader commented to me that he wished he was able to view the document on his smartphone. I take all feedback very seriously and started to look into ways to make this possible. I’m a brand ambassador for the on-line New Zealand gardening retailers Awapuni Nurseries and New Zealand Bulbs. The marketing liaison for both businesses is the wonderful Gemma Collier of Collier Maddigan, who I’ve gotten to know really well over the past few months. Gemma writes a regular newsletter for Awapuni called Cultivated News, which is circulated by email. She advised me to look into using Microsoft Publisher for generating my newsletter as opposed to using Microsoft Word, as I have been doing in the past. Publisher is apparently the programme to use for creating newsletters. I had no experience with Publisher, nor did I have it installed on my laptop as the Microsoft Office 2010 package I purchased six years ago didn’t contain that programme. However, a few weeks before Christmas, my cousin Daniel who is an IT guru and heads up the IT department at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) very helpfully installed Office 2016 on my laptop, which includes Publisher! I am having a little play around with the programme at the moment and will see if it is possible to generate a newsletter template which is user-friendly on a smartphone and is an improvement on the old format.
2. Develop my presence on social media
As mentioned in my previous blog post which covers my achievements of 2017, I created social media accounts for Anita’s Garden on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Snapchat. Remaining active on social media, in addition to maintaining the garden, propagating plants, running the nursery and the many other activities that form part of my business is admittedly exhausting. However, I firmly believe that social media is the most effective way, both cost-wise and in terms of outreach, to market a business in the 21st century. Of course, this might be a bit different for professional services in sectors such as law. Client confidentiality restricts what you can write about in order to market your business. You can’t exactly tweet about your current cases or transactions! In addition to learning how to use social media, it took me awhile to adjust to being so open about my passion for gardening and share what I have learnt over the years with other gardeners. This is one of the things I love most about my business.
In 2018, I would like to focus on building my Pinterest account. Up until now, I used Pinterest as a personal tool and had a variety of boards on different topics I was interested in. I only re-pinned posts from other people. Now that I have converted my personal Pinterest account to a business one, it dawned upon me that you can actually create pins yourself! This is of course how content on Pinterest is generated. Duh! This is a great way for me to assert myself as a business owner, establish credibility in the marketplace and build my brand. Of course, it takes time but I’ll get there eventually.
3. Get my own domain name
This year, I’d like to get my own domain name for my website. It’s not expensive to do. In fact, I wanted to register my own domain name for Anita’s Garden in the first instance. However, my cousin challenged me to set up a free website first to see if I would actually maintain my blog. I think I’ve proven that I’m committed to blogging regularly based on my track record of posts. Having my own domain name certainly won’t change the quality of the content on my website but will give it a more professional look overall. I hope to make this happen sometime in 2018.
4. Develop Anita’s Garden
As discussed in my previous blog post, in 2017 I added a mini-orchard to the garden. In 2018, I would like to develop our rose garden. At present, we have a collection of 17 standard roses. In the winter, I will be adding 10 standard David Austin varieties to our garden. This is in addition to our two existing David Austin varieties, Sharifa Asma and Winchester Cathedral. I love old-fashioned English roses and am very excited to expand our collection this coming year.
5. Unveil my mystery project!
In 2018, I hope to roll out my brand new venture. I’ve been busy working on something new behind the scenes. As if Anita’s Garden wasn’t enough to keep me busy! As discussed in a previous blog post, I famously always said that owning a business was one of two things I’d never do (the other was to become a politician). I therefore can’t believe that I might launch another start up! As someone who was always very risk-adverse (which is typical of most lawyers), I must say that being a business owner has made me more daring. I’m not afraid to put myself out there. Sometimes, you just have to be bold. As discussed in my last blog post, in 2017, I became a brand ambassador for some leading New Zealand gardening retailers after approaching them directly with a proposal. Sure I was a little nervous about their reaction, but the worst thing they could have said is no.
I’m now preparing to trial an entirely different project in parallel to my existing business. If it takes, it takes. It’s a bit like my philosophy when propagating plants by cuttings. There is a lot of truth to the expression nothing ventured, nothing gained. Are you thinking of launching your own start up like me? In the words of Nike, my favourite spots brand, just do it! So what if it fails (like a lot of start ups do)? Just be super-cautious like me and avoid investing capital! Instead, invest your ideas, time and energy. Even if it isn’t a success, at least you’ve given it a shot and learnt something in the process. Don’t worry if others laugh at you or talk about you behind your back. I have discussed the issue of negativity and put-downs from others at length in a previous blog post. There are some people who will always have something to say, and it will usually be negative. It’s best to avoid these people, or at least try to limit contact with them if you can help it. At least you’re using your time constructively, which is more than can be said for people with nothing better to do but sit back and rejoice in other people’s downfalls. As I have said before, people who use their time so unproductively probably don’t have much of a garden, if that’s any consolation.