I want to start my yearly reflection with a huge thank you.
2018 has been one amazing year.
This time last year I was very pregnant and very nervous about how life would change after having a baby. I decided to give myself a theme word for 2018, in order to help me focus whenever I needed to feel grounded; something that would remind me of what I’m trying to achieve every day, both at work and in my personal life.
My word for 2018 was trust.
- Trust that my planning would make it possible to have a baby and run a business
- Trust that I could become the mom my daughter needed
- Trust that I could provide for my family at home as well as my Schmooz family
- Trust that the company I had built was strong enough to do without me for a few weeks while I cared for a brand new life at home.
…And it worked! My beautiful daughter was born January 15th, 2018 and here I am a year later writing this from the Schmooz office, with a room full of passionate employees.
That isn’t to say everything was always easy or that the waters were always calm. While in active labour at the hospital, I was on my laptop doing mid-month invoicing and I’ve spent many long nights, after my daughter has gone to bed, sending emails and checking in on our projects. The Schmoozers and I have also had some amazing victories in 2018:
- I hired an operations expert
2018 was the year I realized that if I wanted my business to grow I needed help with my business operations. This was an important role for Schmooz and an important milestone for me as a business owner. It meant Schmooz has grown to a size that now required formalized and expert operations support.
- We implemented a CRM
Accelo is an end-to-end cloud-based software that allows us to funnel all of our work through one system. From a prospective client, to a sale, through every step of a project, to a final invoice, this software allows us to do it all. It keeps us all organized — on time and on budget — and allows up to deliver exceptional value to our clients. This is a tool that I had selected in 2017, but I need people with different skill sets to lead setting it up and managing it. Have I said it yet? – we have an awesome team! #soproud
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. We added new carpeting to the stairs, got a weekly cleaning help, and purchased new desks, setting us up for the team-expansion to come.
- We developed a process for hiring new employees
When I posted online for a full-time hire, I received over 150 applications within the first 24 hours. Overwhelmed, we drafted and implemented a system that we believed would help us to hire the best candidate for Schmooz and the best fit for our clients’ needs. We asked all our applicants to fill out a Plum.io Discovery Survey which allowed us to screen potential new coworkers based on their fit with our company culture. From there, we were able to better see which applicants we wanted to interview on the phone, and then finally which ones we wanted to meet in person. It ended up being a lengthy process but one that I am very grateful for because it ended up bringing us two new full time Schmooz team members when I set out find one.
- We added 3 new full-time time positions!
Schmooz is growing and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. We have been able to focus on more specific skillsets that get our clients better results. Our team is more well-rounded with backgrounds in written content creation, digital advertising, design, video production, public relations, IT, and operations.
- I ramped up my speaking engagements
This year I had the pleasure of hosting not one, but TWO iterations of the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference, one in Mississauga in the spring and the second at the Convention Centre in the fall; I gave a talk about how “Big Marketing Ideas Aren’t Just for Big Companies,” and I sat on a panel alongside experts from Pinterest, Shutterstock, Bank of Montreal, and TorStar Media at the Data Marketing Toronto conference. I also went back to my roots by teaching a class — Social Media 101 — at the DMZ, Sandbox for Ryerson’s Accelerator program for university and high school business innovators.
I couldn’t have done any of these things without trust. I trusted in myself that I was capable of being both a mother and a small business owner and I trusted that my company had become something bigger and stronger that what I ever imagined I could do, and while I already knew it was possible, I fully learned that my team is capable of carrying the extra weight.
That is why my new theme-word for 2019 is expertise. Placing that trust in my team also meant empowering them to be the set of experts they are. We all come from different professional and educational backgrounds but we bring together these skills and passions to make us a unique unit.
There was a moment a couple weeks after my two newest hires had started when I looked up to see them working out a challenge they had come across. Without needing my direction or any direction of the other more “seasoned Schmoozers,” they were tackling a problem to come up with the best, most effective solution for our client. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
I see it more clearly than ever before: our clients come to us because we’re experts.
So as we enter 2019 that’s my new word. Expertise.
I hope what happens as a result is that people tell their colleagues… “Those Schmoozers, they’re experts. They’re honest and upfront. They trust each other and we trust them.“
I want to thank you all again, Schmooz community, for what turned out to be a banner year for me. Looking ahead, I can already see that 2019 will mark the 5th anniversary of Schmooz — another amazing achievement for this company — and I can’t wait to celebrate that milestone with all of you.
Wishing you all a happy holidays and wonderful things for the new year.