Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling like 2016 has been….well, quite a year. To say the least.

To be honest, I spent a lot of time outside of my comfort zone this year.

Launching and failing. Hiring and ….unhiring. Filming and podcasting. Workshopping and connecting. The list goes on…

But the bottom line is: trying new things in 2016 made me a better business owner.

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In this post, I’m sharing five new things I tried in 2016. Plus, what I learned while spending (what felt like) most of the year outside of my comfort zone.

Launching a course

Back in the summer, I launched my first course, Build + Thrive. It’s a course that teaches new business owners how to DIY a website that fits their brand. I invested a lot of time to make sure this course provided value for people — Facebook groups repeatedly validated my idea, and I even had a beta group test it out.

When I finally launched (via an email sequence), I only sold three spots.

Even though it didn’t go so well (in my opinion), there was a lot I didn’t do to promote the course. I didn’t pre-sell; I didn’t do Facebook Ads; I didn’t do webinars.

Because Build + Thrive is a proven program that has actually helped people DIY their websites, my experience with this failed launch taught me that I’m not a super-skilled marketer. But since I know the program works, and that people need it, there’s a good chance I’ll relaunch it in the spring of 2017 (with a revamped promotional strategy, of course).

Hiring

This year I was on a mission to take some things off my plate, so that I could focus on the most important parts of my business. Which meant I had to get rid of some tasks and projects that didn’t directly contribute to the success/progress of Jess Creatives.

So, I experimented with outsourcing. I hired an intern for a few weeks. Throughout the year, I subcontracted some technical website work to two developers. And now, I’ve even got another designer handling some of my social graphics.

Although not all of these working relationships lasted, this “experiment” worked out pretty well for me overall. The number one thing I learned was how important it is to make sure that you communicate your business goals/priorities with new hires/contractors. It’s best to make sure everyone is on the same page right from the very beginning.

New Platforms: YouTube and Podcast

Before 2016, I was only creating content here on the blog. But this year, I decided to push my limits in a big way so I could deliver even more free value to you online.

Back in May, I started a YouTube channel. This was a huge challenge for me because, for years, I was so insanely scared to put myself out there on video.

As if that didn’t push me far enough past my limits, this fall I started my podcast: Journeys in Business. On the show, I interview fellow entrepreneurs about…can you guess? Yep, their journey in business!

I could go on forever about the lessons I learned from putting myself out there this year. Both being on camera and interviewing people is totally out of my element. But I absolutely love these platforms now. Plus, the increased visibility has already helped me attract and book more clients.

A win in my book!

Raising prices and working with fewer clients

Since last year, I’ve tripled (!) my prices and am taking on fewer clients. But I didn’t make this transition overnight. Here’s how it happened:

In 2015, I was overworked and had hardly any time to relax. I managed everything, sure. But I wasn’t able to enjoy the freedom I’d set out to create for myself as an entrepreneur.

I’m at my best when I have minimal stress (which, is hard for me to attain most of the time), plus the space in my schedule to breathe and let life happen. But in 2015, I didn’t have those things. In 2016, I decided to prioritize them so I could be at my best more often.

Even though I was uncomfortable with the thought of raising my prices and taking on fewer clients, I slowly made subtle changes over the course of almost an entire year. So, it ended up being a fairly smooth transition into maintaining the comfortable work schedule I have now. Each price increase was a little nerve-wracking, but it was so worth it!

What lessons did you learn in 2016? Let me know in the comments below!

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Episode #010: Amy Homan

in this episode, Amy Homan and I talk about doing what you love, and rolling with the punches that happen...

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