As my final post for 2020, I wanted to write a review of the entire year and share with you the mistakes I made along with other things that went wrong.
This way, you and I can both learn from those experiences and make the new year an even better year.
Hi, my name is Mei Pak and I help makers, artists and designers make a living from selling their handmade products online.
I have to preface by saying that, this was a tricky post to write because a lot of things fell into place for us and our businesses this year.
For 2020, we had reached new levels of income we’d never seen before in our life but that has been my goal for years.
Literally, for several years, every day when I shower I would say the affirmation, “I would make a million dollars by the time I’m 30”.
It wasn’t until 2019 that I stopped chasing that goal so hard and just trusted that it would happen when it was meant to happen. Instead, I started sowing the seeds to reach that goal that year.
Now those seeds have bloomed because this was the year my husband and I both reached multi-million dollar status!
I don’t even know what to do with all the money but it’s going to take some soul searching to get there especially because this is both so new to us.
Neither my husband or myself came from money and we didn’t have connections, so this is incredibly meaningful for us. Especially to think about how much more of an impact we can make in the future is really exciting.
Taking it Back to 2019
I know this is not a post about 2019, but I feel it’s important for you to have some context of the year before this year, so you can see that it wasn’t just smooth sailing.
In my A Sale A Day program, I did an extensive hour-long recap for 2019. In a nutshell, that was one of my worst years ever.
I invested a lot of money in a lot of wrong people.
I had too much pride about not wanting to do things myself and so I spent tens of thousands of dollars hiring agencies and freelancers to do it for me instead, but they barely broke even so it was a lot of lost money there.
In 2019, I hit rock bottom, I had made such monumental mistakes and I was thousands of dollars in debt.
I even went to see a hypnotherapist because I felt so stuck and didn’t know what else to do, which I have to say, hypnosis, highly recommend it!
And after firing all the wrong people, I spent the final months of 2019 fixing up my business and restoring it to what it was before. Along with starting my husband’s business selling personalized artwork.
Mistake 1: Not Planning Ahead
Now, for 2020, the first constant mistake for me was not planning ahead of time.
I’m amazing at thinking ahead, but when it comes to sitting down to think about and organize and implement the minutia to getting to a finished project, is not my strong suit.
That’s why I have a business manager who helps everyone in the business meet deadlines and operate more proactively.
This was true for my YouTube videos. I constantly found myself and putting my team in stressful positions because we were uploading a YouTube video, like, the night before it was supposed to go live.
When you’re running a business that has so many moving pieces, you cannot be operating with such tight turnaround times. It’s just stressful for everyone and it’s not fun.
Another example was my husband’s business. We did not plan the holiday season well.
We were getting more orders than we could fulfill.
We didn’t plan on what to do about late shipments or what the cut off date for ordering would be for Christmas delivery.
All of those things were done on the fly as we were deep in the process.
That means when it came to problem solving, we didn’t have as many options.
Because my husband was so short-staffed, I had to step in to help fulfill orders and make art for 12-16 hours a day.
And that took time away from me making my YouTube videos or to properly plan Tiny Hands’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale.
You see what I’m getting at?
This isn’t something that will make or break our business in the grand scheme of things, but it’s stressful and can lead to burnout or resentment.
Holiday seasons are stressful for all online shops but I’ve created enough systems in my businesses for me to not be in that position anymore.
But this past holiday season, I’ve broken down crying like a baby and gotten upset more times than I can count.
So my number one personal goal for 2021, is to be working ahead of the curve so we don’t put ourselves in this position again.
Mistake 2: Not Communicating Clearly
I have a problem, and I think a lot of women have the problem of being afraid to speak up and to voice our needs.
This stems from our upbringing and society. A woman who is assertive and speaks her mind is considered rude or bitchy.
I know some people say, who cares about what other people think?
For me, I inherently care so much about what other people think and I never want people to feel like I’m making them uncomfortable or making them feel bad.
In my ideal world, everyone gets what they want and need and everyone is happy and there is no drama.
So this year, there have been a few situations where I got the short end of the stick or didn’t get what I was promised, because I didn’t speak up.
I was afraid of coming off as aggressive or blunt or offending the other person and it’s cost me thousands of dollars.
Over the years, I’ve definitely learned that it’s possible to be assertive while still being kind, but sometimes it happens so quickly that if it’s not super ingrained in you, it’s easy to regress.
And honestly, it’s easier to not speak up, but then you’ll never get what you wanted from the other person, whether it’s buying a product or service or asking a family member to do something for you.
Then you’ll just be unhappy about the outcome and the only person to blame, is myself because speaking up and communicating is something I can control.
Intellectually, I know that communication is so important.
My husband and I had this conversation before about what we feel makes our relationship and marriage work so well, and the top three things are
Communication is so important for any relationship and my goal for 2021, is to not be afraid to voice my opinion.
Mistake 3: Negative Comments About Me & My Programs
Number three is not so much a mistake but more of a negative thing that happened to me.
It’s not a lot, but there are a few negative things that people have said about me or my A Sale A Day program out there on the internet.
Anytime we get negative public feedback like this, it’s 100% always a situation where a client or student got upset that we have boundaries and limits.
Like, one example (this happened a while ago), when I was still doing 1:1 coaching, I had been working with a woman who I coached every month for over a year, but she constantly refused to take any action on the advice I was giving her.
There came a point where I realized that I could no longer help her, because there was something deeper happening with this client that I wasn’t equipped to help her with.
I told her that and didn’t renew our coaching contract and she was amicable about it at the time, but a few years later, she proceeds to post slanderous comments about me that had no foundation at all, on my Creative Live courses.
See, this is in part why it’s so challenging for me to speak up and be assertive because in these rare instances when I have been assertive, some people lash back out at me.
Something similar happened this year to a member of our free Facebook group.
We have a rule where you can’t promote your business just for the sake of it because if one person did that, then everyone would do it, and the group would turn into a promo fest and it would lose the community aspect to it. And that’s not the point I started this group.
Sometimes we have to remove posts from members who don’t follow the rules or who we can tell are looking for loopholes with those rules.
We sent this person a very nice and friendly explanation for why we removed their post, and that person got really aggressive and verbally abusive with my team, so we kicked her out.
That person then proceeded to make negative comments about me online.
Affiliate Blog Strategy
There’s also this new strategy that affiliate blogs are doing where they’re reviewing courses and giving them 1-3 star out of 5-star reviews with the intention of ranking for certain keywords on Google, getting your traffic over to their blog, and converting those people to buy another course that they are an affiliate for instead.
There are two sites now that I know of, from people who have never taken A Sale A Day Business System, and they write pretty in-depth posts about what A Sale A Day is all about based on the free information they can get about it online.
Then they say they don’t recommend people take the course, but that they should take this other course instead.
I personally think that’s such a crummy strategy to take.
I actually got on the phone with an online reputation management service and they wanted to charge me almost $20,000 to suppress these blogs because there’s no way you can actually take them down.
You can’t file a DMCA complaint because this isn’t a copyright issue.
But it IS slander and it’s untruthful.
I didn’t pay that service $20,000, but I’m a marketer, and I know how to do SEO myself so I’m handling it, but it takes time.
We take so much time and care to treat other people the way we want to be treated and it’s really hurtful and hard for me to handle this.
But this is my new reality and I’m accepting that there are just some people we cannot please.
Mistake 4: Impatience
There were several roles within my business that I was hiring for like a graphic designer and programmer and because they were pretty urgent roles that needed to be filled because of upcoming projects, I became impatient and made poor choices.
When I hire people, I’m usually hypercritical about the candidate, but on several occasions this year, I ignored red flags.
If I wasn’t in a hurry to hire someone, even one red flag would be enough for me to turn someone down.
But with the designer and programmer, I ignored multiple red flags and hired people who weren’t truly a great fit for my business.
I had invested so much time working with them, training them, getting them up to speed on my business.
It’s a lot of effort and energy to onboard new hires and we’re generally pretty slow to fire, because we believe that with the right training, we can help shape them.
But the longer that we worked with the wrong people, the more resources we were sinking into them, only to eventually hit a dead end in that they had fundamental differences about them that we couldn’t change.
For example, the programmer we hired was from Pakistan and there were a lot of communication issues with him and the language barrier eventually became a problem because I couldn’t trust that he knew what I was saying.
And with the designer, she was constantly late with work or disappearing for days on end and even though we told her multiple times what our expectations were, she couldn’t meet us there and I had to let her go.
So just having had these experiences, when I made a recent hire for a very specialized role in my business, it took me months to find the right person.
And although I did get frustrated at how hard it was to find candidates, I reminded myself of the importance of being patient and eventually, the right person did come along and she’s perfect.
This virtue of patience doesn’t just apply to the people you hire, but to anyone you choose to work with like coaches or mentors or just generally people you include in your life.
Don’t settle. Pay attention to red flags because if you don’t, it’s a lot harder to deal with that person and to remove them from your life.
I hope that you enjoyed this video and learned something from it.
I’m definitely reminding myself of these lessons going into the new year. If you liked this, leave a comment to share your own 2020 mistakes and what you learned from them.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more great handmade business tips!