Year Two in Review

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My second year in business has come to a close. The big T-W-O.

How is that even possible?! As I’m typing this, it’s honestly difficult for me to fathom.

Two years ago, I was fresh off the newlywed boat, and a wave of emotions and thoughts were running through me as to what was next in this new chapter in life.

My husband was gearing up to head overseas. And I, well… I was trying to hold it together and determine how I could stay home with my sweet, cuddly Jules all day. (For those of you who are new around here, Julesis our beloved Labrador/firstborn of our family.)

But, seriously. People joke all the time about finding a way to be a stay-at-home dog mom or dad. I wanted it to happen because I couldn’t imagine being 30 minutes away from her for 8 hours every day while her dad was away.

Okay. Let’s reel this crazy train back in.  I also desperately desired a more flexible work life so I could hop in a car or on a plane to spend extended periods of time with those I love.

Those two things were what inspired Carried Away Creative Co. to come to life. Yes, a dog and those I love—my husband, family, and friends.

So, needless to say, if you would’ve told me I’d be gearing up for year THREE two years ago, I’d look at you like you were freaking Cray. Zay.

Today, however, I’m grateful for how far this little business of mine has come and all the growing it has to look forward to.

ALL that to say, I figured I’d kick off the year two in review party by sharing what I’ve learned, what I’m celebrating, and what I have to look forward to!

what i’ve learned.

Um, where in the world do I even begin?! This wild ride of entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. And, the things I’m learning along the way challenge me and push me far, far away from my cozy comfort zone.

Ask me my biggest takeaways from year two, and I would probably have to say:

  • You won’t be able to figure out the answers to everything on your own. (Hello, all the legalities of uprooting your business to a new state, hiring 1099 contractors, and even how to fix a corrupt website!). And, that’s okay. Find your mentors // support team, and love them hard for all they know and all they’re willing to share.

  • You can’t do everything on your own. Get to delegating. I probably didn’t learn this one soon enough because I hit a major burnout phase before the 2017 holiday season. Therefore, no matter how often you keep telling yourself you can continue doing it all or want to hang on to every ounce of control you have, imagine all the time you can get back to working ON your business. That is, if you stop wasting hours on trying to fix your mess of a QuickBooks account or tackling tedious tasks (guilty!).

  • You need to value your precious time. So, decide on what it is you love to do, do it well, and cut the rest of the BS. This goes hand in hand with delegating. Maybe it’s services or products you need to cut. Perhaps it’s processes you need to put in place using software that could help you. Or, both. For me, it was just that. I pinpointed the services that were taking up a bulk of my time (and were making me cringe when it came time to put in the work), and straight up nixed them. I also invested in Dubsado and Quickbooks Online. LIFE. SAVERS. (And, I continue to be a fan of Calendly.)

  • You will constantly practice the art of saying “no.” It’s as easy as it sounds, right? WRONG. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like pushing people away. So, clearly, I’m STILL working on this. Actually, I know I will be for-ev-er. And, I’m okay with that.

  • And, you’ll never stop learning. At the end of each workday, we should ask ourselves: what is it that I have learned today that I didn’t know yesterday? Never, ever stop learning or growing. I have courses and books that have been sitting on my must-take/read list for months! To keep improving, you’ve got to make it a priority.

what i’m celebrating.

With all the hiccups and lessons learned, it’s important to also focus on things worth celebrating. In no particular order, here’s what I’m cheers-ing to with a glass of wine tonight!

  • The number of big-hearted lady bosses I’ve had the honor of meeting. Whether it was through a milspouse group or collaboration, I’m grateful our paths have crossed, and to be in their awe-inspiring presence!

  • The total number of words I’ve written for Carried Away Creative Co. projects. From blog posts to email newsletters, social media posts, web pages; you name it, I’ve written more than 220,000 words to date.

  • The number of “PTO” days I’ve taken. While the lines were often blurred between whether or not it was planned, spur of the moment, or truly forced (thanks to my husband who keeps it R-E-A-L with me), I was able to take more than 30 days off (due to lots of necessary family time and going from coast to coast). And, since moving this past summer, I’ve made it my mission to take Fridays off. By “off” I mean dedicating a “client-free work day” and setting aside a few set hours to nurture this little business of mine.

  • The swap from a sole proprietorship to an LLC. Honestly, this was terrifying for me. In so many ways. For a while, I viewed “LLC” as an “oh-this-lady-boss-has-her-shi*-all-figured-out” stamp. In all honesty, though, who really does? As soon as I recognized that and stopped treating my business as a hobby, I made the leap, and I’m so glad I did!

  • The Carried Away Creative Co. TEAM. It’s still slightly uncomfortable for me to say that – TEAM. It’s small, but mighty. In March, Danielle joined Jules and me as an associate content creator, ensuring all the content keeps on keepin’ on. And, my sweet mama joined us as the “studio manager” to assist with administrative // bookkeeping tasks for clients and CACC (side note: she also owns Copper Penne VA!). I put her position title in quotation marks because I still, for the life of me, can’t figure out a fun name. After all, she’s my MOM. If something sparks in that brilliant brain of yours, feel free to send me a note

what i’m looking forward to.

Now, after ALL of this recap jazz, are you slightly curious as to what’s in store for year three? Well, without further ado, let me lay it out for you. And, by laying it out, I mean summing up my ideas and aspirations in three little words.

SIMPLIFY. While I have a few processes and systems in place that I looove, I’m eager to pinpoint ways I can improve my services, project completion speeds (without sacrificing the quality), and so much more!

STUDY. Remember when I mentioned I have courses and books calling my name? Year 3 is THE year to make time for them. That way, I work on tackling my next goal to…

SERVE. I dropped the “b” word earlier. No, not that one. This one: burnout. It wasn’t fun. And, I feel as if I occasionally battle feelings of anxiousness to simply avoid experiencing it ever again. I know that’s probably not realistic. But, hitting that wall led me to hold back on bringing the CACC projects I have in mind to life so I can better serve you. Is it through a course, regular blog posts, emails, social media posts, Facebook LIVEs, quizzes, all of the above? I don’t have the answer yet. Though, my mission in year 3, however, is to figure that out. 

Friend, if you’ve made it this far, I’m giving you a BIG virtual hug right now! And, a HUGE thank you for being alongside me on this crazy adventure and letting me keep it real with you.

Whether you’re a biz BFF, friend, or supporter, I’m super grateful for you and your cheerleading skills truly do not go unnoticed!

BusinessCarrie Ashley