Still learning and going strong after 20 years in business

20 year business anniversary balloons

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It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that I launched my business twenty years ago today. It doesn’t seem very long ago that I wrote What I’ve Learned in my First 10 Years of Business!

My business has continued to evolve since I wrote that post, and I’ve continued to grow both personally and professionally. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned during this time:

Create Standard Operating Procedures.

It might feel stifling, especially if you’ve escaped from a bureaucratic government or corporate job, but there are a lot of benefits to having SOPs in place. I learned this the hard way, but you don’t have to!

Read about my experience and recommendations in How to improve your business and make life easier.

Take advantage of automation.

If you’re spending a lot of time on repetitive tasks, there’s nearly always a better way.

You probably use a lot of different apps and other tools to keep track of your communications, contacts, schedule, tasks, social media posts, and so on. Look into services that allow you to connect them so data is automatically sent from one to another.

For example, when someone books a paid consultation through my Acuity Scheduling account, it checks my Google calendar for available dates, schedules a meeting in Zoom (which it adds to my calendar), and collects payment through PayPal, which are only a few of the many integrations available. This is a huge time-saver because it eliminates a lot of steps on my end. Basically, I just have to show up!

As a bonus, I’ve gained email subscribers by creating a “Zap” in Zapier to automatically add someone to my Mailchimp list if they click in the checkbox I added to the scheduling form.

I also used IFTTT to create an “applet” for Tea with Janet. Every time I post a new tea review, it generates the following tweet: “It’s time for Tea with Janet! Join me for a cup of {{PostTitle}} {{PostUrl}}.” – here’s a sample.

I’m definitely not taking advantage of automation as much as I should, but I’m considering more possibilities as I notice the time and mental energy I spend on certain tasks.

Nurture your network.

As an introvert, I embraced online networking many years ago, and it was especially important during the pandemic. Over the years, I’ve used social media to grow strong relationships with people all over the world, most of whom I’ve never met in person.

Without this support, I doubt that my business would have flourished the way it has. Quite a few of my online contacts have favoured me with referrals and recommendations, and many have become regular clients themselves. Others have been kind enough to feature or quote me in their blogs, including this recent link love:

Linda Samuels of Oh, so Organized! is a long-time supporter who asked, “How do you know when to declutter your things, thoughts, space, or schedule?” and included my response in 11 Delightful Pros Share Best Cues For When It’s Time To Declutter.

Kyle Van Deusen of The Admin Bar runs my favourite WordPress community on Facebook, so I was thrilled when he included my suggestion in his post, Best WordPress Plugins You’ve Never Heard Of.

I’ve been managing Career Professionals of Canada’s websites for many years, but most of my work is done behind the scenes. It was lovely to be recognized and featured on their news feed as part of their Members Matter initiative.

20 Years of Business Lessons, in a nutshell

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone from time to time.
  3. No matter what you’re working on, someone else has already done it.
  4. Follow your passion.
  5. Never ever stop learning.
  6. Create Standard Operating Procedures.
  7. Take advantage of automation.
  8. Nurture your network.

Do you have a business tip for someone who is just getting started? Please share it in the comments!

Photo by InkDropCreative / DepositPhotos

Wish me a happy anniversary and pick my brain at the same time!

Schedule a 30-minute Zoom meeting and enter the coupon code 20YEARS for a FREE one-on-one strategy or training session (regularly $80)!

Coupon must be redeemed by June 30th.

Casual Photo of Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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16 Comments

  1. Diane N Quintana on June 27, 2022 at 8:53 am

    Congratulations, Janet! I really admire all the work you do and appreciate being a member of your blogging organizers group. Your list of things you have automated is very impressive. I will be looking into that!

    • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2022 at 12:41 pm

      Automation is amazing – the more you do, the less you feel like doing things the hard way! You do have to keep an eye on things though: I’ve had things happen when they weren’t supposed to and not happen when they were supposed to, which can lead to anything from embarrassment to a total nightmare.

  2. Linda Samuels on June 27, 2022 at 9:14 am

    20 Years in business is something to CELEBRATE! Congratulations on coming to this huge milestone! It’s been incredible learning from you, getting to know you, and being part of the Blogging Organizers group you established. You have a great business formula of sharing relevant resources, lifting others up, and making strong connections.

    Thank you for sharing some of the lessons you learned. I love how you’ve leaned into automation, yet also managed to keep things feeling personal. It’s always a joy to feature you and was happy to share your response in the ‘Time to Declutter’ post. I’m deeply appreciative for all of the ways and opportunities you continue to give to organizers and bloggers.

    • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2022 at 12:42 pm

      Keeping things personal is very important to me. That’s why my tea blog is the only one where I have a tweet go out automatically. My other blogs don’t lend themselves as well to a standard message.

  3. Jonda Beattie on June 27, 2022 at 9:33 am

    20 years is an impressive figure! Way to go! All 8 of your business lessons are golden. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sara Skillen on June 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Congratulations! I’m coming up on 10 years myself, and it’s so hard to believe – I can’t imagine what 20 will feel like. And such great wisdom you’re sharing here – I agree 1000% with nurturing your network. My business is what it is because of the variety of connections I’ve made.

    • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      For me, realizing I was reaching the 20-year mark was unbelievable – I had to double check to make sure it was right. The longest I worked for any employer was 8 years.

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on June 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Congratulations, Janet! That is impressive! I have been in business since 2001 and can attest to the business lessons you mentioned above. The “never ever stop learning.” is so important especially for businesses like yours and mine since we cater to other small businesses.

    The social media and website spaces have changed so much over the years. I remember doing tasks for clients back in the day that I just don’t need to do now. Taking the time to figure out the quicker and easier way to do tasks is super helpful in a growing business.

    • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2022 at 12:50 pm

      You’re not kidding! Most of the stuff I do today didn’t even exist 20 years ago!

  6. Seana Turner on June 27, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Wow – 20 years! What an accomplishment!!

    One of the aspects of your business that I particularly admire is how you are always reaching and growing. You didn’t lock yourself into one business model. You are regularly adding new offerings and trying new things. I think that takes courage, and yet it is what provides longevity in a business.

    Cheers to you, and to 20 more (well, only if you want them LOL!)

    • Janet Barclay on June 27, 2022 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you, Seana! I have never thought of myself as courageous. I can’t see myself still working in 20 years, but you just never know!

  7. Julie Bestry on June 27, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    Mazel tov! No wonder we started hanging out on Ryze together. This year is also my 20th (though it was in January and I sort of let it go by without any fanfare, and am now rethinking that). Your business has been the support of so many of OUR businesses that I can’t imagine how many of us would have done it without you. I am so proud of you and all the brave, bold, smart things you’ve accomplished these past two decades, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

    • Janet Barclay on June 28, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      You’re right, it was Ryze! And I have Linda de Paz (now Gibson) to thank for that, because she had a wonderful group for POs there. It’s been an interesting journey – and it’s not over by a long shot!

  8. Julie Stobbe on June 28, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Congratulations. I am always impressed when I work with you how smoothly all your automation works. That is the second trick. Having automation is great but if the client can’t figure out how to use it or it has “glitches” it becomes a deterrent rather than an asset.

    • Janet Barclay on June 28, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      Oh yes, I’ve tried a few tools that didn’t work out: Doodle (see appointment scheduling post below) was one. And when I wrote that, I’d forgotten that it wasn’t clear whether the client was supposed to book in their own time zone or in mine!

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