01 — What worked last year, might not work this year. - Kristin
We've worked really hard last year to set up processes that work, documents that look great and offerings that are valuable.
But guess what? Things change! Shocker, right?!
There are new programs out now that make our process stronger. We've learned more, so our content can be better. The list of examples go on and on.
While we'd love to not have to revisit these things over and over, that'd be silly of us. There's a fine line between making changes too often and too little, but there's no denying that you cannot become stagnant.
02 — Focus is easier said than done. - Lindsay
One of our big goals this year was to focus, but life has its own plans and distractions. Things will stand in your way of getting shit done.
03 — Great things never came from comfort zones. - Kristin
Doing the same thing over and over again is what makes us so good at what we do. We niche down, we hone in, and we specialize in order to attract our perfect customers and build the business we always dreamed of. This was a lot of 2016.
But what happens when practice doesn't just make perfect? What happens when that practice just makes you comfortable? And I don't mean the good, sweaters and leggings kind of comfortable. I mean the lazy and set in your ways kind of comfortable.
This is a big thing we want to focus on in the new year. More personal projects and experimenting coming your way.
04 — A partnership doesn't have to be equal. - Lindsay
This year, I struggled with feeling like I was letting Kristin down. All. The. Time. I felt like I had to be doing 50% of the work because that's what partners means, right? Wrong.
We're in this thing together because we need each other. When one of us is questioning, the other is there for feedback. When one is down, the other is there to pick up the slack. We get to celebrate wins together. We get to navigate losses together.
For us, partnership is about being there for each other. It's not about splitting the work equally.
05 — Own what you're best at. - Kristin
In 2015, we spent a lot of time exploring. We each blogged, we were both answering emails, so on and so on. We needed that time to discover our sweet spots.
In 2016, we knew what we were each best at and owned it. The inbox stresses Lindsay out, but I get this weird joy with keeping it organized. Lindsay is a great editor, while I wouldn't be anywhere if spellcheck didn't exist.
06 — Communication > everything else. - Lindsay
Anytime we've run into struggles this year, we've realized it was from a lack of talking to each other.
You would think this would be such an easy thing to learn, but we have to be reminded again and again.
07 — Over email. - Kristin
Just like with each other, we've learned that over-communication with clients is best. I like to send happy emails — filled with big updates, progress and final files.
Then there are the less fun ones — like we need more time or we've run into some roadblocks. I like to try and find solutions before I send off the sucky emails, but that takes more time. And then before we know it, we've created a bit of unintentional radio silence.
We've learned the hard way that the more emails, the better when it comes to project updates.
08 — Saying thank you is important. - Lindsay
Gratitude goes a long way but we can forget to say it.
This year we learned just how far a simple "thank you" can go. The work is better when both sides know they're appreciated.
09 — Days are more productive with lists. - Kristin
I feel like this one is obvious and yet I still ignore it half of the week.
While we've always used an overarching to-do list, I never really used a daily to-do list for business before this year.
I finally invested in a Bando agenda after years of whining to Lindsay debating the purchase. And when I can see what I accomplished that day and what I didn't. It's made my timelines more realistic and kept me focused.
10 — Burn-out is real. - Lindsay
Our first full year in business, we heard a lot about burn-out from our fellow business owners. It was one of those things we were naive to. We loved what we did! We were doing something we were really passionate about. It wasn't going to happen to us.
Silly us. Young business owners in the puppy-love phase.
Burn-out is real and it sucks, but it comes and it goes. The in-betweens aren't exactly always sunshine and rainbows, but they're totally manageable.
11 — Adopt cats. - Kristin
Working from home can get lonely - especially when you're new to town and can't afford to sit in a coffee shop everyday of the week. It was making me sad during the day and a bit needy when my guy got home from work at the end of the day.
So after some debate, we decided to start fostering cats this spring. Now, Sgt. Peppers and Eleanor Rigby are now members of the family (they even have their own Instagram) and we always find ourselves asking what life was like before. They keep me company during the day, remind me the importance of both rest and play, and simply make the house a happier place.
If cats aren't your thing (but don't knock it till you try it), other things that I've done to combat any loneliness vibes are to work with a biz buddy from a coffee shop once a week and to make my workspace somewhere I really want to be. The art on the walls and record player in the corner make my day.
12 — We still love what we're doing. - Lindsay
There were times throughout the year where we had to question if we still loved what we were doing — through burnout, failures, exhaustion and life. In times of pure crazy, we had to remind ourselves why we started this little design studio and what it means to us.
Four Oh Seven doesn't exist to make pretty things. We could do that solo. Four Oh Seven was founded because of our belief in the magic of collaboration and we still love and believe in all of its super powers.
In 2017, we're hoping to collaborate in new ways on new things.
And with that, cheers to a new year and new lessons!