As the last month of 2021 arrives, I’m reflecting on a pivotal year for us all in life and in business – and I take one lesson from it all – to be grateful.

A year ago, we faced the unknown, already clear that this wasn’t going to be simple year and the shadow of Covid19 and the pandemic would still be there, threatening us again and again. So, it proved.

As we enter this last month, in my family we’ve just suffered a significant bereavement, the passing of my father in law Dougie Scott. However as he had dementia which was getting worse, he was able to make a decision to move on when a chest infection laid him low. I feel grateful that he had that capacity although this means a very sad ending to our year as a family.

Here are just 13 things I’ve learned this year (I’ve been in business 13 years!):

Seven positive things:

  1. More important than ever to celebrate the small stuff.  Celebrate even the smallest wins in your life and business. Success doesn’t always equate with bigger in terms of business.
  1. Acknowledge those who have been kind to you once or several times.  I have business buddies who I’m always grateful to, for both their friendship and continued support. I know I can turn to them whenever I have problems, without feeling awkward.
  1. Be thankful for any new clients who have arrived, particularly over this last year, when in economic terms, things have been in complete ‘free-fall’ for many. To have people who put their trust in you to help their business is wonderful, and something to be very grateful for.
  1. Be grateful for those clients who have moved on – for their commitment previously. Recognise that they move on for many different reasons. One reason for them leaving that you may not think about is, they have moved on because you have done your job so well, they don’t need you anymore.  Also, ensure these clients are probably walking adverts for you, because they will talk about how you helped their business.
  1. Embrace new opportunities if it feels right – even if you cannot see any obvious outcome. This could mean moving outside of your comfort zone –which is where you learn new skills, gain new ideas, which makes these opportunities, a gift in terms of growing yourself.
  1. Give back – every business owner can give back with money, time or services and it speaks volumes about your business ethics. Working with charities not only helps them, but it also makes you feel good too. If you are fortunate enough to have extra time, or money to spend helping others who are less fortunate, gratefulness goes both ways. Some call this the law of attraction and it requires faith.
  1. Networks and relationships are the most powerful business tool, use them wisely. Don’t just take, make sure that you reciprocate by giving them help, or referrals.

Six, slightly less positive:

  1. Sometimes things go wrong and it’s not anyone’s fault – acknowledge that sometimes, things just end. Staff members change within businesses, so the dynamics of the relationships alter; people have different views to previous employees; the business takes a different direction, or the company employ their own PR person.
  1. Sometimes you have to set new boundaries in business and that is not easy – it’s part of growth or change. Whereas previously you may have let things go, there comes a point where you have to make a stand. For example, if you have had set up meetings with people and they don’t turn up, you let it pass but then it gets to the point with some clients where they are doing this regularly – set parameters. Charge them if they cancel. You have to support your own business too.
  1. Sometimes you realise that someone is no longer aligned to your goals and ethics. Again, it’s a sign of change. Don’t be afraid to move on. In the long run, both they and you will be grateful that you no longer work together.
  1. If something doesn’t feel right in your gut – don’t do it. Listen to that little voice, it’s hardly ever wrong. Even if you cannot see anything obviously wrong, trust that instinct.
  1. Ego is needed in business – just ensure it comes from a place of ‘giving’ and ‘serving’ and not from a place of ‘boasting’ or ‘arrogance’. The latter never ends well.
  1. When something annoys or upsets – take a breath before acting. A little pause can be the difference between making a big mistake, or acting with purpose and more caring. Rather than type the answer in an email straight away, type your answer in word, read it through when you have calmed down. Or, talk the issue through with an experienced business buddy.