Looking Back at 2021: A Year in Review

***Photo by Nicola Styles on Unsplash  

I haven't done a year in review since 2018 so this is well overdue. The last few years have felt like a complete blur.  I have felt like I haven't been able to catch my breath in years. 

Truth is if I had to pick a word to describe 2021 it would be BURNOUT!

Years of long nights, stress, a revolving door of employees and more moves than number of years we've been in business have really done a number on me and my mental health. 

By the time December 2021 came I was unraveling.  I sent this message to my team...

Here are 3 of the main things I learned in 2021:

Your success doesn't have to look like the success of others. 

I am 100% guilty of scrolling through the IGs of other successful business owners, watching warehouse tours and consuming successful boss lifestyle content. 

Y'all it had me working toward things I didn't even want.  This required me to take a step back and ask myself is this what I truly want or do I want this because social media tells me that this is what success looks like. 

This lead me to read the book Company of One which resulted in a total mindset shift for me. 

I don't desire to grow a business with tons of employees and big offices.  All that sounds like more stress to me and I've had enough stress for multiple lifetimes.

Instead I want to stay small enough to live comfortably, with minimum stress and the ability to take time to myself and enjoy my son before he leaves home for college in 4 years.

As of now I'm still mapping out what that looks like for 2022 and beyond.  I can tell you this I am putting my mental and physical well being before anything else. 

Making money is the easy part, keeping it is hard. 

In 2021 we had a 45% increase in gross revenue from 2020.  How much of that do you think we actually saw?  Not much!

The cost of doing business skyrocketed in 2021 for us.  The biggest hit to our bottom line was supply chain issues , increased shipping cost to get supplies to us and issues with inventory management. 

Not to mention products that got lost for months totally missing our subscription deadlines leaving us sitting on dead stock that was difficult to move (e.g. file folders).

It was a nightmare!  I'm taking a really long hard look at every single dollar spent and determining what is absolutely necessary and what isn't.  

The best thing I did last year is move from our huge 4000+ square foot space that cost $3,500 per month to our smaller 1500 sq ft space that cost $1,331 per month. 

Putting yourself first is not a bad thing.  Self Preservation is NOT selfish.

This one came to me very late in the year.  I felt a sense of guilt every single time I watched a movie, took a nap, didn't work til 3 or 4am.  Hustle had become my badge of honor and if I wasn't hustling I felt I was letting everyone down. 

Being an employer feels a lot like being a parent.  My actions and decisions can affect the livelihood of so many people other than myself.  The pressure to be productive damn near 24/7 caused me to neglect myself, my home and relationships with the people I care about most my family. 

I finally had to stop and ask myself this question:

"If you were to die today from all the stress what would happen?"

Well the answer is clear the business would end and employees will find new jobs BUT I am irreplaceable in the lives of my son and my parents

In 2022, my self preservation comes first.  If I am thriving the other things in my life will too including my business.

Do you sit down and look back at your year and the lessons learned?