Posted by Brandon Copeland
2018 has come and gone, and we are already more than halfway through the first month of the New Year. For me, 2019 came in like a lion. Or a bull. Or an elephant. Whatever animal I choose, it came in like something that would come in hard and intimidating. That’s okay – I’ve learned that ebbs and flows are the nature of business. Being an entrepreneur and taking care of yourself, you’re hit with downtime and then you’re hit with lots of activity at once. I’m happy for the uptime. In fact, if there wasn’t any there would be cause for concern.
That said, the way my past two or three months have gone have me preparing for the New Year with both excitement and anxiety. There is a lot on my plate, but as an entrepreneur that’s a positive. It also means that I need to find balance.
2018 in Review
When I reflect on 2018, I have mixed feelings. I did a lot of really positive work in 2018, and feel I have built up my business quite substantially. Certainly, when I look at some of the new partnerships I forged in 2018, I can’t help but feel like the clients I’ve gained will be companies and people I work with for years to come. This, to me, is one of my greatest accomplishments of the year. It is also the groundwork that will allow me to accomplish many of my 2019 goals - a lot of time was invested last year that should pay off this year. That said, the mixed feelings come from a sense that much of my 2018 work earned me eyes and attention and new contacts, but not necessarily cash in the bank. I’ll talk a bit more about that shortly.
Last year I made a couple of public resolutions on my website blog. Looking at them now, I can reflect on how I did. Here were my resolutions, and how I was going to measure success:
I identified that I wanted to capture more attention, to spread the word about what I’m doing. I had three ways through which I wanted to accomplish this. I DID NOT publish 24 blog posts (2 per month) last year, coming in at just over half that with 13. With my workload steadily increasing as the year progressed, I realized I didn’t have the capacity to write with the detail I like at the rate I had hoped. I think my solution is to either significantly trim the length and style of the posts, or settle on one per month. I DIDsuccessfully have 100 pints or coffees, and the increase in attention and contacts I have had demonstrates my success here. Finally, I DID moderate or speak at least three conferences or events. I actually exceeded that number, but my involvement with Youthful Cities, Empty Spaces, and the Board of Trade Business Development Summit all stand out to me!
I wanted to be involved with more large-scale projects – three being the number I quoted. I feel I DID accomplish this, working on more than three projects that carried with them seven-figure budgets. My capacity varied, but that is of course the nature of my business. What’s more, several of these projects will pay dividends in this coming year!
I stated a desire to improve my productivity. I wanted to start each day by reading one motivational article about another entrepreneur – a good idea, but something I sadly must report I DID NOT do successfully. I need to continue to work on my routine. I also identified a desire to have an employee or partner by the end of the year. I’m giving myself HALF-POINTS for this one. While I continue to be the sole-person involved with growing Urban East, I did partner with some great people on a renewable energy project after our success at the CanInfra Challenge. This project did provide me some great partners whom I can count on, and also represents an exciting new opportunity for 2019. So I have partners. Just not the ones I talked about, or even ones I knew could become a possibility when I wrote that article.
I can’t be disappointed in how 2018 transpired, but reading my blog posts from earlier in the year has made me realize how much the activities of the past year have altered my goals and objectives. I really changed course throughout the year, although I think that this change of plans has been for the better and also demonstrates the adaptability I need to have in these early years of my business. Additionally, I will state that I had another 2018 goal that I did not advocate publicly – this was to acquire a second piece of property in an attempt to begin building my eventual real estate portfolio. This was a deeply personal goal, as it speaks to my long-term aspirations for my business and my career. I successfully pulled this off with less than a month left in a year. So while I didn’t meet all my objectives, I definitely pulled off some of the biggest ones, and I am proud of that.
Planning for 2019
Looking ahead to the coming months, I realize how important the preliminary work conducted in 2018 will become. My investment last year is leading to a new property to manage (and therefore a new revenue stream for 2019). Beyond that, I have instances of projects that were planned in 2018 that now have active grant applications submitted in 2019. As well, the work and attention generated by the IceGrid initiative will continue, and we are very optimistic that 2019 will bring us our first client.
Business development work in 2018 is also leading to some really exciting opportunities. I’ll be talking more about one project – perhaps this year’s largest – in the coming weeks and months, and news will likely be released this week about what I’m working on. What I can happily say is that the opportunity started with a passing conversation, which led to a coffee, which led to some collaboration and idea sharing, and ultimately led to a contract with a major local operator. It’s the sort of work I set out to do last year, and to be able to look back and see the time investment required to land such a contract is a real learning experience.
Personally, 2019 will also be a year for the personal record-books. In July I’ll be getting married, and while I won’t delve too much into that in a business-blog-post it is worth noting that the busiest month of the year for real estate will also be the busiest month of my personal life… ever? Successfully maintaining a work-life balance in what looks to be a very hectic year will be a very real challenge. As I always say, it’s better to be busy than bored!
Reflecting on Opportunity
Many who know me well would undoubtedly agree that I can be guilty of impatience. When I want something, not only do I throw myself headlong into achieving it, but I also expect to do so quickly. Thinking about the potential that 2019 presents, and the time-investment required in 2018 to make this year possible, it is apparent why “good things come to those who wait.” Certainly as an entrepreneur, the preparation and the leg-work can be the hardest and most frustrating part. As a new business with no established history of success, I frequently found myself wondering if I was uselessly spinning my wheels. Would anything come from the effort invested? At the time you really don’t know, and certainly not everything I attempted to kick start in the last 12 months has succeeded. If you throw enough darts at the board though, something will stick. Having been through it now, and beginning to see how the business cycle will work for my brand, I can march forward into 2019 with a bit more confidence and a whole lot of excitement regarding what is to come.