She Learns: 2018 Year In Review
First and foremost, I want to wish you and yours a very happy holiday. It has been a joy having you with us in 2018 and we are so grateful for your support, purchases, feedback, and most of all, your enthusiasm for the outdoors and the North Midwest that we all share. You have made this project of ours so much fun, and we have learned a lot along the way.
We officially launched doNorth on May 1st of this year. We did some preliminary work leading up to our true publish date, but really, we’ve been leading up to this for years. Four years ago, I was living in Chicago trying to figure out why I wasn’t becoming the city girl I always dreamed I’d be. Why every time I drove north and crossed the border into Wisconsin, my body physically relaxed and I felt a sense of peace that I just wasn’t able to achieve in Chicago. I loved Chicago for the culture and excitement and friends I made there, but after three years, it was time to find somewhere that felt a little more like home.
So, I landed in Milwaukee which has become my perfect balance of “city girl” and “Northwoods girl”. And then I met Mara and remembered how fun it was to have a friend who also liked to be outdoors and who had her own point of view on the Up North lifestyle in Minnesota. After that, my entire family ended up back in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and, for the first time, all of the “what ifs” that had been bouncing around my brain for years finally started to take shape. And, all of those added up to doNorth.
Mara and I spent an evening this past week planning for what’s to come in 2019. We’ve got so much we’re looking forward to and we’ll be diving right in come the new year. But, to move forward, you also have to look back and see what worked, what didn’t, what was fun, what wasn’t, and where you can grow from here.
These are the biggest lessons learned in our first eight months in business:
Setting expectations is KEY
In this line of work, collaboration is key. We work with designers, photographers, printers, influencers, and other brands. We’re also watching every penny like a hawk, and we learned some valuable lessons about how not setting or understanding expectations can hurt your timeline and your budget. We’ve already started outlining some contracts for 2019 that will leave no room for error for us or our partners.
Aim for 80%
For someone who has some…er, perfectionist tendencies, this one is (and will probably continue to be) a constant battle for me. But it’s completely necessary. We always have multiple projects in the works and we both have full time jobs in addition to doNorth, so sometimes (most of the time), we don’t have all the time we’d like to produce the content we’re dreaming up. Shooting for 80% is the compromise we learned from one of our favorite podcasters, Amy Porterfield. If you’re always aiming for 100, you’ll never hit publish, you’ll never launch anything new, and you’ll never move forward. 80% is solid and gives you an end game.
Give yourself time to grow; not everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW
You don’t get into this business if you’re not an ideas person. That can be a blessing and curse. A blessing because you likely have the tools and skills to grow and keep your brand fresh. A curse because, if you’re like me, you want all those ideas to be active IMMEDIATELY. Not only is that an unrealistic goal, but new brands or businesses rarely have the funds, connections, and time to shoot straight for the moon. Right now, we’re in the “throw some things at the wall and see what sticks” phase, and you have to go through that so you don’t waste time on things that no one is looking for. We are learning (and relearning) every day to take our time, think things through and realize that we won’t be a success in all instances right out of the gate.
Impostor syndrome and copycat syndrome are real things
Truth time: We’re making this up as we go. Sure, we have the skills and intentions that led us to building a brand in the first place, but when it comes to the day-to-day functions, we’re just figuring it out as it comes. The outcome of this “wingin’ it” operation is that it’s easy to feel like an utter fraud. It’s also easy to see other brands who are successful or were here first and feel like you somehow copied them without realizing it. The good news is I have never once heard someone say they started a brand because they saw someone else doing it and wanted to do the exact same thing. That’s certainly not how we got started. Most of us who are out here doing the work are doing it because we love it and we’re passionate about it and we’re just looking to connect with people who can relate. We’ve also probably been thinking or planning or strategizing for years. So, even if you’re not the first one to get out into the world, there’s plenty of room at the table.
Live your brand
It’s SO EASY to get bogged down in the day-to-day functions and projects and deadlines that you may forget why you even started this in the first place. For us, this is may be the most important lesson. We never want to forget why we’re here and we never want it to stop being something we’re passionate about. So, if it means we have to forgo Instagram for a day and go for a hike where we can just be, you bet we’re going to do that. We’re still going to show up every day and do our very best, but we’re also going to do what we need to keep living our brand and keep that fire burning.
This year has been a busy, fun, adventurous, educational, sometimes stressful one and we are so looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store. Plans are in the works, but before we dive in, we’re going to take some time to enjoy the holidays with our friends and families. We hope you’re able to do the same. Happy holidays and happy new year to you. We’ll see you in 2019!
Yours In Adventure,