12 Life & Business Lessons From 2008

December 22, 2008

What life and business lessons did you learn this year? Writing a blog, participating in lively discussions and reading the work and ideas of others are great learning tools. And here’s twelve things about business & life, I’ve discovered this year.

1. You Can’t Achieve Success From Business Alone. If you focus completely on
your business, you won’t feel successful. A good work/life balance is essential. When I
began to realise that, I started to cover topics to help folk build the business and life
they wanted,instead of just writing about business.

2. Doing Work You Love Is More Important Than Money.
I made the choice to give up a
business that was giving me no joy, in exchange for doing work I love. True - the financial
rewards come quicker if you’re employing other people. But it’s far more enjoyable to do
something you love. It pays off eventually and you’ll enjoy the journey more.

3. Spiritual Development Is Important. Life feels far more rewarding, if you work on your spiritual development. Things that have helped my spiritual development this year include guided meditationand an Akashic Record Reading with Akemi Gaines

4. Life Changing Books Are Still Being Published.
And while I know that books that can
change your life are few and far between, there are some exceptions. One of those is A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.
In addition to confirming some of my existing beliefs, I also learned some life changing stuff from A
New Earth, including how to recognise the ego and ignore it’s messages.

5. You Still Need A Newsletter If You Have A Blog. Initially I had a website on this
domain. But when I began blogging, I noticed that other bloggers who claimed to be
successful, didn’t have a newsletter. So, I ditched mine too - it was time consuming and
I figured it wasn’t important now I had a blog. But, I made more money with a lot less
traffic when I had a newsletter. So I’m re-introducing my newsletter for 2009. And I’ve
noticed that a lot of those bloggers who didn’t use newsletters are using them now too.

6. Involvement In Social Networking Is Important If You Have An Online Business.
It can take a bit of learning but becoming involved in one or two social networking sites
is definitely worthwhile. Twitter and StumbleUpon are great ones to try.

7. If You Listen Long Enough - Folk Will Talk. I used the same method for this blog,
as I used for my first online business. First, I created content, then I listened and
watched to see what visitors to the blog actually needed, before I created a product or
service. It took a lot of time and patience. But it does help you to come up with great
products and services that your visitors actually need.

8. You Can’t Make A Sundae From Meatballs. To bring an offline business online,
sometimes you have to change that business, if you want it to be a success. Seth Godin
explained this well in Meatball Sundae. And it’s do-able for any type of business. Judd Burdon is a great example of a guy who took an ordinary unprofitable offline business to a money making online business he could operate from anywhere:

“After doing three sites and talking to hundreds of people, I know that SBI! is perfect for most small businesses. Actually, it’s the best. Look at me. I have gone from asphalt man, stuck in an old world business with no future, to “digital man” whose life knows no limits.”
~ Judd Burdon

9. If You Come Up With A Good Project Idea - Take Action As Soon As Possible.
A few months ago, I came up with an idea for a joint marketing project. But it got complicated and I
didn’t take action on it straight away. And in the meantime, a lot of people went off and
started their own projects and by the time I re-announced the project, far fewer people
were interested.

10. You Do Need To Use SEO If You Blog. When I began blogging, I read a lot of
stuff about not using SEO on your blog - you just needed great content and headlines.
So, despite using SEO on my websites, I didn’t bother using it on this blog for over a
year. The result was, I got a lot of irrelevant search results, when people were trying to
find me through the search engines. Since using SEO on this blog, I’m getting a lot more
traffic from people who are looking for what I’m offering.

11. Often You Can Help Folk More By Concentrating On The Positive.
One of my plans for 2008 was to launch a website to help folk with PTSD. Then, I started to think, PTSD is just a label anyway. What about helping other folk improve their lives too? I eventually realized that as I managed to recover from PTSD by focusing on the positive, as opposed to the disease - there would be little use in starting a site that focused on PTSD, or any other illness. And as I now write about business and life on here - there’s no need for a seperate website.

12. Lots Of Business Owners Dislike Marketing - I’ve discovered that many business owners seem averse to marketing, in a way that some kids dislike vegetables. If I write a post with marketing in the title, I get far fewer page views than I do if I disguise the vegetables with title words like make money, or get traffic.

This is a bugger, as marketing is more important to your business than your product or service. So my challenge for 2009, is to get small business owners to love marketing and show them how to set up a simple marketing campaign that brings them amazing results.

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21 Responses to “12 Life & Business Lessons From 2008”

  1. Stevieboy66 on December 22nd, 2008 10:33 am

    For those contemplating starting out in business in 2009, concentrate on creating something, making a difference, adding value to people’s lives, changing the world. Bottom line proft will follow.

    Stevieboy66’s last blog post..Intrapreneur - Work Smarter Not Harder

  2. Brad Shorr on December 22nd, 2008 12:49 pm

    Cath, You certainly learned a good deal in 2008! Point #7 made my day. It is so much easier to listen and ask than to assume and suggest. This is something I need to do better.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..George Ajazi’s New SEO Services Fit Any Budget

  3. Craig on December 22nd, 2008 3:37 pm

    I agree with your first point, have a work/life balance. Time is short, enjoy life and make the most of it with friends, family, yourself. Business is just a part of your life, not the entire part though.

    I think if you strictly want to have an online business in 09 to make money, come up with a business that has a revenue model from day 1. Too many businesses try to rely on advertising down the road and it’s very difficult, especially now. Supply a service people will pay for.

  4. Lillie Ammann on December 22nd, 2008 3:49 pm

    Great lessons, Cath. Thanks for sharing.

    Lillie Ammann’s last blog post..By: The Generosity of Bloggers

  5. Kathy - virtual Impax on December 22nd, 2008 4:01 pm


    You can certainly tell that you ENJOY writing this blog!!! OUTSTANDING!!!

    I can’t WAIT for the relaunch of your newsletter!!! I also can’t WAIT to see what you have in store for 2009!!!

    Kathy - virtual Impax’s last blog post..Small Business Marketing- The Yellow Page Directory’s Place in your Marketing Mix

  6. Stacey / Create a Balance on December 22nd, 2008 5:50 pm

    I’m planning to start a newsletter in 2009. So much to do, so little time! I want to learn how to love marketing, so I’ll be sure to be back here in 2009.

    Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..Gifts From My Dad

  7. on December 22nd, 2008 5:51 pm
  8. Most Essential Step to Starting a Small Business is Failure on December 22nd, 2008 7:08 pm

    [...] who shares her “been there, done that” wisdom on her blog and in the recent  post 10 Life and Business Lessons she advises that you act upon your great ideas immediately - don’t wait for them to become [...]

  9. Davina on December 22nd, 2008 9:10 pm

    Hi Cath. You’ve had a bountiful year. Just think what 2009 has in store with all this behind you to launch you onward.

    What have I learned this year? The difference between resonance and dissonance. And three biggies… patience and trust… and that I’m not alone.

    Davina’s last blog post..A Positively Dysfunctional Christmas

  10. Joanna Young on December 22nd, 2008 9:48 pm

    Cath, you are a star. You’re one of the most refreshingly honest voices in the blogosphere, and I love the way you embrace learning and encourage others to do the same.

    Onwards and upwards in 2009!

    Joanna Young’s last blog post..Confident Writing: Highlights of 2008

  11. Trade Show Guru on December 22nd, 2008 9:53 pm

    hi Cath,
    I like #1 and #2 the most (though all your lessons are correct), that one needs to balance work with living life, and the most success comes when you can do what you love for work. I also enjoyed clicking through and reading about the Asphalt King. Very inspiring.
    ~ Steve, aka the trade show guru
    PS. I tried subscribing by email again and it didn’t work. The error message implies your feedburner account doesn’t have email subscriptions enabled? Are others subscribed by email? I’m not very tech-inclined either…

  12. Lance on December 22nd, 2008 10:31 pm

    Hi Cath,
    Many good lessons here. One I know I need to work on is SEO. It’s a gray area to me, and as you’ve said, just doing this one thing - can be a big increase in traffic. That’s a goal for early 2009…

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  13. Robin on December 23rd, 2008 3:59 am

    Hi Cath - thanks for these. I’m thinking of starting a newsletter too - I just don’t really know what to put in it!

    Merry Christmas - see you on the other side! R x

    Robin’s last blog post..Bloggers’ Recording Project Has Arrived!

  14. Jannie on December 23rd, 2008 4:00 pm

    I’m a little afraid to write a newsletter because I figure people will not want me cluttering up their in-boxes. Do you know what I mean? Plus, like Robin, I’m not ever sure what I would write a newsletter for. (Hi! I flung my bra today?)

    As to SEO, I have read the linked article on #10, right down to his P.S.. You know my kind of blogging, Cath. Who in the world would ever be searching for my posts? Or maybe I just don’t even understand the SEO concept.?

    Jannie’s last blog post..Suggestions?

  15. cathlawson on December 23rd, 2008 5:28 pm

    Hi Stevie - That is really good advice. As you know - a lot of people will just choose something they think will make them a lot of money. Being useful is essential.

    Hi Brad - I’ve always thought you’ve done well at asking interesting questions. Maybe you’re better at it than you think.

    Hi Craig - That’s a good point. Fewer people are paying for advertising now. I’ve been noticing that on some of the heavy traffic sites. And I can’t same I’m surprised - many of them were charging over $20 per 1000 impressions.

    Hi Lillie You’re welcome.

    Hi Kathie - Thank you. I think I’m going to write a few newsletters ahead. In the past, I haven’t and it got tough to keep up.

    Hi Stacey - that’s brilliant. I’m looking forward to your brainstorming session too.

    Hi Akemi - You’re welcome. That’s a huge jump. I think your readings could definitely help most people who have a business. You clear up a lot of issues that are holding people back.

    Hi Davina - You’ve learned heaps also. I think it’s great to look back at what we’ve learned. And it definitely helps you to move forward the following year.

    Hi Joanna - thank you very much. I don’t think anyone can ever learn enough.

    Hi Steve - Sorry I’ll get it fixed. I didn’t used to realise how many people subscribed by email. I loved that Asphalt guy’s story too. Who would have thought such an ordinary business could be transformed to let him work from Anguilla.

    Hi Lance - you definitely need to put it near the top of your to do list. And it’s not that hard when you know how.

    Hi Robin - so many exciting things are going on right now - I’m sure you’ll think of something to write. I’m going to do a post on newsletters in January, as I know a lot of people are planning them.

    Hi Jannie - but if they sign up to your newsletter that means they want to read it.

    By the way, the writer of the SEO School in the link is a woman. I think you do need to learn it more. Think about what topics you would need to cover if you wanted to attract advertisers or sell products or services and that will make it easier.

  16. Graham Strong on December 23rd, 2008 5:56 pm

    Hi Cath,

    That’s an interesting little nugget you slipped in at the end there. To paraphrase, people don’t like reading about marketing, but they do like reading about how to make more money through their services (i.e., marketing).

    Wonder why people shy away from the “marketing” angle? Perhaps people see themselves as selling their services, but do not see themselves as marketers per se?

    There is a truism buried in there somewhere…


    Graham Strong’s last blog post..How You Can Add More Punch to Your Press Releases

  17. wilhb81 on December 24th, 2008 7:47 am

    Yep, I tend to share your opinions here, Cath. If you have not interested on the work that you’re currently working, why you have to force yourself to do it?

    PS: Cath, I was wondering what is the taste of “Meatball Sundae”? lol

    wilhb81’s last blog post..Business one-liners 33

  18. Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog on December 24th, 2008 6:51 pm

    Hi Catherine - These are great lessons you’ve learned. Like you said, a work/life balance is very important. Too often we get all caught up in “online stuff”, only to find we’re missing out on our real lives.

    I also agree it’s important to do something we love. Eventually the money will follow.

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

    Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..It’s A Time For Celebration

  19. cathlawson on December 25th, 2008 12:16 am

    Hi Graham - I guess that could have a lot to do with it. Also maybe some folks see marketing as something complicated and even scary - I don’t know.

    LMAO Wilhb - I don’t know. But when my daughter first started school they brought out lunch and dessert together. It was icecream and spaghetti bolognese. She assumed she had to eat them both at once, so she mixed them together and she said it tasted good.

    Hi Barbara - I know what you mean. I think we must be two of the most patient people in the blogosphere.

  20. Play Games Win Prizes on December 27th, 2008 12:16 am

    Social networking is extremely entertaining and fun these days :) It’s a great way to be able to spam to a lot of people and have traffic in return.


  21. cathlawson on December 27th, 2008 8:25 am
    Mike - social networking shouldn’t be about spamming people. I don’t get why spammers do it - they’re stupid I guess.

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