With so many aspects of life and society dependent on the progress of this pandemic, setting specific business goals is a little trickier now, but I think it's still worth the reflective process to get to the heart of what matters most. For 2021, I decided to focus more on intentions to help me to live out Yardia’s values and my word of the year, so that the business can continue to thrive through whatever new challenges might be thrown at it in 2021, while remaining true to its purpose.
Some of the resources I used to develop and clarify my new year intentions included: Proof To Product's 4 Questions to Jump Start Your Strategy Planning, exercises from Simple and Season's The Trail, and Biddy Tarot's New Year Spread using the fantastic Future Ancestor Tarot deck from Seattle artist Alexa Villanueva.
Word of the year
My guiding word for 2021 is ease. Just like the previous year, I originally had another word in mind that I planned to use (clarity), but then in late December, I felt a strong urge to change it to ease, and this time, I listened to my intuition and made the switch. The word ease feels really right for how I want to move into the new year and live through the unknown.
For work and Yardia, the word ease represents a mindset shift, a way of being and feeling, and thoughtful forward action. Here are some of the main intentions through which I hope to incorporate ease into 2021:
- To ease into the next normal with creativity and flexibility
- To dig deeper into my intuition when making decisions
- To act with deliberate intention, guided by my inner compass
- To trust the process in my work and life
- To bring ease into the practicalities of work by simplifying operations
The kind of business I'd like Yardia to be is one that's slow, intuitive, and on its own purpose-driven schedule, and this year I'd like to explore how to make that happen on a practical level, building on some of the choices I made for the business in 2020. Here are some areas of focus for Yardia in 2021:
Do more of what's working well
Last year was a sort of reset, so I can start the new year in consideration of what worked well in the midst of the pandemic, as opposed to any other period of normalcy. With that in mind, I plan to bring more ease into my creative and strategic work by capitalizing on what worked well in 2020 and letting go of what fell short.
This means that I'll focus my energy on online wholesale and retail transactions, and plan the core of my business strategies around those marketplaces. At the same time, I'd like to dig more deeply into the values, mission and purpose of my business, so I might not always follow traditional shopping seasons or strategies when they don't fit well with Yardia's business values. This will be a year to continue to explore how I can align a product-based business to a slower lifestyle and create more meaning and purpose in the shopping experience.
For products and collections, I'll simplify the bulk of new offerings to the types of items that customers wanted most, which happily are what I'm most interested in creating anyway. Pacific Northwest-inspired art prints and cards will continue to be created for collectors and shops, which works well since I have a number of ideas for new artworks to create. I also learned last year that camp mugs have become my top selling items, yet include the smallest range of designs. I've limited stock of these items in the past due to storage constraints, but adding at least one more mug design is likely to come in the near future.
I'll also sort through the process of discontinuing what isn't working well, and gradually let go of a few designs and product ranges as they sell through.
Slow and intentional marketing
At the end of 2020, I joined The Trail in anticipation of my 2021 goals to bring more ease into my workday and more intention into my marketing process. I've been finding it to be just the sort of education and accountability I've needed to clarify the direction to steer Yardia, and to schedule time to go further inward into knowledge, alignment and trust when it comes to marketing and self-employment.
With this support in place, some of the practical steps that I'm seeking to take in 2021 include a stronger focus on content creation for Yardia's blog, Instagram, Pinterest and newsletters. With the newsletter, I'm especially looking to create more consistency in my wholesale newsletter while still providing value and partnership to my shop-owner customers.
In 2020, I began to take steps to have a more mindful relationship with Instagram. I found that what worked best for me was to delete the app from my phone at the end of each workday and on weekends (and to reinstall it at the beginning of the next work day), and to also delete the app for occasional extended breaks such as when I took my end-of-year time off in December. In 2021, although I'll continue this practice, I'd also like the time that I do spend on Instagram to be more thoughtful in engagement and connection. Right now I envision this as less frequent posting of my own content and more scheduled time to seek out and engage with the work of clients, mentors and peers in an honest and natural way. In essence, to bring the social back into my use of social media.
The last and hopefully most impactful way I'd like to bring more ease into 2021 is by simplifying, systematizing and automating my day-to-day operations, especially when it comes to packaging and shipping. In 2020 I packed and shipped out over 1,700 packages as a single person, a number that was more than overwhelming during the busiest months, but was crucial to keeping the business afloat.
Although I'd considered hiring help after the 2019 holiday season, the pandemic put all that on hold since I didn't feel comfortable bringing another person into my at-home workspace in order to best protect my health and ability to continue to earn an income (since there really isn't sick leave when you're self-employed).
So in 2021, I'd like to research and implement all the ways I can simplify or automate the little tasks that make up fulfillment operations. By doing this, I hope to make the process faster and easier for me when I'm working alone, and also to systematize the process for the time when it will feel safe enough to have the option to hire out assistance, particularly for the busy holiday season. Figuring out hiring logistics, optimizing processes and researching other forms of outsourcing will also provide as many alternative choices as I can discover in case pandemic circumstances don't make hiring comfortable in terms of safety concerns by fall.
In this new year, I hope to cultivate my work and tend to my creativity, to dig inward more than focusing on outward growth. Bringing more ease into my daily life and work will help elevate Yardia into the business I wish it to be for the long term. 2021 provides the opportunity for a clean slate and for inward exploration as we steer forward into the next normal.