2020 – what a year!

I don’t normally do an end of year post but boy, if you were ever going to do one, this is the year!

Firstly, you can’t talk about the year without being thankful for coming through it relatively unscathed, and without expressing heartfelt condolences to people who have lost loved ones during this year of years. To those people, I wish you happier times ahead.

I’d like to doff my cap to all businesses (especially the small ones like mine) who’ve really struggled in this environment and have had to invent new ways of working.

How it all began…

The year started in a pretty regular fashion, COVID (such a household word now) was starting to slide up the news rankings as the potential severity of the situation began to be realised in certain quarters. For most of us, it was business as usual.

For me, business as usual meant thinking about how I wanted my business to grow in 2020. I’d had a few years where I’d not been as strategically engaged with the business as I would like – more preoccupied with the day to day work – which is fine, that pays the bills, but you also need to raise your gaze from the 5 yards immediately in front of the car you are driving and look to where you are going (or, more to the point, where you want to go).

For me, that meant getting back into training, content creation and things like that. I’ve discussed this elsewhere in this blog but I’ll recap here: I’d run training in various forms over the years and loved it – I wanted to bring them back into what Glass Mountains offers; I just wasn’t sure how.

San Diego

On top of that, I was booked in to attend the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego in Feb. Now Social Media topic is not core to what I do, though I’d be lying to say it wasn’t on my radar. My main point for going was that I knew that some of our US clients were going to be there (Jon Loomer, Mark Schaefer, and Jay Baer were all speaking) and that seemed a golden opportunity to meet up with them.

Me, John Robinson, Jon Loomer, Tracy Noble, and Lucas Elliot

San Diego: me, John Robinson, Jon Loomer, Tracy Noble, and Lucas Elliot.

The long flight nearly killed me but San Diego was beautiful – to see blue skies, and to feel the sun instead of the cold of Wales was almost worth the trip in its own right.

Meeting up with Jon and his team, Mark, and Jay was a fantastic treat – we managed to spend some quality time together, and ate some fantastic food.

Content

This also gave me an opportunity to cherry-pick the talks I’d like to see at SMMW; everything from Facebook Ads, to YouTube etc. As always with such talks, they end up really sparking a forest fire of ideas – really helping shake things up and getting you to reasses the status quo of your business (I talk about this in a previous post as well).

Reboot

The result was that I came back from San Diego even more convinced Glass Mountains needed to get content out there.

The majority of work comes from word of mouth – which is great, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t worth the effort to become more ‘known’.

Downturn

When COVID hit hard, the shockwave affected all business. We were left with sizeable unpaid invoices with clients who were in difficulty, which only made a tough situation harder.

A lot of projects were put on hold, and new work dried up. Luckily we have a lot of support contracts and those clients still needed lots of work doing.

I was also lucky in the sense that Glass Mountains has always existed with an agile workforce – we use a set troupe of expert freelancers to deliver projects. This arrangement suits me as we then don’t have the constant overhead of monthly wages bills – so when work dried up, we were less exposed than some companies.

Also, I knew that things would bounce back and that the digital sector would come back stronger than ever. When you can’t meet people face to face, digital assets such as websites become ever more important.

Remote

One area which didn’t affect us at all was the sudden shut down off offices and working from home. We’ve not had an office for years, all the team work remotely, and most of our clients are remote (we work a lot with the US). So in this sense, very little changed.

During the downtown I threw myself into blogging, creating content, and creating webinars etc. I knew that I would not keep the pace up, but my goal was to find out what I liked, and to keep doing that as we transformed into the next phase of business.

September

Things started to change in September. September is always a busy time in my industry – businesses wake up from the slumber of the summer holidays, fresh with ideas, and ready to get started. And this year, it was more so – all those projects put on hold earlier in the year started to come back to life.

The period from Oct to Dec was probably the busiest that the company has ever been. New clients came in (again, mainly by recommendation), lovely clients, people who were fun to work with – the sort of clients who remind me how lucky I am to run a business I enjoy – in fact, I don’t really class it as work – it’s just part of my life (a big part).

Content

From Oct onwards I also found a new rhythm with the content, admittedly slower than earlier in the year, but as we head into 2021, blog posts will be regular (once a month at least – have up to March in progress now), and we have regular #TheWPshow (‘The WordPress Show’) online events booked in our Facebook Group.

The End

So yes, this has been a turbulent year – for personal reasons as well (I got divorced – no big drama, these things happen – plenty of people have it worse off than me – my kids are fine etc).

I would say this though: I’m incredibly grateful for how things have gone this year – I’ve ended this year (business-wise and personally) in a much better place than I started – which, given this year, is incredible.

I would also like to say thank you to the magnificent team here at Glass Mountains – a real pro crew who make me very proud.

That just leaves me to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Onwards and upwards from all the team at Glass Mountains.

 

Joel

p.s. the photo at the very top was from my hotel room in San Diego – such an amazing view 🙂

1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Avatar Ruth says:

    Thank Joel, it’s been a rollercoaster, best wishes for Christmas and 2021, Ruth

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