12 Years and Counting

May 3, 2021

12 Years Later

I can hardly believe that 12 years have passed since Seven Degrees was started. Like every year at this time, I have reflected on the time that has passed, what has changed, what is the same, and what the future holds.

I think we are all tired of hearing about the last year and the craziness. I will tread lightly on the subject in this post.

Take time off. About five years ago. I took a vacation that was 10 days long
We had accumulated a bunch of hotel points. So we decided to take an extended break instead of the typical
one-week vacation that is customary in the American workplace.
For the first time in so many years, I was able to relax. Really, really relax. “They” say, when you go on vacation, it takes a few days to wind down, and then by the time you’re in vacation mode, it’s time to get ready to go home. Those extra days made such a difference to my mental health and allowed me to come back with a clear head, ready to rock. It didn’t really make a difference to my client work. Let’s be honest, we are not performing rocket surgery, and nobody missed me. Ever since then, I’ve embraced the extended vacation. Even if it’s not possible to travel the entire time, simply having time off work does wonders for your mental health; it makes you so much stronger when you come back and more productive.

Business travel isn’t a badge of honor. This is absolutely something the last year has taught me.
Having spent this significant part of the last two decades traveling and then suddenly not being able to, I’ve learned a great appreciation for knowing when to go and when to stay.
I am a huge believer in the power of face-to-face. And that has not changed during the pandemic. Yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to dwell on the pandemic, but this is worth noting. Business can be done virtually as we’ve proved in recent months. In fact, I am grateful to have been busier in 2020 than I have my entire career. However, something happens when you meet in person that cannot be replicated in a virtual environment. I’ve learned, and plan to do going forward, to carefully consider when to travel and be away from my family. I plan to analyze when it’s essential to travel and when I can Zoom Zoom. This shift is something many road warrior colleagues have echoed. There is something extraordinary about getting on a plane and going to a new place. It’s powerful to meet new people, and sitting in front of them takes on a new dimension.
But it takes a toll on our lives, and because time is limited, we have to pick and choose what’s important to us.

Choose your clients wisely.  We’ve always said that our number one criteria for clients is that they need to be nice. This hasn’t changed since 2009. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that if my gut says the client isn’t the right fit, they probably aren’t. Choose clients that appreciate you. The ones that are trying to get the best price don’t value what you do. Evaluate your potential clients as they assess you and consider those you will enjoy working with whose business’s success you genuinely care about.

Know when to outsource. A major key to succeeding as a small business is understanding when to outsource, and you have to do the work yourself. Now I’d be lying if I said I had this all figured out. We only have so much time in the day, and our time has value. We must take stock of our strengths and what we bring to the table. This means knowing when hiring somebody to complete a task because paying for it would better use our time. And, frankly, this means knowing where we can make more money.

Relevance is temporary. To quote the infamous Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it. This is true now more than ever, and with technology changing so fast, it’s easy to become irrelevant. You could be setting yourself up for failure by staking your claim to fame on one concept. If you are not constantly evolving, you could find yourself without any work without any real expertise.

At the same time, It’s okay to shift what you are “known for.” I wouldn’t say that I’ve abandoned anything that I originally started out doing, but I have evolved. In fact, when I started seven degrees. I knew instinctually that it would be fluid and that I didn’t want to tie myself to one particular trend. That has served me well, and l am happy with my place in the world, a result of years of 12 years of growth.
That said, I am vigilant about reminding myself that I need be aware of the business environment, figuring out what are the things that I need to pay attention to and what are the things that I can leave for somebody else to develop expertise in.

Twelve years have passed in a flash. I’ve learned. I’ve shared. I’ve been grateful. So once again, I thank YOU for supporting Seven Degrees and look forward to whatever the next year brings.