The end of every year is the opportunity reflect on a 365 day journey. 2016 was a bad year for some and for some it was a great year. Many businesses were launched and others were closed. Pivots were made and goals were shattered. In the last few days of 2016, we took some time to ask a few entrepreneurs and business what their biggest business accomplishments were.
#1 – Officially Incorporated & More
I officially incorporated my culinary consulting business January 2016 after freelancing in the industry for 2 years. I've now grown it to a 6-figure business and made my first hire. I landed my first international travel consulting gig with Blue Marble Dreams and traveled to Haiti to open an ice cream shop. I was featured as an entrepreneur to follow on Oxygen Network and my segment was aired nationwide. I won Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network, one of their youngest contestants ever (I was 25). My story of transitioning from a Columbia MBA to a chef & consultant was featured on The Huffington Post (in both written + video format), Bustle, Brit + Co, Swaay Media and the print books *Knives and Ink* (Bloomsbury) and *Amazing Women Entrepreneurs* (due March 2017). I was granted a James Beard Foundation fellowship. My dinner tasting restaurant, I Forgot It's Wednesday, officially relaunched in NYC and was featured in UrbanDaddy, listed as a Top 10 NYC spot by Business Insider, and Top 6 Supperclub by Thrillist.
Thanks to Jenny Dorsey, Jenny Dorsey Culinary Consulting!
#2 – New Product
By combining my music talent as a concert pianist and Juilliard graduate with my love of dogs, I create music for dogs that relieves canine anxiety. We launched Through a Dog’s Ear in 2008 with our first CD and book. In 2016, we launched our 3rd generation of iCalmDog, the portable solution to canine anxiety. iCalmDog 3.0 is a compact player that comes with 4-hours of our clinically tested music on a micro SD card that auto-repeats. It chills out Buster at the vet, groomer, doggie daycare, crating time, etc. Also, it’s great for leaving with Buster at home when his people leave and take all of their portable music with them. While we launched our first generation iCalmDog in 2013, iCalmDog 3.0 is the first fully customized unit geared towards a sensitive canine nervous system. We’ve eliminated all the extra beeps, flashing lights, etc that can actually stress out dogs. Although it’s Bluetooth enabled, we’ve made it as simple as an on/off switch.
Thanks to Lisa Spector, Through a Dog's Ear!
#3 – Doubled Our Team, Hired & Retained Talent
2016 was a fantastic year for Rise Art. We expanded our marketplace, built incredible features, and raised a new round of funding. But the thing that I feel is our greatest accomplishment is the fact that we doubled our core team and so far have managed to hire and retain great talent, while keeping our core values consistent. Hiring is a tremendous challenge, and for SME’s, having a passionate team of really amazing talent is critical to success. While we still have a lot of work to do, I extremely proud of the team we have managed to build over the past year, and feel confident that it sets us up for further success in 2017.
Thanks to Scott Phillips, Rise Art!
#4 – Statewide Grant
Here's my accomplishment in the past year: MehtaFor received a statewide Career Opportunity Grant, designed for working artists and their companies. I founded MehtaFor in 2012, and the company received two national bronze awards in 2015 for Startup of the Year. As MehtaFor continued to grow in 2016, expanding pro bono services and the trainee program, receiving the support of an Oregon-based grant created just for entrepreneurs making a living with their craft was tremendously appreciated.
Thanks to Jessica Mehta, MehtaFor!
#5 – Growing the Company
Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 was growing the company from 6 to 21 people while keeping Badger's culture intact and healthy. I believe that there is nothing more important that a business leader does than hire well. If I only get one thing right, it has to be this. Customers are won and products are built by great team members. Any shortcoming or missing skill a business has can be fixed by a good hire with expertise in that area. Any strategic mistake can be caught and fixed by good people. But a bunch of bad hires can cause problems that are far more difficult to fix. At Badger Maps, we refer to ourselves as ‘Badgers' but what do we mean when we say that? I bet if you surveyed everyone, you would get a whole bunch of slightly different answers, but themes of helping each other, coaching each other to be better, sharing, being supportive, having candid conversations, being genuine, trusting your teammates, recognizing your teammates for their accomplishments, truly being welcoming to people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds, and an aversion to office politics would probably keep showing up. Growing fast while maintaining our great culture is our greatest accomplishment of 2016, and I suspect it will be our biggest challenge in 2017.
Thanks to Steve Benson, Badger Maps!
#6 – Keynote Speaker & Published
I have a few accomplishments in 2016: 1) Was the Keynote Speaker at the PMP PALS annual cancer conference in Seaside, CA. This invite was extended after the wife of a Baltimore (MD) doctor read my book, Anna's Journey: How many lives does one person get? which chronicles my journey through multiple bouts of cancer over the past several decades! 2) Published: Anna's Journey: My 40 Year Dance with Cancer – the book is an effort to raise awareness about different ways cancer is diagnosed, different types of treatments and outcomes as well as the impact of cancer on my life since the first diagnosis in 1977.
Thanks to Anna Renault, Anna's Journey!
#7 – Over $1M in Gross Revenue
I am co founder of GreenPal which has been described as Uber for lawn care. Our technology helps lawn care professionals grow their business and makes their lives easier. At a touch of a button, they are able to bid on new properties, optimize their routes, reschedule with their customers, and get paid after each mowing. No more leaving a check under the mat. We started in one market and now service 6 states and have done over $1m in gross revenue in 2016. This is our biggest accomplishment so far because it means that our platform has generated over $950k for small lawn business owners this year alone.
Thank you to Gene Caballero, GreenPal!
#8 – $500k in Sales
Our biggest accomplishment in 2016 was exceeding $500k in sales. This allowed us to provide health insurance to our employees, move into a larger and more collaborative office space, and volunteer roughly 30 hours a month as a team to nonprofit organizations. Having the means to further improve our work environment, as well as give back to our community, has been extremely rewarding and exciting for our team.
Thanks to Adam Binder, Creative Click Media!
#9 – Became an Entrepreneur
2016 was the year I decided to become an entrepreneur. Everything started from my passion of helping other people by sharing my social media tips. In 2016 I started blogging, I published three eBooks on Amazon and developed two online courses – one on social media, which I offer it for free, and one about how to use WordPress, which is chargeable. I am very proud of my latest book Social Media Trends for 2017 published just before Christmas, for which I interviewed 25 Influencers and Social Media Experts from UK, USA and Australia.
Thanks to Carmen Lascu!
#10 – Engagement on Social Media
Delivering the service we promised and retaining clients are always our biggest goals and thus accomplishments, but we did improve our offering this year in a big way. We began making a conscious effort to get our clients engaged in our social media and our blog in 2016. We have a lot of work to do still, but we are already seeing that clients who get engaged feel more connected to us, are better informed, and ultimately happier. Driving client engagement in our self-generated media has been a big win for clients and for us, and we look to continue to improve in 2017!
Thanks to Joshua Wilson, WorthPointe Wealth Management!
#11 – Growing My Instagram Following
I grew my Instagram following to over 24,000 followers (from nothing) in only one year. I wasn't sure what kind of outcome to expect when I started researching the best Instagram practices. Some of my outcomes were also just the result of tinkering and A/B testing. One big lesson that I learned is the importance of following up and interacting with others. On social media, it's poor form to keep shouting into the ether — you need to actually be social about it. In this vein, I keep up with the accounts that I like to follow, and I stay involved and leave comments. I also interact with those who comment on my page, and I seek out new topics and influencers on the daily. My Instagram account is delivering clicks and revenue to my website every day. When I started, I had no idea it would be so easy. It's all about followup. You have to recognize that you're part of a worldwide community — social media is not a billboard.
Thanks to Kylen Moran!
#12 – Focus
2016 was a great year for EchoData! We brought in a record number of new clients and had record profitability. I think our single biggest business accomplishment in 2016 was focus. Our executive team was focused on the most important things for success, and we defined what success looks like in advance. That up-front definition of success is important, because it helps you recognize when it happens. It sounds overly-simplistic, but taking the time to clearly define the goal is a very important first step. When you add measuring and sharing the progress on a consistent basis, it makes winning easier.
Thanks to Lori Homsher, EchoData Group!
#13 – Validated Mission
Our biggest business accomplishment (besides starting a business) was meeting with local restaurants and hearing them summarize our mission statement followed by, “I wish a local business was doing that” Knowing that our mission statement has been validated and approved by our customer the local restaurants, they know we have a service that will really help them. We will be launching in 2017. Go out and Eat Local!
Thanks to Caleb Singer, ForkOut!
#14 – High Level Press Placement
One of our biggest business accomplishments of 2016 was securing high level press placements in major media including Forbes, VICE, Elite Daily, YourTango, and Alternet. It gave us the opportunity to not only get the word out about our brand, but also to educate consumers that not all cannabis is created equal and why they should be as discerning about their marijuana as they are about the food they buy. In addition, we were proud to be able to launch new reusable tin can packaging with pure nitrogen that preserves our cannabis and ensures it is only the highest level of integrity and quality.
Thanks to Anthony Franciosi, Honest Marijuana Company!