In December, it’s always time for an end-of-year review, isn’t it? As much as in January, it’s always time for a strategy reset & plan design, isn’t it? What have we done well? What could we have done better? What went wrong? What hindered productivity? What are we thankful for?
It’s an interesting double-sided exercise that really benefits businesses as well as individuals. Both of us actually thoroughly enjoy it. As it is the case every year, we indeed took a lot of pleasure reviewing our year 2020 & planning 2021 & took notes of the big pieces of the puzzle in today’s blog article. Enjoy the reading!
Our open & closed questions’ list
> By mi-December, about the year that passed by:
> In the 1st days of January, about the 1st 30 days of the starting year:
> In the 1st days of January, about the 1st quarter of the starting year:
> In the 1st days of January, about the the starting year:
With this template, we satisfy both our right & left brains (we love philosophy as much as we love tools…), look far enough but make very actionable decisions & plans, which are therefore optimistic, realistic & achievable. We review & track on the last Friday of every quarter, so we can measure our progress vs our targets. As some say, if it’s not measurable, it’s not improvable…
2020, a pivotal year
2020 has been a pivotal year for Incubator Studio, because our business that was started in September 2018, has reached a certain stage of maturity. Our company is now a system with processes & productified services. We sell & do what we like only, to our ideal clients.
In the 1st quarter, our 3rd business partner had to leave us for personal reasons, which led us to reposition & therefore strengthen our branding agency in its niche… and of course came with a lot of extra work for the greater good only!
Working ON our business is as consuming as working IN our business at this stage, & this is important to balance both.
Team expansion in question
In 2020, we’ve tested various ways of collaborating in order to make a decision on whether we should work with contractors only as suggested by one of our American coaches, or whether we would create more value with part/full time hirees. We started with a clear list of what we should outsource & why.
In the course of the year, we ran several tests which enabled us to draw conclusions. We do not want to have a whole team of employees, we plan to have 2 FTE maximum, with a profile we’ve clearly identified & specified. We want to work with niche experts in their fields every time it is needed. We also were able to onboard 4 interns from various nationalities, languages & curriculums & manage them daily for months. It’s been challenging, sometimes confronting, but overall we learned a lot about ourselves… & our boundaries.
Last but not least, we draw the robot portrait of the ideal 3rd business partner we would be willing to add to the team the day we feel ready to expand.
Overall, extremely interesting & a lot of value gained in there personally as well as professionally!
Covid, home-based work & tools
Since day one, we have structured Incubator Studio as a business that could be run from anywhere with just a laptop & a very good internet connection… which of course implies having a highly structured approach backed by many tools & does not have anything to do with showing off at a sunny poolside.
We have explored & tried several office or shared office options, but were not convinced by either the work environments or the return on investment. We work from wherever we want to be & feel productive, go to clients’ offices when needed & meet up in cafes or rented meeting rooms now & then.
This approach enables us to plug in to our projects basically anyone who needs to be part of our extended team or in the client’s team. Needless to say that we were Covid-proof before the virus even existed. The various lockdowns did not request any adjustment on our side. It just made our way of collaborating more streamline, which is amazing. We could talk about tools for hours here. Coralie is a geek & the perfect tool tester + picker. Aurelie updates her skills every single day in her position of follower. The only thing we still do traditionally is coffee.
In 2020, we’ve started collaborating with SMEs on top of collaborating with solopreneurs & startups. In order to achieve that, we’ve worked on project boards & templates that would enable project teams to work efficiently, quickly, from wherever they are.
We are convinced that there is space on the market for an agency like ours that get results very quickly with a planning that takes from A to Z, at a reasonable price, while transferring expertise to the client’s team as the project goes, & then training the marketing & communication employees who are in charge of using a [re]positioned & enriched brand on a daily basis, of implementing the content strategy, of creating additional sales or prospection tools for the sales team, of updating a website we’ve [re]developed etc…
We know we’re a great fit for established medium size companies & we intend to serve more in 2021. We’ve lost several contracts in 2020, but one step at a time, we’re getting there.
In 2020, we’ve created more visual & text content than ever before, for our business as well as for our clients. Some days, it felt overwhelming. It requires so much brain juice, so much focus, so much creativity… while following sets of rules & supporting precise brands’ profiles.
Each of us use different tools & methodologies, which makes us complementary in our creations & definitely benefits the output. We’ve learnt how to streamline our content production & become more efficient, be it by creating templates, by standardizing our feedback, by batching its implementation etc.
We’re up for more, be it in English, in French or in (animated) images under the shape of visual identities, enriched brands, websites, social media content, workbooks, blog articles, you name them!
So, that’s basically it for Incubator Studio’s 2020 review & 2021 plan. We’ve put all in writing & have already started working hard for over a week now. Needless to say we’re full of gratitude. Bring it on, 2021, we’re all set to impact more small & medium size businesses!
To your success,
Aurélie & Coralie