2020 - A reflection
Now, I know what you are thinking - oh, gosh (or swear word of your choice!), it's another one of those '2020 was so horrible but I'm #blessed' posts. Well, it is and it isn't.
I'm about to switch off for a couple of weeks, to spend time with family, as you do at this time of year. I know how lucky I am that I can do this - and if you are reading this from somewhere where being with your family isn't possible, I really hope that you find a way to stay connected.
My brother and sister-in-law, along with my adorable nephew, are coming to stay with us. It will be my nephew's first ever Christmas, so we are all a bit excited to have a baby with us this year - and I'm sure my mum will be loving every minute of having all of us with her.
So, as I sit here looking at the work to be done before I can sign off and go and start watching The Holiday on repeat whilst baking up a storm, here's a bit of a wrap up on Thrive (and me) for 2020, and a sneaky peek of what's coming in 2021.
The year that was....
In January, Thrive Admin Services was born. Not the idea - I'd had that LONG ago, but the actual business, with the business registration and stuff. Thrive had an awesome start, thanks to the support from my network and previous employers, and I was off and racing with a full calendar, and big plans for the year ahead.
In March, the world changed. Our movement was restricted, we weren't able to visit family and friends (our family and friends are spread pretty well all over the country), and getting loo roll and tinned vegetables was rationed. We spent so much time watching the news each day, seeing the graphs and counters rise and rise globally.
As someone who has a number of contacts in the medical profession, specifically ICU, I did what I always do - I asked questions from people more knowledgeable than me. Should I be worried? Is this going to get worse? What can I do to help? The answers were resoundingly sensible and simple - "Follow the health instructions - wash your hands regularly, avoid physical contact with people where you can, and don't panic". Righto, then I'll just get on with things.
By definition, a virtual admin business shouldn't be too affected by a situation that sees people working from home. And this was true for a lot of us. My workload didn't change drastically, my clients still needed me, and so (despite the loo roll shortages and rationed tinned tomatoes), life continued on. Being in Queensland, our restrictions were minimal compared to elsewhere, so we were still able to get outside, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and spend time with loved ones (under some limited arrangements).
By June, I had started to find my groove - I was really thrilled to be so welcomed, by clients and my new online tribe (who are amazing). But something wasn't sitting right - I was struggling, spending more time working than I had been before, and that wasn't what I wanted. It was time to...PIVOT!
I put my big girl pants on, and had some proper grown up conversations - with myself, my husband, and some of my clients. I talked with people who had walked this path before, and I set some boundaries for myself. I put together plans to help the clients I had get the support they needed elsewhere, so I could move away from being all the things to all the clients, and start making Thrive something fresh, and different.
By September, I had moved my focus from doing what I had always done, and was zoning in on what my 'thing' was - always with that work-life balance on the horizon. I started looking for clients, and opportunities, that felt like the right fit for me, and what I could offer them.
In October, I turned 40. And for a lot of my friends this year who also turned 40 (or for those of you who also had a milestone birthday this year), it looked so very different to how we had all been planning. This year was supposed to be a year of celebration - there was supposed to have been party after party, all of us toasting each other, reminiscing about our shared pasts, and looking forward to the future. The reality is that we are all of the opinion that 41 will be the new 40 next year 😉, and (hopefully) we can make up for things then!
A part of my birthday process each year (but more so this year, because I actually had the time to think!) is to look at where I am, and where I want to be. In amongst everything going on globally, I have had some incredible highlights, which I wanted to share very briefly. Some of these are professional, some are personal, but all have helped shape me, and Thrive, this year.
Thrive became a real thing - from a dream I had 18 months prior, to thinking, to actually stepping up and doing it, and it's still here, and in pretty good shape, at the end of the year.
People that I admire have been an incredible support system for me this year - sharing their experiences, helping me to build my own network, and generally being amazing cheerleaders for me.
My gorgeous nephew was born - this one is bittersweet. Due to travel restrictions, I saw how upset my mum was at not being able to be there to meet him shortly after his arrival. I also saw the pure joy in her face when she did meet him (about a month and a half later). I met him about a month after that, and not only is he adorable, I got to spend time with my brother and see what an incredible dad (and husband) he is. I'm sad at times, because our dad passed away a few years ago, and never got to meet this grandson or see what an awesome human my brother is turning out to be. I'm hoping there will be a little bit of my dad in my nephew though - and I'm excited to be able to tell him stories about his silly Poppy Dennis as he grows up.
I met my tribe - an online group of women who run service-based businesses, and are the most amazing cheerleaders, think tank, and generally hilarious humans. If you, or anyone you know is a woman running a service-based business, you should absolutely join the Laptops & Lattes Community on Facebook. Michelle is not only the mentor and brains of the community, but she is a truly wonderful person. E-meeting these women has helped me through some difficult moments this year, both in business and personally, and I love them all to pieces.
I learned to say 'no', and stick to it. For anyone who knows me, this is a bit of a big deal - as a people pleaser, and given my jobs in the past as a PA or team admin, I have always been the person who would just smile and nod whenever anyone asked for me to help out, or take on more. This year, I've had to learn to set boundaries, hold them, and say no without feeling bad. It's a constant struggle, but I'm really proud of myself for doing this - without it, I might not be as upright as I am today.
I found my 'spot' in the market. As you would have seen this year, so many people turned to providing their business online as their situations changed. There was a flood of virtual admin services hitting the market from about March of this year, and the industry continues to grow. Through working with Michelle, and also Rosie of Virtually Yours, I've figured out what Thrive is, where it fits, and how it's going to work. It's very different from where I started in January, but it feels so right - I'm so excited about where Thrive is going, and I'm really looking forward to showing you!
And finally, I got comfortable in my own skin. Like everyone, there are things I don't like about myself. But I have learned this year that when I fight against myself - either mentally or physically, I then also work extra hard to self-sabotage any 'recovery' plans I make (so, so complex!). So, here, at the end of the year (and just in time for a break to really soak it up), I have learned this: whether I am happy or sad, thin or fat, alone or with others, I am always me. The quirky, loyal, compassionate, competitive, dedicated me. Whether people like me or not, I am me. Whether I like me or not, I am me. So, I am learning to simply be me. And getting to know me - properly. I'm looking forward to taking the time to rediscover my joy, and settle further into being who I really am - both at work and at home!
So, what's ahead?
I am super excited about where Thrive is right now - and the plan for next year is to continue along this path. It feels right, for both me and Thrive, so I thought I would share a little bit of what's to come - just for you!!
The Thrive Family
If you subscribe to the Thrive Update, 2021 is going to see more resources and specials just for you.
Not on the list? Sheesh - what are you waiting for?! You can subscribe here. The Update comes out fortnightly , and the first Update for 2021 will be going out on the 15th of January. These updates give you the first look at products and blog posts, and in 2021 there are going to be more customised FREE resources to help you #worksmarter every day!
Let's go shopping!
2020 saw the arrival of the Thrive Shop. So far, it we have several e-books to help you work smarter in Word, to help you customise your documents to be on-brand, and wow your customers.
Next year, 6 more e-books in the works, as well as new product and resource collections for those who don't want to start from scratch! Keep an eye on the shop, and our socials, for details of new releases.
**If you subscribe to the Thrive Update, you will not only be the first to know about these new releases, but you get discounts only offered to the Thrive Family!
See your business Thrive
For those of you who just don't have the time (or the interest) in creating or maintaining your documents or e-mail marketing campaigns, Thrive has you covered! In 2020, Marianne became Mailchimp Certified, and we recently launched our Email Marketing Support service. You can find out more about what we offer on our website (www.thriveadmin.com).
In 2021 we have big plans for this service, so keep checking in for special announcements!
Finally, before I head off for the year, I want to say a huge heartfelt thank you - for reading this (and any of my other blog posts this year!), for your support on social media, as a client, as someone who has made a purchase from the Thrive Shop, or for simply being a part of the journey to get me here.
I am so proud of Thrive, and where it's headed. I'm thrilled to have you along for the ride - there is so much more to come!
I hope that you get a moment to breathe this holiday season, to stop and find something that makes you smile, and to be able to look back at 2020 and find some light in amongst what was a very dark year for so many.
From me and mine to you and yours, if you are still standing (in any form) at this point in the year, well done to you! I can't wait to see what we do with 2021!!
- BLOG AUTHOR -
Marianne is your fast-talking, cheese-loving 'Make it happen' Online Business Manager (OBM) at Thrive Admin Services. Based in Hervey Bay, QLD, with her husband and their two dogs (Eli and Skye), she's a natural problem-solver, with a knack for seeing both the big picture and the small steps needed to make it a reality.
With over 20 years' corporate admin experience, she specialises in working with women in business to share the tips, tricks and features inside systems like Microsoft 365, Simplero, and more. It's all about reducing the overwhelm, frustration and heavy tech-talk, to create common-sense practical systems and processes that make sense to you! After all, sharing is caring!
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