2016 was a big year for Wheelie. It was our 7th year in business, and it was a big one.
Owning a business can be overwhelming. As I planned for 2017, I realized that sometimes it helps to glance backward instead of forward. Like a stereotypical business owner, I'm almost always looking forward, battling complacency, thinking big, and seeing what opportunities for creativity I can tease out of the mundane. I analyze everything and constantly focus on how to be better, more efficient, and more effective. But sometimes, to move forward, you have to look backward.
And that's when I realized how big 2016 has been.
Last January, we moved into a new office on Wisconsin Avenue toward the ski resort. Actually, it's a really old office, but it's new to us. Built in 1910, it was the first building in Whitefish north of the train tracks. Its rustic charm has also delivered a slew of less-than-charming events like a leaky roof, a flooding basement, and heaters that need new parts. But you know what? Roofs can be patched, it's too cold for flooding now, and the HVAC guy lent us space heaters, so nothing can get us down. Plus I can't high five everyone in the company by spinning in my chair anymore, so this bigger space was needed. I even scored my own office, an improvement from having to hold employee reviews on the roof of our old office for privacy.
I spent a lot of this year locked in my office working on The Plan, leaving my employees to wonder if all the papers and coffee cups on my desk meant something or if I was trying to start a recycling center stack by stack. I researched a lot. I asked questions. I listened to the answers and thought about how to turn them into something that resonated with my core. I attended a freakish amount of webinars. I sought professional business advice on the same topics from a few different perspectives. I worked with lawyers. I learned more this year than Wheelie's past six years combined.
And The Plan is ready. Or at least ready enough. I couldn't be more psyched about 2017.
I made my fair share of mistakes this year. There were times when I could have been a better business owner. I could have been a better boss. I could have been a better ladyfriend and dog owner and sister. I should have said no to some projects I said yes to. I should have gone snowboarding on the one bluebird pow day we had last winter instead of getting sucked into working on a Sunday.
I encouraged my employees to donate what turned out to be an obscene amount of design to local non-profits and offered non-profit discounts so huge that my accountant demands I restructure our Giving Program for 2017. (Turns out I'm the professional services equivalent of one of those restaurant owners who gives away too much free food.) So we're going to reign that in next year, but we did have a big impact on the Flathead Valley non-profit scene this year. Like I said, I made my fair share of mistakes, only that one shook out in the numbers more than in my heart. You live and learn.
I don't really let mistakes get me down though, and I can smile at most of them. They're just opportunities to grow, and most things shouldn't be taken personally, which is easier said than done. Business is just business. And business was good for Wheelie this year.
We had so many successes. Our creative team is crushing it. Our team is funny and smart and engaged and pumping out some of the most interesting work we ever have. Amanda has made so many stunning multi-page layouts that I proof every page in a state of awe of her talent. Dan has built solid, ongoing relationships with our social media and marketing clients, and it has been exciting to watch the social followings grow with his innovation. Stephanie was able to harness her design powers into a quiet strength as our NonProfit Liason. Jessica got thrown into our chaos and is landing with humor and grace. Josh has become our resident storytelling genius no matter what kind of footage we chuck at him. We have a business development team now. Located in Breckenridge and Seattle, our reps are personable, experienced and wicked smart. Annie and Doug, welcome to the shitshow. I feel fortunate to have you in our wheelhouse.
I can proudly say that we've never had a better crew. Some days I can't believe these brilliant people show up to work every day to help me complete a vision of showing the outdoor industry that it can be as fun and creative as the actual act of playing outside.
And we've never had better clients. Talk about a victory. Our clients believe in the playful world we create with every project. We are limitless because you believe in this world, too. The projects we are working on together are never status quo, and I am grateful our clients trust us enough to put a little risk into their marketing plans. It's pays off every time. I feel so fortunate to have clients who believe in the power of play and the power of creativity. Thank you for that.
And to my manfriend. Thank you for spending too many nights listening to me hash out detail after detail at 3am. Thank you for taking the laptop out of my kung fu death grip on a Friday night. Thank you for using your engineering brain to tell me that the hover stairs I want to build might not work because of gravity. I'm lucky I skateboarded to town that one time and you gave me a ride home in the dark. Thanks for running details for the past few years and for stepping around all my coffee cups. I'll try to pick them up more.
Thank you also to our countless friends of Wheelie. Just to name a few: Dawn for being the best unofficial HR Director we could ask for. Shannyn for hashing things out with me in a level-headed-but-opinionated manner. Karina for the stoke. Joe, Courtenay, and Anthony for the referrals. John Balsam for always making time for me while you had it on this earth. I will miss our strategy sessions forever. Shawn at Towne Printer for the fast turnaround time and support. The PV Gangstaz for showing me that no matter how professional I become, you're still going to murder me at mountain biking. Brodie for our Thursday night hangout sessions after I'm done teaching. My students at FVCC for keeping my design perspective in check. And thank you to Courtney for hooking us up with that giant box of coffee. It would have been a rough year for all of us without it. We needed it.
I seriously can't believe how much we accomplished in one year.
Owning a business is a massive amount of work. Here's how I keep it fun by balancing owning Wheelie with my passion for adventure. -Lisa
copyright 2019 Wheelie, LLC.
I can't recommend Wheelie enough. Our website launch was almost too successful, and we could barely keep up with the amount of orders we received as soon as we announced the rebrand. They are ah.MAZING!"