How one year can change your business

How one year can change your business (+ a quick survey) from Paper + Oats

The end of the year is obviously a time for reflection and planning for the next year, so I’m sure you’re reading a plethora of other blog posts lately about people’s goals and plans for 2016. At the risk of doing what’s expected, I do think it’s important to take time to pat yourself on the back at the end of the year and remind yourself that all your hard work is worth something. Plus, it can be pretty motivating to see how much can change in a year.

So before we talk about 2016, I want to take a second to reflect on the successes (and sometimes failures) of 2015:

Note: I don’t share any of this as a “Hey, look at all the things I’ve done in a year,” post, but rather a “Hey, look at all the things YOU can do in a year with a lot of hard work and a little bit of risk." I saw someone do this at the beginning of last year and loved it. It was someone who was super successful and I sometimes felt like she just fell into it. Then I read her post outlining her entire year of working her butt off, and my perspective flipped. She took risks, made sacrifices, and worked for every single ounce of success she had. And it motivated me to do the same.


January 2015

February 2015

  • Interviewed on Pregnancy Perfect podcast
  • Started doing freelance for Whitney English, which led to a lot of other great connections
  • Launched new physical products, but they didn’t sell very well
  • Left my agency job of 5 years to pursue Paper + Oats full-time… whoa!

March 2015

  • Started my first branding project as a full-time entrepreneur
  • Booked my first clients that were not from referrals
  • Launched the first month of P+O Gives Back
  • Took a much needed vacation!

April 2015

  • Announced plans for my new blog and got great feedback
  • Started feverishly writing for said blog 😃
  • Decided to shift and stop producing physical products all together, focusing on digital

May 2015

  • Launched The Oat Bar blog and was overwhelmed by the response to my first post
  • Tried a loop giveaway on Instagram for the first time
  • Featured in a Mother’s Day giveaway with Day Designer
  • Hired a CPA to help me get my financial systems in order (one of the best decisions I made all year – shoutout to Amy Northard!)
  • Enrolled in Mariah Coz’s Your First 1K course, which started me on my journey to create INDFG
  • Started a designer mastermind group with two amazing ladies: Phyllis Sa and Jamie Starcevich

June 2015

July 2015

  • Moved to Nashville, TN!
  • Got to connect one-on-one with some pretty cool business ladies and influencers including Regina, WhitneyMary, and a few others.
  • Attended Stationery Academy and made some lifelong friendships and connections
  • Co-hosted Lunch + Learn with Jamie (my first webinar experience!)
  • Announced the plans for my online course + timelines
  • Celebrated the survival of my first year of motherhood (single motherhood, at that!)

August 2015

  • Hosted a spontaneous, but really successful week-long giveaway for teachers
  • Started real work on the content of my course

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

  • Finished my course launch strong and felt incredibly proud to wrap it up
  • Sponsor for the Creative at Heart Conference
  • Took some much needed time off following my course launch

December 2015

  • Soon-to-finish the newest kit in the shop, Online Business Planning Kit (one that’s been in the works for months)
  • Made some long overdue updates to existing printable kits and added the Home Sweet Home Collection
  • Taking more much needed time off to spend with family and friends over the holidays


Whew. That makes me a little tired. But as I look at this list and think about the changes I want to make for 2016, I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”  – Karen Lamb


This simple phrase always gives me the kick in the pants I need to structure my business in a way that actually makes me happy and fulfilled at the end of a workday. I look at my favorite things on that list and try to figure out how to make more of those for the new year. This would usually be the part where I say, And here is my neatly organized list of goals for 2016, but I hesitate to share anything like that for one big reason. Because on my list of goals for 2015, I only completed one of the four things listed. #busted. I know, right?! That’s terrible. But it’s not because I didn’t put in a lot of work (hello, read that list above!), but because the direction of my business shifted during the year.

How one year can change your business (+ a quick survey) from Paper + Oats


It's okay to change your mind

In January 2015, I had big plans to build up my physical product line, but quickly realized the return wasn’t worth the time for me — and they weren’t really selling much. This was a tough decision for me, because I looooved those products. Loved the packaging, loved the promoting, loved holding something physical in my hand that I made. But I knew it was the right choice, and had to make it.

The next shift was to focus on digital product branding rather than general business branding, and I’m SO glad I made this shift. This decision was twofold – on the one hand I was super excited to design for a very specific audience that I knew not many designers were targeting (and I knew it was desperately needed). On the other hand, I didn’t know 100% if it would pay off – it was a huge risk for me. Thankfully, it paid off pretty quickly and soon I was working with projects I really loved and the type of design work I thrive in.

Then I decided to build and sell an online course. This was a direction I was very much not expecting, but I’m so glad I took the leap. I had the idea to create a course in the back of my head as a “someday I’ll do one of those,” but decided to just go for it this year after being in Mariah’s course. Creating my course was probably one of the best decisions I made this year. And it lead me right into 2016, where I hope to build more digital products like online courses, workbooks, and even more printable kits. BUT, I’m quick to remember that something might shift again, and I’m okay to change my goals if need be. 

The world's shortest survey

So speaking of new digital products for 2016, I need your help! I’m in the process of planning out these new products, and of course I need to test some ideas first to be sure you actually need what I want to create. So would you mind taking this quick survey for me if you’re interested in seeing more courses and other digital products from Paper + Oats? It’s literally only 2 questions, both multiple choice. Almost zero thinking required. Thanks a million 😃

Your turn

What was your biggest accomplishment from 2015? Did you achieve your goals you set out in the beginning or did your focus shift? What do you have planned for 2016?


Kelsey Baldwin

Graphic designer + blogger providing design resources to help creative entrepreneurs navigate the world of design + branding for digital products so they can share what they know.

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