Indie Business Network: Year In Review 2013

During these last few days of 2013, I am reflecting on the fabulous year it has been. I have the privilege to wake up every morning to live the life of my dreams doing what I love.

YearInReviewThere is nothing like this way of living. Through IBN, I help others discover and use their unique talents and gifts to design a profitable, sustainable business around a well lived life. Here's a look back, with great joy and gratitude, at some of the ways we served our members in 2013.

Hosted #IndieCruise MasterMind 2013

From February 2 to 6, 2013, I hosted the third annual #IndieCruise Mastermind. Our theme was Conceive | Believe | Achieve, and we did a lot of all three, plus snorkeling, crying, celebrating, laughing, watching sunsets, hiking, hanging at the spa and so much more. Royal Caribbean's Liberty Of The Seas is a floating paradise. Wild horses couldn't keep me away from this annual opportunity to focus ON my business rather than IN it, in community with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Next month, we set sail aboard Royal's Caribbean's Independence of the Seas on #IndieCruise MasterMind 2014. We'll leave Fort Lauderdale and sail to Falmouth, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island, and Labadee, Haiti. Get the details and see how you can grab up one of the last remaining slots at this link.

If you cannot join us aboard ship, but you'd like to network with me and our speakers and other cruisers before we set sail, then join us for the #IndieMeetup the night before we depart. Register for #IndieMeetup Fort Lauderdale at this link.

Unveiled New Websites

We unveiled this mobile responsive website with an easy to use exclusive area for our members. Our member training content is organized into easy to find categories that members can access 24/7 and wherever they are in their busy lives. All content can be downloaded to a mobile device so members can learn wherever and whenever they want to. We upgraded our hosting capacity to accommodate more content and page views, and increased our security measures to serve our members better. We also implemented a multi-faceted customer service platform that streamlines member processing so we can serve more efficiently and effectively.

We also launched a new insurance website for our members to use to procure affordable product liability insurance so they can rest easy as they sell their products. Our members can get $1M in coverage for just $395 a year, and the process takes just minutes through our new site. The insurance includes some business property coverage, plus our members can add their retail stores as “Additional Insureds” at no additional cost by logging into the secure site, updating their profile and printing out a new certificate that includes farmer's markets, as well as retail stores and spas that sell their products to consumers around the nation.

Opened Indie Business Studio

In October, we celebrated the grand opening of the Indie Business Studio, the new home of the Indie Business Network. The opening of our space marked a milestone for IBN, which until then had been run from my home office. We now have a spiffy space where I can meet with clients and members for full service VIP days, or just for an hour coaching session.

Enjoy our grand opening photo album at our Facebook Page at this link.

Launched Our Exclusive, Members Only Private Facebook Group

Our exclusive, private Facebook discussion group is on FIRE as our members simultaneously increase their network and their net worth. The level of encouragement that takes place within the group, literally around the clock, has surpassed all of my expectations. It works because our members are not hobbyists. They are serious entrepreneurial leaders who understand that the more you give, the more you get. We laugh, cry, fail, fall down, get up, celebrate, and have tons of fun.

If you are a member and you have not yet joined our private Facebook group, you are missing out. Join the group here.

Re-launched Indie Business Podcast

As many of you may know, I began hosting and producing the Indie Business Podcast back in 2005 when hardly anyone else was podcasting. Before I went on hiatus in 2012, I had hosted and produced over 300 shows. This year, I re-launched the podcast, and my team and I are in the process of releasing our podcast archives. Soon you'll enjoy my interviews with some of the most amazing small business experts around, including people like Mari Smith, Brian Solis, and Ali Brown, Jack Canfield and more.

Subscribe to Indie Business Podcast on iTunes at this link so you don't miss an episode.

Hosted 12 Success Calls

The Indie Business Network hosted 12 Success Calls so our members could learn how to take proactive steps to build their brands and their income. From how to host your own branded radio show, to how to attract new customers using Pinterest, to how to run your business while working a full-time job, we introduced our members to the people and topics that can help them succeed.

You can see some of our upcoming events, including scheduled Success Calls, at our social networking site calendar.

Introduced Q+A Access Calls

Our Q+A Access Calls are monthly calls with me, where members come together to ask me anything and to listen to and learn from each other's questions. Drawing on my 14 years of success in business, on these calls, I answer our members's most pressing business and success questions. My focus on these calls is brainstorming marketing, business and personal branding, sales, and social media marketing outreach, but members ask me anything, and if I cannot help, I refer them to a resource that can. These calls are fun, and they are made available for members to download and keep in their Success Library for years to come.

You can see some of our upcoming events, including Q+A Access Calls, at our social networking site calendar.

Hosted Indie Business Network's 2013 Secret Santa Gift Exchange!

For the first time, dozens of members from coast to coast exchanged handmade gifts with each other. It was an unprecedented amount of fun to see all of the amazing gifts and the smiles they put on our members's faces. Soaps, candles, sugar scrub, lip balm, eye shadow, nail polish, lotion, home fragrance, herbal preserves and more. Manufacturing and innovation is alive and well in America, thanks to the passion and efforts of our members. Everyone enjoyed it so much, and I have a strong feeling this will be an annual event!

You can see all of the 2013 Secret Santa gifts, with links to buy some for yourself, at this link.

Read Nine Books in Indie Business Book Club

This year, more members than ever took advantage of audio books, so they could read while they worked. From Tribes by Seth Godin to The Brand Called You by Katherine Caputa, our year was filled with quality information from books that helped us grow both personally and professionally.

You can see all of this year's Indie Business Book Club picks at this link.

Retired #HandmadeChat

Part of business success is based not on what you do, but on what you don't do. So, in addition to adding things, we also retired a few things so we could make way for new things. One of the things we retired was #HandmadeChat, the Thursday night Twitter chat that featured guests sharing their tips on how to lead a successful creative handmade business. From Samantha Dickey on how to make more money at farmer's markets to Allison Kontur on how to grow your business using private label services, we covered topics to help you be more successful.

You can see summaries of all of our #HandmadeChats at this link.

Retired the Live Radio Show

Starting in September, I cut my teeth hosting a real live radio show at a local station here in town. My original plan was to allow Indie Business Studio to double as a classroom for teachers and experts to empower the local community, and the radio show was to be a great lead in to that. Well, like I said above, some plans are made to be changed, and this was one of them. Once I moved in and got kind of settled, it became clear to me that what I really needed was a quiet place to do my best work and mentor and coach members and clients in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

While nothing is set in stone, for now, it's just me, my treadmill desk, my favorite aromatherapy blends, and the music I like to work by. No kids, no washer and dryer calling my name, no refrigerator temptation. Just a place for my creative spirit to make things happen as I free up space in my home for non-business life.

Once the purpose of the studio changed, so did the need for a radio show. So, there's another example of clearing out what doesn't work to make room for what does. I'm very happy about this decision, which means I will have an even better Indie Business Podcast for you in 2014. (See above.)


Well, there you have it. It's not a complete list, but it covers most of our major events and achievements.

Indie Business Network members, I love you, and I love serving you!

Here's to a great 2014 and the achievement of all of your highest goals. I am so proud of every one of you.

Bring on 2014! Just bring it!

Question: Are you ready for 2014?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.