The end of 2016 is getting closer and closer, and entrepreneurs everywhere are reflecting on the business year they’ve had. Each year as a small business owner has ups and downs, but we wanted to ask our small business experts about their highlights.
Here’s what they had to say…
1. “Offering profit sharing to all employees. When you are trying to grow your business, you need to give your associates incentive to grow with you. In 2016, I rolled out profit sharing to all employees. They will now get a piece of the pie each year.
Not only is this a great recruiting tool to bring in new employees, it gives your hard working associates more incentive to try and grow the company.” –Jason Parks, The Media Captain
2. “Strangely enough – being able to take a holiday! As a small business owner it was amazing this year to not only be able to take a holiday but also to be able to enjoy it knowing that I now have a fantastic team that don’t need me around to do their usual amazing job!” -Hannah Munro, itas
3. “Over the past 2 years, we’ve been developing an e-learning technology called LearnToMod (www.learntomod.com), which engages students in computer science education through Minecraft modding (every kid’s favorite video game!) Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 happened in August when we won a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award from the National Science Foundation to continue development on LearnToMod.
To date, kids have created 1.5 million Minecraft mods with our software, and over 2000 teachers are using the software in classrooms around the world!” –Lindsey Handleu, Ph.D., ThoughtSTEM, LLC
4. “In 2016, I completely rebranded my product line. I naively thought that since I wasn’t changing the actual products – just the packaging/labeling – it would be easy. I had issue after issue arise, and FINALLY received the brand new labeling in late July. And that was just the beginning… If you want any of the details for your story, I’m more than happy to provide them.” –Kristie Garduño, Giving Soaps
5. “My biggest accomplishments this year were being featured in Forbes (online), Inc. Magazine (online) and my baskets have an upcoming feature on a live TV show in Washington DC.” –Serena Fiorella, Treat Worthy Pet Creations
6. “The culmination of Icon Builder Media’s massively successful year has been, without a doubt, the Icon Joint Venture Mastermind event, held on November 18-19, 2016 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport. This event brought together entrepreneurs, experts, authors, speakers, trainers, coaches, and those wishing to break into the field and desiring concrete tools for doing so. The event was truly the ultimate affiliate and referral partner event, and gave everyone the opportunity to make valuable connections for growing their exposure and their business. David took the stage to speak on, among other things, cracking the icon code, joint venturing, growing one’s list, and being one’s own publicist. The event also included activities such as speed networking, spotlight interviews, and panel conversations. The response from the crowd was overwhelming and the buzz about the event continues on Facebook, as the attendees continue to grow their professional networks from the contacts they made at the event.” –David T. Fagan, Icon Builder Media
7. “One of most important steps/accomplishment that our business this year was to invest in training for core employees. Why? The skills that they learn will be something that will pay back dividends as long as they remain with the company. Sometimes, they will even transition from being a burden to being a resource. Moreover, it builds loyalty and instills confidence in them that they will be able to accomplish tasks that they once believed were impossible.” –Sebastien Dupéré, Dupray
8. “My biggest accomplishment was developing a new and improved eye serum for under eye bags and dark circles. It’s made with therapeutic grade essential oils like lavender and frankincense. I love making products that actually work and my customers love.” –Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, LLC
9. “Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 was earning our Chef’s Hat from the Australian Good Food Guide, which has a long tradition of finding the most delicious food in Australia and awarding the hard working chefs who made it all possible. It’s a very honorable distinction and truly sets restaurants apart from the pack.” –Kris Johnson, The Gantry Restaurant & Bar
10. “Staying in business another year in a tough economy and growing by over 20%.” –Rami Odeh, Formwell Personal Training
11. “My biggest accomplishments for 2016 was all about people. I moved one employee to a new role which he has done an incredible job in. He leads the company in sales. I removed some problem employees and in the process of hiring 3 new employees to join a team that is more cohesive than it has ever been. I am looking forward to 2017.” –Cliff McCue, GCRealtyinvestments.com
12. “My greatest accomplishment of 2016 was successfully launching my first SaaS product, RepuGen. I initially opened this up to my marketing clients, but it sparked the interest of so many other business owners that I couldn’t even believe it. The need for the product surpassed anything I could have imagined and I’m very excited to see what happens next year.” –Ajay Prasad, RepuGen
13. “My biggest accomplishment was getting my first building for my business. I was overjoyed when I realized it was really going to happen! I was living my dreams.” –Charmaine Weems, Leveledeyes.com
14. “The Mobile Satellite Services has become hyper competitive and highly commoditized so client care is emerging as the market differentiator. In 2016 GlobaFone was able to create a way for clients to call into satellite phones without incurring a massive direct dial call charge. This will lower the price of these calls by 50-75% for our clients and allow people who don’t have international dialing to call into these phones.” –Lou Altman, GlobaFone Satellite Communications
15. “I am pleased to say that our first commercial project was announced in Texas this September. We will be converting over 6 Million pounds of sweet potatoes into high quality dehydrated product for human and pet consumption. We will be scaling up to as much as 10 Million pounds over the next 1-2 years.. We are also in talks regarding several projects aimed at fish waste, and apple waste (pulp left over from juicing etc). We are not limited to any particular product either. If you can eat it, we can dehydrate and preserve it without losing any nutritional value.” –Chad Knutsen, Cornucopia Group
16. “2016 has been a great year for us. In particular, the biggest accomplishment for 2016 has been reaching our crowdfunding goal of raising $30,000 to pre-sell our fall 2016 collection in Indiegogo. Since then, we’ve launched our new website, and business is growing.” –Vienne Brown, VienneMilano
17. “I bought out my brother in law/business partner! We also launched a new product line (gift baskets) and switched software system’s and front end websites… but really, those were small potatoes in comparison.” –Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures
18. “In 2016 I switched from directing my visitors directly to the sales page for my book to directing them to my free newsletter subscription page. So instead of trying to pitch them my book as soon as they arrived them to my site, I’d first offer them valuable (science-based) tips via an email autoresponder sequence and only offer them the book after they’ve had the chance to get to know me a little better. This single change that took less than a month to implement literally boosted my sales by over 200%.” –David Brown, Leanhigh
19. “Starting my company this year has been my biggest accomplishment. I love the opportunity to bring people up. With so much negativity and pessimism in politics and culture, I find it incredibly uplifting to work on solutions with real, positive impact in people’s lives. Working on a mission-driven social enterprise is consistently invigorating, and it allows me to be my fullest and most complete self. When the going gets tough, I remind myself of how lucky I am to work on my own vision and my responsibility to lead by example.” –Peter Sacco, Adelante Shoes
20. “Our accomplishment for 2016 are as follows:
1. Completing 85 certifications in total in 2016 a 10% increase.
2. Two of our clients got Federal Contracts.
3. One of our client got State Contract
4. Three of our clients got local agency contracts
5. Two of clients got corporate contracts
6. Started a new offering with a customized RFP subscription model
We downsized our operating expenses thus increasing our profit margins. We have plans to provide new improved offerings for our clients for greater contracting opportunities.” –Roshini Chandran, R Mo Business Solutions
21. “My greatest accomplishments from 2016 were being included in an Inc Magazine print edition article and an AP article. Both thought I was an accomplished enough CEO and Founder that they included me in their pieces, because personally I didn’t think I had done enough yet.” –Benjamin K. Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
22. “My biggest accomplishment this year is taking my Podcasts transcripts and turning it into a book and then getting to be on six different tv shows with three different networks.
This gets my message out as the expert on how to get ask for what you want and get a Yes!” –John Livesay, Author of, The Successful Pitch
23. “LONECONE.com has had an amazing year, and for them, the biggest accomplishment was being named to the 2016 Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing small businesses. They were the fastest growing in their hometown of Boise, Idaho and the second-fastest in the entire state.
The main reason this is so exciting is that the outdoor retailer relocated from New York to Idaho in 2014, mainly in response to the state’s access to public lands. They have grown exponentially since moving and are currently upgrading to bigger digs in Downtown Boise.” –LONECONE.com
24. “My biggest accomplishment of 2016 was adding a second office to our law firm and going bicoastal! I am a millennial female so all this hard work paying off has been very exciting.” –Sonia Lakhany. Lakhany Law
25. “Getting my business approved and listed on the GSA schedule to sell to the government is my biggest success of 2016. It was nearly a three year process but now has the power to open big doors for my company Chanson Water.” –Nedalee Thomas, Chanson Water
26. “The greatest accomplishment Pictomoney has had in 2016 was becoming mobile friendly.
Yes, there have been so many advances in website development, that even Pictomoney which is running on a tight budget, was able to become mobile friendly and also responsive to other devices.” –Phila Vocia, Pictomoney, Inc.
27. “My biggest accomplishment this year was gaining $125,000 for my feminine care startup, and transitioning to self-employment.” –Arion Long, Femly Box
28. “I collect and recycle cigarette waste into energy for Caltrans and others. Each pound if cigarette waste produces over 500 watts of energy. This year I contracted with the largest LEED certified building in the world to recycle their cigarette waste. The Sands Expo is also the fifth largest exhibit hall in America.” –Ken Beckstead, Cigarette Pollution Solutions
29. “Launching a podcast, SalesTuners. As a small business owner, I’ve been able to create epic content targeting entrepreneurs and great sales leaders. The podcast has already generated over 1000 listens and features guests from companies such as Engagio, DemandJump, and Oracle.” – Jim Brown, SalesTuners
30. “After launching our first product in January we have acquired over 1,000 members in our Facebook group, sold enough product to pay all the company bills and save 20% of all earnings and still hire our first publicity firm. We will probably have close to 100K in sales for our first year.” –Kira Volpi, Infant Acid Reflux Solutions, LLC
31. “My proudest accomplishment was raising capital and building a successful tutoring management software. I managed to raise 10,000 dollars using crowdsourcing to build up a software that I hope to market to other tutoring companies in the near future.” –AJ Saleem, Suprex Tutors Houston
32. “My biggest accomplishment of 2016 is launching our own brand of products. We’ve been co manufacturing for over 20 years and this year we finally launched our very own line of products. The work it took was intence, but we were successfully able to come up with the product, create the perfect recipe, design it, and get it into Whole Foods.” –Isaac Hammelburger, Fusia Foods
33. “Getting my meditation app in front of people that needed it the most. Not only from people who recommended it to their friends and family, but also groups like Crisis Text Line vouching for QuietKit as a resource that they recommend to some of their texters, as well as their volunteers as a form of self-care. It’s thrilling to get to help people like that.” –John Turner, QuietKit
34. “My biggest accomplishment this year has been creating a business that allows me to be location independent.
We prioritized travel and living abroad over the next few years, and it was important that I set up systems that allowed for the business to run smoothly when I was on the road.
I now live in Asia and plan to continue full-time travel over the next couple of years, and my business has continued to thrive thanks to those systems (and people!) put in place to ensure the time-zone difference and occasional offline periods do not negatively affect the business.” –Curt Storring, Liberty Grooming
35. “My biggest accomplishment in 2016 as an independent business owner is participating in a multitude of arts & crafts shows throughout Texas. I even got the attention of some celebrities in the meet n’ greet section. Danny Trejo stopped by my booth a few times & commented on my work!” –Mei L., Vintage Loser
36. “Our biggest accomplishment was the successful launch of our new book publishing division, Planting People Growing Justice Press. We released our first book, hosted a book tour, and organized a literacy campaign. This new venture has provided us with a platform for promoting education and sharing the work of diverse authors.” –Artika Tyner, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute
37. “Our greatest accomplishment in 2016 was the launch of our brand Katherine Hamilton Intimates, following a year of exhaustive research and development. Developing lingerie for fuller busts is a very challenging task; to develop bras that can offer support and beautiful shape for often heavy and varied shapes and sizes. Only weeks after our launch the UK Lingerie Awards announced that we have been shortlisted for the ‘New Business of the Year’ award! Hopefully 2017 will be an even better year for us :)” –Katy Payne, Katherine Hamilton Intimates
38. “Our biggest accomplishment in 2016 was incorporating a system where clients could take a picture of their invoices on their phone and upload them to a client area! Saving the time and effort required to file and send their paperwork into the office.” –Sam Boothroyd, Rymer Associates Online Accountants
39. “Our biggest achievement this year was, without a doubt, getting our website to rank as No. 1 on Google for its key search term. This year, we seriously revamped our site to make it as visually appealing and user-friendly as possible. We also massively upped our game in the world of content strategies and organic link-earning, and were absolutely astonished when we viewed our website sitting on top of all our competitors, including large, nationwide brands.” –Darren Green, Poles Direct
40. “In 2016, our homeowners’ properties sold for an average of £10,000 more than they had expected, 20% quicker than the average and they actually paid less than the average for their estate agent. We were delighted to have helped families across the country maximise the value of their largest financial asset!” –GetAgent
41. “Our greatest accomplishment in 2016 was getting our business to £83,000 per month in recurring revenue, annualized this makes us a £1,000,000 a year business. We launched in Feb ‘15 which means we achieved this in just 18 months. In total we’re an 8 man team and we couldn’t have done this without everyone’s hard work and effort.” –Shoreditch
42. “My biggest accomplishment in 2016 was to become an International Speaker and a #1 Best Selling Author on Amazon.com. I am a Professional Coach, Speaker, and Consultant. I am the Founder & CEO of Believe University which is an online educational platform specializing in Personal & Professional Development. I was able to travel to Grenada in March of this year and facilitate a 2 day workshop and Book Promotional that included delivering a speech on The Power of Believing in Yourself. The title of my book is Who Do You Think You Are – The Power of Believing in Yourself.” –Nicholas Dillon, MCS, LLC
43. “My biggest accomplishment for 2016 as a small business owner is actually starting my small business. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to stop thinking about it, stop worrying it, stop postponing it, and just start. After doing just that myself, I decided to just go for it and it’s the best decision I’ve made. Onward and upwards from here.” –Ahmed Khalifa, IgniteRock
44. “Our greatest accomplishment of 2016 was definitely an unexpected one. In the Spring, our oldest son was involved in a horrific auto accident requiring a month hospital stay and leaving him permanently blind. As our business is a micro, family-run endeavor, we immediately closed the business so that we could be fully available to attend to our son. After months of trying to find a new normal for our family, we restructured the business roles that my husband and I have and we opened back up. It was amazingly hard, yet amazingly wonderful. Our customers were there, waiting for us, and this year has proceeded to be our best yet for our business. Pushing through the challenges brought great fulfillment and reward for us personally and professionally.” –Carrie Seibert, Soap Commander, LLC
45. “Launching my very own e-commerce beauty and skin care website! Between the development, dealing with the manufacturers and coming up with all of the product information, it literally took me all of 2016 to be able to launch our site.
I haven’t made a single dollar yet off of this endeavor but I am very proud of what I accomplished in 2016. I know I laid the foundation for my business for years to come.” –Stefanie Parks, DermWarehouse
46. “Our greatest accomplishment this year is fully switching to computer base management system for our store. Believe it or not, Marquis Gardens has been run on paper for almost two decades. It took a lot of efforts and time, but now we are officially computerized.
It includes inventory, purchasing, receiving, quotations, invoicing, checkout etc. Everything takes half of amount of time it used to take. And we are able to trace some events, which happened a long time ago in matter of seconds, so nothing gets lost anymore.
To be honest after one full season working with the system in place, I can’t possibly imagine coming back to paper based business management.” – Ostap Bosak, Marquis Gardens
47. “In 2016 we completed the setup of our new manufacturing facility for earthquake dampers. We’ve been able to bring down the cost of our friction dampers enough so, that the technology is now accessible to all types of building construction including social housing. We know that this milestone will help us to achieve our goal of protecting everyone from earthquakes, regardless of their socioeconomic status.” –Richard Frazao, Quaketek
48. “Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 was being able to pay out over $1m to our lawn care professionals. Our platform allows vendors to find more business, schedule more appointments, and get paid after each service.” –Gene Caballero, Your Green Pal
49. “Our biggest accomplishment in 2016 was to survive. We learned how to market, pivoted on our product to fit market demand, and created a small network of friends in the Bay Area to help sell our tours (starting from almost zero). It was more work than we originally expected – and took many sleepless nights – however the hard work paid off, and we now control a small niche of tours in a saturated tour city such as San Francisco.
We’re a new business – and it’s our first business – and we’re proud to say we survived 2016.” –Dylan Gallagher, OrangeSkyCo.com
50. “At Maintenance Care, our biggest accomplishment of 2016 would have to be growing our team successfully. We have doubled in staff size over the past year, and everyone is exceeding expectations already! Our company continues to grow, and I couldn’t be more excited.” –Dan Roberge, Maintenance Care
51. “My most important business accomplishment in 2016 is the founding of our digital forensics company, Gillware Digital Forensics, and convincing a thought leader like Cindy Murphy to come run it. I’ve come to learn that the biggest challenge for any entrepreneur is talent acquisition, especially in the early conceptual stages. Executives with extreme integrity and decades of thought leadership in their space just don’t grow on those proverbial trees. There’s about a dozen true thought leaders in digital forensics in the whole world. These thought leaders are extremely easy to identify, it is convincing them that a shared vision makes sense to pursue that is almost impossible because these people are always very happy at their current gig and so accomplished that the vision needs to be a step up for them. How do you convince someone that a non-existent company, high on concepts, low on capital, with a loose vision is going to be a step up the ladder? But Cindy looked at everything we have accomplished as Gillware Data Recovery and Gillware Data Services, the synergy that existed between data recovery and digital forensics, the team we had assembled, and agreed to lead this new initiative. When someone of her caliber and the respect that she has in the world of digital forensics does the math and jumps on board it’s an incredibly proud and exciting moment. Together we are building a better vehicle for dramatically improving the field of digital forensics.” –Brian Gill, Gillware Data Recovery
52. “Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 was launching our real estate & community development company, Valentine Properties. Our mission is using real estate to develop communities of color and help end homelessness.” –Chike Uzoka, Valentine Global
53. “This year we added a new feature to our software allowing users to convert PDF files to Microsoft Word documents. This was a major pain point for our customers and a very challenging project to undertake. So far we are encouraged with the results and the positive feedback we have received.” –Sophie Knowles, PDF Pro
54. “Our biggest accomplishment was closing five pilot tests. This was extremely valuable for discovering areas in which we can improve our product to meet the needs of our customers. The information we gathered will serve as a roadmap for our company direction.” –Bryan Robertson, Mindyra
55. “This year we have terminated and launched our website. It took a bit longer than planned, but the end result is satisfactory and we receive compliments for the design. When we didn’t have a website it was more difficult to find artisans that were interested in joining our platform, but now they can see where we would add their products and are more open to discuss a collaboration.” –Maria Guidi, Boutique Italiana
56. “I quit my day job to work my social media management business full time. If I showed up for Groupon, I can show up for me.” –Sabrina Hartel, Social Media Marker
57. “By far our biggest and most exciting accomplishment as a small business was the launch of our web design grant! This grant was in the works for a few years, but we needed to reach a certain point in sales to be able to offer the grant.
We offered NJ based non-profits the opportunity to receive $10,000 in web development or SEO services – and because of this grant Https://ridewise.org was able to release a brand new website at no cost!
Each year we hope to increase the value of the grant – as we grow – the grant will grow!” -Jill Caren, 2 Dogs Media
58. “After 2 years in development, we finally launched Confirmed Instant Scheduler so we can help sales executives and mobile professionals better manage their meetings – getting more of them and taking less time to do it. We’re now poised to help businesses & entrepreneurs thrive.” –David Radin, Confirmed Instant Scheduler
59. “My greatest accomplishment in 2016 was successfully acquiring a competitor and integrating their team, clients, software and clients into ours. A bigger challenge than I thought it would have been, but well worth it!” –Chris Post, Post Modern Marketing
60. “Our business model of compensating realtors equally with our business owners meant our agency nearly doubled the number of agents in one year. After just 3 years in business, we are now the largest agency in our city.” –Stephanie Butler
61. “One of the biggest accomplishments of 2016 would be developing an ad campaign for SPEEDVEGAS. The campaign was developed in less than a week to hit SPEEDVEGAS’s goal of having an aggressive media buy saturating the market by January 2017. This ad series is specific to their six core demographic segments and will be running in local publications, misc. outdoor, tourist corridor, various channels at McCarran International Airport, and online.” –Selena Pepe, 3 Martini Lunch Advertising & Design
62. “As a small business owner, my greatest accomplishment in 2016 was becoming the most popular Twitter user in Greece: www.twitter.com/DennisKoutoudis The size of my Twitter account together with the engagement levels of my tweets, have helped me to get featured in Entrepreneur.com which in turn has brought more credibility to my business and more clients.” –Dennis Koutoudis, LinkedSuperPowers
63. “For me and my team, 2016 was the year of web presence. We’ve been around a while and, as people who sell tradeshow equipment, practice what we preach and sell at trade shows – what a concept. Still, growth is one of our main goals and there is no solid growth strategy that doesn’t include some amount of web marketing. So, we made a new year’s resolution as a company: we would grow our web presence. It’s been a long road full of lots of small wins and little mistakes, but we’re pleased with how things have turned out and are excited to see what the future holds.” –Charles Dugan, American Image Displays
64. “Not killing myself mentally and physically, but I guess I can’t say that!
My greatest accomplishment in 2016? Learning how important personal connection with my customers and audience are in the physical sense. I will say that this year I met and spoke with more people than I ever have and this grew the business in a wonderful way that just digital media alone couldn’t have done.” –Graham Alexander, Victor Talking Machine Co.
65. “2016 has been a great year for us! We’ve hit net profitability, doubled our revenue and grown the team from 10 to 17 without losing our company culture of working hard and getting things done!” –Andrew Jervis, ClickMechanic
66. “Our greatest business accomplishment was changing the way we sell to certain retailers, which made us significantly more profitable. We also brought some of the outsourced services back in-house and expanded our team all while increasing our profitability.
My biggest personal accomplishment was completing the Hard as Oak challenge. It is a 7-mile obstacle race through swamps, an assault course, and water. – Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum
67. “Botkeeper’s greatest accomplishment of 2016 was bringing in over 100 clients!” –Angelina DeLago, Botkeeper
68. “I started my customer service software startup with a simple mandate: to help businesses make their users happy. This year, I decided to set aside bi-weekly time slots to get on the phone with our customers. It’s the best decision we’ve made to date. Besides, it’s something I enjoy doing because I learn about unique business problems our customers are trying to solve. In a way, this transformed our growth strategy. We diverted resources earmarked for certain planned features because our customers were mostly focusing on one core part of our product. This gave us a noticeable boost in signups and even made us rank better in certain keywords.” –Gregory Koldirkaev, Helprace
69. “Hiring employees was a big accomplishment for our company in 2016, but really, the biggest accomplishment we made, was having a fantastic team. Over the past year, we basically doubled the size of our team from 10 employees to around 20 employees. We have also managed to do so, while keeping both really great people and contributors, which aren’t always the same thing. My guess is that around 20% of my time was spent on hiring and bring on-board new people.
Why is this such a great accomplishment? Because good decisions can have an impact on a company for a decade, while bad decisions can make your life miserable for a year. So the fact that we were basically able to double the size of our company, while creating and maintaining a fantastic team, is our biggest accomplishment of the year.” –Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business
70. “This past year we nearly doubled our monthly online traffic by improving our organic search results. This required optimizing our website for keywords, as well as improving the user experience to increase sales conversions.” –Bob Ellis, Bavarian Cuckoo Clocks
71. “After 1.5 years of hard work creating, imagining and processing, to finally have our product delivered to us for distribution. It was like gestating a baby for 1.5 years, after 12 years of thinking about it, and then having it born.” –Noah Bleich, The Tea Book
72. “Our biggest accomplishment in 2016 was opening up our third salon in Los Angeles! It was scary because LA is such a competitive market and we chose a prime location on Melrose Blvd with several similar businesses nearby. The location was perfect and we couldn’t pass it up. It was daunting because business trickled in slowly, but via a combination of influencer marketing and celebrity fans we’re now seeing steady business.” –Christina Lee, Organic Shimmer
73. “Our biggest accomplishment of 2016 was growing the company from 6 to 21 people while keeping Badger’s culture intact and healthy. I believe that there is nothing more important that a business leader does than hire well. If I only get one thing right, it has to be this. Customers are won and products are built by great team members. Any shortcoming or missing skill a business has can be fixed by a good hire with expertise in that area. Any strategic mistake can be caught and fixed by good people. But a bunch of bad hires can cause problems that are far more difficult to fix.” – Steve Benson, Badger Maps
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