For the second year in a row I am writing a yearly review to give an honest look into what it took to be an over-ambitious solo startup founder.
What did I achieve in 2018?
Business: The amazing journey of 2018 really comes from the success of 2017. In 2017 I did everything I could to raise my startup from nothing to a small and sustainable business.
What follows is that 2018 was all about taking the initial success and doubling down on what works, getting our processes right so we could grow everyting more linearly.
No year is ever perfect but we did manage to double the size of our revenue, double the size of our team (now 3 full-time people, up from 1.5) and increase the price of our product while gaining a lot of new customers.
Financially we are looking a lot more healthy and even though we’re not super focused on revenue as an indicator of success, it was good to see those numbers rise.
Team: Another huge part of 2018 was in surrounding myself with a team that really works, from hiring amazing people like our operations manager Chris and our new developer Clare to mentors and friends like Joel House and Michael Back.
I also joined a mastermind group and generally became more connected with the world, which can be a major challenge when you are a solo founder. It is surprisingly easy to get stuck inside your daily grind, when you live and work remotely.
One tool that really helped me stay connected to other people was an app I love called Voxer, which is a walkie talkie app that you can use to send short 1-5 minute voice messages to other people. These days I Voxer with a lot of my mentors and close friends since it makes me feel a lot more connected to the other person than I do when sending a text message or email.
Health & lifestyle: I started 2018 as a seriously unhealthy dude. In particular I was eating more junk food than ever before, failing to exercise regularly, not sleeping much, working insanely long and stressful hours and generally heading as fast as I could to an early grave.
I started turning that ship around from the very start of 2018 by joining the Peak Persona 30 day challenge, which is an amazing 30 day program to help business owners reach their peak physical and mental performance as an entrepreneur (and general good human being).
The program did help a lot but it was really the start of a year long journey to getting my mind and body back the way it should be.
At the end of 2018 I can definitely say I’m the fittest I have been in more than 10 years, I am working less (but more productive hours) and feeling better than ever.
Taking care of your health has this funny way of improving many other areas of your life without you realising, for example, being healthier has allowed me to work more productive hours, which means I have had a lot more time for other goals in life such as distance running, writing (like this blog post!), reading, cooking and being a better friend and family member.
Learning: 2018 was a good year for learning new things. One of the best decisions I made in January 2018 was to buy a subscription to Audible.com, that combined with my Kindle meant I read and listened to 13 new books in 2018, up from 2 books in 2017. I also improved my Thai language skills to be a better part of my girlfriend’s life (her parents don’t speak English).
What didn’t I achieve in 2018?
2018 wasn’t all rainbows and kittens, I definitely had down days and down months and while I can painfully pour out all my failures and problems it made more sense just to reflect on them with the lessons I took away from failure this year:
1. If you try to do anything hard you will regularly fail, understand that failure is an important part of the road to success.
2. Understand there are things you can control and things you can’t and try to stop worrying about the things you can’t control.
3. Having unproductive days (or unproductive weeks) is totally normal.
4. You can always do more than you just did, we live in a world where nothing is ever enough so just accept that, stop worrying about it and keep waking up every day and do your best.
5. Happiness is about mindset. Being optimistic and positive even when things are hard will make a real difference to your overall happiness.
Looking ahead to 2019
Every year of my life has a theme.
2017 was the year of “survival”
2018 was no exception. In 2018 my theme was called “processes, performance and people” because those are the things I focused on.
2019 already has a theme – this year the theme is called “1 to 1”. That means myself and the team are going to be focused on spending more time doing small scale activities that focus on connecting 1 to 1 with people, friends, customers, mentors etc.
As much as we can we’re bringing a human and more direct touch to what we do since we truly believe that this is a huge competitive advantage. While every other company is trying their hardest never to speak to anyone (except through some mass marketed Facebook ad campaign).
This leans well into our overall goal of building everything long term and sustainable, building raving fans, not just customers and helping thousands of other business owners succeed along the way.
We are making a bet that when we look back on our life one day we will be proud of the things we have achieved and the people we have helped much more than just the money we have made.
I’m looking forward to another year of conversations, laughter and insights from you all.
Happy New Year 2019!