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Home » Business Owners

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014: A Year In Review

Happy New Year!

So goodbye then, 2013.

It’s that time of year when you reflect on the last 12 months, what’s gone well and what could have gone better. 

Maybe the reflection will give me some useful lessons that can be applied to the next 12 months.

Yes, itt’s time for my year in review.

Overally, on both the work and personal front, 2013 has been a pretty successful year for me.

Notable successes were several new client contracts, a new book and the purchase of our family home in New Zealand.

But I thought I’d kick off this annual review by mentioning the books, TV shows and movies that I’ve enjoyed this last year and in some part contributed to how the year turned out.

This year, I swapped my iPad for the iPad Mini. It’s essentially the size of a paperback book and I love it. I’ve also found that I’m reading far more books as a result. Basically, because it’s the size of paperback, it is so much more comfortable in the hand for reading compared to the standard sized iPad.  

So here’s some of the stuff I’ve used it for:

Books

Fiction wise I really enjoyed Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. The real surprise of this book was of course that Robert Galbraith is actually a pen name of JK Rowling (the eponymous author of the Harry Potter books) – a story about a modern day Sherlock Holmes asked to investigate the death of a super model – a great read full of lots of twists and turns.

The other fiction book I enjoyed was Lee Child’s 18th outing of Jack Reacher in Never Go Back.  I’ve been a big fan of the Jack Reacher series ever since I read Killing Floor. Whilst not the best Jack Reacher novel, nevertheless a great read and really enjoyable, page turning plot about a military operation been interrupted and Major Reacher being moved to temporary location. Only to discover a number of senior officers had also received similar orders – but why?

Non fiction wise, I enjoyed Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less. If you’re looking to grow your business into a big business, this book is full of sharp insight and strategies which are based on his work with multi million dollar companies.

From my own point of view, November saw the publishing of my second ebook How To Make Your Business Plan Lift Off. This took up a lot of time but I’m really pleased how it’s turned out.

Another book worth checking out is Decisive: How to Make Better Choices In Life and Work – by Chip and Dan Heath, authors of a couple of really good books (also worth checking out) Made to Stick and Switch – Decisive is about avoiding the “four villains of decision making” and overcomming the natural biases which cloud decision making. Applying these lessons will help you make better choices, and make decisions with greater certainty.

Movies

My wife’s not a big fan of going to the movies and since the birth of the little one, we don’t really get the time, but I was lucky enough to get invited to a private screening of Rush (YouTube clip) about the intense rivalry of Formula 1 champions of Nikki Lauda and James Hunt – the cinematography and the sound are amazing. If you’re into F1 you should really see this film.   I  also really enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty, Katherine Bigelow’s take on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, which was brilliantly shot and compulsively watchable. 

TV

New Zealand TV is not the best. But thanks to Apple TV/iPad Mini and iTunes, I joined the party late and finally got to watch Breaking Bad (so far, I’m up to series 2 and I’m loving it.) Breaking Bad is compulsive viewing. The last programme I enjoyed as much was 24. It’s one of the most original and addictive shows in years.  If you’ve never seen Breaking Bad have a look at this fan made trailer.

Business

From a business standpoint, 2013 has brought me a number of challenges.

Following our relocation to New Zealand from the UK at the end of 2012, it’s not always been easy to run my business as I did when I was in the UK. 

The main challenge for me is being one of time.  Not lack of it, time difference.  This is thanks to New Zealand being between +11 and +13 hours ahead of the UK and +21 hours ahead of the US West Coast.  Whilst my diary scheduling tool TimeTrade handles the pain of time differences, it means that my schedule can include some early mornings and late nights to make client calls.

However, this has given me far more time to spend with my 3 year old than I had in the UK and also the opportunity to undertake a longer term client assignment with the New Zealand Government.   This has not only exposed me to an area I’ve never been exposed to before, but given me opportunities that I could never have dreamed of. For example, visiting to the National Emergency Management Centre underground bunker, and lunch at the Prime Minister’s official residence.

One of my big focuses in 2013 has been email marketing to grow my business.  I have really stepped up the frequency that I send out newsletters to my list (now weekly) and I’ve had really positive results from doing it.

I’ve also seen strong growth in the number of people joining my newsletter over the last 12 months.    In fact a number of people have told me they signed up for my newsletter after it’s been passed to them by a friend.  So that’s a win on both counts. 

Not so well…

With more effort on the email marketing front, sadly the blog has suffered less frequent updates. However, on the blog posts I have written, I have spent much more time and effort on the quality of each post.  Each post I write now I seek to give as much detailed and useful information as possible to the readers.   

So rather than post more frequently but with lower quality content, I’ve decided to only write useful, “good stuff” you want to read and can implement to grow your business!

For a couple of years I ran a round up series called Wednesday Wisdom. Whilst a popular series back in the day, I realised that it effectively sent traffic to other sites, rather than keeping them on my own. After a lot of agonising and thought about whether it would hurt my Search Engine rankings – I decided to delete them and a number of out of date posts, seeing around 160 blog posts disappear from the site forever.

Whether it’s hurt rankings or not, I really don’t care.

Because fundamentally, it will come back as more quality content gets shared indexed by the Search Engines. One thing’s for sure is that site traffic is definitely, but more importantly increases in lead generation.

The benefit of  deciding which content should be deleted is that it has really helped me focus on what this site is all about.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a site to be somewhere where I could share my ideas or notes about the books I’d read, along with other business and leadership I came across.  As a result, my content covered a broad number of topics, but none in any particular depth.

Which in then end meant I was a little boat bobbing about on the ocean.

However, I’ve now been doing what I tell clients all the time. Narrow your focus!

As a result I’m focusing my efforts around growing a business by at least 10 times (10x for short) – it’s still aimed at tech and professional services business owners (think web designers, lawyers, accountants and consultants) – but it’s for established business owners, serious about growing their business and building a legacy, not a lifestyle business.

2013 Lessons Learned:

So my real big lessons for 2013 have been around a number of areas:

– using an editor for my book really improved the quality of the book and made my content much crisper, clearer and more impactful.  I will definitely use an editor again when I write my next book (which will come out sometime in 2014 and be on the subject of 10x ing your business).

– I should have started marketing my book much earlier and ran it as a project with a proper plan and targeted marketing collateral in launch week.   Instead I was late with a couple of my own imposed deadlines and I hadn’t appreciated that the editing process would take the time it did (time well spent as it turned out).

– The use of Leadpages.net has really contributed to the growth of my email newsletter list and the membership will definitely be renewed next year.

– Using Contactually has really helped me keep in touch with prospects and clients by reminding me to contact people or follow up on a proposal.    Keeping tabs or clients is a nightmare in Outlook or Gmail and Contactually has really made this process so much easier.

– It might not work – This year I had the opportunity to write a short guide on the essentials of writing a business plan – called a Winger’s Guide.  This was a new business started by a friend of a friend in the UK. Sadly it didn’t work out and Winger’s Guides has now shut the virtual doors and ceased trading. However, the content formed the cornerstone of my full length book How To Make Your Business Plan Lift Off, so nothing really wasted.   The point is when you get opportunities, you need to seize them.  You never know, they just might work.

So that’s my review for another year.

Take care all, and have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014.