It’s that time of year. All I want to do is shut down, get off the computer, and eat chocolate. Okay, I also want to ski a lot, spend lots of time with my family, and write.
It’s also the time of year I always have more time to look back and look forward, with less distractions. How about you?
The first exercise I did was to list everything I created/accomplished in the last 12 months. This was fascinating.
I am always busy. Hours at the office, writing in café’s, running off to pick up a child after school, or climbing on a plane for an engagement. So where did the time go?
WHAT I DELIVERED
This was a year of new starts. We produced two of my Advanced Speaker Academy retreats (Kelowna and Vancouver) and I loved them. For a new program I was thrilled with the caliber of participants. The conversations were excellent and it was exciting to see changes happening in the room! I definitely want to offer ASA again in 2014 (watch for those dates).
We also produced two on-line courses (speech design and webinar training). Lots of learning there, but I was happy with the production and we had a great response from participants. I will repeat these, but will make the programs shorter and easier for people to complete (probably over 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks.)
I launched the Experts Enterprise web site and podcast. That was a lot of work and I know there is still more to be done as I refine that brand. I wrote dozens of blogs for the site and we are now at episode 25 of the podcast (about one half of these were interviews). A good start, but now I have to grow the brand.
My keynote presentations were down in numbers this year. That always hurts my bottom line. I think the focus on building the Experts Enterprise brand took my focus off the keynotes. On the other hand, my free presentations, mostly to the expert audiences, were up.
I promoted and delivered some 24 webinars this year (way too many – more on that below.)
I was more active on social media and was successful in getting interviewed on lots of podcasts, like Mixergy, Eventual Millionaire, Entrepreneur on Fire, and Suitcase Entrepreneur. I highly recommend this strategy if you want to grow your on-line brand.
We also got my book sales up on both Amazon (especially on Kindle) and back of room. That was a very satisfying result, especially for a book that has been on the shelves for three years.
And we increased our billable coaching hours dramatically this year. A good financial return and extremely satisfying work.
WHAT I HAVE TO CHANGE
Growth year. 2013 was the build year. 2014 has to be the growth year. I could keep moving to new experiments, but I’ve invested too heavily into the EE brand. Plus, I know there is a demand for solid advice on how to build a successful expert business.
Less volume, bigger numbers. I’m going to cut back on the number of webinars I deliver. Each webinar eats up a couple of days and I need that time back. The podcast and blog provide the ongoing content. I’m going to reserve webinars for special announcements.
Build core programs. I love designing and delivering live events for experts. In 2014 I will be building on programs I already know that work. Advanced Speaker Academy, Experts Intensive, and Webinars for profit. I’ll add one new program that will be called “Your Ultimate Time Machine”.
Drop costs. I wasn’t watching my numbers this year and it hurt me. I need to pay more attention to our operating costs. As much as revenue is always the goal, there is a chunk of change I wasted in admin. costs that I can cut back on. I always am reminded that I have to go out and find every dollar that disappears off the financial statements.
Away more often. Being in Nepal for the month of November was a big lesson in letting go. I loaded up the emails, podcasts, and blogs before I left and then did nothing with the company for a month. It was a great feeling to be released from thinking about the company and I really needed the “down” time to think and write.
My plan for ’14 is to have more mini retreats for family, writing, and adventure. I know that even three days away engaged in a completely different activity can restore my energy and focus. In the next month I’ll be loading up the calendar with those plans.
I know you don’t need to know what I’m working on(!) but I offer these reflections to maybe provoke you to do some reflection about your directions. And here are three thoughts for your company.
- Take some time to reflect and plan. My planning process was delayed because I was in Nepal for all of November. Regardless, I still allow at least two weeks to process the thinking I need to do for my planning.
- Challenge assumptions. It’s easy to keep pushing a bad plan. A good example is the webinars I worked so hard on this year. I’m convinced that if I did half as many I would not only save a lot of time I would get better results.
- Keep your plan simple. You won’t review a complicated plan, or excel chart, so keep your plan simple. I use a single Word doc. to record all the major decisions for the year. That’s backed up with a wall calendar, excel spread sheets, but it’s the one page doc I review the most.
I know 2014 will be another remarkable year. I know that because I plan to make it that.
And that’s my wish for you as well.
All the best to you and your family in the holiday season!