In the spirit of our ongoing pursuit of transparency, here's a report card of how we are doing so far. For reference, here's our original list:
THE VERDICT: Other than our sizable progress on the book (25% Complete), our other writing and outreach has been pushed way too far down the priority list. In particular, our newsletter growth has leveled out, though our open and click rates have started climbing which is encouraging. Our level of bravery has gradually been increasing as we pursue that "WikiPedia worthy" accomplishment, but still a long ways off.
SOLUTION: Inject more accountability into the process (such as this article) to strictly adhere to our own editorial calendar. Specifically guest writing will help us earn the momentum necessary to build a story-worthy business.
THE VERDICT: We've been kicking ass in this department, I'm happy to report. An interesting side effects of making our business more transparent is that it has empowered our clients and fans to let us know when we aren't doing so awesome. Trimming down our list of available services and transitioning to better eCommerce and scheduling tools has made our sales process much easier, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. Sharpening our focus has helped out our business in more ways than I can count. Apparently practicing what we preach works, who woulda thought, huh?
SOLUTION: Hire a pro to help us iron out the usability wrinkles on our site.
THE VERDICT: These are fuzzy goals, so not easy to cross off the list. All I can say with confidence is that every time we inject 'warts and all' humanity into our work, we are rewarded with more business and stronger loyalty. Hand-written New Year's cards were a big hit. We've been gaining ground this past month in helping ourselves (and our clients) to replace some of their social media efforts with overtly human activities. Transparency has been fairly easy to integrate into our business since Seth and I have open personalities to begin with. However, injecting humanity into our jargon laden world of marketing has proven to be ridiculously difficult.
SOLUTION: Convert this list into tasks / mini-projects that we can actually complete. Schedule more in-person activities. Localize more of our outreach.
COMPLETE: Finished our first Small Business Owners Bootcamp in Leavenworth, WA this month, plus we got a chance to jam with John Dundon a few weeks ago while he was in Seattle. Keeping up with our Irish web developers was a trip in itself.
PENDING: San Francisco - July 2014 for a Small Business Owner Bootcamp. Hope to visit Leo Babauta and our amazing Bay Area clients as well. Road trip to the south this summer (fingers crossed) - hope to visit MailChimp in Atlanta and Nerd Fitness in Nashville. Small Business Owner Workshop in Austin this October ... hope to meet new clients like Brooke Foreman and marketing badasses like Noah Kagan. Easter Europe trip hinges on a pending grant award for our NGO in Serbia.
SOLUTION: Invest time into mapping our ecosystem, and keep growing our army of owner-clients. Narrow our focus on areas that we can offer workshops to transform the trips from expenses to investments.
THE VERDICT: These are also fuzzy goals. Doing newsworthy / story-worthy stuff needs to come first, then actually getting in touch with these folks.
SOLUTION: Convert this list into daily / weekly cumulative habits that lead to epic progress.
Many of our resolutions had no specific tasks associated with them. In other words, there would be no way for us to cross it off the list. Of course some of them are ongoing challenges, however, those should have been labeled as outcomes not goals. Here's our original list of desired outcomes for reference:
More Successful Projects. Better Projects.
Less Consulting. More Training.
More Recurring Revenue.
Lots More Helping.
Publish a Book
Our bootcamps have become a silver bullet goal that helps us achieve every one of those outcomes. They lead to referrals via our bootcamp survivors to standalone and recurring projects, are 100% training focused, are supremely useful, provide fodder for our book and require travel. Though not easily scalable, they are most certainly human which matters much more.
We'll send out another update in a few months. Stay tuned.