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report cardNot only did we survive 2014, but, dare I say it, we may have even taken steps towards that ever present goal of thriving.

How do we measure our success? Like this:

Last year we published this post, detailing our goals for 2014. Now it’s time to look back and see how we measured up to our own aspirations.

So, here we go, our uncensored report card for 2014:


1) Blog Less. Publish More. Converse More.

We succeeded in blogging less by outsourcing. Upon publishing our guest post guidelines, the stream of unsolicited submissions (of varying quality) began.

On the flip side, our attempts at capturing video didn’t pan out so well. We did succeed in building our YouTube library, but I’d be lying if I said I was totally satisfied with the quality so far. Especially given our background in the film biz.

The one point five radio appearances we finagled with the local radio station turned out better. Maybe that’s our medium.

Converse more: Nate’s push to offer more free workshops has increased our volume and quality of conversations well over ten-fold, so I’ma chalk that one up on the board under “success”.

And our book? What book? I know not of what you speak.

GRADE: C+

2015 course corrections:

  • Crack the video nut – starting with some minutes long, old-school chalk board how-to sessions
  • Offer more workshops in California, Oregon and Washington
  • More frequent radio appearances, with increasingly zanier audiences
  • Continue publishing guest contributed articles.
  • Continue amping up the quality (and in some cases frequency) of our newsletters

2) Shift Focus to the Area of Greatest Impact

Axing / outsourcing our website projects has allowed us to amp up our impact AND sharpen our focus considerably. Our work training small business owners and concentrating on helping our fellow business owners rock out the best newsletters possible through MailChimp has had a far greater impact for our clients and our own bottom line.

GRADE: A-

2015 course corrections:

  • Continue to trim the fat. Don’t get caught up chasing shiny objects (I’m talking to you, Nate), rock what we do best better than anyone else.

3) Become More Human, More Transparent

We kicked this off to a great start in 2014 with our New Year cards. However, our 2015 cards are still sitting in the box, next to a pile of unlicked stamps.

I’d say our level of transparency is pretty high, at least to those subscribed to our newsletter.

The main steps we’ve taken in the “Human” department is the realization that the only way to scale our human business up is to hire superhuman people. And we have. This year we welcomed Mark Holder, Rachel Myles and Victoria Penn to the team, as well as welcomed back our long-time social (media) butterfly, Grace and our media demon, Billy Gold. 

Likewise, narrowing our focus to training-type clients has helped in this regard as well. Our clients no longer hire us with the hope that they can “fire and forget”. We demand a hands-on approach, because that’s what we do best, to help our clients do their best.

GRADE: B+

2015 course corrections:

  • Get some (or all) of our awesome humans on payroll
  • Roll out our 2015 New Year’s mailers with new and improved human imperfections
  • Become more bold in addressing our client’s robotic marketing practices.

4) Hit the Road … Grow our Ecosystem

Okay, so we didn’t hit a single location on our list from our original resolutions. Between running our first Small Business Owner Bootcamp in Leavenworth, WA in the spring, our road trip down the west coast in the summer, and even failing to run our second Small Business Owners Bootcamp in the Bay Area, we managed to grow our local eco-system more than I expected.

Perhaps a bit of explanation is in order. Yeah, we over-estimated the interest/feasibility of running a bootcamp in the Bay Area. The connections we made in pursuit of this, however, including partnering up with Kathleen Keagy of Prime Impulse for smaller-scale workshops, strengthened and tightened our eco-system in the Bay Area and beyond.

GRADE: B

2015 course corrections:

  • Keep the road show going – with more intent. Our game plan for 2015 includes dominating the west coast with a network of free workshops, marketing support and training with the end goal of opening physical, human-staffed offices.
  • And yeah, we still want to travel abroad too, to give our Serbia, Qatar, England and Lebanon clients a human visit.

5) Earn the Respect of Professionals That We Respect

We managed to connect live (well Skype counts I think) with S. Anthony Iannarino and Sebastian Marshall. We also grew our list of respected professionals as we grew our eco-system. I did manage to finagle my way into meeting Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegner (Atomic Robo), though I doubt my brief interaction made much of an impression on them.

No, I did not meet Stephen Moffat. There’s always next year 🙂

GRADE: C+

2015 course corrections:

  • This one is a tougher nut to crack – by doing more audacious, high impact projects, we’ll earn our way into the room of influencers.

So, what’s the big lesson here?

When we obsessed about how to truly help our clients, we took great leaps forward. When we got caught up in our own ideas, we failed. Our mission / obsession moving forward continue to be:

be relentlessly useful to small business owners

while

injecting humanity back into business

to achieve

massive impact

And maybe we’ll get around to publishing that book. Or not. Depends on if we figure out a way to make it relentlessly useful and superhuman.

Happy New Year(‘s Eve), y’all.

– Seth –