2014 is coming to a close. One of my more recent goals in business has been… well… to set actual goals! I’ve always had abstract ideas of what I want out of this business, but 2014 was the first year that I actually wrote anything out- and even this was not in the form of a “business plan” but rather a blog post! My post contained 4 fairly concrete goals. Of these 4 goals, the focus varied from being specific to 2014, to broader goals for the trajectory of the business.
Today I’d like to review those goals, try to gauge how close I came to meeting each goal and then renew those goals that pertain to 2015. Additionally, I’ll also talk about what I learned that helped me meet the goals as well as mistakes I made that created challenges in meeting the goals. As always, my hope is that my discussion of these things will help you meet your own business goals as well! Let’s begin!
GOAL #1: Be able to run my entire business from a laptop.
In essence, I wanted to be able to run my business from anywhere at any time, rather than being forced to a single location
WAS THIS GOAL MET AND HOW?
Yes! I’ve met this goal entirely! I’m happy to report that I as of January 1st, I am officially done putting in USPS pick up requests and that 100% of my inventory has been cleared from my house! 99% of this is now in FBA warehouses. The other 1% is being handled by my main contractor/outsourcer. He is also handling the returns that come in from Amazon and Ebay. Every once in a while, merchant fulfilled orders still come in and he fills these. As a side-benefit, the absence of physical products coming in and out of my residence has significantly relieved a lot of underlying stress that I wasn’t even fully aware of! It feels great to things to be clean and organized and stay that way!
LIMITATIONS OF THE CURRENT SITUATION:
The main drawback of having my contractor handle some of my inventory is I am essentially relying on one person. A couple of weeks ago, he got sick and I happened to get an order to Canada (long story) that could not be fulfilled through FBA. This presented a problem. The order went out the next day, but this helped me realize that I am going to need to plan for this. In 2015, I plan to hire at least one more person to share these responsibilities!
GOAL #2. Spend less time on the business in general- outsource or automate every possible part of the business
Particularly in late 2013 and early 2014, I found myself spending more time on business than I would like. Building a real business takes time, work and active involvement, but I also know that it’s possible to outsource and automate a lot of what I do. My main goal here is to stick to a better schedule- particularly regarding my “cut-off time”- the time of day where I commit to being “done” with work.
I want to treat this business more like a job- I want my business to be a means to living the kind of life I want rather than the business being my life.
WAS THE GOAL MET AND HOW?
For this one, I would say the answer is largely no. This was the goal I struggled with the most out of the 4. I think I actually worked more hours in 2014 than I did any other year in business! Part of this (unfortunately) was due to starting this blog last year. I completely love the work I’ve done with alittlesliceofthepie.com but the truth is, it’s a lot of work for very little financial return. I absolutely love that I started this and to me, it’s worth it. There is a “return on my investment” but the return comes largely in non-monetary forms. This is what keeps me going- the success stories that I hear from all of you and the countless “thank you” emails I receive. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that my blog has helped so many people and to hear actual stories of people getting out of debt, starting side incomes and creating an entire business due to being inspired by the content I provide and taking action on it!
The blog itself actually does not take up a lot of time (a single post takes me quite a while, but I usually only write a couple per month!) It’s the “behind the scenes” stuff that really eats into my time. I personally answer every single email that comes in and many of the emails require fairly lengthy responses. I love doing it- I really do. At the same time, reflecting on this last year, I’m realizing that this practice is actually hindering this goal- at least in part. The other area of “A Little Slice of the Pie” that takes a ton of time is creating off-blog content. I’ve spent countless hours, days and months re-working my ebook as well as updating the other corresponding pieces of content. I have so enjoyed this. I think the new ebook is 10X better than the original (and well over 100 pages of content!) but if I’m honest, there is probably a direct correlation between the time spent on content writing and emails and the time (or lack of time) I spend with my wife and kids. This tells me my priorities are off or at least that I don’t have adequate boundaries to give me the time I desire to fully engage in the most important things in life. I aim to make some time for my family every day, but I’d really like to create some better boundaries to insure a more regular schedule because if I’m honest, I could do better. This goal of working less is going to have to carry over and be renewed for 2015! In an upcoming post, I’ll lay out in more detail how I plan to meet this goal! – yes, a bit ironic I know- I plan to spend more time on my blog to explain how I plan to spend less. Perhaps a blank post would “explain” it best – just kidding- I have a real plan to meet this goal over the course of this next year.
GOAL #3: Start a new brand and grow existing brands
I’ve come to see that private labeling is a significant chunk of my e-commerce pie! While I still regularly buy and sell through arbitrage and wholesale methods as well as purchase media to fill in the gaps, private labeling is a high profit, high volume stream of income that deserves to be expanded!
WAS THE GOAL MET AND HOW?
No and Yes. This is an ongoing goal. This last year, I added 3 new products to my newest brand, and a 4th new product is in the works! I also have 3 new products in the works for another brand! This portion of the goal was very much met and continues to be! Unfortunately, I have not yet started my next brand. However, I’ve been researching products for a new brand these last few weeks and I plan to start a new brand within a month or two! I’m quite happy with my progress in this goal! In 2015, I plan to be very aggressive with this area of business. in an upcoming post, I’ll explain more of my strategy to maximize the private label portion of my business!
GOAL #4: Build out the business OFF Amazon and Ebay
This goal is all about making money apart from selling physical products on Amazon and Ebay. This includes selling on my own websites as well as some other ideas that I have floating around (more on this in upcoming posts!) The idea is this: if my Amazon account was shut down today I’d like to have to get a job (or work really really hard at figuring out how to replace that stream online fast) I’d like to get to the point where I have my living expenses covered by a separate stream of income (between $40,000 and $50,000 for the year- that comes out to around $3000-$4000 a month). This would provide some added security in case anything ever goes south with Amazon (I don’t see any reason this would happen, but it’s always smart to be prepared!)
WAS THE GOAL MET AND HOW?
This goal was not specific to 2014. My plan has been from the beginning to proactively pursue this beginning in 2015. However, I did want to take some major steps toward this goal in 2014. I have done this (though much more is needed!) I’ve built up several websites and designed them in a way to encourage on-site sales. Sales have already begun coming in. You’ll start seeing more of these numbers in my income reports going forward. I’m also working on ideas for income that does not come from physical products. More on this later. I’m fairly happy with the progress I’ve made in 2014 on this goal, but by the end of 2016, I’d like to have this built up to at least $5,000 a month in revenue- a fairly lofty goal in my opinion, but attainable if I work at it!
WHAT I LEARNED:
The process of creating these goals taught me a lot. The main thing I learned is writing (or typing) out a goal plays a huge part in actually implementing it and ultimately achieving it! I’ve had “goals” for years that I’ve never pursued because I didn’t have them written out. More importantly, I didn’t have a deadline! I can tell you that the only reason I no longer have inventory in my house is because I wrote out this goal to specifically be completed by the end of the year. I constantly kept it in my mind. Every day closer to December 31st was a reminder to get on this! I then broke it up into actionable steps every couple of weeks (“sort though this box, sort through that box, send this inventory in to FBA, close out this inventory etc etc”)
I plan to write another post early January with specific actionable goals for 2015. I already have them in mind (and I eluded to a few of them above). Once I commit them to
paper blog, I believe the probability of success will absolutely skyrocket! I believe 2015 is going to be my best year yet!
How were things in your business for 2014? Did you have goals? Were they written down? Please comment below with your own 2014 goals and how well they were met in 2014!
If you’re just starting out and need some guidance, please download my free guide below! It’s a great way to start off the new year! Thanks as always for your support!