In 2013, my gamble from the year before paid off. I managed to build a sustainable business that generates sales and makes happy customers on a regular basis, without having to rely on bargain-bin pricing or the continuous launching of new products. With proof that this concept works, I doubled down and invested almost every penny I earned back into the business, expanding our team and taking on bigger and more ambitious projects.
Take-away: the evergreen marketing idea is paying off. Also: invest in what you know (your own business, assuming it is already profitable) before worrying about diversification.
More importantly, I doubled down on my philosophy of the Grind by focusing first and foremost on developing skills. While all the numbers for my business in 2013 look good, the biggest win lies in the skills and experience myself and my team members gained. We challenged ourselves with difficult tasks that tested and developed our skills and we are now far more capable than we were 12 months ago.
Take-away: focusing on developing skills (in yourself and people who work for you) and growing those skills through practical application (learning-by-doing) is the fastest way I know to move a business forward.
I also realized something about plans and goals: it’s not unusual to change direction and abandon parts of a plan. In fact, I believe this is a sign of good planning, rather than bad planning. Well laid out plans and clear goals take you in a direction and give you clarity. Sometimes this clarity lets you recognize that a change of direction is the best thing for your business.
Take-away: make plans, but don’t worry when you are almost inevitably led in different directions than you originally set out for.