Looking Back at 2014: Power Curves, Teamwork & Mindset Changes

The end of the year approaches and as has become a tradition on this blog, I want to take a look back and tell you about the most valuable lessons I learnt in the last 12 months.

The year 2014 has been the craziest year I’ve experienced in business so far. By any number you could care to measure, it has been a very successful year and it has been a wild ride. Never before have I experienced so much change and so many things happening, all crammed into such a short time span.

Listen to the audio below to extract as much of the insights Paul and myself absorbed this year and make use of it for your own business:

Podcast Video

Note: the video is mostly static. I’ve added a few illustrations, to make one of the points a bit clearer.

Podcast Audio

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Topics Covered in this Podcast Episode:

  • What it’s like to move from being a solopreneur to managing a team and the big challenges that face any growing business.
  • Why an inability to “let go” was one of the big problems we had to deal with this year.
  • How I’ve added a new layer to the principle of The Grind to make it massively more effective.
  • What the 1% vs. the 99% has to do with your business – and how you can aim for huge (2x, 10x, 15x) improvements instead of small, incremental improvements.
  • The one thing that we changed the most about our process as our business continued to grow.
  • A huge mistake I made for about 10 out of the 12 months of the year – and how it cost us a product launch and possibly 6 figures in revenue.
  • The 2-person combo that we’ve applied to software development and that has been the driver of a lot of our success.
  • Why I’ve become obsessed with the idea of rapid implementation – and how you can apply it to every aspect of your business (and life) to get better results.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below.

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About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Tom McGaughan says:

    Great Podcast you guys…I have been following you Shane for many years, and buying your products, I just love Thrive Themes and the way both you, Paul and your team has enhanced and improved the software.

    Thank you for personalizing all your trials & tribulations…this past year and
    sharing your ideas and advice on your blog here and on TT.

    Tom McGaughan

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for this comment, Tom. It’s good to know that our desire to build better products shines through. :)

  • Samith says:

    Hey Shane, likewise, been following your journey for a while and you are one of my most trusted sources online. Thanks for sharing your lessons here there was so much gold in the podcast!

  • sanjay sharma says:

    Thanks for the Podcast. It is truly amazing. I learn a lots of things. and most importantly you have inspire me to take action, which i am already taking but back in mind I am thinking before making this course i have to first complete all these things than I sell it on udemy. I am watching in udemy that many people are selling very superior kind of products and my product seems to be very low in terms of quality and content.

    But I get the message. Make it and sell to the customer and than improve it.

    Sanjay Sharma

    PS : by the way this year post about 2014 is way so much better than the 2013. This is what i am expected from you.

    Sanjay Sharma

    • Shane says:

      Hi Sanjay,

      Thanks for your comment!
      I don’t know what niche you’re in, but I’ve seen a couple of courses on udemy that were utter rubbish. I’m pretty sure there’s no need to be intimidated by that marketplace. :)

  • Adam Drake says:

    Hi Shane,

    I really enjoyed this podcast. Nice to hear people talking honestly about the ups and downs of the year, plus your plans for success. A couple of things stood out:

    1) The skill that got you from zero to A, won’t necessarily get you from A to B. Excellent!

    2) As the team grows, you need to focus on your speciality. Concentrating on your strengths rather than getting involved in everything means more success for your company. A solid lesson.

    I make a point of absorbing your weekly blogs as I find them extremely useful. Our company is following in your footsteps, albeit a few years behind, and I’m a strong believer in learning from others – standing on the shoulders of giants – after all, why make the same mistakes you have if I can learn from them?

    Your blog is the first place I look for internet marketing information. Keep it up. Oh, and it obviously works – I already own HC and TCB! Amazing tools.


    • Shane says:

      Thank you for your comment, Adam!

      I’m very happy to hear that this site has been a valuable source of information for you. Helping people avoid the mistakes I’ve made and learn from the things that have worked for me is exactly what I hope to accomplish here.

  • Kirby Bongayan says:

    Shane and Paul,

    This is gold.

    Just last September, I made the jump from being a solopreneur to having a a 7-man team. Its a lot more daunting and stressful especially in the systems-creation phase, but boy, the grit and grind part feels a lot more fulfilling. Im sure you felt the same way.

    My business model is PPC -> Lead Gen (using viral quiz builder here) -> Email Marketing (via ARM-style marketing) for my own digital products and my bottleneck has been spending too much time making sure the landing page is perfect.

    In the end, going for an MVP is truly a massive blessing. I am now reading the lean startup, and am revising my system based on your advice.

    Id love to share results in the future with your and your audience if that’s fine?

    Happy Holidays, guys!

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kirby!

      Sounds like an interesting setup you have going. I’ll get in touch by email.

  • Jim Galiano says:

    Great talk! I, too, get tied up in the product. I really get into the tech stuff, but when I focus on marketing… everything moves forward at twice the speed. Even so, when no one is looking… I find myself tinkering with a bunch of tools and tech again. :)

    • Shane says:

      Haha, that sounds a lot like me, Jim. I think it’s okay to not be 100% on marketing, but with me it got to the point where I was 100% on product for a long time and that’s definitely not good.

      It’s one of those things that creeps up on you, I think. You don’t wake up one morning and say “alright, I’m not going to do any marketing for the next few months!” – it just happens gradually.

  • Mark says:

    Ok, here’s the issue Shane – you’re beginning to annoy me!

    It’s 23rd December and I have a whole load of business things I have to get done today and tomorrow and not enough time to do so. But while I was having a cup of tea and sandwich at lunch time I decided to read your email (Thrive Content Builder related) and before I know it I’m here on your blog having watched a video, read a couple of your articles and started to watch/listen to the webinar recording.

    You see the problem I have is that “everything” you have to say is valuable to me and my business and everything you write and release (videos etc) is so engaging and well put together I feel compelled to read & listen! I promised myself to be totally focused today and yet here I am writing to you!

    However, I am really grateful to you because during 2014 I learned an extremely, no vital, lesson from you…

    You don’t need stacks of plugins (Thrive Content Builder takes the place of at least 6 – all of which are inferior anyway) nor do you need to listen to a gaggle of marketers all hell bent on “promoting” their product in the guise of being good guides.

    It’s all about focus and simplification. Your products are amongst THE very best and I haven’t read a single thing from you Shane that doesn’t make sense and isn’t presented significantly better than anyone else I’ve encountered. During the year I’ve streamlined my sites and culled the blogs and emails I read and I know I’m in a much better position now that 12 months ago. Thanks


    So thank you Shane, (you’re not annoying me really)

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Mark! This comment means a lot to me, as this is exactly the kind of results I hope I can help readers and customers achieve.

      I’ve been doing this for several years, but it’s no exaggeration when I say that I’m still nervous about every piece of content I release. I’m always worried about wasting someone’s time. So it’s great to know that there are people in my audience who pay attention, take action and get results.

      All the best for 2015!

      • Mark says:

        Hey Shane, one of the biggest differences I notices when I started focusing on working online is the lack of instant feedback. I’ve been in sales for over 20 years (face to face) and once you identify that it’s got nothing much to do with sales techniques and closing skills (although they do play a small part) but all about authenticity and the REAL needs of the client / customer it’s easy. But of course when you’re face to face you get instant feedback: comments, body language, nodding etc so it is simple to adjust and know when you doing and saying the right things.

        Online, when you put out some content, as you say, it is easy to worry about the audience’s reaction since you can’t possibly know how someone, possibly the other side of the world, is reacting.

        That’s why it is so important to me that I give positive feedback when the content is great.

        It’s actually self-serving too as you’re more likely to provide me with similar stuff in the future. See, I even think you’re writing just for me!

      • Shane says:

        Yeah, that’s a good point. This is the reason that comments and other forms of feedback have always been important in my business. They allow me to calibrate my message and my products.

      • Kirby Bongayan says:

        Shane and Mark:

        That’s a feedback loop, right there! :) Talk about walking the talk.

        2015 is our year guys, lets take it. It belongs to us!


      • Shane says:

        Thank you, Kirby! Happy New Year to you too!

  • Mark…

    I couldn’t have said it any better myself…

    That Shane is irritatingly on message…clairvoyant and a damn smart dude…

    Merry Christmas to you and okay…You Too Shane… ;o)

    Looking forward to some great videos and posts here and on TT…


    • Mark says:

      Merry Christmas to you too Tom. Glad I’m not the only “groupie”!!!!!

    • Shane says:

      Thank you very much, Tom!

  • Johnn Four says:

    Shane, are you and Paul the principals of the business? How did you two connect?

    When you started your business, did you plan to get big enough to need employees? Or did you fly by the seat of your pants and suddenly, one day, you realized you needed help?

    If you had to start out again as a solopreneur developing software, would you plan from the beginning to have a team? What steps would you take for this? Write more documentation, get good at three core skills X, Y, and Z first?

    Merry Christmas,

    • Shane says:

      Hi Johnn,

      Paul originally got in touch with me because he liked one of my free products and asked to use it in a membership site he was building at the time. We soon realized that we had some very similar outlooks about this whole online business thing and started collaborating on some small projects and things grew organically from there.

      When we started Thrive Themes, it was clear that we were going to need help (and we started with two additional people right out the gate). We didn’t realize just how quickly it would grow and how soon we’d have more than a dozen people, though.

      I don’t think either option (solopreneur vs. team) is better or the “right” choice. You can definitely run a successful online business just with yourself and maybe a PA or two, but it doesn’t work for every business model. I think no matter what you do, developing core marketing skills first is invaluable. Even if I completely step out of doing marketing myself at some point, the fact that I have real world experience in understanding markets and selling products to people will always be an important influence on any business decision I make.

      • Johnn Four says:

        That’s great advice Shane. Thanks.

  • It is very wise to look back & see what went well & what needs improvement. I can only imagine what it takes to develop products like you and Paul do.

    I had more success in my second full year online than I had last year. It would not be wise to put my head in the sand & say something has to change to build a thriving audience again. Have a fantastic 2015 & thanks for sharing your experience !

    • Shane says:

      Thank you, Danielle! Glad to hear that you made progress last year. I think that’s one of the most important things: no matter how far along you are, as long as you’re making steady progress you know you’ll get there.

  • Seppo says:

    Late to the party, but just listened to this episode. I’m trailing a few years behind you guys, since I’m just getting over the solopreneur and “whatever needs done, I’ll do it – regardless of how much I suck at it or how long it takes”. Learning to outsource and pay others as a way to overcome my own procrastination and laziness is a whole another skill. But little by little. But it’s nice to hear that most people probably have to go through the same struggles.

    If podcast would be a 2-way medium you could hear repeated hand-to-forehead slaps when you talked about power curves and how much more effective it is to have people do the things they excel at. That’s more or less the opposite of what I’m doing now. I tend to waste so much time doing things I’m not good at because I have this mindset that ‘I just can’t afford to pay someone else to do it’. Slowly getting over that.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for this comment, Seppo. I’m right there with you, when it comes to forehead slapping. These are things that I did wrong for way too long and it still happens all the time that I read something and learn something new that makes me realize some big mistakes I’ve been making. All part of the learning process. :)

  • Justin says:

    Great podcast! Very nice to hear from European guys in this market ;-)

    Yep I am your perfect Thrive builder customer having tried about 4 other WP builders and themes out there before stumbling apon the oasis that is Thrive.

    I can resonate fully with your solo to startup learning how to implement processes and structures (not in an old hierarchical way but striving to be value driven – theres the key). I appreciate you sharing your ‘failures’, lots to learn there but not everyone dares to be so transparent.

    I wish you all the best!

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for your comment, Justin! And thanks for confirming my theory of the perfect TCB customer. :)

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