For the last two weeks, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to write my annual review and just stared at a blank screen.
Or clicked away to YouTube.
Or gotten up to play my shiny new Nintendo Switch.
Writing this review and taking a deep dive into what went well in 2017 and what I want to do for 2018 has been harder this year than ever.
The reality is, it’s harder because I’m taking it much more seriously this time.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken a step back and truly asked myself questions like:
- “What do I need to do to make Location Rebel better?”
- “How can I help more of our readers have success?”
- “What do I want Location Rebel to look like 1, 5, or even 10 years from now?”
Those are intense questions, and because I’ve taken them so seriously I’m finding myself at a major turning point.
A point that has me in a weird dichotomy between “what got you here won’t get you there” and “what got you here needs to be front and center.”
Let me try and explain that.
What Got You Here Needs to Be Front And Center
I finally found the words to write this review after going back and re-reading my review for 2016.
The first 2/3 of it were really tough to read as I realized, I didn’t really make the changes that I so clearly and vividly had set out to make.
The very first point I made in that review said:
“The Business With Personality Wins”
And then I go on to explain how in trying to highlight more members of the community and make the site less about my journey, I lost that connection with many of my readers.
It wasn’t until last month that I realized during 2017, I still didn’t add that personality back in.
When I wrote about my Sabbatical, the responses I got from people were incredible. I got dozens of emails and comments about this trip from people that were genuinely interested.
I was real. I was honest. And I shared part of my journey.
I did everything I said I needed to do in 2017, but hadn’t done.
Through thousands of conversations with readers like you, it’s become pretty clear to me that you want a guide or mentor that you can trust to show you how to go from day job to lifestyle business.
No matter how useful or practical a guest post might be, that’s not doing anything to grow our relationship and trust levels.
Part of how I’m doing this going forward is through video. Subscribe to my You Tube channel here.
Systems, Planning, and Goals
So that’s the element of, “what got you here needs to be front and center.”
The other side of the coin is that I’ve been unbelievably relaxed when it comes to business growth, planning, and systems.
I’ve taken an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, which is fine if you want to stay where you are – but if you’re trying to actually grow something, it’s vital that you’re constantly improving.
This last month I’ve started really digging into the fundamentals of my business and putting a plan together for 2018.
One of the key realizations I’ve had is that nearly all of the systems and tools I’m using here at Location Rebel aren’t the ones that are going to help me elevate this to the next level.
Less than two years ago we moved our entire site to a new platform.
It was the single worst business decision I’ve ever made. We’ll save that conversation for another time – but I can’t begin to describe the hundreds of hours of wasted time, frustration, and money that this move has cost us.
The thought of doing the work to move off the platform was so daunting, I was pretty sure we’d be stuck with it for years.
But in this month of reflection, it’s become abundantly clear “what got you here won’t get you there” and it’s time to suck it up, take my medicine, and move back to WordPress.
This single decision has had a ripple effect on the entire system and my business.
It’s forced me to analyze every tool we use, and every system we’ve built and ask the question “what would this look like in my ideal world?”
The answers have become pretty clear, and the first half of 2018 is going to be devoted in large part to creating those systems, following a plan, and striving towards measurable goals for the business.
Coming to these realizations has probably been the most important and profound thing that has come from my annual time of reflection.
Change Is Messy
All of that got a little deep, and frankly trying to wrap my head around the complexity of these issues has had me more than a little bit overwhelmed.
I’ve got the general vision of the new Location Rebel in my head. I can see the systems, I can picture the well-oiled machine, and I can visualize the results that we’ll be continuing to help people achieve.
But as soon as you start distilling that down into the specific action steps that need to happen, and in what order, things begin to get a little muddy.
The good news is that we’re working through it and this review process has been even more valuable than usual as it’s forced me to organize my thoughts and plans in a more simple way.
What Went Well in 2017
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, we’re going to go back into our more traditional review format where we look at 5 things I rocked at in 2017, 5 things I sucked at, and then we’ll finish it up by giving you some insight into where things are going.
If You See a Shot, Take It
As you grow down the entrepreneurial path, you can expect more opportunities will come your way. Often times they’ll be small opportunities, but occasionally there will be big ones that you can’t help but consider.
The successful entrepreneur learns how to say no to 95% of these in order to stay focused on what’s most important – their primary business.
But every once in awhile, there’s something with so much potential, you can’t help but go after it.
This past year, I did a good job of saying no to a lot of things. I also said yes to creating the Eighty Club. It’s a golf community for private club members across the world.
It’s taken off more than I ever expected, introduced me to dozens of incredible people, and helped build a nice side income for the business as well.
This next year will be an exercise in discipline, as my plate is pretty full – so continuing to say no, is going to be important.
The Single Most Important Factor in Business Success
In the past, I’ve talked about the fact that I believe the single most important factor in my business success is nailing the health and fitness aspect of it.
Doing things like drinking water, working out every day, and eating well – is what will give me the energy and confidence in myself to grow the business.
While it was far from perfect, 2017 was the best year I’ve had in awhile for this.
I found myself in generally healthy routines and capped it all off doing the Whole30 diet in November, which I never expected to actually complete.
And as hoped, because this aspect was strong, the business was strong this year as well.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life
For the last few years, I’ve thought of Location Rebel as a $250k a year business. Not huge by big business standards, but for a lifestyle business – it provides everything I need.
Because of this mindset though, the business revenue hasn’t grown much in the last 3 years.
In 2017 though, we grew about 15-20% in gross revenue – and part of this was adopting a mindset change.
What does, say, a million dollar a year business look like? What changes have to be made? What systems created or done differently?
It really isn’t about the money, or being rich – it’s rather about personal growth.
I don’t need a million dollar business.
What I do need is to continued growth. Growth personally, growth for our community members, growth in the results we provide.
And in order to do that, there has to be a mindset of growth, rather than a mindset of “things are good right where they are.”
This year I started making that mindset shift, and I think the community is going to benefit from it tremendously in the coming months.
Around the World in Eighty Days
Travel continued to be a priority in 2017.
I visited 8 countries (England, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Hong Kong, China, and Bermuda), and continued to make significant progress on my random quests of playing the Top 100 Golf Courses in the US and the World (12 in 2017), and visiting the Top 50 Bars in the World (17 in 2017).
While these goals might seem odd to many people, for me they make my travels more fulfilling, provide me with fantastic stories, and help in my education of two hobbies (golf and craft cocktails).
Getting to spend two months traveling with my wife was one of the most special experiences I could have ever hoped for, and overall I feel like I struck a good balance of being at home and on the road this past year.
Setting the Foundation
By all accounts, 2017 was a very good year – personally.
It was full of friends, family, personal growth, and lots of memorable experiences.
But it felt like a foundational year. One I’ll look back on and say “that was a great year, everything was pretty easy.”
I view this as a good thing because it’s setting me up for a 2018 that I feel is going to be more change-oriented.
I see the format of Location Rebel potentially changing
I see the potential to start expanding our family.
I see the routines and the way we market the business shifting.
And all of this is possible because of the foundation that was established in previous years, and specifically in 2017 – and it’s all stuff I’m incredibly excited for.
What Didn’t Go Well in 2017
So those are some of the things that went well – but inevitably there are always things that don’t go as planned or as well as you would like. So let’s take a look at those as well.
If it Ain’t Broke? Well, it Will Be Eventually
I mentioned above that I’ve started changing my mindset when it came to business growth.
Well, part of this was due to the fact that in 2017, while we saw our revenue grow, other metrics of business success continued to struggle.
Traffic is down about 25% from where it’s historically been, and because of this, email opt-ins are also down.
I think much of this comes from fear (funny considering I have a whole course on dealing with this).
Things have worked so well for years, that I’ve been hesitant to mess with it.
The internet and business world evolves, and while I see it happening and even know what to do – I haven’t done a good job of taking action in my own business to compensate.
So if mindset changes went well, action on them did not.
Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity (Creating Systems)
The systems here at Location Rebel are in need of updating.
In last week’s post, I talked about how I think one of the biggest components of successful blogging in the future is going to rely on email automation.
The people who are able to do a better job of tailoring their content to what people need are the ones who are inevitably going to be successful.
This is just one system in a small online business – and while simple in theory, the actual implementation of it can be rather complex.
And then when you layer in other systems for content, lead capture, sales, results etc. it becomes a pretty big machine with a lot of potential failure points.
The phrase “simplicity on the other side of complexity” has been running through my mind a lot these days. That post is worth a read and is a very accurate way of looking at the implementation of a new system in your life or business.
In 2017, I didn’t do a good job of seeking out, refining, and building these better systems.
Right this second I find myself in the midst of the complex part of it.
In a few months, I expect to be on the other side where the complex processes all feel simple again because I’ve learned, implemented, broke, made mistakes, and come out better for it on the other side.
For a small business, there’s a lot that goes into it
I’m Not Lazy! Wait, or Am I?
Laziness isn’t just about sitting on the couch and playing video games all day. It can take shape in the form of not putting in the time and effort to make the necessary change.
All of the things I’ve mentioned already, the systems that need improving, traffic going down etc. it’s not because of a lack of work. I put in the hours. But I was lazy in the work that I did.
I did the stuff needed to maintain the business. I didn’t do the hard thinking and strategizing necessary to change or grow the business. And that’s where we find ourselves now.
It also leads to the next struggle…
My whole life focus has been an issue.
For instance a post like this, that is roughly 3,000 words. When I sit down and just write it, I can do it very quickly.
That almost never happens.
Every couple paragraphs, I’ll find something to distract me.
I’ll think of a task I forgot to do the day before and immediately switch gears.
I’ll check my email dozens of times.
Focus has long been a killer for me and my productivity, and this year was no different.
I will say, that while doing Whole30, I saw this get much better – and it has me thinking about longer-term changes to my diet – but as soon as the holidays hit, it was back to getting distracted every 30 seconds.
I have friends that have written about this in their own lives and their solutions to it. I don’t necessarily want to go the pharmaceutical route – and in all honesty, I think a lot of my problem is simply due to spending the last 10 years of my life in front of a computer and being exposed to an unending stream of sites and companies whose sole focus is to distract.
I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do about this in 2018, but it’s something that is on my mind.
Patience is a Virtue
Finally, this past year I came to the realization that something I always felt was an asset of mine has slowly disappeared.
My whole life I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty patient person. And by that I mean, patient with people.
I was never quick to get frustrated or upset, and I’d always be able to calm myself down if something upset me.
Lately, though I feel like this hasn’t been the case. I’m finding myself less patient with my friends and family, more quick to get frustrated in traffic or when I’m in public and someone does something stupid.
Most of the times I lose my patience, it’s not over important things.
This is especially important when I run a business helping beginners do something they aren’t necessarily comfortable with or accustomed to. Luckily, this impatience hasn’t translated over to that aspect of my life, but by recognizing it here, I’m trying to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
This post has become much longer than I intended it to be, and so I’ll save any predictions or details about the future for another post.
But most importantly, I hope this inspires you to think about your own life as we continue into the new year and really do some critical thinking around what went well, what didn’t go well, and perhaps most importantly, what you want the next year to look like.
I find forcing myself to be honest about both my triumphs and my shortcomings helps both the business, my relationships, and can have a direct impact on my personal happiness as well.
If you made it this far, thank you! I know this was a lot of time spent about me and in most of the future posts, I hope to make these more about you and your journey.
If you’re open to it, I’d love for you to share one thing that went well for you in 2017 in the comments.