Goals for 2014: $700k, conf, book contract, 100 more students profiting

This year our web app, Freckle Time Tracking, turned 5 years old. And Freckle crossed $1 million in revenue. (Our business as a whole crossed $1m probably 18 mos before.)

(I wrote a retrospective about what I learned, running Freckle for 5 years. And I shared our monthly numbers from all 5 years, too.)

I’m done looking backward for the next 12 months ;) It’s a new year, it’s time to look forward.

Here’s what I want to do between now and January, 2015:

Grow Freckle Time Tracking to $700k/year run rate. That is, I want to reach $58,333 in recurring revenue by Dec 31, 2014 — or, +51% growth in MRR over December 2013 (less yearly prepayments). Considering Dec 2013 over Dec 2012 was nearly 40% growth, this is less crazy than it sounds. I’ll be writing a detailed blog post about how.

Run BaconBizConf once more (dates coming soon! late May!). No changes here; we’re not interested in growing. The last BBConf was nearly perfect. I’ll be writing a detailed blog post about how we ran the last one, & how we’ll run this one.

Run 30×500 5-6 times — and get the revenue back up to where it was in 2012 (>$400k), before The Great Revamp and inevitable sacrifice, as we slayed the golden goose, on purpose, to rebuild it. That old goose made us a lot of money. But Alex and I don’t just want money, we want students to ship and make their own money! The new 30×500 costs less — a lot less — and helps deliver more results for more people.

Release 2 self-guided products in the “30×500 Universe”. First up: Just Fucking Ship, a guide to getting — and staying — off your ass. After that, we’re thinking about a landing page clinic, or something about how to write delicious & effective blog posts & newsletters, or perhaps something about pricing.

Keep the momentum going for our 30×500 alumni community. Right now, you take 30×500, and then maybe you take the exercise program afterwards, and then… nothing. There’s a mailing list for alums of the old class, but it’s dead more often than not. Bootstrapping is nothing if not an endurance race — not that you have to work 50-hour weeks, but you need to keep working, every week, to get places. Freckle’s entire revenue history is proof of this. Alex and I are about to launch a “gym membership” for 30×500 alums, with monthly exercises & topics. More info coming soon.

Release 1 more JavaScript-y info product. I actually love to teach programming — and it’s not as if I’m not married to one of the world’s top JavaScript experts.

Sign a contract, with a good publisher, for a biz-bestseller-style treatment of the 30×500 philosophy. Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes. And I want to get the 30×500 message out to the broader world. Self-published ebooks are a great way to make money, and create a lot of change for those who buy them, but they can never hit the NYT Bestseller list.

Grow our team to 5 or 6 people (+1-2). This isn’t required, but it would be awesome… if and only if we can find the right people. Otherwise, it’s not worth it. Thinking: 1 admin person, and 1 developer. I have been urged to write about hiring, so I will.

Give 3-4% of our gross revenue to charity. This past year we did nearly 2%. I want to double it. I wrote about our charitable giving.

These are the acts of doing… the ones that I can put directly into action.

The other things I want are results. I want to…

Help 100 more students make their very first product dollar. We already have a pretty big list of Students Who Shipped And Made Their First Product Dollar. (Sharing soon.) And with every round of 30×500, more and more students actually do something with it. This makes me very happy. But we’re greedy for results & case studies. We want more more more!

Get BaconBiz, the anti-HN, off the ground. A community place for everyone — not just 30×500 alums. To promote bootstrapping, to create a place for bootstrappers to share links, discuss, teach, learn & meet each other. Yep, I’ve been talking about this for a long time, I know. But I’ve been working with limited energy for a long time, too. Now I am a lot better — and I’m working off a plan to get the creative atom online so you all can help me build it. More on this soon. I hope you’ll contribute :)

Make bootstrapping the obvious alternative. This is not just about a best-selling book — or about me. The startup world & startup media is as sick as ever (if not sicker). We need an alternative — and we have one. But bootstrapping is still viewed as a distant second to the VC route, and most importantly, even when people choose it, they can’t separate the toxic VC-backed practices from what real business requires (and what it offers).

I want to reach beyond my tiny little world and spread the bootstrapping gospel — the tiny product first, brick stacking, habit-riffic, evidence-driven, good-life-supporting gospel.

And of course, personal goals:

Take more vacation. Actual vacation, not just sitting-at-home-too-tired-to-do-anything time off, which I take a lot of thanks to my bloody CFS. Also, not “work your way around the world” vacation, because that barely works. I wrote about this: How to (REALLY) Travel the World, Run Your Biz & Not Go Broke or Crazy.

Visit new places. Last year we only went to 1 new place, for various (health, financial, time) reasons.

Work on more passion projects. My ‘career’ is so vertically integrated that almost anything I do has some business impact. Which is great! But sometimes it gets boring. I want to do at least one project a month, using my design/dev/writing skills, just for the helluva it, with absolutely zero upside.

Feel like a normal person. I’ve been some variation of chronically ill since July 2009. I’m so close to getting better, but not there yet. The fact that the thyroid treatment has helped so much has simply highlighted what’s left: the CFS itself is definitely its own thing on top of a lifetime of being hypothyroid. In 2014, my doctor + I are exploring antivirals and other options for the CFS. All I want to be is normal… able to work a full day for an entire week with no repercussions, able to hold a party or go to a party without knowing there’ll be a cost, later, able to go outside, or drink a beer, and sweat, without ending up with white fingers and uncontrollable shivering. (Is Chronic illness the best reason to bootstrap? I think so.)

So, that’s it. “That’s it?” Yeah, haha, I know. It’s a big fat list.

But 12 months is a long time. And I’m not alone — I’ve got a business partner (hi, honey), a partner in crime (hi, Alex), two awesome team mates (hi Devon, hi Cannon!), a private network of bootstrapping friends for support, customers that tell me how much they appreciate our work, students to inspire me to learn, and lots of friends to drink and eat s’mores with me during all the other hours of the week.

And for BaconBizConf… our kickass speakers and sponsors and attendees, too. And for BaconBiz… me, you, and everyone else in it with us.

That’s what makes it possible and so very worth it.

What are your goals for 2014?

If you don’t have a big one yet… this year will be a great one to get your first product out the door.

After all, you don’t have to quit first. You can build a side income.

It’s not as hard as you think to make something people want to buy.

Especially since you should do a tiny product first.

At heart, it’s all about showing up and embracing reality. That’s the hardest part. And the best.

I’m doing this in the open. Wanna watch?

Get my next bootstrappy gettin-shit-done essay delivered straight to your inbox. (And be first in line for tickets & discounts.) Drop your name in the box!

Discussion

  1. Damien

    It would take far too many pixels to list all my goals, but up at the top: build a product, give up consulting (double my rate first), watch Amy Hoy very closely.

    Aside from yourself (or people around you), what would you say has been your biggest asset to achieving this level of success? Maybe a tool or a book?

    Good luck for 2014!

    Reply
  2. Irina

    Amy, thanks for sharing, this was an inspiring read. “A community place for everyone — not just 30×500 alums. To promote bootstrapping, …” – I would love to see this happen!

    Reply
  3. SA

    “Self-published ebooks are a great way to make money, and create a lot of change for those who buy them, but they can never hit the NYT Bestseller list.”

    Actually this is not accurate. It only takes 9000 units during your first week to make the NYT. If you consider yourself open minded, I can send you a list of at least 10 self publishers in the past year who hit both NYT, and WSJ bestseller status. Tim Ferriss is self-published. Michael Hyatt who left the CEO position of the 6th largest publisher in the world is now self-published. Most agents want you to have very specific author platform metrics. Of course if you just want to be published by a big name that’s cool. But no one “needs” a major publisher (ESPECIALLY in nonfiction) to get big, fast.

    Reply
    • Amy Hoy

      Oooh… Tell me more!

      I have no issues with hiring editors and proof readers etc. I would probably take an agent. My reason for using a big publisher would be to offload a bunch of the work — I don’t have the energy to become a full-time promotion machine. They have connections, they don’t have to work to get a book into bookstores, etc. The publishers I want to work with also have the marketing savvy I want. I’m great at marketing in my arena, but that doesn’t necessarily transfer to a broader market.

      But I’m open to being wrong.

      Reply
  4. Nathalie Lussier

    Oooh I’m so loving this, and getting a glimpse into your many businesses. :)

    This year my husband joined my company, so we’ll be starting up new projects outside of our educational products and coaching packages. You’ve definitely been a big inspiration in that respect, and a great role model for working with your partner and having a lot of great creative work out into the world.

    I also totally hear you on not feeling well enough, and I’m glad you’re on the mend. Sometimes our bodies need to tell us to slow down and take care of ourselves, I know mine definitely sent that message loud and clear in 2013.

    Here’s to a kick ass 2014! :)

    Reply
  5. Mark Roseman

    Fuck, I got tired just reading that list. :-)

    Got a question for you though, about how you being sick has affected Thomas in terms of his productivity. Not in the sense of that you guys may have adjusted some of the shared household or joint project things, but more if having you frequently under the weather is taking more than just an emotional toll.

    My wife and I both are stuck with chronic physical illnesses, and hers is taking an increasing toll on her over the last about six months. And of course it is taking the usual long time to work through all the increasingly esoteric investigations to narrow down some causes and possible treatments for her frustratingly non-specific symptoms.

    When she’s suffering each day, and knowing full well I can’t help with most of that, I still find it difficult and even feel almost guilty to commit time and energy to some of my own projects I’m trying to move forward (not as much the case with the things we’re working on together). Admittedly, being prone to depressive bouts doesn’t exactly help matters any. Curious if either of you have any thoughts on the matter.

    In any case, thanks for all you shared of yourself in the past year, and best wishes, health and happiness for 2014.

    Reply
  6. Dan

    The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them. And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

    Had a feeling that quote was relevant to the theme of the post. Happy New Year, Amy! ;-)

    Reply
  7. Travis Fischer

    What a list Amy! Very inspiring and insightful.

    Regarding the BaconBiz community, have you seen http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm ? I just discovered it a few days ago and it looks like the seed of a potentially fantastic community hub for us bootstrappers. I’m all about having multiple places to hangout as a community and I’m sure there’s value for you in having a community site that is directly aligned and integrated with the other stuff you are doing but just wanted to make sure the site was on your radar as you work towards building whatever you have in mind for the BaconBiz community.

    I’m waiting eagerly for info on this year’s BaconBizConf. Hoping I can get in as last years looked/sounded fantastic.

    Reply
  8. Kate Matsudaira

    I love reading about all of your big goals in 2014, Amy. Sending you lots of good thoughts on a successful year ahead.

    I love what you are doing with the BaconBiz community stuff – we need more B2B bootstrapping! Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help out.

    -Kate

    Reply

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