2007: Beginning with the End in Mind

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With just one week of vacation remaining, I’m beginning to consider both my personal and business objectives for 2007. The beginning of a new year is, of course, a great time to look at last year’s progress and make a short list of objectives for the coming year. It’s important that such a list be short, achievable, and for (small business owners) geared towards our personal satisfaction rather than simply an increase in revenue or profits. Two or three main objectives is more than enough, and any more than that will most likely result in the list being forgotten early in the year!

Looking back on 2006, the primary business objective was to improve our marketing strategy. It was quite a lot of work, but this objective appears to have been fulfilled. We’ve sharpened our marketing message, adjusted our pricing, renewed our website content, and established a new mailing list system.

My primary personal goal was to ‘disconnect’ a bit, and better separate business time from personal time by eliminating points of contact between myself and the Internet during non-work hours. This has also been successful – I’ve cancelled my mobile phone’s connection to the internet, stopped checking e-mail completely during non-business hours, and set our phone system to go to night-mode 7pm each night.

Now for 2007’s objectives:

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year and make just two objectives. The personal objective will be the same as last year’s – to become more time-efficient and further separate business from personal time. The goal is to reduce the workload by outsourcing the monthly invoicing and receivables which eat up 8-10 hours of my time each month. I’ve always been the sole signatory and check writer for the company but it’s time to take the plunge and trust someone else with the money this year. I’m also going to continue resisting the urge to check e-mail at night (unless I’m deliberately working at night), change my Outlook setting to check email every 2 hours instead of every hour, and stop using instant messenger completely. Finally, I’m going to reduce the number of forums and blogs I visit to a maximum of 5, which should reclaim some additional time that could be better used. Hopefully these changes (and some increased discipline) will help me to be more effective at work and more relaxed at home.

For the business, I’m introducing a new objective: to get serious about creating revenue-generating intellectual properties. Although our services business is consistently profitable, it’s far from being ‘passive’ income so it’s time to start using the profits we make from client work to fund revenue generating assets.

I have a good head start, actually, because I’ve been dabbling in AdSense/YPN for about 2 years now and finally feel that I’m ready to get serious. To date, we’ve created 9 and purchased 4 websites which generate a combined income of over USD$1000/month with almost no updating or maintenance. It’s a humble but stable network and there is enough daily traffic get us into some of the better ad networks. What seems to be lacking is good ad management and the ability to optimize the revenue from the sites. So, I’m going to be looking for an affiliate/CPC manager who can both improve our revenue and mentor us on best practices.

An even more exciting form of intellectual property creation is article, blog, and book authoring. This SitePoint blog has been extremely satisfying to write, and has already generated a series of valuable new business contacts. Even better, my first e-book appears to be doing well and getting positive feedback which is extremely encouraging because I already have lots of ideas for new books!

As so many of you know, the potential earnings from intellectual properties can be much higher than earnings generated from client work. Being obsessed with hourly rates, I took the time to calculate the number of hours + actual costs we incurred from our network of websites this year. The revenue, less costs, divided by the number of hours resulted in a higher hourly rate then we’ve ever billed a client! What a great indicator of how our time would be best spent during 2007!

So, work less and work smarter is the goal for 2007. Not so different from 2006, but the new focus on intellectual properties should make for some good blog entries as I try to apply the lessons learned in the services world to the publishing world.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your goals, objectives, and hopes for 2007! What’s your goal for 2007? I wish you all an excellent year in both business and your personal lives!

Dave HeckerDave Hecker
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