Every year as part of my annual review process I look at my travels for the year, the things I did really well, and the things that could have gone better.
This post is focusing on the latter.
While in 2013 my business more than doubled and I had some fantastic experiences, I’m the first person to recognize that I could have done a much better job in a lot of areas.
This is one of the hardest posts I write each year, but at the same time one of the easiest.
It’s not hard for me to come up with 10 things that I really sucked at, the hard part is admitting it to so many people. Some of these, as you’ll see are fairly obvious and surface level, but this year I spent a lot of time thinking about the person I’ve become and some of the not so flattering things that I’d like to see changed in the new year.
If you’d like to compare to last year, here was the post where I reviewed both good and bad.
I haven’t reviewed this post, and to be honest don’t remember what I wrote. So I’m excited to go back once I hit publish and see how things have evolved – or stayed exactly the same.
With that, let’s look at the 10 things I sucked at most in my business for 2013.
1) I Didn’t Write Nearly as Much as I Should Have
To oversimplify my business, I’m a writer. Much of my income either directly, or indirectly revolves around my ability to put out interesting and useful content on a regular basis.
I don’t feel like I wrote nearly as much as I should have this year.
I know many people that swear by the 1,000 word a day rule where you write 1,000 words a day, no matter what. I had an unofficial goal to do that this year, and didn’t even get close.
More importantly, I’d like to improve the thoughtfulness of the things I write about. I’m really good at writing practical, step by step posts to help you get from point A to point B. And that’s great, I never want to change that. However, the reality is when you’re focusing on such a specific topic like, say, How to Create a Sales Page, I’m only targeting the small majority of readership that is actually currently needing that.
So most people will maybe file it away for when they do need it, and take no further action.
Those posts don’t tend to be widely shared.
Opinion pieces however, strike an emotional chord in a much larger audience and are shared more.
I wrestle with this: useful post or inspiring/controversial post?
I think one has much more value than the other, yet the other has the tendency to grow my brand and reach much quicker.
By not writing enough in 2013, I didn’t get as much of a chance to explore both types of content.
2) I Haven’t Been a Good Public Storyteller
I make this #2 because it goes hand in and with writing. A good writer is a great storyteller. Because my posts are often so practical, I tend to get right down to the point without weaving in a narrative to get you interested – and keep you interested.
This is one of my biggest deficiencies as a writer.
People buy products because of stories. Whether it’s telling my story, the successful testimonial of a client or customer, or telling the future story of a reader or prospective buyer – success all comes back to this skill.
But not only that, storytelling is what keeps things interesting for everyone.
I’ve said that I want to live a life worth writing about – but much of the part worth telling hasn’t been told, and that’s mostly due to my laziness in telling it.
3) I Took on Too Many Projects and Didn’t Say No Enough
I love new ideas and I love starting new projects. If someone comes to me with a cool idea, I’m usually all about it!
The problem isn’t a lack of opportunity – and frankly, it hasn’t been for awhile.
The problem is I tend take on a lot of extra projects that don’t directly align with my goals for myself.
This has resulted in a breadth of projects that I’ve struggled to find completion on. Often they just kind of hang over your head and wear you down.
I only have about 4 hours a day of really good, solid creative work. During other times I can answer emails or edit photos or things like that, but if I’m taking those 4 hours a day and spreading them across 6 different important projects – the effectiveness is greatly diminished.
One of my biggest challenges for 2014 is going to be completing certain projects and moving onto the ones that really excite me – and then only having a few.
I mean I’m all for having multiple businesses and keeping it interesting, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you can handle – and what you want to handle.
4) I Haven’t Formed the Healthy Habits I Wanted To
This one is huge. When you work on your own you should have all the time and flexibility in the world to do simple things:
- Make healthy meals
- Drink lots of water
- Exercise everyday
Between traveling a lot, and my tendency to get stuck behind my computer I wasn’t good at any of these things – and it shows.
I’ve gained weight and I find myself getting more anxious and stressed.
All it takes is a quick breakfast or trip to the gym and a lot of that can be alleviated, yet I’ve been full of excuses.
“Eh, I’m traveling, I can eat like crap.”
“Oh, I’m in Mexico, might as well pop a Corona at noon.”
“I’ll go to the gym on Monday, so I don’t feel bad about about not going today.”
Statements like these have been a bit of a hallmark this year, and it’s not going to get any easier to fix them.
For those of you preparing to strike out on your own, or are preparing to do so, this is one of the most important keys to success. Don’t neglect it, and you’ll be so much better off for it.
Bottom line, I need to follow my own advice.
5) I Wasn’t Good About Following Up and Keeping in Touch
This year through all of my travels and various events I attended, I’ve met a lot of new people. I never carried business cards, and then when I’d receive one from someone else and tell them I’d email them so they had my contact info – I didn’t, or at least not as diligently as I should have.
This goes back to a much bigger issue of simply “doing what you say you’re going to do” which I think is the absolute best trait you can have in business, but on this micro level, I failed.
Whether it was people I met on the golf course, blog readers, or other major contacts that could have really helped me grow my business – I just really let myself down.
I still remember reading the book Never Eat Alone the month after I graduated college. I had my new job and was all set to become a master networker. I’d go to lunches, meet people and immediately go back and enter their contact info into Outlook and send them a follow up email.
Most of these people really had very little to offer me both personally and professionally, yet I was so good about the follow up. Thre were times relationships I didn’t expect to go anywhere, blossomed into something much more – simply because I sent a follow up response.
Now that I have my own business, this can be amplified ten-fold – and I’ve gotten lazy about it.
6) I Got Stuck in Maintenance Mode and Didn’t Work on Big Picture Tasks
I just googled “Location 180 Maintenance Mode” because I knew at some point in the past I’d written about this concept. What I found is pretty disappointing for me personally.
I wrote the post “Why Maintenance Mode is Killing Your Business” on January 13th, 2013.
Can you see where this is going?
In the post I talked about how during 2012 I was great at maintaining, but didn’t focus enough on the high value tasks that could grow the business.
This year I did a little bit. And during those times I put on a sale, tweaked my sales funnel, or reached out to bigger outlets? I made a lot of money, and helped a lot of people build businesses.
However for much of the year, the last few months in particular, I’m in the exact same position mentallyI was almost a year ago.
Perhaps it’s the time of year, and between holidays and my travels it’s just a good time to relax and not push things.
But it’s been going on long enough that it’s beginning to frustrate me. Again you’ll never hear me complain about my life, but I could be trying a little bit harder at some of the things that matter.
7) I Didn’t Read as Much as I Would Have Liked
Your education never stops, or at least it shouldn’t.
Especially as an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for ways to gain an edge, learn something new, or simply open yourself up to another way of thinking.
I read a fair amount, but these days it’s been more of an escape reading trashy adventure novels (Dirk Pitt is my all time favorite protagonist), as opposed to really trying to brush up on some new skills.
In Location Rebel we did a 12 Books in 2012 last year that worked out really well, I’d like to do something similar this year to force me into kind of a monthly book club of sorts.
8) I Didn’t Show Off the Success of Others
Location 180 and Location Rebel is becoming less and less about me. In the last two years, there have been dozens and dozens of people in our community that have stories just as inspiring (if not more so) than my own.
Every time I look at my running list of LR testimonials I get a little shellshocked at just how well it’s worked for people. Many of you guys are making more money than me, traveling to more exotic places, and making a bigger difference in the world.
I’ve got an incredible platform to share those stories that need to be told – but I haven’t done that quite as much as I’d like.
It’s one thing to see the middle class, college educated American white kid, build a business. But what about the people who aren’t as obvious? The guy in his mid 40s with kids and a mortgage who moves his family abroad? The girl with over 20k in student loan debt who pays it all off and quits her job in less than 2 years? The guy from the UK who makes nearly $20k writing in his 3rd month in business?
The list goes on, and those are the stories that you need to see. And even though you didn’t this year, that will change in 2014
9) I Wasn’t Always as Responsive as I Should Have Been
One thing I’ve always prided myself on is the fact I try and respond to every single person who sends me a thoughtful email.
This year as my site has grown and I’ve taken on more projects (see #3), it’s been harder to keep up with responding to emails and inquiries as quickly and effectively as I once did. If I’m sitting at my computer and answering email, and something comes in, you’ll probably get a response in 2 minutes. However, if you somehow sent it at the wrong time, you likely got buried and didn’t get a response for days.
There are plenty of ways I could manage this (ahem, Sanebox) I just haven’t implemented.
I know that spending a little time to tweak how I manage this very important part of my business that not only will I provide more value to readers and customers, but I’ll also be much less stressed about it in the process.
10) I Wasn’t Very Humble
This is probably the most difficult of all to admit.
You see when I began this lifestyle in the end of 2009 there were a lot of people who thought I’d fail.
They didn’t think it was possible to work from anywhere and make a good living for yourself at the same time.
So I felt like I had to overcompensate with photos and stories about all of the cool places I went and the cool things I did.
As my lifestyle has grown and I’ve been able to have more and more experiences, I still share them as if I have something to prove – which, I dont really anymore.
Showing photos and bragging of the cool stuff certainly helps to feed my ego, and I think some people like to see it – but I’m not sure if I do it for your benefit, or my own at this point.
One of the things that I’ve always loved about this website compared to some others is the relate-ability. You can go back through the archives and if you look at the first year, you can see just how clueless and lost I was.
It was easy to relate to if you’re still at the point I was 4 years ago. Now I’m afraid some of that connection is lost, as it can be more difficult for people just starting out to relate to my lifestyle.
All of this to say, this is something I’m acutely aware of, and taking steps to improve in the next year. Specifically I want to show off more stories of others that have successfully made the transition, or are currently making the transition.
The One Underlying Theme
There’s one underlying theme here in many of these that’s cropped up. Can you tell what it is?
I hate admitting this, but here it goes. That underlying theme is one of laziness.
This year I’ve been very fortunate. Business has gone well. I’ve helped a lot of people, and I’ve done a lot of cool stuff over the past 12 months. What’s resulted however has been a decreased drive to push things forward.
Some might argue, this isn’t a bad thing. I’ve built a lifestyle business for a reason: do to more of the stuff I like to do.
That said I don’t want to retire. I want to keep helping more people, keep growing the business, and continue to have the success I’ve experienced.
It can be hard to work 80 hours a week when you’re back isn’t against the wall – but I need to rediscover that diligence and work ethic that got me to the point I’m at today.
I feel fortunate in the sense that I can recognize this trait, and address it. I know I’m also not the only person who has fallen into this trap. So by saying something, my hope is that others who find themselves here take the opportunity of the new year to really push themselves and go farther than you thought possible.
So there it is, all out on the table for everyone to see: the 10 things I sucked at this year.