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1 year later – Lessons & Perspective after leaving the corporate world

About an hour ago I realized that today marked a pretty important day. I’m sure further down the line I might reflect more, but today I am more focused on the tasks at hand than an anniversary.

Nonetheless, It’s been a pretty crazy ride so I’m going hit some pretty cool topics just to appreciate it.

  • Wins
  • Unexpected Challenges
  • Where I’m at now
  • Where I’m going
  • The big question > “Do I regret it?”

Let’s go >

Wins

  • 5 apps in the top 100 of US entertainment
  • 1 app that was #1 in it’s category for a month and grossed 17.9k thus far
  • Got better with paid advertising to control downloads and revenue by “learning by doing” and slowly upping my spend. It’s totaled $34,395.27 for this education
  • Had 3 software launches that went relatively well for a small audience
  • Started doing more projects with my main programmer and his skills are growing tremendously
  • Partnered with someone on a new venture
  • Went to a app and marketing events in Hawaii (2x), San Francisco, Minneapolis, Amsterdam
  • Grew my network by attending these events and can call a lot of these people friends
  • Mapped out several personal, business, and partnership projects for the next year
  • I’m sure there are others, but those are what come to mind right now

 

Unexpected Challenges

  • Shocker? Lol > Cash flow. A buddy helped me with ways to leverage things
  • Not setting real work hours and sticking to them. I’m saying I sometimes work too much and get burned out.
  • Setting, tracking, adjusting: Daily / Weekly / Monthly / Quarterly / Yearly goals
  • Being patient
  • Learning when to move on to something else
  • Having to juggle a lot of roles until I decide to get help. For example, I may
    • need to be the person that comes up with the idea
    • researches to validate
    • map out functions
    • construct that in a wireframe and notes to give to the programmer
    • change things on the fly
    • come up with new features to set it apart
    • pick a color pallet
    • do a mock up UI
    • test the app
    • order graphic design assets
    • implement into the code
    • upload the app
    • create screen shots
    • write a description
    • create / edit / upload instructional video for apps
    • make a promo video
    • create an ad creative combining graphics, stock sounds and royalty music you still pay for
    • research the niche to find out how to reach them
    • Use your ad creative and then make multiple versions
    • Start advertising and monitor to find winning ad campaigns
    • Carefully scale up winning campaigns
    • Answer customer support
    • Add new features and changes for compliance issues
    • And so on > So what I mean is you need to be a lot of different people at the beginning and it’s hard to do this all the time. Instead I started blocking out time to be creative, grind things out, delegate..etc.
  • Pricing, backend marketing and upsells with apps and software
  • Getting new leads

 

Where I’m at now

Right now I’m in a weird, but exciting transition period. I was running a lot of paid advertising to my apps and put that on hold for a few months while we built out our secret project. I wanted to save money for development and advertising when that launches. So our revenue was not as consistent, but still was ok when you combine everything. This secret project was supposed to take 2 weeks, but I kept adding feature after feature and I think tomorrow I’ll receive beta version #20 tomorrow. It feels like we’ve built more than one app cause it’s feature and function heavy, but very exciting. Not to mention we’ve started to push out more android projects as my main programmer is learning and has a little help.

 

Where I’m going

So we are 1-2 weeks out from pushing out the new secret project that’s been in development for 2.5 months and took a lot more $$$ to get this far than I expected. Programming, design, testing, planning etc, but I think it will be worth it.  Once this app is live we will pump our ad spend back up and get things rolling.  In the next year here are some projects I’m planning to complete:

  • Build out the secret app
  • Expand into new app niches
  • Build a backend software project to sell to other marketers and developers
  • Build our email subscribers up significantly so we have traditional product launches 4-6 times a year + evergreen funnels
  • Build up the new partnership with products, services and affiliate launches
  • Consider getting part time sales and customer service people
  • Hire more help (if even contractors)
  • Full steam ahead

 

The BIG question > “Do I regret it?”

No

 

Has everything went as planned?

Are you f*cking kidding me? Hell no!  Here’s some things that didn’t go as planned >

  • Revenue
  • Sacrifices made to keep things going on slow months
  • Affiliate product launches (2x)
  • Apps that tanked
  • Pre-Contracted development projects worth 5k or more falling through (3x)
  • ROI on advertising certain apps and projects
  • A lot more projects that aren’t worth talking about

It may seem crazy, but on the low end I’m going to tell you revenue lost from things that didn’t work out the way I thought they would from either me failing or it falling through for other reasons is no less than 100k.  I know you might think I’m losing my mind, but believe me, that’s the low end.

BUT, shit happens. Sometimes the timing isn’t right or you just fail. A lot of those failed projects were in the first 3 months of being self employed and you can imagine how big they would have been right? Well, it’s 12 months later, and I’m still here. It may not be as sexy as a huge payday, but it’s stronger and more sustainable. I’ve built up my assets and now will be in a better position to grow. I had to get more aggressive and creative to make it all work.

 

Revenue Goal Missed

I had plenty of goals I missed and probably would have had a ton more if I did a better job setting and chasing them, but didn’t make it a priority. I had a post earlier this year, “Going Big in 2017. The focus to 7 figures”. I wanted to gross a million in product sales and app revenue. I know it depends on my expenses, but to clarify, I wanted to at least clear 25% before taxes which would have put me at $250k.

(This project has nothing to do with the failed or projects that fell through above)

Back to the million in rev…Well, I haven’t been trending to hit that goal. In fact, I’d be lucky to hit 250k gross with a lower net margin and that would be if the next 4 months go perfectly.

Why did I miss the goal?

Well, I was being a bit over eager because I based the goal on real projections, but they were for one revenue stream. When that revenue stream didn’t show as much margin as I projected, the goal was dead. 7 months later, I’ve made a lot of changes to revenue streams and something like that goal will be possible down the line a little. Main challenges at the start of this goal was scalability of advertising and cash flow. I’m setup a little better now.

 

Take away

My journey the last 365 days has been incredibly rewarding, but scary too. The freedom is nice, but I honestly work way more than I did before and it’s because you are responsible for the output of yourself and the business. You are the boss, the grinder, the creative person, the advertising person..etc. Maybe not all at the same time, but early on it would be impossible to hire people for every little thing so you have to find a way to make it work. If you are having an off day, it’s not like I just say, “o well, I’ll just stair at my computer and pretend to work lol”.
No, when I don’t work in this early stage it’s hurting the business. Eventually when more systems are built and people are helping there will be a more comfortable workload, but for now, it can be a grind sometimes.

On a project level >>

The best way I’d describe my strategy now is diversification. I don’t want to spend months of work going down a road spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on something that’s too niche with no pivot to recoup that investment if the primary idea fails.

It’s easier to think you have “the idea that changes it all”, put your head down and hope for the best, but if you do that enough…eventually you will probably run out of money, confidence, sanity, and the drive to do what you do.

I’ve done this in the past and it’s not pretty.

Now I try to take on projects with different payout (or at least getting it to market) timelines.  That way I do what the cliché says, “Fail Quicker”

When I fail quicker, I win much faster too. If I fail slow, I can fail BIG and a few of those can take you under.

On the positive side, I’ve learned to be more patient and understand sometimes it’s ok to build things up before you strike. It’s the difference in doing something just to be doing something so you are busy and actually getting something done.

I ask questions like:

  • Is this work paying off today, this week, next week, next month, quarter, year..?
  • Can I scale this work?
  • Am I just pushing money or is there some actual profit here?
  • Am I going to spend my time and cash on this to pay for an education?
  • What’s the cutoff of funds and deadline to have x done?

If you want to hear more about how this all started and have NOT seen the older posts and need some context >> read these:

Can You Escape Full-Time Corporate Hell To Happy Entrepreneur?

How I Escaped from Corporate Hell to Happy Entrepreneur in 15 minutes.

 

Otherwise, keep a lookout for our new apps and products.

Until next time >

Todd

 

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