2017 flew by quicker than any other year for me…
On paper, it was the worst year of my life (although I did not feel that way). Overall I was still making money and moving forward – but as you’ll see below, it was a struggle to get there.
Let’s get straight into it…
Here's What We're Covering:
What Went Wrong
2017 was a significant ‘down year’ for StartupBros…
And it’s not tough to figure out why –
- Our catalog was too small: We had ONE course (E-Commerce Empire) and ONE event (Sourcing Summit) to sell in 2017 – which became a BIG problem when that niche was flooded with competition I had always heard how quickly you could be saturated by low-quality get-rich-quick internet marketers after they’ve smelled your opportunity, but this was my first time experiencing it…
With physical products, it usually takes years for a company to catch up to your product differentiation and positioning. However, internet marketing is different.
Anybody can hop on their laptop webcam and directly position their non-existent product AGAINST your offering. And this is happening LOTS due to the low barrier of entry.
The most frustrating thing about this is that it’s bad for EVERYBODY. These fly-by-night courses almost always crash and burn everybody involved. The course creator destroys his reputation, and the customers miss out on the opportunity (with many abandoning entrepreneurship entirely).
I’m sure we’ve all been burned by these throw-together courses by random internet marketers. Which is a shame – for every 10 bad courses, there is 1 out there that could actually change your life. These less-than-ethical marketers end up damaging the entire industry.
People really underestimate how much time, effort, and money go into maintaining a course about a rapidly changing business model (I know I did…)
- I started a new company that completely flopped: I am certainly not perfect, and every year I’m bound to make lots of bad business decisions…My most notable bad decision this year was to start a company called FBA Prep with a few different partners. I was already not a big fan of starting companies with partners, but this really solidified that opinion.
When you have partners and co-founders, a lot of your time and energy goes to managing those relationships. There were simply too many different people involved in too many different locations. Too much complexity, too much confusion.
Simply put – too many cooks in the kitchen…
We sold LOTS through the company (nearly $250k revenue in the first year) – so it was successful by that metric. The actual fulfillment of those services – different story…
Luckily, I was able to escape this business relatively unscathed – but doing so was expensive. I spent many hours coordinating to make sure all of my customers were taken care of and left happy. Ultimately I needed to pay several thousands of dollars out of my pocket in refunds to wind the company down and close out all customer accounts.
My reputation and my personal brand are both extremely important to me, so I think it was worth it. However, the entire FBA Prep business ultimately stole time and energy away from our main platforms and products. I’m happy to have washed my hands clean of it.
- I was diagnosed with cancer on February 10th: Bummer, right?After setting tons of ambitious goals for myself in January of 2017, this diagnosis forced me to drop most of what I was doing and focus on beating cancer.Luckily I am completely clear and clean of everything now, and should not need to deal with this again for a lifetime. However, there was a good 6-month period where my mind and body were digesting the shock of it all.
As much as I’d like to tell you I had the strength to maintain my normal output during this period, I ended up spending most of my time on small-time work and useless crap like video games.
But I am all cured now – no worries 🙂
What Went Right
We made some big positive changes in 2017 as well –
- Cut off all 1-on-1 coaching: The job of a business coach is to answer the same 20-questions every day for people who will never put it to good use. Now that I’ve coached new entrepreneurs for a few years, I’ve seen this first-hand. Asking questions does not build businesses, so we’ve stopped feeding that beast.Coaching is the opposite of what we’re trying to do at StartupBros – it breeds dependence. I want people to become independent and take control of their lives through consuming my content – so we’ve focused ourselves on that goal and started turning down most 1-on-1 coaching.
- Launched a new course: I had recognized the problem of only having one course early in the year, so by the end of 2017 we were able to launch our SECOND course 🙂 When we bought our e-commerce company, we almost instantly doubled the revenue of the company through expanding the catalog. If you have customers that like you and want to buy from you – give them more things to buy from you. Sounds simple – but it works!As you’ll see below, we plan to continue adding more courses and events to our product catalog throughout 2018.
- Got waaayyyyy more organized: The real reason we had a ‘down year’ was because we could not handle the shock of me not personally working every day.We have an awesome team, but we did not have the systems and structure in place to handle losing the Founder suddenly. StartupBros could have continued to grow while I was out beating cancer – but we did not have the systems or structure to make it happen.For whatever reason, I felt much more comfortable working on the back-end of the business than I did on the front-end. So we did build an extremely efficient organization and team in 2017 – and I think that will help fuel us towards massive growth in 2018.
Speaking Of Customers...
I should probably mention some of the incredible things we’ve done with our customers in 2017 🙂
Although it was a down year for me personally, it certainly was not for our members…
One fun thing we started doing in 2017 – we started interviewing one customer per month to see how they are applying my training to build their businesses. We call it the Six-Figure Showdown – and it’s been awesome so far.
So far our winners have been (click on their names to see their interviews) –
- Stacy Jones – I started working with Stacy when she joined E-Commerce Empire in April 2015. She’s now doing over $1mm/yr in revenue consistently.
- Mussayab Ehtesham (the MOOSE) – Starting working with Moose in late 2016 when he joined E-Commerce Empire. He did over $1mm/yr in revenue his first year.
- Brian Jenkins – Had a ton of success right off the bat after starting to work with me in E-Commerce Empire. His numbers aren’t quite as high as other members, but his growth rate is outrageous. Valuable interview to listen to.
- Kirsten Bradley – Started working with Kirsten way back in 2015. She struggled more than most, and she’s now a MUCH better entrepreneur for it. She now does over $150k/mo in revenue while sporadically traveling with her family. Awesome interview to listen to.
This is just a small sample of the success that our customers have seen in 2017. We’ve had over 6,000 new entrepreneurs participate in our training & coaching programs, and I firmly believe we have one of the highest success rates in the industry.
For the first time this year, I had several customers recognize me out in public (mainly airports and conferences) and thank me for what I’ve done for them. That’s a pretty wild feeling. I even had one guy who was not even a customer credit me with him building his business to $5mm/yr in revenue.
I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. I attribute 110% of my customer’s success to THEM. I am just happy to be a part of so many of these entrepreneurial journeys.
You can keep an eye out for future winners & interviews on the Six-Figure Showdown Page (or our YouTube Channel)
My Plans for 2018
So that’s 2017 in a nutshell. Now I’ll show you my plans for 2018…
Our ultimate goal here at StartupBros is to help new entrepreneurs successfully start businesses that allow them to leave their 9-to-5 jobs. So that’s always our core focus.
There’s a LOT that needs to happen throughout the year To make that happen for the greatest number of people possible,
The original intention of StartupBros was to be a personal blog – not a multi-million dollar company. So the organizational structure and systems around what we do was never very strong.
2018 will be the first year we invest significant time and energy into project planning & management. And I think it’s long overdue (especially for my team).
Here’s some of our core focuses of 2018 –
- Comprehensive how-to guides & case studies that are IMMEDIATELY actionable: This is the core of what we do at StartupBros, and honestly the real reason I even started the company to begin with.As you can see from the chart (at the very top), we had a huge drop in traffic in 2017 as well. Not hard for me to figure out why – I did not publish ANY new content or email you fine folks AT ALL for a good 6-months after my cancer diagnosis.So this year, I need to get back to creating consistently epic content. We’ve already put the resources and systems in place to make this happen, so I’m confident we won’t have many issues executing this.
- Monthly income & progress reports (like this one): We’re going to start doing monthly income & progress reports here for a few reasons…One thing I have felt is missing from StartupBros is the consistent narrative that MY writing creates. The actual ‘StartupBros experience’ faded in 2017 while I was out of commission. But now that I am back in full swing, I want to create a relationship with all of you and rekindle the ‘StartupBros experience’ we had going for a while.So first of all, I believe these monthly income & progress reports will provide ‘consistent narrative structure’ to our content, and allow you and I to build a more genuine relationship.The other thing – I just like income reports. When I was first starting out, I absolutely LOVED the behind-the-scenes stats and view into the decision making process fueling these businesses. So I want to recreate that for you.I want you all to be able to vicariously live through StartupBros – and I want us to both be invested in our experiments and successes and failures. Hopefully you get a clearer picture of how I think and how I make decisions.
Also – doing income & progress reports help ME become a better business person. These monthly reports force me to own up to every decision and deeply analyze them.So I hope you like them 🙂
- Launch lots of new stuff: As you can see from our Project Planner, we have several new courses and events we’ll be launching in 2018.As I spoke about above, one of our main issues has been the lack of a diverse product catalog (not having lots of different courses). We have a huge audience who would love to buy things from us – we just don’t have enough to sell them.I’m planning on launching anywhere from 4 to 7 new courses/events in 2018. Now that our company is running more organized and efficiently, I believe we’ll easily be able to execute the 3 new courses and 1 new mastermind I have on the Project Planner.This is the first year I am leaving my Project Planner relatively open and free. So I’ve built in the flexibility to grab one of those other product ideas and launch that at any point throughout the year.I know we won’t have trouble with what’s on the planner, and I think we’ll have the opportunity to launch a couple other things as we run into the space I’ve built in.
- Continue doing what we already do an awesome job at: I am always my harshest critic, so I am very critical of everything we do and always looking for ways to improve. However, we are an AWESOME team and company – there’s a lot we’re already doing right.One thing we are doing throughout the year is quarterly task audits. As your company grows, you need to re-shift your focus not on just ‘making money’ – but making the right money the right way. Simply put – you need to start thinking about opportunity cost constantly.I could write a whole article on the things we’re doing right. But that’s not what this article is about 🙂
Other Random Goals for 2018
Outside of my goals within StartupBros, I also have a couple things I want to accomplish this year –
- Create more cryptocurrency cash flow: The story behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is fascinating, and I’ve been a small-time investor since 2011. I’m more interested in the socio-political angle of this than anything else. However, it’s pretty obvious to anyone with investing experience that crypto is most likely in a bubble…I’d like to get more exposure to crypto, but I do not like the idea of simply risking my dollars to do it (speculative gambling). It’s simply too high for me to be buying in right now, but I still want MORE. So this year I’ll be starting some cryptocurrency/Bitcoin based businesses.Keep an eye on these monthly income reports for updates on that.
- Hire more people: With the new tax reform that was passed, it simply does not make sense for me NOT to hire people…I’m planning on hiring 2 new positions in Q1-Q2 (a copywriter and an affiliate manager), and then an additional 1-2 people in the second half of the year.If you want to join the (exceedingly awesome) StartupBros Team, keep an eye on these income reports and your email (I will always send out an email when we are hiring).
- Go full remote: At the end of 2018, we’ll be moving out of the current StartupBros house (yes – my whole company works out of my house. It’s awesome).I’ll be moving into a new condo being built in downtown St Pete, and I don’t really want to rent another office after that. So we’re working to take the entire company and team remote by Q4 of 2018 – which will be an awesome perk for my team members AND will greatly expand our pool of talent to hire from.
Wrapping This Up...
- Want to use my custom made Goal Tracking sheet to keep yourself on-track and accountable in 2018?
- Want to hear what I’ve been rocking out to? Here’s my Top Songs of 2017 playlist on Spotify 🙂
So that’s it for our very first Income & Progress Report. Hope you enjoyed it 🙂
Anything else you want behind-the-scenes access to? Want traffic or email stats?
Whatever you want – comment below and let me know. I’ll add your suggestions into our regular monthly income & progress reports.
I’ve only just stumbled across this whole concept (a way out of 9-5) and I just wanted to say that I’m blown away by not only the amount of content but also the transparency from yourself and your team.
I’m slowly making my way through the step by step guides and just wanted say thank you, this has given me the kick that I needed!
Glad to hear your health is all good, here’s to an exciting 2018!
Thanks for the comment Jack, and happy to help. Our goal is to be the most transparent and honest in the industry, so music to my entire team’s ears 🙂
Sorry to be a boring but where are the facts in this report? Turnover? Profit? Tax? Investment. Etc.
It’s just meant to be a summary overview of what we did right vs. wrong as a company.
I’m paying people lots of money every year to figure out what I am actually doing with my money after it’s made. If I can barely keep up with what I am doing, I’m definitely not going to be able to write detailed reports about it.
Do I keep an eye on everything and know generally what I am doing and why? Yes – and lots of that will be covered in the monthly reports. But to financially break it down to the level you’re suggesting would be hugely time consuming.
So long story short – it would just be too complex and time consuming to detail every aspect of my finances every month. I hope people see enough value in the revenue generation side of things to keep on reading. If not – no worries 🙂
Will, you never cease to amaze and inspire me. Your transparency and dedication to your community is rare and a blessing. I have never known someone so dedicated and selfless in their passion for changing lives through ecommerce. I hold myself to the standards you live by to grow and be a vital asset to every position I am honored to be in, to serve and make a difference.
Alright enough mushiness, thanks for all you do and giving us all an opportunity to be financially free!
Knowing who this comment is coming from – it means the world! <3
Very open and transparent post. There are very few of you. After 2017, I’m sure you’re a much stronger person personally and professionally.
Hope so 😀