Last year had been a great year for me, in both personal and business.
In my personal life, nothing really exciting occurred but nothing bad happened either. It was a low-stress year. I felt pretty content with my lifestyle and still grateful for having a lot of flexibility. Being able to work remotely pretty much allows me to live almost anywhere I want and move at any time. Because of this flexibility, I was also able to meet up and catch up with a few close friends I've met in previous years while traveling.
On the business side of things, our company Highview Apps did much better than we expected. By the end of last year, it was actually generating enough revenue that my share of the profit was enough to cover my living expenses (note that I'm single and quite frugal). I still do consulting work part-time and I have one active client currently who I enjoy working with, but it's a good feeling to know that doing client work is completely optional now and I don't have to worry about looking for new clients once my current project ends. My co-founder and I also really work well together (it helps that we've worked together before in 3 other companies as employees) and running the business actually doesn't feel like work and didn't feel stressful at all.
For 2018, I'd like to accomplish the following goals.
1. Read more fiction.
I read quite a bit and it's one of my favorite things to do. Though most of the books I read are non-fiction. Last year, I only read 3 fiction books and those books are actually the ones I feel I enjoyed the most and learned a lot from. So this year, I'm aiming to read much more fiction than last year. If you're curious which ones I read last year, here they are:
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Wow, I had a hard time putting this book down. Brought back a lot of memories from my childhood playing video games. I think it will resonate the most with people currently in their 30s and 40s. A movie is actually due to be released in a few months.
- Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
- This book is a historical fiction about the life of Alexander the Great. I actually didn't know anything about him other than what I remembered from the movie with Colin Farrell before reading this book. It was really interesting to find out what kind of man he was, what drove him, and how he lead. Lots of lessons here on leadership. (Another book recommendation by the same author is Gates of Fire)
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- This one's a classic but actually doesn't feel like it was published decades ago. Really interesting characters and take on politics/religion/economics. Still very much relevant today.
2. Meditate more.
I started doing 10 minutes of meditation in December 2016 and I'm happy to say I'm still doing it. Though I don't do it as much as I had hoped. I've missed days and even weeks. This year, I plan to do it much more frequently.
3. Keep in touch with people I like.
I'm really bad at this. There are people who I've met years ago that I really connected with and would consider good friends but lost touch. Sometimes I'll check in if I see on Facebook it's their birthday or if it's some special holiday. But over time, it's easy to forget, get lazy, or expect them to be the one to reach out. This year, I plan to set just a few minutes every month and just check in with at least 1 person and see how they're doing.
1. Reach at least $100,000 in annual revenue.
We actually find this to be very realistic this year thanks to the nature of the subscription-based model. Since both myself and my co-founder are both developers (i.e. we don't need to hire developers which would normally be the biggest expense in a software business), we expect our profit margin to be at least 90% which is a pretty good additional income especially considering we're still only working on the business part-time.
2. Reach at least $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue across apps.
Our ultimate goal is to reach $30K in MRR which would make both of us comfortable in going full-time on the business as that would basically replace our salaries. We don't see this being a realistic goal this year, but we're aiming for it next year instead. For this year, though, hitting $10K MRR seems very reasonable with our current growth rate.
3. Launch a referral program.
We don't know if this will actually work for us but we've noticed many of our customers' stores are managed by agencies. So it seems to make sense to reach out to Shopify Experts (and possibly bloggers in the e-commerce space) and see if they would be interested in a referral program where they get a percentage of all revenues for the lifetime of the customers they refer to us. It would hopefully provide an additional incentive for them to at least try out our apps to see if one or more would be a good fit for their clients or audience.
4. Put more effort in content marketing.
We've been blogging and adding KB articles to our site regularly, but they're mostly about our apps. We plan to put up more content out there that could be helpful to Shopify store owners in general such as how to's and tips.
5. Launch 2 new apps, where at least one is subscription-based.
We've actually started development of our 4th app already, which is subscription-based, and we hope to release one more after that by the end of the year. Development is definitely slower this time as we already have 3 other apps to maintain, support, and build additional features for so it's not as easy as it sounds. We have to divide our time among them and really think about what to prioritize.