Another year has shot by and I’ve been spending my Christmas doing what I do best – sitting around thinking. Thinking back on how the year has gone. The mistakes I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve grabbed. And thinking about the future.
I left 2017 very excited. The year had been turbulent and very busy, I got married, lost a bunch of money on a bad business deal and didn’t work half as hard as I wanted to. But I also broke records for profits, in particular, this blog and the table tennis business were making loads of money. I expected that to continue and had a bunch of new products in the pipeline. 2018 was meant to be a very profitable, exciting year.
Except it wasn’t. Our product launches hit problems and this blog has been gradually losing readers. But in among the bad was the good, we launched Pipehouse Gin to critical acclaim, and I started The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast.
What overshadowed most of 2018 was that I spent quite a lot of it very sick. If I was working a normal job I would have had to take a lot of time off work. But the flexibility of being my own boss meant that I could work around it. I was able to avoid travel and work during the moments I felt able to. Despite that, it probably did have a big impact on my productivity over the year.
So once again I end a year of ups and downs very excited for the year to come. I am mostly healthy again, we once again have new products in the pipeline, our 2018 product launches are mostly fixed and new businesses Pipehouse Gin and The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast are both well positioned for a fantastic year.
Let’s take a look at bit deeper and then set some targets for the year to come.
Did I Achieve My New Years Resolutions?
Here were my New Years Resolutions from 2017:
1. Start selling our gin to the public.
Achieved!! Pipehouse Gin was launched in June and has been selling well ever since. Here I am at one of our market stalls:
Pipehouse Gin has generally gone great. We did run into problems. From bad printing on some of our first batch of labels to broken bottles and stock delays. But we managed to solve most issues and sold well throughout the rest of the year. We are now stocked in about 50 different bars and restaurants and are selling strongly online.
We were also named as the second best-flavoured gin in the world by The Gin Guide after extensive blind taste testing from industries experts. An unbelievably great result especially seeing as it is our first product.
2019 should just be up and onwards. We have a new flavour coming out and have solved most of our supply chain problems.
2. Average at least 5 hours a week at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Achieved!! I train between 6 and 7 hours a week at Carlson Gracie Kent. Once you take into account holidays and injuries and I am still above the average of 5 hours a week. See if you can spot me in the pic below.
But I haven’t been pushing myself as much as I should. So for 2019, I plan on upping my training and doing some competitions.
3. Launch the table tennis business in India.
Achieved!! We launched in India in February and while sales have been good they have now levelled out and I don’t think they will grow too much from now on. I had hoped that India could be a huge market and maybe it will be one day, but for now, I’ll take what we can get.
The offensive bat is the one we are most pleased with as it has taken years of development to get right. It is also our first foray into the real top end of table tennis performance. And we have created a bat that retails at £100 and is as good as any £200 bat. We initially launched in February but due to our stringent quality control, only a handful of our bats were at the quality we were happy to sell at. So for the next six months we went back to the drawing board, improving the production technology and only in the final few months of the year were ready to really start promoting them. I hope they will prove to be a very popular bat in 2019.
More generally table tennis bat sales in 2018 have been a bit disappointing. Around 15% down on 2017. Partly because of more competition. Partly because of a lot of fakes appearing on the market. And mostly because of stock issues.
The worst meant that we were sold out of all our bestselling bats (the Palio range) during the Christmas period. Costing us a whole bunch of sales. The problem was that one part of our supply chain (the company who makes the bat cases) was almost 2 months late. Holding everything else up and losing our Christmas sales.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again we have rented a small warehouse where we will build up a backlog of stock. Then if we are let down again at least we’ll have an insurance policy ready.
Coming mid-2019 is our next-generation range of Palio bats which we expect to be hugely popular.
4. Do a new challenge to improve my managerial skills.
Failed. And really my belief of just how important managerial skills are for entrepreneurs has just increased. Improving this will be a goal for 2019.
5. Cut down on the amount of TV I watch or video games I play.
Failed. In fact, I probably spent more time procrastinating than ever.
6. Get back on track with my investments.
Achieved!! I started saving again after a very expensive 2017. I also closed on the sale of a small portfolio of properties I was a shareholder in which meant I had quite a bit to invest and subsequently changed my investment strategy in the light of Brexit.
What Did I Achieve That Was Unexpected?
So those were my targets. But really my years are often defined by new opportunities or businesses that I only come across during the year. The main one of 2018 was the launch of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast. A podcast hosted by me and my wife Emma where we talk about modern-day lifestyle entrepreneurship. What is working, what isn’t, and how exactly do you build a business that funds the life you want to live?
It was designed as an extension of this blog. A place where I can go into more depth on topics while getting out content in a much quicker time frame. Publishing once or twice a week. Instead of twice a month like I do on this blog. And something fans of the blog can have on in the background while doing other things. Which is the way I like to listen to podcasts.
I properly launched in October and so far have done 18 episodes. They are getting better along with the equipment I use and experience of what works and what doesn’t. And most importantly my listenership is growing. 198 listeners in October. 538 in November. And 1,125 so far in December. Hopefully, I can keep up that momentum and turn it into a valuable podcast. It is not currently monetized, but if the momentum keeps growing then I am sure I can make it profitable.
What Failed Or Got Worse?
I’ve already spoken a bit about my two table tennis brands, Eastfield and Palio by Expert Table Tennis, and how they have been losing sales. So let us skip them for now and instead talk about this blog.
In 2017 it made £62,475. A lot of money for a personal blog! Well in 2018 it has slowly been losing readership and revenue. With only a few hours left of 2018, I predict it has made just under £50,000. And worse it has been trending downwards. Here is a graph of the blog’s monthly income since launch:
So why has it been trending down?
Partly I think there has been a gradual culture change. People are spending less time reading long-form written content in general. And instead, have been moving to podcast or video. And also people are spending less time on independent websites (like mine) and prefer to consume their content on platforms they are already familiar with (like YouTube or Instagram).
But there is still plenty of people in the world who I expect would like my content and it is 100% my fault for not telling them about it. In December 2017 I made the decision to completely stop marketing this blog. I was losing love for it and wanted instead to focus on creating good content. Hoping that if I built it they would come. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and although I did write some very good content (such as my series on starting a gin brand) not many people heard about it.
So in 2019, I am going to start doing some marketing again. Try and get this blog heading in the right direction again. While also pushing my podcast which I think is both complementary and a more modern medium.
All The Rest
Well that is kind of all the key news of 2018. There are a bunch of other small projects I have ongoing or ticking over that I haven’t mentioned. My Betfair trading, Expert in a Year video (hit 10 million views in 2018!), book, Emma’s Nomad Kitchen, and my consultancy. They all made a bit of money but weren’t a big enough focus or big enough income source to be worth talking about too much here. You can check up on them in my regular monthly reports.
New Year Resolutions For 2019
Well, after all that. Let’s set some targets. I am making them much more specific than last year.
- Average 8 hours a week at Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.
- Compete in at least 5 Brazillian Jiu Jitsu Tournaments.
- Launch our table tennis brands in Australia.
- Start marketing this blog again. Do at least one marketing push a month.
- Average at least 5 episodes of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast a month.
- Make Pipehouse Gin profitable enough to pay a dividend in 2019.
- Find a distribution partner for Pipehouse Gin.
- Start a least one new business or project.
- Improve my mindset and try to actively and regularly get out of my comfort zone.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a smashing New Years Eve!