In most ways, 2023 was a fantastic year.
On the personal side of things, the kids are getting older (and funnier!). Dana and I were finally able to take a couple short trips – just the two of us. 🏝️
I ran two marathons this year and I’m happy to report that I’m faster (and fitter?) at 42 than I was at 25. 🎉
But, hey, you’re probably not here to read about my personal stuff. On the professional side of things, it was a mixed bag…
I stepped in as Strata’s CEO and, amongst other things, restarted my content efforts after a ~5 year hiatus. Turns out, LinkedIn and YouTube are worth the effort (as opposed to Twitter/X… maybe) — lots of growth is still available across the platforms. 🤯
Across the Results Junkies portfolio, revenues are slightly up and profits are mostly break-even. Zero exits (ie, IPOs or acquisitions) means zero liquidity but things are mostly the same for most others that I know to be in similar situations.
Stress levels are higher for everyone this year, no doubt. Each year that passes, I become more convinced that venture-backed founders and bootstrapped entrepreneurs, particularly with brick & mortar “local” businesses, could learn a lot from each other.
In December, I called a couple of the founders/entrepreneurs across our portfolio of companies and Strata’s clients…
A couple of observations and ideas from those calls:
- Limiting your business to a particular geographic area is extremely risky. Whether you’re venture-backed software or a bootstrapped brick & mortar business, you have to think bigger than your backyard.
- Your business’ profit margin is mostly controlled by your ability to generate demand for your products and services. “But Paul,” you might say, “we can’t run a business if supplying our product or service isn’t profitable!” Maybe… but, even if you’re wildly profitably on the supply-side of your business, you’ll eventually get eaten up by a competitor that can acquire customers (and attention) better than you: distribution > product.
- For companies with <$10M/year in revenues: your customers are people. And people follow people. Then people buy from people. To say this another way, the personal brand(s) of your founders, owners and team are more influential to your customers than your business’ brand. The number of people on your team with industry recognition is directly correlated to how many more new customers you’ll win and how many more opportunities will present themselves to you.
As we head into 2024, I’ll share a personal goal for me and a professional/business suggestion for you:
- I’d like to do at least eight speaking events this year and double down on content this year: I have a feeling that doubling my content output could 5X-10X my reach. I’d also like to run three marathons with a sub-3:30 average time.
- If you’re serious about growing your business, 2024 is your year to stop being romantic about things: you’re fighting a war for the attention of the people that are not yet your customers. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can act accordingly. 🚀