For all the readers of Startupdesi and my brothers & sisters in startup community, I wish a very happy new year 2014.

I hope this year will be the most successful year your life yet.

2013 has been the busiest, most awesome year in my life. In this post, I want to share our company’s journey thru 2013 and set goals for 2014.

Why it is important to do this?

No matter how big or small your business is, it is important to take stock of events and set future course of action from time to time. This will let you appreciate things that gone well, understand where you need help and focus on your mission. That is why every year, I do this. (read 2013, 2012 and 2011 annual goals).

I am going to rely on the startup metrics & measures discussed earlier to review 2013 performance and set goals for 2014.

2013 performance review

At the start of 2013, I have defined these goals for my company. Let us see how we fared.

Financial Goals

  • Get $750k revenues: Once again, we had an awesome year, thanks to customers who love us and people who adore our work. We made total revenues of $962,500. The exact figure may vary 5% once we audit our books and close accounts (financial year ends on March 31). Rough break up of revenues:
    • Product Sales: 79%
    • Advertising & affiliate sales: 13%
    • Royalties from book sales: 1%
    • On site training programs: 7%
  • Launch 2-3 new courses: Last year, I launched 3 courses – Power Pivot Classes, Advanced Power Pivot Classes & The VLOOKUP video book. All three were received very well by our audience, with a total of 2,000 new customers between them.
  • Release an iphone app: Failed. I had to put this (again) on back-burner as I was focusing on new courses and writing a book.
  • Collaborate with other industry leaders in product launches & promos: Yes, last year I forged new friendships with Rob Collie, MrExcel Bill Jelen and few others who helped me reach to more audience and expand our brand.
  • Conduct live classes in Dubai, UK or US: Conducted live classes in USA (3 cities & 2 companies), Malaysia (in Kuala Lumpur).

    With my Advanced Excel & Dashboards Masterclass students in Kuala Lumpur

  • Continue to spend less: Last year is also the most expensive year since I started this company. As I traveled to USA & Malaysia, our expenses piled up. That said, we continue to spend less than 20% of our revenues on business related expenses. Even on personal front, we spent less than 5% of our profits as a family.

Marketing Goals

  • To train 3,000 professionals: Almost got it. We have trained 2,500 people thru online courses. Another 250 were trained thru live classes.
  • To reach 75,000 members: Yes, As of 31 December 2013, our email subscriber + RSS reader community size is 79,000+
  • To have a million visitor month: Failed. In fact, thru out 2013, our traffic remained very stagnant. We grew by 16% in overall traffic (visitors, views etc.) This either indicates has reached its peak or there is competition. As I could not identify other sites gaining a lot of prominence, I am assuming that we have reached a temporary plateau in our journey. Once we break thru this, I am sure greater heights can be reached.
  • To make people awesome thru more channels: In 2013, I tried to reach more people thru our Youtube channel, Facebook page, my new book (Kindle), live classes. So yes.

Operational Goals

  • Improve website navigation: I did improve few aspects of our website navigation in 2013. I have added few more landing pages so that people looking for information can find it all in one place. We have also migrated our forum to a better, secure software platform and our members are loving it.
  • Simplify internal processes: Did that. That said, I am also sad to report that 2 of our employees choose to leave us in 2013. Sameer, our student helper could not work as his other job became too demanding. Sujatha, our customer service ninja had to go as her husband got transferred and they are starting life in a new city. I am hoping to fill these gaps in 2014.

Life Goals

  • Visit 2 new countries: Yes, I have visited USA (for 2nd time) and Malaysia. Both trips were huge fun and I made tons of new friends.
  • Become fit: I walked 720 kilometers & biked more than 300 km in 2013. Also, I switched to standing desk on Jan 1st 2013. Working while standing has been a healthy experience ever since. All in all, I am happy with how healthy and fit I feel now.
  • Write a book: Check. I wrote the vlookup book and published it thru Amazon Kindle during last week of October. It sold more than 1000 copies already. :)
  • Consume less: I am ok with our consumption levels this year. We drove less than 2,000 km this year (if you include our driving in USA, it would still be less than 8,000). We also cooked and ate most of our meals. We relied our garden to grow green vegetables, bottle gourd, guavas, chikoo etc. It was immensely satisfying to eat food grown in our garden. Our electricity consumption is ridiculously low too. I am happy :)
Nishanth with guavas from our garden

Nishanth with guavas from our garden

So what is in store for 2014?

Financial Goals

  • Get $1 million revenues: Last year certainly surprised me. So I am hoping that this year, we reach a million in revenues. But I see 2 major problems with that. (1) One of our courses (Advanced Power Pivot) will be retired in February. (2) I have not made any plans for live classes. That said, I am hoping the revenue dent due to these will be offset by,
    • Launch of 2 new courses
    • Launch of a new product
    • One more book
    • Organic growth in our community size (which slowly converts to paying customers)
  • Continue to spend less: This year we are planning to purchase a new car (an SUV so that family can travel with comfort and safely), take a long-term vacation (we are hoping to pull the kids out from school and do a round the world tour for 8 months). So naturally our expenses will raise. But I am hoping as a % of what we earn, they will remain low and our frugal ways will not change.

Marketing Goals

  • To reach 100,000 members level
  • To have a million visitor month, lets hope 2014 will be the year that happens
  • To reach 10,000 fans on our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter & Youtube. Currently 2000, 4700 and 7500 people are following us on these channels respectively.
  • To release 2 print books so that more people can enjoy offline.
  • To release an iPhone app: I am now viewing our iPhone app as a way to reach more audience than revenue making mechanism. Hopefully this shift in thinking will let me focus some time on it and release the app.

Operational Goals

  • Improve website navigation: I am hoping to add a new menu bar and navigation elements to our site. I am also hoping to improve shopping experience on our site so more people can discover what we sell and buy without friction.

Life Goals

  • Visit 2 new countries: This year, we are hoping to visit 2-3 countries in Europe (Italy, France, Germany, Spain & Turkey are on cards). We may end up visiting more as we are planning to spend 6-8 months roaming the world.
  • Drive more & Explore India: India is a beautiful country and our new car should make driving and exploring far off parts of the country easy. I am eagerly waiting for our car.
  • Stay fit: I want to work out often and feel healthier this year. I am hoping to walk more than 1000 kilometers this year.
  • Write another book: I am stoked by the response I got for my first book. I am planning to write one more and release it around summer of this year.
  • Consume less: Despite new car and possible air travel, I am hoping to consume less and stay frugal.

What are your startup goals for 2014?

One of the best things about goals is that they open imagination windows of your mind. You can think of new peaks to ascent and then plan. So what new and exciting things you are planning to do this year. How are you going to make 2014 the most awesome year in for startup? Please share using comments.


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