Ok, this might sound like bragging, but I have a very happy news to share with you all. My little company has crossed an important milestone.
We have made $109,941 in revenues in the last 12 months. (October 2009 to September 2010).
October 2009 was such a key month in my start-up. I have launched my first big product that month. It was one of the best things I have done. There was no looking back since then. I made 2 more products (and on the verge of releasing 3rd one next week).
The next wave of encouragement came in February 2010, when I launched my first online training program. It became an instant hit. I have rolled it out 2 more times in June and September this year. Both times, the sales were beyond my wildest expectations.
Please note that I have included revenues generated from advertising & affiliate sales. It is shown in blue (as against orange for actual product sales).
Here is same chart, but stacked. This gives you a better idea of total monthly revenues.
While it is clear that online training programs (Excel School) and Project Management Templates are my main revenue earners, I have few other products (ebook, wedding planner template) that generate $200-$500 every month. I have some plans to improve my e-book and make the sales much more prominent. Hopefully it should be ready by Christmas this year.
Finally, number of customers per month.
About 5% of customers repeat. They come back and purchase something else too. Most of these are Excel School students.
When I set-up my venture, I never thought I would hit $100k milestone this quick. While, I am very happy for this I also have ambitious plans and awesome ideas for future. Right now, my mind is occupied with these thoughts:
- How do I ensure same kickass support and service to my customers when the base is growing. (1700 is a large number, and they are growing every month. Even if 1% of them email me a week, I will be loaded with work very soon).
- How to automate or outsource more activities so that I can spend time with my customers and community?
- Finding time & creative juices to work on products that my existing customers are asking for (mainly 2 new training programs, one more e-book and upgrades to existing stuff).
- Moving from proprietorship (one man firm) to a private limited (more like LLC).
I have already hired one assistant on contract basis to help me with few activities. I will be moving more work to him as time passes. I have been thinking and outlining ideas for next products / upgrades.
I also have started the process of migrating all my sites to one vendor who will host, maintain and upgrade them as needed. This will free-up some of my time.
Growth vs. Sustainability
While the above ideas are fine, I also have thoughts about whether to grow my company or make it more sustainable.
On growth front:
I think the market where I operate (Microsoft Excel users) will change drastically in the next 10 years. Technologies like touch-screen computing, web-based spreadsheets, online analytics & visualization will mature by then to become mainstream. What I am doing for living will be obsolete by then. So I must grow my company to the maximum possible level before that (may be by 2015). This will create enough liquidity so we (my family) can live comfortably for long.
On Sustainability front:
I love spending time with my customers and community and learning new things. I like teaching and enjoy writing. I also want my business to have meaningful social presence. There is tremendous scope for doing all this while making decent money ($100k-$200k per year). While technologies may change, I can adopt and continue to be passionate about data, analytics, visualization in future and share what I learn with my audience. This is more sustainable.
What I am going to do?
I am certainly not going to manicly grow my company. I am hoping to sustain current revenue levels and slowly grow them with new products in future. I will keep my core values sacrosanct and stand by them. I will continue to be cheap and awesome. Despite all the excess, we (my wife and I) have mastered the art of living frugal. We have few un-fulfilled goals (mainly to get a house), but we will reach there slowly, not in a rush.
What is in it for you?
I am glad you asked. No matter whether my company makes $10k or $1mil next year, I will share the my journey with you thru this blog. I will tell you what stupid mistakes I am making and what awesome things I am doing. So stay tuned.
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