My 2012 Business Plan Review

At the beginning of the year I wrote my business plan for 2012 where I specified a number of goals and, as promised, here is my half-yearly review of that plan.

scribbled notes

My plans and goals for passive income ended up taking over an entire (and very popular) blog post. I also set some targets in terms of visitors, clients and other indicators and you’re going to see if I achieved those goals.

How has business been so far this year?

I started running my design business from home in 2006 when the economy here in Europe and North America was was much more vibrant than it is today.

Of course, it’s difficult for me to evaluate the economy from the perspective of a business with a workforce of one (me), but I think I have only noticed the recession in the last two years.

Business was slow during March and April this year – as it was last year! – I have no idea whether this is down to me or the economy but it’s interesting that there was a similar downturn in the same period last year as well.

I’m still getting work (creating websites, logos, print design, PDFs, etc.) although I’m noticing less new customers and more business from regular clients as well as new clients who find me as a result of recommendations from established clients. As I found out in my designers business survey, your best clients are your current clients.

So, overall, I haven’t had a great influx of work that every business owner dreams about :( but my design business has ticked over normally so far this year.

My SMART goals for 2012

So here are some of the goals I had at the beginning of the year (which were, of course, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based) and how I got on.

Goal (Jan 1st – June 30th, 2012) Target Actual
Passive income $2000 $3331.07+
Monthly unique visitors 35,000 31,000
Number of meetings attended with groups of business-people or “mastermind” groups 5 7
Number of new clients securing revenue of over $1000 4 2

Let’s go through these targets one-by-one.

Passive income – target: exceeded :)

Read about my passive income so far this year where I explain how I made this money whilst asleep!

Monthly unique visitors – target: missed :(

Disappointing. The number of visitors to this site, although growing steadily, is not growing at a rate I would like to see. Traffic tends to come in steps. Visitor numbers can improve over quite a short period and then plateau, then improve again, then plateau again. I’m due another increase, hopefully!

What I’m going to do about it: I’ll increase guest posting and other promotional activities to drive more traffic here.

Number of meetings attended – target: exceeded :)

This is about interaction with business-people or “mastermind” groups – not normal meetings with clients. I’ve made a real effort to get out from behind my shiny iMac and meet real people for a change!

I’ve really enjoyed meeting a number of business people through MeetUp.com, especially the London Internet Marketers meetup. I never go to these meetings with the intention of doing business or getting clients – just to have a good chat and bounce ideas around.

This is a really great way to meet interesting people and improve your thinking about your business. I can’t recommend it enough.

What I’m going to do about it: I’m thinking about organising my own meet up in London – would anyone be with me on that?

Number of new $1000 clients – target: missed :(

Despite the fact I’m continuing to get work from existing clients I always like to be adding new clients so this is disappointing.

What I’m going to do about it: I will try to write more blog posts to attract potential new clients to this business.

More goals for 2012 – how have I done?

At the beginning of the year I also set out some specific achievements.

  • Create another free e-book similar in size to How to Market Yourself Online about running a design business. ✔ Done. Starting an online business
  • Release another premium e-book similar in size to How To Get Clients about running a design business. ✔ Done. Running a Web Design Business
  • Create one, possibly two, membership sites. ✔ Done. I’ve done one already, I wish to set up another membership site at RunningAWebDesignBusiness.com
  • Create 10-15 new websites. X Not done! I’m actually pleased I haven’t done this. I was interested in creating niche sites at the beginning of the year but the Penguin updates changed my mind!
  • Start Skype-based interviews and podcasting. X Not done! I haven’t even started with this one.

Right, get on with the Skype-based interviews and podcasting, Rob!

Further indicators for 2012 – how have I done?

I noted down several indicators at the beginning of the year. Let’s see how I’ve done.

Indicator 1st Jan 2012 21st July 2012
My Twitter followers 950 1497
My YouTube Channel, subscribers 50 155
My YouTube Channel, video views 33,000 83,000
LinkedIn connections 350 415
Facebook page Likes/Fans 138 240
Subscribers to RobCubbon.com 3,016 4,516
My Google+ Profile 744 1,303

Well, this is a bit of fun! Do you think I should do targets for these indicators?

Targets for the next three months

Target Q1 & Q2 2012 Q3 2012
Passive Income $3331.07+ $2000
Monthly unique visitors 31,000 35,000
Number of meetings attended with groups of business-people or “mastermind” groups 7 8
Number of new clients securing revenue of over $1000 2 2

As you can see, I’m going to make quarterly targets from now on. Hopefully that will increase my focus.

Other goals I’ve set myself for the next three months

These are really crap goals, I’m afraid. They’re not specific enough. I will try to improve on them later.

  • Do at least one Skype interview to post on YouTube and start podcasting.
  • Collate last few years revenue, costs and profit figures for Rob Cubbon Ltd and think about setting more income targets for the whole business, not just the passive side.
  • Increase focus on money making side of the business while helping people more by providing more useful information for free.
  • Improve my health. Go to the gym more and study Tai Chi.

I’ll let you know at the end of September how I’ve got on.

What you can do

If you want to create goals for the end of September, the end of the year or for a year or two’s time, try to follow these rules:

  • Create your goal in positive not negative terms (“I will do this”, not “I won’t do that”)
  • Make sure the outcomes of the goals will be beneficial not only for you but for your family, community and society in general
  • Make sure they are realistic and achievable but nonetheless challenging
  • Write them down on a piece of paper and review them regularly

“The single most important factor in people not achieving their goals is that they don’t have a goal beyond their goal.”
John Grinder, co-creator of the field of Neuro-linguistic programming.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post Rob!

    Nice to see your proposed targets and what you actually achieved. Not only does it make a great read, but you get to see how well you are performing.

    I should probably do something similar myself, as currently my targets are get more traffic, earn more money, improve my website. Not very specific!

    I’ll be interested to see how well you do next quarter to see whether you continue to improve like you are.

    • says

      Hello Matt, I thought I’d replied to you earlier but it seems it got lost!

      I’m not the best goal-setter in the world but I think it’s a fact that the most successful people set more precise goals and start with a specific end in mind.

      So, we should try to set traffic goals to be more specific like, taking into account what David is saying in the next comment, “I will increase the average time on my site to 2 minutes by the end of the year” or “I will reduce bounce rate by x% by the end of the year”. This will increase your focus and, even if you fail, you could learn something or find out more how to affect these variables.

      • says

        Weird, you did reply to Matt. When I made a comment it disappeared. I refreshed thinking my eyes were deceiving me and low and behold my comment then disappeared. I put it down to my dodgy internet connection.

        • says

          H’mm, thanks for this input. I’ve just changed hosts so I’m going to check this out. Technology, don’t you love/hate it?

  2. says

    I really appreciate these review posts for both the insights and the goal setting motivation.

    Good going Rob. Anyway, is increasing unique visitors such a great goal these days? Google now appear to be giving so much extra weight to engagement (time on a site) as quality indicator that a traffic increase alone may not always be good thing. I’d make a sizeable bet that you have increased your site’s engagement.

    • says

      Thanks again, David, I really appreciate your comments.

      And good point too. Visitor numbers is not a great goal. You can get thousands of visitors (from StumbleUpon, for example) who don’t engage with the site, don’t spend long, and don’t come back. Time on site and pages per visit are probably much better to set as goals. The problem is, the more visitors you get, the harder these are to change. For example, my pages per visit is on 1.5 – pretty bad I know – but it steadfastly refuses to move even if I post loads of videos on the site.

      However, I will think more about this. Thank you for your useful (as ever) comment.

      • says

        Cheers Rob, interestingly your post (http://robcubbon.com/how-to-get-to-the-top-of-google/) gave me a bit of kick to look again a Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool for my wife’s eCommerce site. It has a blog (a lame one) so I decided to search the competition on various versions of a title for one post. I don’t know if others do this, but it worked a treat (thanks)!.

        The (possible) downside of this one successful post its negative effect on the site overall bounce rate and lowering of average time. I’m only more conscious of the “quality” issue from reading how some have recovered from the negative effects of Panda. There is nothing to suggest it has actually affected us in Google eyes – in fact the opposite. Still, to be on the safe site I think an irresistible follow up post is needed.

        What you say about the 1.5 pages average makes sense to me for the volume of traffic you get (as you note) My own surfing behaviour is generally to Google, get what I need and go. You have lots of handy articles for that, however unlike many, you have also created a reason to come back. I wonder too if your subscribers contribute to this 1.5 average. We know with Google analytic that you become a unique visitor after a month away, but also aren’t your subscribers more likely to clean out cookies more than the average punter?

        It makes sense that Google would want to downgrade blogs that only go for snappy tittles and easy to write top ten lists. I suspect Google are (or will be) smart enough sort out the good from bad.

        Anyway, I’m now off to ponder whether our blog is actually adding value to our site. I reckon none of us can go too wrong if we keep asking the “are we adding value” question. Yours site does!

        • says

          You raise important questions and I haven’t got all the answers. Yes, creating a popular post is a double-edged sword – great you get all the extra traffic but it will create more “channel surfers” who arrive, spend 20 seconds and go, which looks bad.

          My instinct is not to worry about this too much. Remember, people who were negatively effected by Panda had really bad sites, first and foremost. I haven’t actually seen any cast iron evidence that bounce rate, time on site and pages per visit actually makes any difference in the rankings. OK, sites with good bounce rates, time on site and pages per visit do well in the rankings but that could be for a host of other reasons.

          However, I could be wrong.

          Apart from looking at the keyword tool I get a lot of inspiration from Google Analytics. If you see a lot of people coming to your site having typed in a certain phrase or group of phrases you can simply write another blog post about that subject and you’ll be sure to see more visitors. Obviously, only do this if this post actually interests you.

  3. says

    Hi Rob

    congrats on the success’s ad good new targets.

    I no longer set goals that are long term I find my field to dynamic. Of course i have long term objectives but tend to work month to month. Not a good thing i guess.

    And on my must do include. walk more, go cycling.. hum well they are still there at least.
    The work more and rink more coffee ones seem to be working.

    regards

    • says

      Thank you, Steve. Short term, achievable, measurable goals are good. Like, I’ll go for two half-hour walks and one bike ride a week. And then scale it up. I’ve been trying those recently.

  4. says

    I am just at the beginning stages of mybusiness. It was suggested to me to have a business plan. I had know idea what a business plan entails. Now I have an understandable example of one. Thanks Rob you always have such useful information.
    PS: how do I change the icon that apears on my comments I do not like the red face creature that appears on my comments? :(

    • says

      Glad this post helped you, Gloria. Sorry about the red face! That’s chosen randomly. The best way to get rid of it is to head over to Gravatar.com and upload an image for yourself that you’ll be able to use on all blog commenting!