2008 – My Year in Review

So it’s the start of February 2009 and the title of this blog entry is something that most people think about over the Christmas and New Year break – so what gives? Well, as I alluded to in my last blog post, January 2009 has been an exceptionally busy time for me and as a result I’ve missed out on something that I know from experience is really really important to my future – Goal Setting for the coming year ahead.

There’s a quote I’ve heard which I’m fond of “When you begin your new year with solid direction and desired outcomes in mind, you set yourself up for awesome success.”

I’m a huge believer in writing goals down, and in December 2007 I sat down and set myself Goals for 2008. So before I belatedly set myself some new goals for 2009, I sat down and reviewed (already, see how important it is to write those goals down for future reference?) my 2008 goals to see how I fared against them – and that’s what I’ll write about in this blog post.

Why bother blogging about this? Well I do it for two reasons – one, because I enjoy it and find it useful to me personally (so there!) and two, because I know from chatting to them that a lot of other business owners and individuals are either in the same position as I was in late 2007 or have started down the road I took in 2008, and that they’ve told me they find it useful to hear about my experiences. If my ramblings can help someone else along the road, so much the better! 🙂

Onto the review of my Goals for 2008:-

Business

My business, Netlink IT, is a huge part of my life. Like most people, I spend most of my waking hours at work and so I want that time to be fulfilling and enjoyable to me. In the last quarter of 2007 I came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to own a job (as a one-man-band IT Consultant) but to own a business (Thanks Michael Gerber!) and so one of my goals for 2008 was to make that happen.

Once that goal was set, how to achieve it? Well one of the problems I struggle with is thinking large goals are insurmountable and therefore throwing my hands up the air in despair that I’ll never achieve them.

So I broke that big goal down into smaller action steps. These included moving out of my office at home into a fully fledged office, taking on staff, beginning to systemising the business so that I could more successfully delegate tasks to others and most importantly, getting a grip on the business finances to help plan this growth, and increasing revenue to pay for this growth!

So how did I fair? Well in mid-2008 I took somebody on to help with Administration and Outsourced our Telephone Answering to a service provider – freeing up my time to work on some of the other jobs I needed to do. If you’re a “one man band” with aspirations of growing, then I’d recommend outsourcing all the jobs you can, as soon as you can – you’re an IT person paid to do IT work, right? So why are you spending it answering your phone to Sales Callers or filling in VAT returns?

Shortly afterward this initially hire we bullied persuaded one of our clients into renting us some office space they had going spare. Some furniture from Ikea and a lick of paint later, we had a “home base” to work from. There are arguments for “virtual working” with remote access facilities and the like, and I agree with a lot of those arguments, but for us getting a “home base” was an important step to build upon.

This extra space then enabled us to take on someone else to help with some of the Technical and Service Delivery aspects of the business, further freeing up my time for other jobs, and we also automated or outsourced a lot of the repetitive technical tasks we needed to do.

Next, we changed Accountants. There was nothing particularly wrong with our old Accountants – they were friendly and helpful – but we needed someone not only to help us file our taxes and pay our VAT, but to spend time with us to help us analyse where the money in our business was coming from and going to. Our new Accountant, Helen, has been a regular visitor to Netlink Towers and has helped us whip our electronic accounts system, QuickBooks, into shape and produce regular Management Reports. This in turn has helped us open more Credit Accounts with Trade Suppliers, chase outstanding invoice payments, and pay our suppliers on time, which makes cash flow easier to handle. In 2007 Financial Management was possibly our weakest area, but at the start of 2009 I think we’re very strong at it.

Now we’d reached a stage where because I wasn’t fire-fighting the day to day running of the business on both a Technical and Administrative front, I had time to start reviewing the other things I did repetitively and started to systemise them to delegate to others. This was a huge win for us, but more on that in a future blog post! 🙂

On the revenue and income side of things we forced ourselves to be brave and raised our prices, we up-sold to existing clients and we became more efficient to reduce costs – but there was still a huge barrier to growth here – and that’d be me. In late 2007 I realised that there’s simply no denying the fact that I’m a huge geek, and like any good geek, I liked to talk about the geeky coolness of software and hardware to clients whenever I had an opportunity. This was a major turn off for clients, who not being geeks themselves, actually wanted to hear about how we could help their business, now how fantastic SBS 2003 R2 was. So I stepped quite a bit outside my comfort zone and signed myself up for some ongoing Sales training. At the start of 2009, I’d not say I’m a natural Salesman, but we have won business ahead of competitors with our new clients telling us they chose us because we “understood our business”. Result.

Finally, I set myself a “naughty” goal of helping Netlink IT to reach Microsoft Certified Partner status. I’ll admit, this was a goal based on vanity more than anything else, as I simply wanted to “announce” that Netlink IT was now more than a “one man band” – and achieving Certified Partner Status said this quite well. I still smile at our Certified Partner plaque mounted in the office. Yes, I know that’s sad, but I did say I was a geek… On a more serious note, in 2009 we need to work out how Netlink IT is going to make more use of it’s Certified Partner relationship with Microsoft. There’s an example of how reviewing even the smallest of last years goals can lead you to goal setting for the year ahead!

Travel

I didn’t do much travelling in 2007, and realised that I missed a change of scenery. So I set myself some lofty travel goals for 2008. I wanted to head back to Texas to see my best buddy and his family, and I wanted to go back to New York (‘cos I love that town!) and also visit Las Vegas and Tokyo, Japan for the first time.

Well I didn’t get to visit Las Vegas (although I’ve carried that goal from 2008 into 2009) and I didn’t make Tokyo, but when the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference came up as being held in Houston, TX – I simply had to go. That trip was some of the most fun I’ve ever had – from spending time with my buddy Matt, a Brit and very old friend of mine who now lives in the States, to meeting all the folk in the SMB Community I’d chatted to but never met in person. Some great friendships were formed there, and truthfully, the visit had a profound impact on both me and Netlink IT as a business.

If you’re a Small Business Owner who’s planning to grow his business, get yourself to one of the big Conferences such as a WWPC because it’ll certainly open your eyes and help you raise your game. If you’re a “one man band” or similar and asking yourself the question of how in the hell you’d manage to take a week out of the office to do this, then I’d challenge you in that you’ll face this same problem for any holiday or even sickness you’ll face – so isn’t it worth you doing what I did and start exploring how you’re going to overcome those obstacles? I went ahead and booked the trip to Houston, TX without having any cover in place at the time – I then made sure that between the time of booking the trip and the trip itself I accelerated my plans for making sure I had the cover and support I required. Nothing like an immovable deadline to motivate you. 🙂

Oh, and I flew First Class to Houston for WWPC. That was my reward to myself for the hard work I’d put into achieving some of the other ambitious goals I’d set. I think it’s important to reward yourself for achieving goals, or else there’s a danger life just turns into a slog of you striving for goal after goal. Yes, a First Class flight is a *big* reward, but then what I was doing with my business was a big struggle with lots of effort required of me. Plus, truthfully, do you want to fly somewhere First Class? Yes? Have you investigated what’s involved or as is more likely simply said “I’d love to do it, but it’d be too expensive”. Well I’ve always wanted to fly First Class so I investigated what it’d cost me, built some targets around what I’d need to achieve to enable this dream to come true, and then worked towards making it happen.

I also managed to take a short-trip back to New York as planned. The trouble with that town is that it’s simply awesome! I want to go again, and again, and again – every planned trip to the USA now includes investigation as to whether I can stop off in NYC for a few days!

Have you got some places you want to visit in 2009? Do yourself a favour, and book those trips now, especially if you’re hesitating because you don’t think you’ll be able to get away from work. If you don’t make that booking today, something will invariably get in the way of you making that trip. You’ll work out the other stuff around that immovable deadline – have faith and you’ll make it happen!

Personal

In 2007 whilst I did spend some time with my friends and family, I realised I’d more often than not spend long nights and weekends working “in” my business. I planned for 2008 to be different. It was surprisingly easy because once I’d started committing to get-togethers, parties and functions and got myself out of the door from work, let’s face it, spending time with friends and family isn’t a chore! (If it is then I strongly suggest you find some new friends, and perhaps a new family…)

As I mentioned, I also found time to visit my best buddy Matt in Texas and got to spend July 4th, Independence Day with he and his family watching Fireworks over Houston – a great memory.

As anybody who follows the photos I upload to my Facebook profile will attest to – I’ve enjoyed my time spent with friends and family in 2008 greatly. 🙂

Health

Well, it’s all been quite positive up until now hasn’t it?

Like 99.9% of the Western World, my New Year always starts with me bemoaning the fact I’m not as a fit or healthy as I was the year before, and how I damned well need to do something about it.

The start of 2008 was no different. I was going to join a gym, I was going to eat healthier, I was going to go walking more.

I failed. Big. Just like the increase to my waistline in 2008.

The reason? I don’t treat improvements to my health and wellbeing like other goals in my life – I don’t break down goals such as weight loss and increases in fitness into short term achievable objectives. That needs to change. I like the infamous phrase “Being dead is bad for Business” because it’s funny, but it’s true!

Unlike Netlink IT in the New Year, 2009 has got to see Richard Tubb shrink, not grow. 🙂

***

So that was my 2008. There was other great things that happened to me, but I didn’t plan for them to happen – they just came along. My gut feeling is that without doing the majority of the stuff above, those other good things I hadn’t planned for may not have happened as a result.

I know the “story” I’ve painted above is not too dis-similar to some of the challenges peers and friends maybe facing at the moment or in the process of first tackling. If you want to discuss anything specific in more depth, don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’m happy to ramble on some more.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about how I went about creating my goals for 2009, the importance of sharing your goals so you can be held accountable for achieving them, and measuring your success against those goal targets.

If you’ve “put off” setting your goals for the year ahead, you’ve still got 11 months to go of 2009, so make sure you get started straight away! Better late than never!

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2 Responses to “2008 – My Year in Review”


  1. 1 Andy February 4, 2009 at 9:55 am

    A very productive year!Thanks for sharing :-)Andy

  2. 2 Nick February 5, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Great post Ric!First Class to Houston, now that\’s a great reward!Nick


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