Month #9 | Peaks and valleys ($2K MRR)

No story has only peaks or only valleys. And if it does, it's a boring story.
- Note to self.

September was a strange month. You can call it the worse month in a long time, business-wise. Or maybe it's the best thing that ever happened to me. A blessing in disguise. Don't know. Only my approach towards it will determine that.

It's the first month in a while that I dropped in revenue, instead of growing. I coasted, and I paid for it.

The good ol' saying: sleep on your business and it'll sleep on you.

That's exactly what happened.

Low traffic. Equals to a small number of new customers. Combine that with normal churn. Boom. You now have lower MRR.

Here is what happened..



In the beginning of September I left Greece to go to Italy.

I felt inspired by my new environment and started writing "Two and a half years of building products". I opened my editor on the bus, going from the airport to the city of Milan.

As soon as I jotted down the first two paragraphs, I went into a deep worm hole I couldn't get out of for two weeks.

It was cathartic. It reminded me how hard it was to get here. It helped me see what I did right and what I did wrong.

If you haven't read it already, you can find it on the nav bar of this website. It's the detailed story of how I went from no idea to $2k/mo inside six months.

So, half of September was spent writing that monster blog post. At the same time, during those two weeks, I built some new features for Cyberleads. More 'agency' specific. Features none of my competitors have.

My goal is to be a "no-brainer" when it comes to lead generation for agencies, and this was a necessary step towards that goal.

The third week of the month was spent in the office. Although I normally work remotely, we had some new team members we wanted to welcome in person. So we all gathered up for a week. A proper 9-5.

It was tiring. I didn't have much time to work on my own stuff.

Then came the last week of September. But, as always, I had to work full time on finishing monthly list.

So, to recap, throughout September, the first two weeks I worked on the mega blog post and new features for Cyberleads, the third week I was in the office, and the fourth week I dropped everything to focus on closing the monthly list.

So, no marketing this month, apart from a few tweets here and there.

Ahhh, how nice...

I just justified to myself why I didn't promote my product for a whole fucking month. The product that might very well be the wings to my financial freedom.

"I was too busy. I was too tired. I was working on other stuff."

Bullshit.

How can you be too busy or tired to do the most important thing you have to do?

Something went terribly wrong here. I can either learn from it and address it, or carry on doing it. Again, the blog post I wrote really helped me see clear what I have to do.

- Priorities. I have to re-organize them.

You do the most important things first. End of discussion.

Right now, I have somehow left marketing last. I usually get to it sometime in the afternoon, after work.

That's prone to many risks and errors. Lack of clear mind. Bad content. Skipping days.

That's going to change. From now on, writing a daily blog post and marketing will be the first things I do in the morning. Start the day creatively.

- Another thing I did wrong was that I spent a lot of time working on the product, instead of promoting it. And I paid for it.

The product is good enough already. Customers have made hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hundreds of times their money back. What else do you want?

- Last but not least, there is another thing I realized while writing that blog post. Something I would never have expected: It's better to focus on yourself than on your business. That did wonders for me this year.

Just one example, books.

It's so cliche to say, but the ones I read this year changed the trajectory of my life. Honestly.

Ironically, one of my favorite quotes of all time is from "Fight Club". Tyler says, "Self improvement is masturbation".

And we know exactly what he means. People trying to have the perfect body. Perfect skin. Trying to optimize their seconds and hours of the day. Reading as many books as they possibly can. Trying to find "secrets" for "success". Listening to alpha waves to concentrate. Morning routines. Night routines.

Oh, fuck off.

I used to put books, especially business books, in that category also. Masturbation.

Stop reading business books already. Start building businesses.

But if you are already building a business, books can help a lot.

The 5 or 6 books I read this year changed everything.

Three of them were about business. Two of them were about philosophy. One was fiction.

The business books helped me take some important decisions. The philosophy books develop a healthy approach and realize that I am not my business. The fiction book helped me relax, switch off and come back with better ideas.

I'm not saying I'm going to read 54 books per year from now on, but I want to start reading again.

So, to recap. I was reminded that in order to move my business forward, I have to move myself forward. Focus on myself.

It sounds counter-intuitive, even to me. But it's evident. Looking back I can see it clearly. The biggest leaps and bounds happened when I focused on myself, not Cyberleads.

We live in the age of the internet. The world of infinite leverage. Your hard work is not what will make the difference. It's the few, correct decisions with the most leverage that will pay off. Pareto's 80-20 rule, but on steroids.

To take better decisions, you need a clear mind, a healthy body, good inputs, and clear priorities.

Just a few examples. Working out, reading books and blogging daily.

When I workout, it helps me feel good, have a clear mind, be more confident to get out of my comfort zone, and come up with many new ideas.

When I read books, it helps me understand what's next and take decisions.

Last but not least, when I promote myself, my progress, my insecurities and my work to the world, it's like I'm promoting my business as well.

So, yeah. Stop working on new features, checkout flows, design patterns and fonts. Start working on yourself. Focus on your habits. Stay healthy. Have a calm and clear mind. Read books. Get out of your comfort zone and tweet every day. Do the most important things first.

Your business is a reflection of yourself.

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Wow, so that was the end of Q3...

Now, what's next?

This year has been phenomenal. I'm still pinching myself every day.

We are 75% through. But if this year taught me something, it's that a lot can happen inside the three remaining months.

Here is a recap, and what's next.

Q0:
I started the year with $75 MRR, from a silly B2C product I had.

Q1:
I found a profitable B2B, tech idea that suits my skills, strengths and resources. Cyberleads.

Funnily enough, sorting my thoughts out by blogging every day and sticking to my habits played a major role in this.

Q2:
I found a good distribution channel and a way to repeatedly get new customers. Twitter.

Funnily enough, working out every day helped with come up with new ideas to promote Cyberleads, raised my confidence, made me more comfortable to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. Again and again. Until I find it.

Q3:
I doubled down on Cyberleads and Twitter and inside three months I passed my monthly salary in net revenue.

Funnily enough, reading books, in this case 'Traction', helped me take that decision to double down. It was a game changer.

Q4:
I want to embrace focusing on myself even more, instead of Cyberleads. 

Your business is a reflection of yourself. Especially in this age of infinite leverage.

Might sound crazy, but I think I'm on to something.

Or maybe the fact that I doubled my prices caused this, and I'm overcomplicating everything for myself.

You never know.

Building a business is like witchcraft.

@alexwestco