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Every year, Heath and I spend a good portion of December looking back on the past year reflecting on what went well and what didn’t go so well. Our friend Chris calls it an “Annual Review” which I love because it sounds so official and important.
It’s one of our favorite things to do for a few reasons, namely to put the past year behind us and start looking toward the new year with a fresh mind. Because you can’t set goals for the following year if you haven’t yet looked honestly at yourself and your past year and thought about what needs to change for 2019.
I love sharing our year on the podcast and a blog because it keeps us accountable. We share our goals every year (read 2018 goals here) and I love how people will follow up with us to see how it’s going.
So with December half-way done and the new year only a few weeks away, let’s look back at 2018—starting with the good!
What Went Well
The RV Entrepreneur Summit
Our annual Summit is easily our favorite part of our business. We bring together a couple hundred fellow RVers or wannabe RVers to talk business and share strategies on how to grow a lasting business while traveling.
There are a lot of things that go well with the Summit—we always sell out of tickets, we always make new friends, we always have really amazing speakers that inspire me—but there’s one thing about the Summit that really stands out to me for what makes it one of the best things we do each year. And that’s the community.
Community is hard to come by as a traveler, so bringing together this group of people who all “get it” and have similar goals and values is really amazing to see. I love sitting backstage and watching people make new friends and make connections. And in the months following the Summit, I love seeing people meet up on the road, build partnerships, and grow their business because of their experience at the Summit.
It’s a true testament to the power of in-person events and of bringing together amazing people who are committed to doing big things in the world. I’m already counting down the days till March!
In case you missed our announcement a couple weeks ago, Heath & I are excited to be expecting a daughter! We always said we wanted to have kids after five years of marriage and she’s due in May, when we celebrate our five year anniversary.
So basically we totally nailed it.
Spending Time Abroad
I have always wanted to live abroad for a time and this year Heath & I spent about half the year in America and half the year across the globe.
We had so much fun this year. Each year we set a travel goal, something that can’t really be measured but something that will improve our lives. And setting aside time to have more fun this year is something I think we did a really good job of! (Seriously this was written down as one of our goals of 2018: have fun!)
Yes, we still worked a ton and grew our business. But we also went on a cruise in Doubtful Sound and went on boat rides and ate fish tacos in Hawaii and read books on beaches.
We were very intentional this year about taking time to turn off our screens and our brains and do more fun things and I’m really proud of that. (Also highly recommend you add have more fun to your list of new year’s resolutions cause it’s totally worth it!)
Campground Booking launched with paid customers in January and has continued to grow all year. The company has processed over $300K in reservations with over 3,000 bookings made using the service. It’s been a slow grind on growing the business, but Heath is feeling good about where the business is headed now that he has another year of experience running a SaaS start up.
Here’s his four biggest takeaways from this year about how to better run a start-up:
- Providing amazing (and prompt) customer service makes up for any bugs or issues your software may have.
- When bootstrapping something, focus only on what is absolutely necessary
- Talk to your customers often! This is why we went to Canada, to talk to customers in real life and hear what Heath can do to make CB even better.
- When you’re working on something you believe in, hold on.
That last one has been really the theme of our year with CB. Heath has almost quit a LOT. I love this graphic from Ramit Sethi on startups:
All entrepreneurs get stuck in the Trough of Sorrow. Most make the mistake of giving up.https://t.co/PbpcIjreL6 pic.twitter.com/QSYGuO3f0U
— Ramit Sethi (@ramit) April 20, 2017
Heath found himself in the “Trough of Sorrow” (epic name, sounds like it’s from Harry Potter) many times this year, but he didn’t give up. Maybe the company isn’t quite where he wants it to be yet, BUT he’s still pushing on and working hard and that makes this a huge win for 2018.
Things That Went Meh…
Because some goals you hit, some goals you don’t hit, but some goals you like, almost hit and feel really good about but also wish you had done more cause you didn’t totally make your goal…right? (Maybe I’m in denial and I totally failed at these next two things. You be the judge!)
We didn’t hit our goals with Youtube—which we had said was 10K subs—but in a weird way, I’m also really proud of what we did do on Youtube and feel like I was successful there. We published an awesome series in New Zealand and we got thousands of subscribers and nearly half a million views and made a few hundred bucks from ads. Plus we had a lot of fun filming our adventures around the globe and read so many comments from people who said our series helped them plan their own NZ trip. So we had fun and provided value. Win-win.
But then Canada came along and we found out I was pregnant and BAM. Everything they say about pregnancy realigning your priorities is true. Because it was instant for me. Why I am spending so much time filming and editing videos? What a waste!
*This is where Heath likes me to add the disclaimer that Youtube may be great for you and you may love it and find it super rewarding, and that’s great for you, keep at it. But for us, we realized that it wasn’t where we wanted to spend our time.*
Heath wants to spend more time being CEO of his startup and I want to spend more time writing. Youtube was a fun adventure, but I’ve got a million other things I’m excited to work on too. Like…
The RV Entrepreneur School
The School is something else that went meh for me this year. In some ways, it was super successful. We got thousands of students and we’ve really started to establish the school as a place to go for free resources.
BUT I didn’t produce as many courses as I said I would. Part of that is due to being unable to work the past three months, because that really hurt my goals, and the part is due to taking on too many big projects this past year. So technically I failed at this goal from a metric perspective.
I said my one big goal was Youtube this year, but I also said I wanted to produce 12 courses this year. Which was just an insane goal. (I’m thinking a goal of four for 2019.)
Sane people: only take on one big project each year. Don’t try to do it all! If I had perhaps just done Youtube or just done the school, I could’ve been way more successful and not have split my focus. (And likely avoided additional stress!)
What Didn’t Go Well
I’ve gotta take partial blame here, because Heath spent a LOT of time taking care of me these past three months when I’ve been, ahem, under the weather. He wasn’t able to get as much work done, including recording podcasts. (He said something about preventing me from dying of dehydration being more important or something.)
So we didn’t get as many podcast episodes published this year as we said we would. No excuses, just need to be better prepared in the future and not let ourselves get so behind on episodes!
Getting Caught up in Logistics and Burning Ourselves Out
Raise your hand if you struggle with stressing and worrying about things ✋🏼
This year, Heath and I MAJORLY failed at living in the moment and really got caught up in logistics and timelines and blah blah blah. I remember sitting in the kitchen of our Airbnb in Hawaii with Heath’s family (his brother got married in Hawaii, should you choose to get married on an island, please invite me 💗) and Heath and I were discussing what our next plans were. Where would our Summit be? Were we going to Canada? Are we sure we are ready to have a baby?! (Because if you’re already stressed about other life decisions, why not throw the idea of procreation in there too??)
We couldn’t enjoy our travels because we were so caught up in making plans and burning ourselves out trying to run our business all at the same time.
The thing is, everything always works out in the end. We found a Summit venue in July, went to Canada in August, found out we were pregnant in September. Everything fell into place at the exact right time.
I love this quote:
Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.
-William Ralph Inge
Don’t worry. Don’t stress. Take a deep breath.
If you don’t, you’ll burn yourself out, bicker with your spouse, and ruin your chances of enjoying the moment. And THAT is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 2018, hands down. 2019 is all rolling with the punches.
We want to hear from you…
Do you do an annual review? We would love if you shared your biggest win or lesson of 2018 with us 🙂 We’ll be sharing a few answers on an upcoming podcast! Comment below to share.