Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day 04/04/2011

In last month’s reflection, I was able to shed some of the action-limiting thoughts that have dogged me for the past five years. The trick: I separated the affirmation of myself from the public benefits arising from my activities. At the same time, I kept following my own interests a priority. In other words: “It’s not all about me, but it still is for my own good.”

For the first time since starting my Groundhog Day Resolutions in 2007, I have a measurable goal: increase non-service revenue to $1000/month. After putting together an Excel spreadsheet to help me visualize this moving forward, I was able for the first time see all my current money-making activities in context with each other.

Current Activities

Current Revenue The above is a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet I made, using some estimated numbers I pulled from my records. I’m using some of the auto-calculating date logic from the Compact Calendar to generate the weekly data at the top. Each row shows a money-making activity (MMA) with its associated job code, which is used to help me create folder names on disk. Each MMA’s weekly income is recorded for the week. Be keeping track of weekly sums, this helps me compact the calendar so it is manageable.

An important note: this tracks GROSS REVENUE, not net. I chose not to complicate this spreadsheet with expenses, etc. I will have to talk to the accountant to figure out how I should log this information anyway; once reporting is set up, the need for this spreadsheet will go away when I am able to get P&L and cashflow reporting on a more frequent basis.

I’ve already learned a couple of things. I didn’t know what my AdSense income was, and I didn’t know that I’d sold more than 2 of the PDF 12-month Compact Calendar digital downloads.

Future Activities

The goal, as I’ve said in the opening, is to make $1000/month in non-service revenue. That means products and other residual income. To figure out how close I was, I made a second worksheet. It projects what might be possible based on the data I’m capturing in the first worksheet.

Projected Revenue This is a pretty typical spreadsheet, using a variety of sums and references to help me play “what if” games with the income. Unlike the current revenue worksheet, I do include some estimates of net revenue (the profit remaining after expenses).

The spreadsheet is spit into two parts. The top half is the projected income, using “best guess” numbers extrapolated from current revenues. The bottom half helps me visualize the effect of additional income that I speculatively list. While I could have also done this on the upper half, I wanted to keep this calculation separate.

As you can see, I’m about 20% along the way to my target. And, thanks to this spreadsheet, I can dream up new products and see what kind of impact it will have on projected revenue. While this is something that every business person does, it’s relatively new to me and it’s nice to have a spreadsheet that works the way I think instead of having to fight Quickbook’s wizardly pretensions.

Money Making Activities

It turns out I don’t have many of these MMAs going on at the moment, but the goal NOW is to bring more of them online. I started using Wunderlist to track projects, which so far is doing a decent job of keeping me aware of everything I want to do, so I can selectively focus my attention on a productive activity. I think that this approach of applying unplanned-but-selective focus on my personal projects may work better for me than trying to reduce the number of projects. So long as I’m making progress somewhere, I think I would continue to feel good. It’s not the same as applying concentrated focus on just one thing for an extended period of time, which yields results faster. However, that approach presumes that making continuous progress is strongly correlated with continuous focus. That may work for tasks that have a known methodology, but when you are pioneering new ground that assumption is false. Any activity like learning, invention, or creation is unpredictable in the amount of time and effort it will take; I think my current approach works as well as it could given that challenge…but I digress.

As it happens, I’ve been actually pretty busy with client work redesigning forms, which is something I apparently just enjoy doing. It takes between 2-4 hours plus discussion time to redesign a form, so I’ve been telling the clients to budget about US$500 for the task. So far, it’s been working out well, so I may add this to the list of services. On a related note, I’ve been revisiting the “cheap websites for artists” plan I started with Agenceum about a year ago. While it didn’t work out in the prior incarnation, I had a brainstorm this past weekend about how to make it work using WordPress Networks (e.g. like wordpress.com). I’ve been creating a WordPress theme version of the simple static websites I’ve made, and plugging in the administration screens necessary to make it as easy as possible to update the site using the built-in image handling. The net result: suddenly, this become a viable revenue stream because a lot of the hands-on setup work is eliminated, and now these inexpensive websites become a product that I can offer. If I can sell one or two of them a month, that would at another 20% of progress toward my monthly goal.

The Fountain Pen Notebook project is currently my top priority, in addition to the ongoing updates for the Printable CEO. I’m expecting to make an announcement on this in a few days.

Conclusion

It is gratifying to finally feel that the systems are shifting into place. You push and you push in the dark, wondering when (and if) what you’re doing will ever align with whatever stars are in the sky and start to make sense. I think it’s starting to come together, and I think I’m starting to see how it comes together for someone like me.

Next month’s GHD Review Day will focus on how many new MMAs have come to fruition, and how much further along I am toward my goal.

If anyone is interested in checking it out, here’s my Money Making Activities Excel Tracking Worksheet. It’ll probably change, but feel free to use this as a reference.

This year’s Groundhog Day Resolutions Posts: