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Thursday, November 19, 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes!

I just realized yesterday that November 18, is exactly a year ago that I returned from an international accounting conference in New Delhi, India. It just made me think about all that I have accomplished towards my life goal in this past year. I wanted to share it in order to continue to illustrate the importance of continuing to take the time to reflect upon your accomplishments and your progress when you are travelling down the long road of building your business.

At this time last year, when I was at the conference:

  • I had only just completed the financial projections for my business plan while I was there. I had not presented to investors yet and thus had no financial commitments from anyone. 
  • I had no money saved up. In fact I owed about $25,000 on my credit cards for inventory I had purchased over the previous year. The reason I had that debt was that my divorce settlement took an extra year to finalize. 
  • I had not settled with  my ex, which meant I couldn't bring any investors into the business. 
  • My Canadian blog was essentially dead because I had no posts on it since 2011 or 2012. 
  • My Nigerian blog was still getting lots of hits, but had not had any new posts in over a year. 
  • This blog did not exist yet. 
  • I only had about 1,000 items listed in my E-bay store, with nothing new having been listed since 2012. As a result my sales dwindled to less than $200 a month because E-bay dropped me to the bottom of the search ranking as a result of not posting new material. 
  • My detailed seller ratings on E-bay were only 4.9 because I was not communicating with my customers when I sent orders out. 
  • My stock was a mess. The Canadian material was all over the place in my office. Most of it was not graded, and none of the stamps had been checked with respect to the paper fluorescence and other characteristics needed to identify them properly in the listings on e-bay. 
  • I had no material at all from Gambia, Ghana, Gold Coast, Morocco Agencies of Sierra Leone. 
  • My Nigeria blog was getting about 20 page views a day.
  • I had no Google Adsense account and no advertising revenue from my blog. 
  • I was not active on either Linked-in or Google Plus. 
  • I had not fully paid my 2014 income tax and it looked like I would owe $20,000 when I filed my tax return.
  • Steph and I were eating out a lot and not consistently getting to the gym. 
Now, at this time:

  • I have received the money promised from my first investor, an in-kind contribution from my other investor and the other two investors have indicated that they are still committed. I should receive between $75,000 and $100,000 of additional funding within the next year. 
  • Sales are better than projected in my business plan. Since July 23, 2015 I have sold over $12,600. In my original plan, I was going to organize everything first and then list. I changed my mind and started a sort-list cycle in order to start generating cash flow from the start. 
  • I managed to save enough money to live on until January 2017 and through smart tax planning I managed to pay all my income tax for 2014, 2015 and 2016! So I don't have to even think about CRA until 2017. 
  • I settled with my ex-wife, paid off my credit cards completely.
  • My Paypal and Moneybookers accounts have healthy cash balances.
  • My Canadian blog receives an average of 50-60 page views a day, and there are now 49 posts published. 
  • This blog has had 82 posts with daily readership hovering around 30-40 a day. 
  • I now have 1,914 items listed in my E-bay store and because I list material almost daily, I am ranking higher in their search engine. Consequently sales are more than 10 times what they were on a monthly basis last year. 
  • My detailed seller ratings are not a solid 5 stars across the board. I communicate with each customer now every time they place an order informing them of my latest blog post. 
  • My stock is now much better organized. There are no miscellaneous collections or large lots. Everything has been sorted together and 90% of the stamps are now identified and graded, so I can list them easily. 
  • Since introducing stock scans for post 1952 material, I have hundreds of scanned images that I can use over and over again to speed up the listing process in the future. 
  • I have an orderly spreadsheet to track my inventory so that I can get an exact cost figure for each stamp that I sell, which should help immensely when it comes time to prepare the financial statements for 2016. 
  • I have managed to acquire a good base stock of Gambia, Gold Coast, Ghana, Morocco Agencies and Sierra Leone, which I can expand once I start working on Nigeria. 
  • The Nigeria blog is now getting 50+ views a day, even though there have been fewer new posts than my other blogs. I am now sharing content from this blog on Facebook. 
  • My Google Adsense account is now operational and has been for almost 2 months. I only have about $7 of ad revenue, but it is better than nothing. 
  • I now have Hootsuite, which automatically posts everything from my blogs to Linked-In and Google Plus on a daily basis, including the weekends when I am not working.
  • Steph and I eat fresh food prepared daily at home and we get to the gym as least twice a week.

I must say that that really is a lot of progress in a year. It is really easy to forget about how much progress you have made unless you force yourself to make lists like I just did above. Why? because you grow accustomed to your new normal each time you take a step forward. 

So take the time every few months to go back and do a before and after so that you can savour your successes. You will feel better and more motivated if you do. 

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