After more than a decade working in design and software and founding multiple businesses and products, Codelation Founder Josh Christy understands one thing, above all else: The world of entrepreneurship is lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.
That’s why he started a blog—to not only help fellow CEOs and owners step around some of the holes he’s fallen into but, perhaps more importantly, to help them discover (or rediscover) their “why.”
The “why,” he believes, is what will keep you grounded during those highest of highs and what will pull you out of those lowest lows.
Christy will be publishing new posts numerous times a month on his own website, and each month in Fargo INC!, we’ll be sharing a couple of them with our readers. If the material is something you’re connecting with and wanting more of, don’t be afraid to visit joshchrsity.com/blog to subscribe and get them sent directly to your email.
New Years Goals, Planning & Action
Here we are. 2017 is in full swing, and most of us have set some lofty goals for the new year.
“I want to lose weight.”
“I want to get up earlier.”
“I want to grow my business.”
But how many of us actually turn that desire into action?
Even after eight years, I still struggle with the transition from planning to doing. Two things have helped me break through planning paralysis:
1. Do one focused thing every single day to grow my business.
2. Find a community of like-minded people to help drive me forward.
Do One Thing Each Day
So how do you know what to do each day and week to get your business moving? It boils down to having a strong process in place that helps you know where you’re going.
We currently have two big goals for the first quarter of 2017:
1. Work toward 75 percent retainer clients for our consulting business.
2. Grow JoshChristy.com from $0 to $15,000/month in recurring revenue.
How will we get there? We set daily tasks to help hit our quarterly goals.
For the consulting business, Codelation, I am meeting with at least three people each week for coffee or lunch. These would be people who we’ve done work with in the past to see if there are ways we can work together again. We are also sending emails to another five people who we haven’t done work with in the past but would like to.
For JoshChristy.com, we are publishing at least one blog post each week and repurposing the content on Medium and LinkedIn, as well as in Fargo INC! Content- generation is a bit of a slow play, as it will take some time to grow readership. But it is great for brand awareness.
Now, your goals will vary depending on where you are at in your process, but the idea is the same: Schedule one thing every single day that is first on your to-do list— nothing else gets done before it. Give it at least 30 days to see if it’s providing any fruit.
Too many people quit too soon. That’s why you need a community to help you keep going.
Find a Community
I’ve been fortunate to be connected to other entrepreneurs who are in similar places as we are. If nothing else, it’s a great resource to get together for 30 minutes and just ask questions to for reassurance that I’m looking at things correctly.
I almost treat it as therapy and a kick in the pants to get out there and get going again.
The truth is that not many other people get what it takes to be an entrepreneur or business owner. Your spouse is there to support you but can’t help answer that business-process question. Your parents encourage you but secretly might want you to go get a “real” job.
Over the last year, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails asking if I could get together to meet for 30 minutes so the person could “pick my brain” on a new idea they have or to get feedback on how to handle their situation.
Some people know what they need to do and just need permission. Others need to be pointed in the right direction and given some resources.
I spent the last few weeks thinking about how I can amplify these meetings and help more people start and grow in 2017.
What I came to was: What if I could take what has been so helpful to me with my network and find a way to give that back to those who don’t have that resource?
The result of this brainstorming is what we are calling The Startup Journey (TSJ). As a member of the TSJ community you’ll get:
• Two video sessions where I’ll be answering questions submitted by you, the TSJ community. They could be website critiques, marketing reviews, business-model evaluations—you name it. You get to ask me any question you want, and I’ll produce the answer for you and the rest of the membership.
• A monthly webinar with one of my experts on various topics, from building your business to branding to technology work flows. You tell us what you want to see, and we’ll make it happen.
• And the most valuable new addition, which is something I’ve never done before: A monthly look at my business as I grow it. I’m going to give you a summary of everything I’m doing to grow JoshChristy.com and TSJ. How I’m getting my traffic, what problems I’m running into, and even what the revenues, expenses and profits were that month. You’ll get to look over my shoulder, see the numbers and watch me build a company from scratch.
• A free bonus is access to our private Facebook group to be able to learn from others who are just starting and those that who have been there. It’s a great resource to be able to start a conversation and nd out what is working for another company, or even better, what isn’t.
Invest in yourself this year. Your future self and career are depending on you.
Some people know what they need to do and just need permission.
Technology You Must Use in Your Business in 2017
As the end of the year looms over the horizon, it’s time to take a look forward and mull over the next big thing in 2017.
Many of the articles being published right now about technology in 2017 are looking forward to the future of virtual and augmented reality, drones and autonomous driving.
However, the technology I’d recommend you consider are cloud-based, or SaaS (software as a service), software solutions. If you are a small business, I don’t see a good reason to go out and buy a box of software from Office Max or even anything hosted within your office.
SaaS products usually have a monthly recurring subscription cost to them, but the flexibility to upgrade and downgrade users and switch to a different package or even a different product altogether outweighs the premium that you might pay.
There are a never-ending number of solutions to choose from, and it can be difficult to understand the differences between them. We’ve used a lot of different software over the last eight years, and here is what we are using going into 2017.
Being able to keep a project moving on time and under budget is at the core of our clients’ happiness, as well as our own sanity. To keep things running smoothly, we use a combination of GitHub and Forecast by Harvest. Though to be fair, this is probably not a common combination unless you’re in the software or web development space.
I’d also recommend taking a look at Trello. It’s something we are going to add to the mix for our team this year. Github works great until we don’t have a development project, and so we’re exploring Trello for design and consulting projects.
We’re on the Slack bandwagon and have been using it for almost three years now. It is a great communication tool that allows our entire team to communicate no matter if they are on site or off.
Plus, the integrations are never-ending. We get a notification when someone has left a voicemail on our phone system, we hold a daily scrum standup meeting and are notified when we have a major issue with a site or an app. The best part is that the base service is free, and the paid version is only $5 per user per month.
Email is a pretty simple one. If you are going to pay for your email, which I recommend, you should give Google’s business-email service a try—G Suite for Business, formerly known as Google Apps For Business. It will cost you about $50 annually per email address but also includes some of the best cloud-based sharing and collaboration tools that we’ve come across.
CRM Sales Tool
Pipedrive is our customer-relationship management (CRM) tool of choice, and price and flexibility are the main reason. The fact that you can have multiple sales funnels set up for each of your business lines and set when a deal becomes stale are a couple of my favorites.
You can also upgrade your account to have it listen to both inbound and outbound of an email address, and so you can capture every bit of the conversation with a potential client.
They also have a developer application program interface (API) so that you can integrate it with other software tools, if needed.
Questionnaires & Surveys
Typeform is an excellent way to collect questionnaires, onboard customers and automate mundane data-collection tasks. You can set up multiple surveys with unique styling to your brand and can cover almost any type of question. You can even accept payments with it. We use it to qualify consulting clients to nd out if they are a good fit before taking the next step.
I’m a little biased, but at the office, we use Booth, which is actually one of our own SaaS products. You can redirect calls around the time of day or when you are busy on your calendar. I’ll keep it short, but check it out at trybooth.com.
I’m not paid to promote any of the products listed here. I truly believe in them and what they’ve been able to do for my companies.
Time-tracking and Invoicing
We started using Forecast earlier this year and have found it extremely helpful to block off projects over the course of the week and set maximum available time per team member.
My tip is that you schedule team members at a half-day at a minimum, as we’ve found that switching costs are too high to have them move from project to project more than once per day. Now this will depend on your line of work and has nothing to do with the technology, but I wanted to put it out there.
Forecast also integrates with the company’s core product, Harvest, to establish a project budget, and the software will estimate if you’ll be going over or under budget. Harvest is also what we use for invoicing as well. It makes moving the process all that much easier. Plus, Harvest allows us to accept payments from clients through Stripe or Paypal, which makes payments a breeze.
We used to dip our toes into the marketing pond and used a number of email signup tools. It wasn’t until we started using Drip earlier this year, though, that we really saw the power of the work ow.
You can perform actions based on subscriber criteria such as if they click a link or didn’t open an email.
As the name implies, you can also send drip-email campaigns, and it integrates with a bunch of existing tools and websites.
Plus, you can’t beat the pricing—It’s free for the first 100 subscribers. If you are at all considering any sort of marketing for your site, you have to give Drip a serious look.
We used to use Quickbooks for a long time and then switched to the cloud-based version. There were some niceties, but after trying Xero out, we decided to make the jump for a couple of products. I’m looking forward to the full move here in 2017.
Both products also have a payroll module to help make sure you are above board when it comes to tax fillings and tax withholdings.