It’s goals time. Before I go into this year’s list, revisiting the 18 goals I’ve set up for myself and my company is definitely a must.
These were meant to be BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for myself personally and for the company. And in this podcast, we’re going through each of them of them – the ones we achieved, the ones we didn’t, and the ones where we got halfway.
Before reading through this latest and final goals update, here are the links to all the previous ones to get you up to speed.
2018 was a mix of ups and downs. While there were many challenges, there were plenty of wins as well. We may not have reached our target revenue due to a number of factors but we were still able to grow by 40% and start the year with a healthy cash balance.
So, here goes.
1. Develop 50 new products
We were on our way to hit this but current market conditions made it necessary to change course and put a halt on more product development. We ended up with over 25 new products instead of 50.
2. Launch on Amazon Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and eventually, Australia
We did this but it did not go nearly as well as we thought. We will continue doing this as everything’s already set up. If we sent that time doing something else, we probably could have yielded more from our business.
3. Optimize our Amazon listings to increase sales by 50%
We did this for all of our tops listings. We’ve put in the effort to bring our listings to the next level by having better photography. We’ve yet to find out if we did achieve a 50% sales increase.
4. Improve PPC
This is a huge win. We lowered our ACOS down to 7% and saving 5-figures a month. It has really helped our net margins. We’ll definitely be doing more with this to take full advantage of Amazon PPC’s new features.
5. Implement the concepts in the book Traction in our business
Another win. We got the company better organized and have everybody be on the same page.
6. Reach $10 million in revenue with a 10% net profit
We threw out the $10 million goal because the growth we projected that would help us reach this number was tied to launching new products and sales coming in Amazon Canada.
In the end, we made 6 million dollars, a 40% increase from the year before.
7. Lose 12 lbs
I achieved this at one point but the holidays happened so by the end of the year, I was down 10 lbs.
8. Record 100 episodes of the podcast
Another goal achieved. For 2019, I’m thinking along the lines of 75 because I want to do some more journalistic type pieces, which will generally take more time to do.
9. Launch a new version of ecomcrew.com
We did this early in the year with major help from David Couillard. Dave’s also been improving the content on the website.
10. Launch 4 new courses
Ended the year with 5 courses.
11. Hike 80 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail
I was not able to do this in March. However, I did some other hiking though. The most significant one being a hike to Mammoth Lakes.
12. Take an epic 2-week vacation
We accumulatively accomplished this by taking a few days off at different times during the year.
13. Visit the Philippines office at least once
We did this and we’ll be doing it again this year in April. This time for a full two weeks.
14. Read a book a quarter
This is done too. I read Traction, Ready Player One, Not Dead Yet (Phil Collins’s autobiography), and The One Thing.
15. Handoff my Facebook ads to other people within the company
I had already done this. Unfortunately, the person I handed the job to left the company.
16. Come up with at least one new tactic that no one else is doing
We came up with a free downloadable calendar for Colorit but it feels more like a cop-out because we are using the same process and strategies to create a new product.
17. Never lose sight of the bigger picture: create 5-star products that people will truly love and continue to enjoy what I’m doing
I think we’re on track with this. We have certainly done the products part and I also believe that our employees enjoy coming to work. However, I’m a little bit worried about myself because we’re past the exciting stage of starting a business. In 2019, I will certainly be focusing on coming up with ways to remain inspired.
Want to ask us anything in real time? Do not miss our live Q&A webinar on the last Tuesday of the month, January 29 at 10 AM PST. Register here.
Registration to EcomCrew Premium is closed indefinitely. But, you can still learn from us through our suite of free courses. You’ll find a total of 20 videos covering ecommerce topics like Importing from China and Building a 7-Figure Business.
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If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 214 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today. Just before we get started, I want to remind you we're going to be doing a webinar on January the 29th at 10am. These are our monthly public webinars that we do to get back to the e-commerce community there, again, 100% free. Just go over to EcomCrew.com/webinar. This month we're going to be doing an open Q&A. So if you are an EcomCrew listener and have always wanted to ask us a question, but aren't an EcomCrew Premium, this is your opportunity to go over to EcomCrew.com/webinar.
This is going to be a public webinar, much the same format that we do for Premium but will be obviously a lot more people in there. We probably won't be able to get to every question but we'll do our best. We’ll stick around for an hour to an hour and a half answering any questions you might have, again, EcomCrew.com/webinar. And of course, if you're a Premium member listening to this, don't worry. We'll have a private Q&A just for you guys as well this month as well. But we're going to do this open Q&A one time here just to see how it goes, and maybe it's something that we enjoy and want to continue. But we wanted to try doing this for the community to give back. Again, EcomCrew.com/webinar, January the 29th 2019 at 10am Pacific Time.
All right, today's episode is going to be 2018 review. We're still in the beginning of January 2019. And the year is wrapped up and I want to go over all of the goals. We had 19 goals that we threw out there for 2018, actually we had 18 goals, sorry, for 2018 and I want to review those. We're going to do that one by one, right after this introduction.
Mike: All right guys, welcome to again, the 214th episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. As always, you can go to EcomCrew.com/214 to get to the show notes and comments for this episode. I have a feeling we'll have a few of those since these goals episodes always seem to do really well. So 2018 has come to a close. It's time to review the pretty prolific list of things I put together at the beginning of the year. These were meant to be the Big Hairy Audacious Goals, and I put some stuff out there to kind of head towards — got a lot of this stuff done, a lot of it we didn't meet.
And as always, with everything on the podcast we've done, it's an open book and we'll talk about the things we did get to, the things we didn't get to, the things we halfway got to, all those different types of things. But it's been a mixed year. It's been a year of ups and downs. We definitely grew and did quite well this year. I'm happy with the way that the year turned out, but also a little bit sad in some ways, but we'll get into all that as we go through this. So, let's go through these one by one.
So, the first goal here was to develop 50 new products in 2018. And this is a goal that we were well on our way to accomplishing. And this was one of these sad goals that we didn't get to because just the way that the market kind of changed throughout 2018. And we've talked about this in other episodes of the podcast. But first of all, I do think it's important even if you have goals, they can't necessarily always be in stone. You certainly want to make a goal and stick to it and try to achieve that, but you can't let your ego and pride get in the way of reality and current market conditions.
And throughout the year, the reality for us was just the things that we're changing within Amazon, getting more and more difficult to launch new products without doing any type of black hat stuff when other people are doing black hat stuff. That was one part of it. But the biggest thing that definitely gave me cold feet when it came to launching new products was when the talks of tariffs and a trade war started creeping in. And the reason for this is we have been doing this now, we started over from scratch. For those of you who haven't listened to the beginning of the podcast, I just want to fill you in. For those of you have, bear with me for one second.
But we started over from scratch in e-commerce after we sold Treadmill.com in January 2015. So, three years, 15, 16, 17, I guess four years in 2018. And so over those four years, we've gone from zero to as we'll talk about here to about $6 million in sales this last year, from nothing, with our own money, without any outside investment, or capital or things of that nature. So, being on that path has been very stressful and also very high risk. We're always operating at the thinnest of cash flow positions, trying to invest in more inventory for more growth, to get more sales, and it's just this constant cycle that we've been living, which has been fine.
I've been really cognizant of that and it was something I sat down, and we realized from an early stage that that was the way that it was going to be for a long period of time and I was fine with that risk reward proposition. But when you start talking about tariffs, trade wars, things of this nature, potentially, when we first started thinking about this was potential, now it's real life. We don't have the cash flow built in or models to handle a 10% tariff or a 25% tariff, especially if we can't plan for it. We ended up paying a substantial amount of tariffs this year at the 10% level for things that we had already ordered and placed a deposit on and had no idea that that stuff was coming.
And it was a pretty rude awakening. And it made us just a little bit skittish in terms of how we were going to plan for the rest of 2018. And one of those things was to just put up complete halt on all new products. So what we had done was, if we hadn't placed the deposit for the product, we just didn't order it. And there was a whole bunch of stuff, dozens of products that were in the final phase of development we had going through the sample phase, and committed to place an order with the factory and ended up having to just not do it, because we had not placed a deposit and actually sign anything yet. And I hate operating that way, but the reality was that we didn't know what the price we're going to finally be able to pay for the thing was going to be when it hit the border, and that's a little bit scary.
So, it became a focus of not growing as much in terms of top line revenue, but growing our bank account balance as much as possible over the second half of the year. And that's the focus that we switched over to, and we'll talk about that throughout this episode. But we did accomplish that goal. That was a new goal that we kind of threw out there in the middle of the year, which was increase cash position, increase margins, net margins, by not having as many expenses and new products and just making sure that we were on a more solid ground, that we could withstand outside pressures and things that might come up. And we've done that.
And we ended the end of the year with the largest cash balance that we've ever had for this company and that's a pretty good feeling. The stress is certainly not nearly as much as it was at one time earlier this year. Now, we did have a very small cash position in December, in the beginning of December as we stocked up on inventory for the holidays. But we had a great December and ended the year with just this great cash position. It's because we stopped developing all these new skews. And if we were just getting started in e-commerce, we would be a completely different situation.
We would have had an opportunity over to take new cash and put it in e-commerce and there is still I think great opportunities within e-commerce. It isn't that I’m down on e-commerce necessarily, it's just the risk reward, fuel on the fire, constantly pedal to the metal, company that we had been running over the past four years, I was at a point where because we had and still have like 1.3, $1.4 million in inventory, that it was a time to just take the foot off the gas pedal just a little bit and start increasing cash reserves and not be in a position where we were going to go bankrupt if something didn't go the way that we thought it would go.
And that's not the way that I like to live life. I am actually a pretty conservative person when it comes to finances, and being in that spot was getting to be just a little bit much. So, we ended up over 25 new products, but not 50. And again, that was a self-chosen thing. It wasn’t that we decided that we didn't want to do that. It was, I think, outside factors decided that for us. And we'll certainly start developing new products next year. And as of recording this, the day that I'm recording this, supposedly the trade talks have been going well, maybe those tariffs and trade war concerns will go aside and we have a lot of products in the pipeline that we are able to hit the ground running with in 2019 once I feel like the market conditions are back in our favor.
Okay. Number two, was to launch on Amazon Canada and UK in 2018, which we did. But it did not go nearly as well as I thought it would. And we'll talk about just what we thought that that was going to do to our top line revenue. We thought we would see a 30, 40, 50% boost. So if we were doing 5 million, let's say last year, we would see a $2.5 million increase just from Amazon UK and in Canada alone. That has been far from the case. And it's been frustrating, because I don't know how I got myself talked into this being the magic pill. But it certainly has not been for us.
And now listen, it isn't like we've done zero in Canada and UK. I mean, our sales have been pretty strong. And I think most people would be happy with having a half a million or a million dollars in sales to tack on to your business. But for us, I think the reality for us is that if we spent that time doing something else, we probably could have yielded more out of our business. So, it's a situation now that we're in, now that we have it there, we're not going to get rid of the UK or Canada sales. But if I was to do it all over again, I don't think that I would have done it.
Is it that our products don't appeal to those markets as much? I don't know. I think that if they're evaluating it pretty closely, the reality is that because of the high cost to get things there, and then the cost of the taxes, we end up having to charge more for our products than comparable products for people that are based in the UK. They have an advantage over us that we just can't match. So, I think if we were able to lower our pricing by 30% to be comparable to British pounds, we would probably do just fine, but then our margins aren't where we want them to be.
So again, because it's already there, and it's relatively easy to continue on with it because everything is set up, we will continue with it. But for us, and our business, I think that we could have used that time and resources more effectively is kind of how things shook out for us in 2018. But we did accomplish the goal. Optimize Amazon listings to increase sales by an average of 50%. We definitely did this for all of our top listings. I don't think our sales increased an average of 50%, they definitely increased significantly. But we definitely put the miles in and have been working on making our listings better, which has included better photography, which we've really taken to the next level.
For those of you in EcomCrew Premium, you know some of the stuff that we've done there. We've shared all of our images and some of the stuff that we're doing to just show you how we've really taken things to the next level, and what the repercussions of that have been in terms of the positive outcomes of increased conversion rates, and things of that nature. So, we definitely have done that, just it has not increased sales by 50%, at least not yet. I think that it does take time to kind of shake through, but it's definitely had a positive outcome.
And there's a lot to be said for spending time on existing stuff and making it better than going after the new shiny object. And as I was mentioning in goal one, with all the new products, the market kind of dictated it as the tariff construct came up for us to do that anyway. So, we naturally had the time by virtue of not developing more products to spend more time on existing listings, and that definitely worked out well.
Optimize Amazon PPC more effectively. This was definitely a huge win. I want to thank Laurd back in our Philippines office who manages all of our PPC. We're going to be doing even more with that in 2019 now that Amazon has come out with new features for PPC that let you get a little bit more granular. So, I'll be going over that with her when we visit the Philippines office in April, actually, May of this year. We were able to lower our ACOS by I think it was 7%. So we went from like 30% down to 23% over the course of the year. I think those are the numbers, I'll look those up again when we do a PPC episode and get the exact numbers. But it was significant. We're saving five figures a month in what was basically completely wasted PPC spend, which has really helped our net margins. Very happy with how things are shaking out with Amazon PPC.
Implement Traction, this is definitely a win. This was the first book of 2018 that I read, where we set goals for the company, got better organized, got everybody on the same page. This is still very difficult for me, because I'm naturally not good at this stuff and don't enjoy spending time doing this stuff more kind of like when I'm thinking about it or work on it. But when we have 12 people on the team, it's important to make sure that they're on the same page. So we've definitely had Jacqueline and me making sure that this stuff gets implemented. Everybody knows what their goals are for each quarter and that we're marching towards the beat of the same drum company wide. So this has definitely been a win. And I think things internally here are significantly better for it.
Number six; generate $10 million in e-commerce sales at a 10% net profit. This is one that was like we threw out the $10 million number because it's a shiny number that looks really attractive. We never necessarily truly thought we could hit that this year. But we didn't get anywhere close, quite frankly, mostly because of number one. When I was talking about developing new products, a lot of our growth that we had projected was by developing new products and launching them and having them for the holiday season. But we put the brakes on that and did not launch those products because again, I was concerned about tariffs.
Probably the biggest contributor to us not hitting this goal was the UK. As I mentioned UK and Canada, we had really projected adding millions of dollars, multiple millions of dollars of revenue in our forecast for 2018 and we didn't come anywhere near that. So, we ended up the year at 5.94 million, so just basically 6 million for the year, which was a 40% increase over last year, which again, in a vacuum is pretty awesome to have a 40% increase. Most companies would be pretty happy with that, especially when you get to multiple millions. And we did that through a lot of other adversity.
Most importantly, I would say over everything else, when we look at our P&L for 2018, our net profit margins starting around the beginning of the year, when we started taking a focus on looking at that versus top line growth has been really pretty impressive, actually. And it's made the company way healthier. It’s also again had us end the position with the most cash, like I said, that we've ever had hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in the bank, which is pretty cool. And net margins that are way above 10% now, which we were significantly under that number earlier in the year because again, we were focusing on top line growth.
When you're focusing on top line growth, you're launching new products; you’re trying a bunch of different ads out and a bunch of new things that are just to throw gasoline on the fire. And those things are costly. Launching new products is very costly, doing a bunch of new ad concepts is costly, writing content, doing a bunch of other things where you're investing more in the future is costly to produce. And when we shift our focus again, because we just want to make sure that we were in in a better cash position to be able to withstand the unknown — and one other unknown that I didn't get into, and this is just a personal gut feeling. I do feel like some sort of recession is probably coming.
This is not a political thing at all; we've tried to stay away from those things. Whenever I even touch on that a little bit, we get a lot of hate emails for even mentioning that stuff. So this is just a personal thing. I think that no matter who was in government at this point, you're looking at the longest boom market in history, economies are cyclical, and I feel like it just kind of time. So it was more just let's get into a better cash position to be able to withstand these types of storms. And that certainly has been kind of cool from we have seen the economy go down, but like the tariff thing we are able to withstand now, because of that.
Had we continued on the same path, we literally would have run out of cash because we would not have had the money to pay tariffs that we weren't planning for that came in. We had several containers hit the border that cost us mid five figures that had we not slowed down a little bit, we would have just not have the cash for, or we would have to borrow cash to be able to do, so that all worked out really well.
So we ended up the year again, at 5.94 something million, so basically, $6 million for the year. Way less than I was really hoping at being in the year like it seems so cool and achievable as we're putting the forecast together to hit that 10 million number because mostly because we threw in millions of dollars, like I said, for the UK and Canada, it just didn't happen. And also, we had a couple of million dollars more that we're projecting on new products that we just never launched in the second half of the year. Conversely, our net margins are way better and we're in a better cash position.
Number seven here, lose 12 pounds in 2018. This is one that I mean, I wish that I could say that I accomplished. I actually had accomplished this at one point. So, I kind of have checked marked this off because I was down 12 pounds at one point late in the year. But then Thanksgiving and Christmas, and travel came into play, and I ended the year nine pounds down, which is still pretty good basically. And the thing is, it was not like a crash, like I lost all of it in one month just to try to hit the goal.
It's been very much a lifestyle change to help with that where you’re slowly losing on average, let's say a pound a month or something, or in this case, three quarters of a pound a month. And most of that has come from number one intermittent fasting, which is now just complete lifestyle thing for me, and I don't even really think about it anymore. I’m eating two meals a day, instead of three. I eat between noon and 8pm on a typical day. If I ever eat anything before noon, it's like six almonds or something. I found that almonds really help suppress my appetite and they're really healthy for you, healthy fats.
I don't drink any sugary beverages, which I wasn't doing anyway. But if I drink anything in the morning, its water, tea or coffee, maybe like a keto coffee or something in the morning. But I mean, for the most part, I'm just not even thinking about food until noon. A lot of times I make it to one or two and then I go home and cook my — I've been cooking myself a lot of my own meals now, which has really been a lot of fun. And so, I know exactly what I'm eating and what's going in there and it's just been more fruits and vegetables, and really cutting out carbs, especially the unhealthy carbs like bread as for instance.
So, it's just been a lifestyle change that has become a part of my life. I mean, over a while things become a habit. And so, at the end of the year I was down nine pounds. As of recording this it's 10 because I lost another pound over the first several days of January. But the thing that becomes really difficult for me, the times that I really struggle with this, and I got to figure out a way in 2019 to get over this. But the thing that I really struggle with is number one, when I'm traveling. It's so tough because the foods that I prepare aren't readily available on restaurant menus. Everything in America has bread or is fried; most of the places you go out to, it's tough to find those things on the menu.
But being honest, it's not even necessarily the fact that it's tough to find them on the menu when I'm traveling, I'm a foodie. I really enjoy going out to a really great meal to eat to a new restaurant, and I want to try stuff. So it's like, man, I really want to try that, whatever it is, that has a lot of carbs in it. And man, it's really tough because my brain really, really wants it. But I also know that I’m trying to eat healthier, it's a struggle. I'm not going lie, it is definitely, it's tough. Not only traveling, going out to eat, but also going out to eat with friends. Typically, we're going out with a larger group, and they're picking a restaurant, I mean, every now and then we pick as well.
But most of our friends, they don't want to hear about not eating bread, or not eating carbs. That's just not what they want to do, and I don't want to preach to them and have them try to live that lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination, nobody wants to hear that crap. This is just a personal decision that I've made. So, when you're out in a social setting, and we're really close to our friends and typically our meals almost every single time are family style. We'll each order a dish; we all throw them in the middle and just start picking off all of our plates. It's a lot of fun, but it becomes difficult again, to eat right in those situations. So that's the second one.
The third one is drinking, another problem that I have with just socializing. I definitely don't think that I'm anywhere near an alcoholic. In fact, because of trying to eat more keto like, or paleo like, I don't drink nearly as much as I did before at all. I mean, at home, basically zero now, every now and then I will have a glass of wine. I'm still debating whether or not that's healthy or not, but a glass of red wine. Depending on the study you read, some say that that is good, some say it isn't. But my friends, a lot of the relationships that we have with them is through drinking. I think a lot of people will have friends like this. And so now when we go out it's bear, its wine, it's mixed drinks, it's whatever it is and it's typically not one or two. It's typically a lot.
And just one day of doing that from a diet perspective throws you out of keto, if you're into a ketogenic diet. It just takes a lot to recover from; it's not just like the next day or anything like that. So these are things that I'm struggling with personally like how to deal with that stuff in 2019. I’m still kind of rectifying that and how I'm going to work on that as goals in 2019, which I'm going to be doing my 2019 goals episode, and there will be a component of this in that. So, enough about that, I did drop nine pounds in 2019. I feel a lot better as a result.
Number eight; record 100 episodes of the EcomCrew Podcast. That is a checkmark. That was not easy doing this twice a week, week in and week out. I don't think we're going to have 100 be the goal next year, or this year, I should say now, 2019. I'm thinking something along the lines of 75 but we'll see how that goes. I have some ideas of some stuff I want to do. It'll be more quality over quantity. And not that I ever feel like we put out low quality stuff on purpose. But I think that when you're trying to record 100 episodes over the course of the year, some are going to be better than others. And I want to do some more like journalistic type pieces that require a lot more time and travel and interviews.
The podcast doesn't take an incredible amount of time for me to do because for a 30 minute podcast, I’m probably spending about an hour working on it. And thanks to Abby and Muffins back in the Philippines office, they do all the editing and all the other hard heavy lifting work. But it's still a drain on how are we going to come up with a topic that's really, really interesting. So, I have some really cool ideas for 2019. A lot of them are just ideas at this point. So I don't want to talk about them quite yet on the podcast. But I am happy and very proud of myself that we were able to do 100 episodes of the podcast in 2018. And the comments have been very positive, the show has grown tremendously. The traffic for the show has like quadrupled for the year. It's been pretty cool, which has led to a lot of other really cool opportunities.
Number nine; launch a new version of EcomCrew. This was mostly Dave Couillard that really helped with this. And we did this very early in the year. I'm incredibly proud of the work that he did here. The site looks a lot better than it did when we first started at the beginning of the year, don't go to the way back machine and look at it. It's embarrassing. It's horrible. But we did get that done. And we're taking this to the next level; we've been working on rewriting content.
And I say we, I mean Dave Bryant, not me, he's the writer of the group. And so we've been going back and improving a lot of articles, and improving the look and feel of them. And Dave showed me a template of one of the first ones he's done with this new technique and man, it looks absolutely incredible. It's amazing what he did there. And I'm really excited for to see what happens in 2019 as a result of that.
Number 10; launch at least four more courses in 2018. We did that as well for EcomCrew Premium. We launched two new courses. One was Facebook Messenger for e-commerce. The other was how to launch a product on Amazon in 2018 the white hat way. Both of those were a ton of work and have received really great feedback from the Premium community. I actually just had a comment come in from a Premium member that I’ve known from EcommerceFuel. He was saying this is the best thing that's ever happened to his business, and those types of comments are amazing. It's really cool to see.
And then on top of that, we launched three mini courses that we use as lead magnets which you can go to EcomCrew.com/free to check out. It's the same type of concept that we've used with something like ColorIt where you can download free pages, and then hopefully, you develop a relationship with us and want to spend money with us in the future. But then it's like even if you don't, the courses are there for free for you to keep.
And the idea is to provide enough value with the courses that you're getting something out of it can dramatically change your business to the point where you do want to work with us in the future. So, the courses really are pretty valuable, and it was a ton of work. And you can go over to EcomCrew.com/free to check those out. But we ended the year there with five courses, not just four.
All right, let's go on the next one here. Number 12, hike 80 miles of the PCT. I had planned on doing that in March. It's really, March, April are the only real months you can do it at least down here where I would hike it because in the wintertime, it's still cold out there and very windy, and just kind of brutal conditions. And it can rain a lot; it can actually even be below freezing out there in the desert. And then March and April, it heats up. So it becomes tolerable to be able to go out there and do it. And the key thing is there still water out in the desert, really important to be able to have drinking water but later in the year that all just completely dries up. And it also gets just unbearably hot, like basically impossibly hot to do it.
So, March was really the only month I was able to plan for this because April we were in Asia. And I just wasn't able to do it. I was not able to go in March. It upset me quite a bit because I really wanted to go do this trip. I did some other hiking throughout the year. The big one that I accomplished was going up to Mammoth Lakes and hiking up there. It wasn't 80 miles by any stretch of imagination. But we did a multi day trip at altitude at 11,000 feet and I was able to do that which for me was a massive accomplishment. I certainly have hiked way more than 80 miles total throughout the year. I want to be able to incorporate more of these things in my day. And I want to get to a point where the reason I can't do it is because of work which was the reason that I wasn't able to do it this year.
And that's going to be a big part of what I'm to be talking about just a little bit of foreshadowing for 2019. There's been way too many times in my life where I made work the number one priority and not done things like this and a bunch of other things that I wanted to do, which is I guess foolish I guess in some way to say. We’ll talk more about it in the goals episode for 2019. I don't want to harp on this particular thing, because we're starting to run a little bit short on time. But certainly I'm upset that this didn't happen that it was a I had too much work to get done before leaving for Asia as a reason for not doing it. And that's something I want to correct is basically the bottom line.
Number 13; take an epic two week vacation. We didn't actually end up taking a two week vacation all at one time this year at any one time. But we did take several weeks off and did a lot of really cool things. My favorite trip was going to the Northeast. It was more than a week but less than two. It was actually the trip was more than two weeks but we did four days of EcomCrew stuff in the middle of it. So, it kind of ended up being a multipurpose trip. But man, I really love the Northeast of the United States in the summertime. It was my first time going to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. I checked off three more states which brings me up to 48 states.
I need to get to North Dakota and Iowa still, which is going to be interesting trying to go find a way to get to those two states at someday. But I just have this passion for travel that has always kind of itch me and I'm happy to get the 48 states now. I'm really looking forward to getting all 50. I’ve also been to 49 countries, and early this year, we're going to be going to our 50th country which will be Vietnam, so that'll be cool. So, it means I've seen a quarter of the world's countries at that point. There's 192 I believe official countries plus a bunch of other territories. So, didn't exactly by the letter of the law take an epic two week vacation, but we definitely cumulatively accomplish this and took more time off than typical.
And the thing that I'm really happy about, one of those weeks was taking time for family and friends. So, at the end of the year, we had always the last several years said we're too busy to go do Thanksgiving with friends or family. This year, we just left and took off and did that which was awesome. It was personally really rewarding. And I realized how much I missed out on those opportunities and want to be able to do that. And then between Christmas and New Year's, we just took off and went home and visited family and friends back in the Washington DC area which was also really awesome.
All right, number 14 visit the Philippines office at least once in 2018. This was done in either April or May. I forget exactly when we were there. But that was a part of our Asia trip that we did in April, May. We're going to be doing that again this year, planning on being out there for two full weeks this time in the Philippines. That office has just been amazing for us. And I want continue to double down on that office and spend more time with them and try to really get out there twice a year. We'll see if we can do that. It is a big trip.
It's not an easy endeavor getting out there particularly because they're in Cebu not Manila. So, the flight situation getting in and out of Cebu is not as easy. The airport is nowhere near our office. So, it's like when you fly, if you do fly in in the middle of the day, it's like a two hour ordeal in traffic to get out to the office pain in the butt. It just it isn't easy. But everything that's important in life, you find a way to make it happen. And this is important to me. Those people over there are very important to me. So we find a way to do it. And once I'm there, I enjoy every single minute, which is awesome.
Number 15, read a book a quarter. This is a checkmark. We definitely got this done. There was a combination of just fun books to read, personal stuff and also business books. The first one I read of the year was Traction which has been transformational for our business. I read Ready Player One. I actually read that while we were in the Philippines. That was a gift to me from a friend and I just absolutely love that book. I typically really struggle getting through a book; I'm ADHD, I have a hard time sitting down and focusing reading a book. So, while most people enjoy reading and do it for therapeutic reasons, and love it, for me it's usually very tedious. It's tough just sitting down and reading an entire book.
I prefer to consume stuff in shorter snippets, more like two to 6,000 word blog articles or things of that nature versus trying to focus on a book all the way through. But I wanted to do it because I think it's important. And what I found is that it is therapeutic and feels really good when you finish the book. I’ve read a Phil Collins book. I was a big Genesis Phil Collins fan, still am. I grew up a product of the 80s; I went to a Phil Collins concert when I was younger. And I think the name of his book if I remember correctly was I'm Not Dead Yet or something along those lines. It was really interesting just reading about his life. And it was not an easy road for him but pretty cool story.
And the last one was The One Thing which was recommended to me through my mastermind group. We've been working on focusing on some stuff there. And that's going to be really the impetus for a lot of things in 2019 we’ll be talking about in the goals episode for 2019. So, those are my books for the year.
Number 16, hand off Facebook ads to others in the company. This is something I talked about in the goals episodes previously in review. I did accomplish this, but then she left which has been really frustrating. And we're already running late so I don't want to go off on a rant about this. But I don't know exactly how we're going to approach this in 2019 yet. But it's definitely been frustrating. This is the third person in as many years to go through that position and it really has been frustrating. That's all I'm going to say, I'll leave it at that.
Number 17, come up with at least one new tactic that no one else is doing. This will be something I’ll talk about a lot in 2019. But there's a lot of really smart and famous people that talk about how you need to plan time to be thinking about stuff and just dreaming about stuff. And I haven't really had time to do that at all in 2018. It's been kind of a whirlwind year. And Bill Gates has this great quote about how busy is the new stupid. We all try to make ourselves really, really busy and multitask and do a whole bunch of way more than we should be doing and things like that.
And reading The One Thing is definitely, this is not something that I didn't know and didn't realize, but it's the way that I've always been and just kind of done things that way. But I'm going to focus on taking my own advice. A lot of times on the podcast like the things that we've done within EcomCrew Premium or things we've talked about with Under the Hood, I always say this saying, if you chase two rabbits both will get away. But yet, just like a lot of entrepreneurs, I get that shiny object syndrome and constantly want to be doing something else because it isn't exciting anymore and I want to do something that's exciting. And when you're doing that, you end up getting bogged down with too many things, and it's hard to come up with at least one new tactic that no one else is doing.
So, we did do something here, but I feel like it's kind of a cop out at the same time even mentioning it on the podcast. We came up with doing a calendar for ColorIt, so we have a calendar, it's a coloring calendar. And the promotion has done incredibly well, and I don’t believe that anyone else out there is doing a free downloadable calendar. People are charging for a calendar to download, but we decided to do it for free and come up with all original designs. And man, has it done really well. We've gotten tens of thousands of people signed up for this thing at a cost of under 25 cents a lead. It has definitely been the most successful lead magnet we've ever done.
But the reason I feel like it's a cop out is because we're using the same systems that we've used in the past. We're running a Facebook ad to get people on ManyChat, then over to a landing page and capturing their email and doing the trifecta. That's something that we've already developed. So, that's the part that I feel like it's the cop out part because it isn't something completely from scratch new, although the calendar part is new and it did incredibly well. It has been doing incredibly well. We're still running the promotion; I think we'll run it probably through mid February. The downside of that promotion is that it's time sensitive. I think that by early to mid February, people aren't really interested in a 2019 calendar anymore. So that's the downside.
All right, last one here. Number 18, never lose sight of the bigger picture, make great products that customers truly enjoy while coming to work every day, and ensuring that we're creating jobs and opportunities for employees where they are excited to come to work. I think that we're on track with this. I'm starting to feel like quite frankly, at the end of the year here as I've been thinking about 2019 goals and so much stuff I kind of alluded to a little bit in this podcast. We're doing the good products part and I think that our employees continue to enjoy to come to work and that we're creating opportunities for employees. But I'm worried about myself a little bit just because I'm not the office kind of person grinding it out in the office. And I do tend to get bored with things when the excitement part is gone, right.
I’ve figured out how to do ecommerce at this point, I kind of feel like Neo in The Matrix. I mean, I certainly don't profess to know everything; I don't want to come off that way by any stretch of imagination. And I feel like I still certainly always have something to learn, there's always new things going on. But in general in e-commerce, I don't come to work every day thinking like, oh, man, let's try this thing and see how it does, I'm wondering how it's going to work. We pretty much know exactly what we're going to be doing. So for me, that part becomes tough.
And the problem with that is like that's also the time when you make all the money. So, a business is there to be profitable, to make money. So it's just constant conflict because for me, I don't really do it for the money although money is how you keep score, how you win, you pay your bills, and how you live your life. It's like this constant internal battle of the devil and the angel on Jekyll and Hyde going back and forth. Because again, this is the time where this business is going to make its most profit is in this period of we know what we're doing, let's continue doing what's making us the cash.
But for me, that becomes like snooze fest because we're more like coming in here, doing the things that we were doing two or three years ago, where for me, it was just like, I couldn't wait to get out of bed and was in the office early every day and left late because I truly enjoyed the excitement and the challenge of it all. Now the challenges are trade wars, things that are out of our control, sales tax, things again, out of our control, the economy, things out of our control, Amazon Marketplace, out of our control. These are all the challenges I'm dealing with and those things aren't fun. I mean, that stuff sucks, right. I mean, having to deal with copycats, IP stuff, lawsuits, I mean, the things that just are the non fun part of running a business.
And listen, that stuff is always going to be there. I'm very cognizant of that because I've been in business for over 15 years of my life, and I'm definitely very aware that those things are always going to be there. But when you're going through the phase of the business where the number of activities that are really fun and exciting outweigh that other stuff, the other stuff doesn't seem to be as burdensome or as unenjoyable as it can be. And when you get to this stage, at least for me, with my personality type, I know everyone else is different, everyone is different.
There's so many people that are listening to this podcast that are very much the personality like me, this is the part that I struggle with. So, 2019 is going to be a lot of how to deal with that stuff and making sure that I'm able to continue to have personal fulfillment while making money. Because again, just doing it just to make money, it's great from one perspective, it's fun to look at the bank account and see the number there. But that for me is not the rewarding part, like truly is, I can say that wholeheartedly. There's a lot of people that the money is the most important part and I don't necessarily begrudge them or look down upon them, I think that they will regret it someday.
But I think that I feel that way because that's how I was. I mean, I certainly was when I was younger; it was more about the money part. And then as I got older, I thought more about other factors. So, maybe that's just the direction I've gone in my life and the path I’ve gone in my life and other people will feel differently about things. So, that's the philosophical Mike kind of coming out and things I will be thinking about in 2019 as we talk about those goals for this year.
So, that's going to wrap it up for the 2018 goals. Again, go over to the show notes and let us know what you think of this particular episode, how we did for 2018, let us know what your goals were for 2018. If you accomplished that stuff, what your goals are for 2019. We sent out an email, an email that we got more response to than any other email ever about what are your goals for 2018. We're going to be doing a podcast episode specifically about that, talking about other people's goals, and then we'll also talk about our goals for 2019. I think this stuff is important again, it's important to set goals for the year, to have stuff that you write on the mirror and look at every day.
This list sat on my computer, I looked at it every day, it was something I was cognizant of. They were the Big Hairy Goals, the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that were probably realistically unattainable but it's good to have those things that are out there. And then we also — most of the goals here were things that we knew we were going to do come hell or high water because these were important goals. And it really helped plan out the year and that and that helped because of Traction. Traction really was a big part of getting this list established, not only our one year goal but three and five year goal, and we're going to continue to do that into 2019.
So, all right guys, I need to wrap up this episode because we are running late for our typical trying to hit the 30 minutes. So, before I sign off, I do want to remind you guys, I mentioned at the beginning but go over to EcomCrew.com/webinar. We're going to be doing that free webinar here on January 29 at 10am Pacific Time, EcomCrew.com/webinar. It will be an open Q&A, you can ask Dave and I anything you want. We will be on there for between 60 and 90 minutes answering any questions you have. And it's free and open to anybody that can hear this podcast, gets our emails, tell a friend to come, EcomCrew.com/webinar.
All right guys, that's going to wrap it up for this episode. I want to thank you guys for listening, for supporting the Ecomcrew Podcast. I hope that you enjoyed this goals episode. Again, these do really well. And until the next episode, happy selling, and we'll talk to you soon.