2011 In Review

Looking Back

Many of my goals to start 2011 were related to my products at that time: Whitetail Census and Whitetail Scout. I spent the first 8 months of the year developing and executing on a variety of marketing strategies for those. I wish I had read Chet Holmes a year earlier. I did not meet my goals for Census. I discovered that some (recent) laws/guidelines in Texas make it really difficult for anyone to use game cameras for census data in the context of the Ag Tax Exemptions. It was tantamount to learning that your market is now 90% smaller.

I did manage to develop multiple mailing lists, experiment with pricing, integrate payment systems, start mailing lists, relaunch Scout, and attend conferences like MicroConf and the Wildlife Expo. I am happy with my blogging efforts, but this year I should have some scheduled content for December.

Lessons Learned

I should vet ideas as I have them. Pursuing multiple things can be a great boon to finding what will work.

You can’t replace experience with books and philosophies. You have to go out, kill it, and drag it home yourself. I love Eric Ries, Jason Cohen, Bob Walsh, Eric Sink, Rob Walling, Patrick McKenzie, etc. for sharing so much insight on strategy and tactics, but it is not useful unless you are throwing a ton of things at the wall and finding what works through experience. Your market is not theirs. Your skills, network, and experience are different. You should read this stuff. Get inspired. Try using it. Keep what works for you in your context. Some of it won’t.

Do more. A lot more. I had some unexpected success with cold calling tactics to the point where I’m planning to write an ebook. I also received inbound consulting work because of my blogging and open source efforts. The more you do…the more you are doing that works. Sound familiar?

Methodologies and idea vetting will never take the risk or uncertainty out of new projects. At some point, you have to jump in with a solid marketing plan and see what you can do with it.

High-touch sales is a great vehicle to build a business, but it probably shouldn’t be your first business in your spare time.

Consulting is not often touted as a route to building products, but it appears to be incredibly common. It can be a good way to validate ideas and you build some useful skills that you won’t get in a day job.

Great content rules the Internet.

Mastermind groups are a great way for solo entrepreneurs to stay connected, motivated, and bounce ideas around.