2014: Year-In-Review and What’s Ahead

the road ahead

So I just got done compiling my master spreadsheet which details how sales, growth rates, and product volume have stacked up over the last 12 months.

It’s the computers way of saying to me “JONATHAN……..DO MORE!”

………..NOW!!!!!

There’s no better way to zap your cognitive dissonance about how great a job you’re doing than to stare down the cold, relentless data coughed up by an impersonable excel file.

I’d rather get my business advice from Simon Cowell.

So How Are Things Going, Jonathan?

Despite my skepticism, things really didn’t turn out so bad.

I like to gauge my progress in three ways:

1).  Compare my yearly results with what I was gunning for at the beginning of the year.

2).  Compare intra-year trends with how I would’ve expected them to go at the beginning of the year.

3).  Make a subjective assessment of the overall amount of business risk I’m exposed to.  There’s no easy way to quantify this.

Looking deeper into all of these issues is always a treat for me, as I have a little bit of a fetish for developing my own report card, as intimidating as that spreadsheet might be.

Goals for 2014

If we harken back to this post, I had the following agendas for 2014:

1).  Release the Purple Dragon.

2).  Finish the juicing course.

3).  Develop new customer acquisition channels, probably through wholesale.

I hadn’t really thought of it too much until now, but I ended up doing all three of these, although each of them ended up occurring on a smaller scale than I would have hoped.

The Dragon was released, and I’ll go into more of its detail later on in the article.

The juicing course was released in the beginning of 2014, and so far I consider it a modest failure.  A failure in that I haven’t had the time to promote it like I had hoped, and it hasn’t moved the needle as much as I dreamed about when my head hit the pillow at night while I was making it.  “Modest” in that it still regularly attracts signups, the response to it has generally been positive, and 5 years from now it’ll still be a useful tool for myself and those that watch it.

Where Was the Mistake Made?

The big mistake was an error in preparation.  When developing a new product it’s devilishly easy to convince yourself that people will like something simply because you think it’s a good idea.  It’s masturbation of the mind.  In reality you should only embark on a new project if 1 (or preferably both) of 2 criteria are met:

  • You’ve gotten direct feedback from people and know it’s something a certain group of people acutely need.
  • It’s something you find interesting yourself and have a genuine taste for.

Using these two criteria, I should not have invested my time and resources on it.  But that’s spilt milk.

A subtle evolution I’ve gone through in the last year and-a-half or so is that I’m much less prone to chase the mood affiliations of various crowds in an attempt to attract a larger audience.  I should have known better, but only the sting of time-wasted on unproductive ventures has been able to get it out of my system.

Let’s hope 2015 doesn’t have me fruitlessly chasing down rabbit holes that lead to nowhere.

I also started working with a few distributors.  Very small ones, but they’re solid relationships.  If you judge these progressions based on their dollar amount to date it’s nothing to get excited about.  But I think that’s missing the point.

The growth curve is what counts, and if you can find yourself a way to sustainably develop a process that’s repeatable and has the potential to scale then you’ve done well.

Taking A Hard Look at The Numbers

Overall sales doubled + an additional 35%.  It’s early in the morning, and I’m still too tired to figure out if that’s a 135% growth in sales or 235%.  I think it’s 135%.

Here’s the month-by-month breakdown, compared to last year:

year over year growth

Notice the dip towards the end of the year.  Growth kinda stalled towards the end.  I hard a large bump during Christmas last year.  Not so this year.

To be honest I’m not sure why.  My guess is that it’s some combination of increasing display of ads on search engines during Christmas time and a significant traffic dip I suffered towards the end of the year.

Last year I got a lot of new customers during the holiday season, whereas this year it primarily repeat customers that were driving sales.

Here’s the growth pattern going back to the beginning of last year:

two year sales

two year sales totals

Pretty steady.  Just how I like it.

Where were sales coming from?  Incredible Greens is still the big driver of sales:

sales by product

sales by product

I Try To Double Every Year

When I started Health Kismet I decided it’d be a good idea to double its size every year for the first 5 years.  This seemed like a sufficient amount of time to start really small and still end up reasonably big even if you never have a “Eureka” moment or hit a big break.

I also wouldn’t have to dilute whatever it is I already do well.  Growth is good, but excessive growth has another name that’s not very flattering: a tumor.

When I first began I had no sales and no money so doubling it was not very hard.  In fact, if it didn’t double I would’ve just gone out of business.  I’m in year 4 and things are getting a little more difficult.  Most of the low-hanging fruit I was capitalizing on aren’t there in the same quantities anymore.

Nothing’s easy for very long.

I’m all but certain if I keep doing the same thing I did last year with no additional modifications the next year will be a failure because I don’t think there’s a lot of room for the channels I currently tap.  At least not without HUGE capital expenditures for which I have neither an inclination or capability to make.

So there goes that.

New Projects

If 2015 more or less goes to plan it’ll produce the following results:

  • Another doubling of sales
  • Release of a new product, Incredible Mood.
  • Release of an online software application that allows entrepreneurs and formulators to get useful analytics and pricing data on their formulas
  • An interactive vitamin/mineral reference that allows curious laypeople, industry folk, and entrepreneurs to more intelligently formulate supplements that actually make sense.

Incredible Mood

My subjective observation is that a lot of people struggle with mood control.  Keeping a tranquil state-of-mind is a serious thorn in the side of many people.  Partly due to health, and partly due to the overwhelming number of signals people get deluged with on a day-to-day basis.

On a more personal note, many people in my family – particularly the females – have struggled with anxiety and mood stabilization.

I personally had my own experience coordinating with someone who’s going through mental health issues.

YIKES!!

Mood control is a serious issue.

And as I’ve written before, people who struggle with mental health predictably have certain nutrient deficiencies that can be corrected.

Incredible Mood is the supplement stack I wish I could have recommended to other people in the previous year but couldn’t because I didn’t know any better.

Unlike my previous products, it’s going to have a more pharmaceutical approach towards product development.  In addition to botanical extracts, it’s going to contain a variety of vitamins that have been engineered to bypass the liver and cross the blood brain barrier, which is a frequent shortcoming of supplements.

Online Formulator

I get a lot of questions from people looking to get into the supplement industry about their formula.  How things go together, how much it might cost, suppliers to use, etc.

I write the same e-mail once or twice a day.

That’s fine, but it occurred to me a while ago you could probably design a program that did most of the heavy lifting for me.

The idea’s been incubated for a long time, but it’s my programming skills (and unwillingness to hire external developers) that have held the product back.

I have a nascent software-ling right now, but with a little elbow grease and guidance from my newly-hired programming coach it should come to fruition sometime in the first half of this year.

Vitamin Reference

“Jonathan, I use vitamin — that uses XYZ for mineral and iron….is that any good?”

“I currently a B vitamin w/ yadda yadda yadda as the active ingredients.  Do you think that’ll help?”

“I just downed an entire bottle of vitamin D gummies, should I be worried?”

These sorts of questions come up a lot around here, and one of the reasons why is that it’s difficult to get easily digested yet scientifically literate answers to these sorts of things.

This is true for consumers and even more true (sadly) for people in the supplement industry who don’t know any better.

The vitamin reference will be an incredibly nerdy, dense, but easily navigated guide to get quantifiable answers about how vitamins work, how they’re best absorbed, and how they can be used in combination with each other for various conditions.

That’s the plan.

We’ll see.

Okay, time to get back to work.

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About Jonathan Bechtel

Owner of Health Kismet, maker of Incredible Greens, a green superfood supplement that combines 35 different raw greens, herbs, probiotics, grasses and fruits into a sweet tasting powder.

Comments

  1. Awesome writeup! I really like reading your business posts because I’ve thought about doing the same thing and it’s inspiring. I was actually wondering if you could ask a few questions?

    How much money did it take to get started? And did you have to get a patent on your product before you started?

    I hope this isn’t too much but I’d love to find out.

    • Jonathan Bechtel says:

      Thanks Ridley.

      To answer your questions:

      1). I got started w/ about 5k.

      2). I have trademarks but no patents as of right now. Thanks.

  2. Sorry, there was a typo, I meant “if I could ask you a few questions.” LOL

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