Chad Ettelbrick / Ecommerce Experiments

My 2016 Yearly Review

Each year I conduct a yearly review of what went well, what didn’t go well, and what I need to continue to work on in the new year. Here are the results of my 2016 review.

What went well?

Life

2016 was the first year I’ve included “Life” in my goals. As a family we were able to meet a couple of the goals. This included being able to upgrade my wife’s car. For the first time we actually had a need for a new automobile, and it worked out that we were able to get one with very little worry. The only issue was that we waited a little too long. We planned on getting a car and knew that we would have to, however we waiting until the previous car literally gave up on functioning correctly. We were able to get that car to someone who had the capability to repair and refurbish it more affordably than we could, so that was another win.

We also had a successful year as parents. We were able to weather our first experiences with a sick kid, including not going crazy when we were up cleaning vomit at 4am five days in a row. That was a struggle, but we proved to ourselves that we are capable and committed parents. Sawyer grew and had a great year. As we now move into him turning 2, we’re starting to see the shifts that come with it. He’s testing limits, he’s learning new words, he’s rebelling and learning what he can and can’t do. My hope here is that our year of positive parenting moments give us the confidence to continue to parent the way we are now as he enters his “terrible twos.”

We were able to travel somewhere new. This is something that is always on my list, and is something that I consider extremely important for our family. We need to grow, and see new things. We need to be more adventurous. We need to give our kid an exciting childhood. We want him to have those experiences. This year as a family we went somewhere that none of us had been before, and we got to take Sawyer to see the ocean, which was amazing. I also got to take my wife and my father to a place they had never been, which was a transformative experience for me, and something I hope to be able to do more in the future.

Work

SCRIBEdelivery had an excellent year. We grew over 400% which is well beyond what we had planned for. Revenue, subscribers, quality, and overall customer experience were all up for the year. It felt great to see the end of the year numbers.

We were very focused on making the experience of SCRIBE better, and we wanted to increase the value of each box as well. I think that we achieved this, and our customer response and communication related to new subscribers and cancellations reflected that view as well.

We were also able to secure more manufacturer connections, and new relationships that allowed us to focus on the type of products that we had in mind when we started SCRIBE. That has made planning and developing each box and theme easier, more exciting, and given us a more diverse selection of products. All great things.

In 2016 I was also able to take more risks with the opportunities I wanted to chase. I was able to do more things, try things out, experiment with more opportunities than I ever have before. Part of that is because we were a little more financially secure than previous years, but most of it came from the mentality that success breeds success. I don’t mind chasing another successful opportunity knowing that I currently have at least one project that is operating to some level of success. My hope is that this continues to be true going forward.

What didn’t go well?

Life

My biggest personal disappointment in 2016 was that I didn’t focus on my health. I know that it is important, and it’s something that has always vexed me. I’ve always been a big guy, and go through spurts where I am committed to change but they don’t work out. I set a goal in terms of working out that I did not come close to meeting, and as a result I did not meet my target weight goals.

We also had a couple surprise moments in 2016 that led to unexpected expense. While we had planned for Kris’ car to be replaced, we did not plan on the need to repair, and eventually replace my car as well. I did luck out and find a great deal on a Leaf that I really love, but it was unexpected and unfortunate that my little car couldn’t make it to 2017.

Work

My second major planned subscription site plan failed horribly. I launched a site targeted at college kids and their parents, did some solid marketing, grew a nice email list, and when we launched it crashed and burned hard. The question is why. Why did it fail? A couple reasons that are easy to identify. First, college kids don’t spend money, and targeting them to get to their parents was a mistake. Second, our marketing was largely based around a giveaway concept, which explains why we were able to put together such a strong email list so quickly. Our market was more interested in free than paying for something. It was a learning moment for me.

I also launched a third subscription which I will list as “Didn’t Go Well,” though some factors make me want to leave it off this review entirely, or to list it in a “Could Have Been More” category. Unfortunately that breaks my own rules, so here I am. The third subscription had some traction, saw some interest, and actually saw some subscribers. That said, I didn’t focus on it at all. In terms of what failed, I thought the site would be easy compared to SCRIBE, and it would take little to no work. I could get the product made and let it coast. I was very wrong. As it was, I did no marketing, no promotion, no real work, and I was never able to get the product to the quality I wanted. I’m planning to make a decision about what to do with this site in the next month.

Friends

I’m not good at keeping up with my friends. I used to feel that we had the types of relationships where we didn’t need to talk often, and when we were able to be together we would be able to click right back to where we were. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I feel bad about that. I do feel that I let “being a dad” gets in the way of friendships. Maybe that’s ok, maybe it’s not, but I can make a better effort. The opportunities I had to get together with friends were missed, the phone calls that normally would have been made or received for good news or catch ups simply never happened. Life gets hard. I’m committed to being a better friend in 2017.

What am I migrating to next year?

There are some things from last year that I am migrating to this year. I want to continue my focus on these things and work harder on them this year.

Health

I’m focusing on my health this year. I have to. Working out. Seeing Doctors. Eating better. I’ll be tracking it more and making a more public record of how it’s going. It’s important to me.

Personal Growth

Read more. Learn. Get better at things. That’s something I’m worried about. I didn’t focus much on learning new things and growing this year personally, so I’m hoping to get back into it. Starting by reading some things I’ve been putting off.

Work

I want to expand my business. This year I’ll be doing more in general, including YouTube and this site, as well as launching some retail stores and dropshipping stores as experiments. I want to try new things, I want to make a lasting effect. In order to do that, I need to take the new things I’m learning and actually execute ideas based on them. This will help with my overall goal this year of launching two larger projects.


So that’s it. Have any questions? Let me know!