In the summer of 2015, I finally made good on a promise I had made myself a long time ago and set out to start a brand new venture. This time I’d “do it right”, as opposed to all of the other times I had started a business, and I would focus on doing the things that I do best. Right from the beginning, NorthIQ was the culmination of everything that I had done before, and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for everything that had prepared us for where we are today.
On one hand, four years seems like a long time, but it feels like just yesterday that I was walking out the doors of my “sure thing”, and venturing off into the unknown. I founded NorthIQ as a sole proprietorship on August 13th, 2015, but I wouldn’t really get started for another three weeks.
Four years ago I knew one thing, I was going to rebuild All New Comics, and I would start working on Manage Comics. Other than that though, I didn’t have a clue what would be next. By November we were ready to launch Manage Comics, and All New Comics was ready to re-launch. I had a few little jobs in there, a couple of websites, I taught myself a ton about WordPress, and I started using Divi to build websites.
In October 2015, Craig Oliphant and I set out to build a complete product in one week. We succeeded in that challenge, and delivered the incredibly poorly titled – Kickstart Guide to Small Business Marketing – which we have seriously tweaked, modified, and revised this into a project called “Dude Where’s my Sales” which we will be launching wide next week.
That same week, we had a chance meeting with a company that would become my longest recurring client – Timber Block. We were hired to basically save their website, revise their SEO strategy, and improve their lead generation. I learned so much on that job, first working with Salesforce, and then later migrating them over to Hubspot. I relied on Craig to really help me out in this period, and everything we did in this first year months is the foundation for the business we have today.
When I left my previous job I thought I would build a business revamping websites. It’s grown to become mainly about lead generation. Even our SaaS – Manage Comics – has a huge lead generation component that has allowed it to grow to where it is today.
The things I didn’t know could fill a book, from simple things like accounting and reconciliation to complex things like onboarding and offboarding employees. The things I can do today are vastly different as well. I had never logged in to Salesforce in my career, but within a month of leaving my job I was logging into Salesforce daily. I have now implemented marketing automation solutions like Hubspot multiple times, and we’re a certified partner with Sharpspring. I’ve dug deeper into scary server side command line commands than I ever thought possible, and I know how to make a website sing and dance!
A ton of thanks goes out to Peter from All New Comics for that initial job that let me leave a very comfortable career and have a four-month runway of work. I also need to thank Craig, Sean Robinson, Taras Zubyak, Brent Potter, Nate Robinson, Mark Tauschek, Gord Harrison, Ryan McFadden and of course my wife Charlene for the help, leads, encouragement, and just generally being good people to bounce things off of.
Wow, we’re six weeks into 2019 and we still haven’t posted our annual “goals post”. We started this tradition in 2017, and we doubled down in 2018. We think it’s important to set goals, and to reflect on those goals.
The problem with goals is that they’re not rooted in the reality of the moment, they’re rooted in the perfect future that lies ahead. We’ve done a lot to mitigate this by setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals, and we check in on them four times a year (every quarter).
These are the goals that will define the next six months (through the end of June 2019) for NorthIQ.
Find more clients
We have figured out three niches that we can help significantly. Home builders, solar companies and technology companies. Through Manage Comics we can also significantly help Comic Stores. We should focus on those companies that we can best help.
Home Builders are being addressed with our Home Builder Demo website, our Solar Companies clients need a Demo Website, as do the Technology companies that we are targeting. We also have demo websites created for Comic Stores, and we need to link these to the current Manage Comics pages.
- Link Comics Microsites to Manage Comics by February 22, 2019 – COMPLETE
- Create Solar Company micro-site by March 8, 2019
- Create Technology Company micro-site by March 15, 2019
Use our own tools
We’ve been selling Sharpspring for about 6 months now, and we’ve done some great things with it, but we haven’t fully set up our own automation pages. We need to solve that problem quickly. Our goal right now is to get an Onboarding system in place for Manage Comics stores when they sign up, and put all existing stores through it over the next month.
- Build demo campaign for Homes contacts by February 22, 2019 – COMPLETE
- Build onboarding for Manage Comics stores by February 28, 2019
- Build demo campaign for Solar contacts by March 15, 2019
- Build demo campaign for Technology contacts by March 22, 2019
Continue content marketing
Content Marketing was the best thing we did in 2017, and we continued with it in 2018. Being seen as “thought leaders” is really important in our space, and showing the smart things that we do helps to explain to others what it is we do, and more importantly HOW we do what we do.
- 26 blog posts in 2019 (2 posts a month) for NorthIQ
- 26 blog posts in 2019 (2 posts a month) for Manage Comics
Invest in the business
We need to put some money into Manage Comics and help it to really pull ahead of the competition. We’re planning some POS incorporation with Square – which will put us in league with other players, but that will take a significant investment.
- Have POS specs completed by March 29 2019
- Have funding in place for POS work by April 19, 2019
- Begin working on POS project by May 1, 2019
Refine our Tools
We started out with just Basecamp for project management, but we’ve added some Jira tools to the arsenal. We need to refine, and revise what tools we use and how we use them. Basecamp is incredibly simple, but we may need some extra tools in order to hit our next milestones.
- Get Help desk running by March 30.
- Determine triage and routing rules for new requests by March 30.
- Service Level Agreements for all new work that is incoming. New work should not take priority over already prioritized and planned work by March 30.
Ryan McFadden of Revival Renovations told me about the “Tea and Cookies Meeting” a while ago. Most business these days can be done by email and phone. In the renovation business you need to see the space, get measurements and make some choices. Then nothing happens for 4-8 weeks as things are built, cut, and prepared.
During this quiet time, he makes a point of having a brief face-to-face meeting with the client where he updates them on the status of the project, and there’s usually tea and cookies. (more…)
There’s something about the summer that is kind of ingrained in our DNA. It’s a time for rest, reflection, and to get re-energized. That’s why we’ve decided to take the rest of the summer off from blogging and promotion. We’ve got some cool projects that we want to work on, and we’d like to really focus on a big push for the first week of September. You’ll still see us on social media, and we’re still around for client work (both new and old), but we’re not going to put a huge push on putting out a new piece of content every week.
It’s important when you run your own business to look back at what you’ve done recently, we take regular stock of what we’re doing, and we posted some annual goals.
Way back in January, we posted our “Start, Stop, and Continue” post, where we figured out what we would focus on for 2018. We’ve been doing a ton of work on this stuff recently, and we will be making some major announcements in September with some new focuses. We’re also working with our friends at Code Elves on a major product launch that will be ready for some beta testing later this fall.
In the meantime, we’re going to take some vacation time, spend some quiet time reflecting things, and come back on September 5th with a brand new blog post, and a very cool download that we can’t wait to show you.
See you back here September 5th!
In the meantime, we want to hear how you refresh and refocus your own efforts? What do you do to make things better?
Back in April as we started thinking about what we wanted our company to become, we set out to create values. We asked the question “What do you Value?“. We knew that these were going to be aspirational, and that we’d revise them over the next little while as we put them into place. What became immediately obvious to us though was that there were too many, that they weren’t specific enough, and that the only two we could remember were “Provide Ludicrous Value” and “Have Fun”.
We knew we had some work to do.
Then an interesting thing happened. We ended up working with a few companies that didn’t align with what we wanted to do. Those projects didn’t fit our vision of what we wanted to become, and many of them were “one and done” type jobs where we did something, but didn’t have a long term vision on how to work with the client. (more…)