What’s up, what’s up, what’s up! Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.
This is my second year-in-review and I have A LOT to share with you so grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy!
If you didn’t get a chance to read my 2014 Year In Review, you can read it here.
I write these reviews in hopes that you can join me in celebration of the things that went well, learn from the things that didn’t go so well, and help me stay on track of my goals for 2016. In addition, I write them to be as transparent as possible about my life and to try to show young entrepreneurs a behind-the-scenes preview of what running their businesses will be like. I’ve made and still make so many mistakes in my life and they’re the reasons that I’m here. This post will show you, not only, that I’m a normal human being just like you, but it’ll also show you that with the right amount of hard-work, you can build the life that you deserve.
Before we get started, here’s a little key for you so you don’t get lost:
Last year – 2014
This year – 2015
Next year – 2016
Now let’s get started!
At the end of each year, I use what I’ve learned to determine my focus for the upcoming year— both personally and professionally. In 2013, the focus was to build— as in build a strong team of hard-working and passionate people. In 2014, the focus was to learn— as in make mistakes fast and learn as much as possible. This year (2015), the focus was to grow— as in taking everything we’ve learned over the years and start making decisions that will yield to our growth. Next year (2016), the focus will be maturity!
We’ve been fortunate enough to see continued growth year over year, but we still spend time worrying about whether we’re working with the right clients, whether we’re saying YES to the right projects, whether we’re charging enough for our services, and about things like missing payroll (something we’ve been fortunate enough to never have experienced). And that’s what we plan on changing in 2016!
The year we mature, stop worrying, and continue our journey to building the best company we’ve ever worked for.
What went well
Midway through last year, I started getting serious about my health (eating habits, gym, spartan race, etc). I spent a majority of this year learning about my body, eating clean, and getting more cut.
I also started playing around with Parkour. For those who are not familiar, here’s my definition: It’s where you run around the street and use the objects around you to do tricks on (walls, benches, little kids, etc). Think America’s Ninja Warrior!
I fell in love with freerunning and parkouring! Here’s a clip of me practicing some of my moves
Last year, Dahcia (my wife) and I got the wedding of our dreams paid for by some very nice people. Unfortunately, the day after our wedding, we got right back to work in our hotel room. We promised ourselves that when things settled down, we were going to take a honeymoon once a month.
By the grace of God, we kicked off that honeymoon year in May of 2015. May 22 is our anniversary and May 24 is Dahcia’s birthday. We went to Tampa, FL and Miami, FL for about a week. Since then, we’ve been traveling about once a month.
Here are some other places we went this year: Montreal, Miami, Tampa, Poconos, Vegas, Los Angeles, New York Adirondacks retreat (Upstate NY with no phone/internet). I also went to Vegas a second time (for my brother’s birthday) and to Maryland (DC area) with a few friends.
This year was VERY emotional for me for many reasons. For starters, they (DJ Khaled voice) say that 80% of businesses fail within its first 3 years. boogie celebrated its 3 year anniversary this year and I have some exciting things to share about our progress.
Three years ago, I took a HUGE risk and put all of my money into reconstructing and renovating our office. Three years later, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in life. Read more about that risk here.
In October, we moved out of our 800 sqr ft Albany office and moved to a new 2,000 sqr ft Troy space. When I signed the lease to my first office, I couldn’t afford to hire someone to do construction, so my best friend, my wife, and I spent 5 months doing it ourselves. We added new carpets, we painted, we built a wall, and we decorated. We learned how to do all these things through YouTube. Today, there’s an entire team (not our team) who’s responsible for construction on our new office. It’s a great feeling to move into a place that is professionally done without any physical labor of our own.
We had our fair share of interns come and go throughout the year. We’re very thankful for everyone who was a part of our boogie family and helped us grow the way we did.
While it was a mutual decision, we did lose one of our most passionate team members this year. She has moved on to follow her passions while doing some great things and we’ve been collectively rooting for her ever since. We’re very proud of her and are so excited for her new journey.
Lastly, we hired our first full-time business development (sales) person this year and we’re already seeing how great of a decision that was.
This was a pretty good year for us when it comes to finances. We wanted to grow by 200% but eventually realized how unrealistic that was for our current size. Our revenue increased by 42% and profits increased by 25%. In other words, if we made $100 last year, this year we made $142. Now just add some more zeros 😉
All in all, it was a great year for us. We developed some great partnerships, we hired a team overseas, and we did some pretty amazing work this year, including an April Fools campaign when we pranked over 6 million people on the internet.
Oh, I almost forgot! I was selected to be one of the Albany Business Review’s 40 Under 40 award recipients this year. Next up, Forbes 30 under 30.
Hustlepreneur.co (this blog)
If you’ve been following me since last year, you may have noticed that this website got a slight haircut. Actually, it was a whole new facelift! I redesigned this website to make the reading experience easier and to remove all distractions that the previous site had.
I also added a books page and a speaking page. The books page holds books that I’ve written and the ones that I’m in the process of writing (i.e. my new ebook called Smartwork that so many of you downloaded a copy of). The speaking page is the best place to go if someone wanted to hire me to speak at your their school or their event.
I also completely changed my focus for this blog. When I started out last year, I was just interested in writing blogs that people would be interested in reading. As time went by, I realized that the #1 reason people read my blogs, watch my videos, and subscribe to my mailing list is because they want to learn how to turn their passion(s) into profits. So I listened and removed all of my old blogs that were irrelevant and started writing new relevant ones.
Ps: If you’re reading this then I want to say Thank You! It’s people like you that inspire me to write these reviews, write my blogs, and create my videos. So again, Thank YOU for your continued support.
If we’re not already connected on Facebook, then you can do so here (PS: Facebook verified my page this year too)
I finally decided to take my speaking serious and started actually charging for them. I made that decision towards the end of the year and I look forward to seeing it pay off next year. I’ve spoken to many types of audiences but I’ve decided that the audience I mostly enjoy speaking to and who I can also provide the most value to are high school and college students.
I must’ve had a speaking gig at least 10 – 15 times this year and I’m looking to double that next year. I even got a chance to speak at the EventTech Experiential Marketing conference in Vegas which was exciting because Dahcia spoke at a session there as well.
Last year, I mentioned an idea for a new company that I wanted to launch this year. This summer, we did just that! Breadcrumbs helps small businesses build beautiful, mobile-friendly, and modern websites for an affordable monthly price. So far, Breadcrumbs has been growing by over 100% each month.
So far so good. Our customers are loving the service. Our latest project: YTIYonkers.org.
When I first got married, a lot of people told me that marriage was going to be hard. They told me I needed to have patience and blah blah blah. I love all of you guys for your advice but I’m going to have to say thanks but no thanks.
Is marriage a piece of cake? No, it’s not… but it’s not only marriage, it’s all relationships. Friends, siblings, spouses, co-workers, etc. They all require a little bit of work– patience, sacrifices, and more.
I’ve been married for nearly two years now and it’s been one of the best things to happen to me. My wife and I live together, work together, teach Sunday school together, travel together, and so much more. On average, we spend approximately 24 hours a day together and it’s the single reason I wake up smiling every single day. I have my best friend, my wife, my biggest fan, my hairdresser, my gossip buddy, my road dog, my proofreader, my business partner, my motivator, and my Netflix [& chill] buddy with me at all times. I have plenty of reasons to be happy about life.
Alright, enough of the mushy stuff…
This year we wanted to spend more time together (the irony) and get more serious about managing our finances. Traveling has allowed us to spend more time together and we made some drastic changes to the way we were managing our money.
We share a salary at the company (like one high paid person’s salary). Thankfully, we live in Albany (Upstate NY) where things are a lot more affordable than New York City and some of the other major cities in the US. We also don’t have any expensive habits ;).
10% of all the money we bring in goes towards our savings. Another 10% goes towards tithe, which we give to our church. 60% goes towards bills (rent, student loans, internet, Netflix/Hulu, car insurance, credit cards, and everything else that’s due on the 1st). The remainder 20% is used for things that are not as consistent like food shopping, gas, donations, gifting, and traveling.
In 2016, we’re thinking about reserving 5-10% of our income for traveling. Long term, I’d love to have separate accounts for donations, traveling, investing, emergency, school tuition for our future kids, shopping, and a few other things.
Note to self: One thing at a time Jacques, you’re only 25 (turning 26 on January 24th)
What didn’t go so well
In January 2014, I accepted a position at University at Albany to become one of their first Ui/Ux design professors. I’ve taught that class four (4) times in two (2) years. I genuinely love teaching! I meet amazing students who end up becoming close friends or employees at boogie. It also forces me to stay up to date with the design industry so that’s a plus.
But this year, I realize that I was no longer passionate about the type of teaching I was doing. The traditional style of teaching where a grade was the deciding factor between student’s success or not. It’s not necessarily what I believe in.
So I decided that this year was going to be my last year teaching in the classroom. Instead, I’m going to focus on teaching in less traditional ways; writing blogs, public speaking, writing books, creating videos, etc. This way, I’ll be able to make a bigger impact and reach more people.
Towards the end of the year, I was offered another teaching opportunity from another nearby college. I have since declined that offer.
Side effects of travel?
While I thoroughly enjoyed traveling this year, there were a few side-effects. For starters, all that traveling actually made me really tired. I’m assuming it’s because of the drive/plane rides, but I always came back home more tired than when I left. It could also be because during our travels, we also still worked for a few hours. This year we’re going to try to make our vacations just that, vacations. I may have to purposely leave my computer chargers in New York.
Also because of the traveling, we missed church a lot. If we used to go to church every Sunday and a few Wednesdays out the year, this year we went to church about 1-2x a month. We still pray every day and kept a very close relationship with our Father but we missed the feeling of being in a room full of God’s children praising his name.
Focus (R.I.P. PrettySimpl)
Believe it or not, I have a big problem with focusing. I don’t have an issue with procrastination or anything like that. Instead, my issue is that I’m interested in way too many things and that leads to me biting off more than I can chew. It’s a pattern that I see every year– I’m introduced to a cool company and the founder/owner asks me to become a partner or investor. If it’s not that scenario, then it’s a company that I decide to start myself.
We’ve seen this pattern with companies like MappIt (partner), StyleHotels (partner), CasedUp (partner), Pretty Simpl (founder), and Authenpic (partner).
One of my biggest weakness is the fact that I know how to do so many things. I can design, code, write (sort of), strategize, use common sense, network, sell things, grow a team, and more. As far as the things that I don’t know how to do, my attitude is that I can always figure it out. And that’s my weakness because I can create a brand new company overnight and have it looking like it’s been around for years. But that’s also my strength. I love learning and I tend to be pretty curious about a lot of things. And when I get curious, I start exploring my curiosity.
Then again, that same curiosity is why I’m here. It’s the reason that I learned to produce music, cut hair, play the guitar, start designing, taking photos, writing, and start a company. It’s the reason that boogie exists today.
And that’s why I decided it was time to start saying NO. I said NO to all opportunities that came my way this year and even said RIP to some of the ventures I was already involved in. This also includes my printing company, Pretty Simpl. The company that I was once offered a million dollars for has closed its proverbial doors.
It was hard to do but sometimes you have to learn to pivot (or in this case, throw in the towel). As far as the other companies, I did not want to be a part of a team that I wasn’t giving my 100% to. They all appreciated the transparency and we left on good terms. I didn’t ask for a penny and gave up all ownership I had.
Moving forward, I will still work on multiple projects but the only difference is I’ll make sure they are only companies that I fully own/start.
Because of the focus thing I mentioned above, I was tied down so much throughout the year. My blog suffered from it. I didn’t write as much as I did last year. Even with my personal assistant, Andre, I still felt like I didn’t have full control over my schedule.
The solution: Say NO, plan better, and delegate often.
My plans for 2016
We ended the year on a high note for boogie and that’s new to us because December is always a bad month. We feel like we’re finally starting to see the benefits of all the hard-work that we all, as a team, put in over the years.
The #1 thing we’re going to work towards is getting better clients. We have a good feeling about 2016 (but then again, everyone has a good feeling about every year when it starts).
boogie LA (our 3rd office) will be opening up in the early parts of 2016 and we’re all excited. We hired our first west coast based team member in December 2015 and we’re looking forward to establishing our base there.
In terms of finances, our goal is to increase revenue by 100% (or double what we did in 2015). It seems very do-able.
Here’s to the year of maturity!
In 2015, we had to limit our travels to US states, with the exception of Montreal. Next year, we’re going to continue traveling but, we’re going to introduce some international countries to our hitlist. We’re looking at Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and somewhere in Europe.
Yes, you heard that right. I’m not going to share where yet so you have to stay tuned. But by the end of 2016, Dahcia and I will be living somewhere else. Somewhere really far away from Albany.
Don’t click the link above because I’m sure wherever it goes is probably NSFW. That’s just me trying to hide the name of the new website domain that Dahcia and I bought this year.
I know that I went on and on earlier about focusing and starting too many companies but this one is different, I promise (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). Apparently Dahcia and I felt like we weren’t busy enough so we decided that we’d start working on a new company together. This company will be simple to run, or at least, easy to outsource the work for. We’re both extremely excited about this and will update you more on it at a later time.
This is something I’ve never really talked about publicly but I felt like it belonged here. Our company technically offers our team the option to have health insurance but since a majority of our team is under 26 years old, they kindly declined because they are under their parents’ health insurance. For our team member (singular) who’s over 26, he already had great coverage with his wife which he preferred to keep. In other words, we’ve been able to dodge that bullet but I know the time is coming where we’ll have to pay for our team’s health insurance. It’s all good, we’re ready for it.
Now let me explain why I shared that with you. I’m going to try to sound like I know what I’m talking about.
I’ve always been under my father’s health insurance plan but when I turned 21 (5 years ago), I was kicked off my dad’s insurance plan. I think that’s how dependent health insurance worked until Universal Healthcare became a thing– thanks Obama! (but please, don’t quote me).
Back then, my only focus was to build boogie so I basically ignored that aspect of my life (I’m sure there was a way I could’ve re-enrolled). A few years later, after paying for simple medical things out of pocket, I started looking into getting health insurance for myself. It was complicated because I was trying to decide whether it was smart to get personal insurance for myself or get a business insurance and add myself in there.
Either way, at that time the lowest plan I saw $300/month and I wasn’t ready to invest that money for a ‘just in case’ (horrible mentality, I know).
As the company grew and more money started coming in, I could’ve invested it into getting myself insured, but no, I wanted to hire more people, put money back into the company, and blah blah blah. I was willing to pay health insurance for new employees but completely neglected it when it came to myself. Some of our paid interns made much more money than the cost to insure me, at the time. Still, I put to money back into the company, gave people raises, blah blah blah. Just to give you an idea of how straight my priorities were, we were (and still are) spending $250 each month on website hosting -__-. Come on Jacques.
This is not a story that I’m proud to share and I can only thank God for allowing me to live 5 years without health insurance and throughout the year, there wasn’t anything that happened that I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.
But all of that is changing in 2016! I’ve already started applications and your boy will be fully insured!
If you’re ever in that predicament, please don’t do what I did. You should always take care of yourself first. If you’re not convinced, just think of the fact that if you were to get into an accident (or something worse) today, your company would no longer exist. All of the people who’s lifestyle depends on you, all of those families that you’re responsible for the food that goes on their tables, they’d no longer have that. You are your company and you need to take care of yourself.
Until next time ladies and gentlemen! I’ll see you next year. If you liked/enjoyed this post, do me a favor and sign up to my mailing list below. Know a friend who could use some motivation, share this link with him/her.
Remember, any progress is progress. Just make sure you always “challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday, every day!”