This isn’t my “2016 in review” like so many other #WordPress businesses have published this week. For starters, I’m less productive than those I admire and it’s overdue. Joking aside; I’m going to share my journey with Sprout Apps in regards to financial up/downs/ups/drops/outlook…
I’m going to be referring to the chart below, so analyze it and pick it apart. I also understand if it’s your TL;DR synopsis and you don’t read anything else, sorry to bore ya.
As you can see I haven’t shared $$ numbers [insert unwarranted apology for those upset]; I simply don’t feel comfortable sharing Sprout Apps revenue, a small part of that hesitation is competition anxiety, but it’s simply a personal preference not to share income 1. That said, don’t be distracted by the mystery, plug-in your own financial “Nut” and “Goal” (after expenses), and continue reading…
Keep in mind that Sprout Invoices started development late June of that same year, and during that time I wasn’t doing much contract work. In early June I decided to go all in and build my own plugin, I had already ran a successful plugin business for years (as a client project), and I thought I knew how the business should/could be run from top/bottom. My concept of “going all in” was to not moonlight the product while I worked on services during the day, it was to quit accepting projects so I could spend at least 80% of my work day on this new product. Admittedly I was very lucky 2 to have the financial security to do this, since I had saved a lot during the first 5+ years of Sprout Venture and my wife is unsurprisingly supportive.
The plan had a six month term; get the product out early August and if the sales can support my family (i.e. Nut line) than I’d continue it, if not I’d push it to the side and go back to client work.
That first six months of Sprout Invoices was brutal. I released late. I had the unrealistic notion that selling a plugin that people wanted was easy, and consumer confidence (i.e. credibility) had nothing to do with it. My view of the landscape was: if it’s the better product than that other crap people will buy it. 😂
I knew early I wasn’t going to hit my goal in January, the ~six month timeline, even though I waited until the end of January to make a decision. My hope was that people wanted to change their invoicing software early in the year and the growth I saw in December would translate to an awesome January. It was not awesome, my plan called for quitting.
I was crazy though, and I didn’t quit (obviously).
I can credit Pressnomics (held in January) for helping SA tremendously. That conference did a number on me that year. It was a conference that revitalized me (more than those encouraging stories) and taught me how to properly market 4. Thank you Strebel family (and friends).
Those things I learned at Pressnomics immediately paid off in February. Although I had some yo-yo months, one month of exceptional growth (e.g. February) followed by a down-turn (e.g. March), it was bit maddening to see those down months. Retrospectively looking at those down months wasn’t a big deal but they were, I was working so hard to get to that goal of financial security. Especially since I felt as though I was pillaging my savings every month.
I didn’t lose sight of the trend, and I after an awesome December I finally felt confident that I had a business — 18 months after starting it. “Business” defined by me was not having to dip into saving anymore and I could say that Sprout Apps was “finally profitable” 5.
I hit my “Nut”, gosh I regret a lot in life and not using a different term is one of them, but the chart is done so I digress.
Now I get to pay off that money I used in my business savings for this venture, slowly building financial security for the next opportunity. Hopefully Sprout Apps lasts long enough for that next fork of my business. [shrug emoji]
Recipe for disaster…
I don’t recommend my process, there’s a reason people moonlight their products and proving there’s a business before jumping in. Although, for me personally I don’t think I could have built Sprout Apps without the commitment I had, regardless of it being an obligation at times.
Admittedly this journey would be a disaster without a lot of luck and persistence…but I find luck with my persistence, so maybe you can too.
- More than simply saying “My business supports my family and lifestyle…”. ↩
- This isn’t the only luck I’ve had. ↩
- I tried finding the original article I read but can’t find it. ↩
- Even though I still have a lot to learn ↩
- Since it could pay my full salary ↩
- Confident in the trend despite the steep declines. The steep decline in July can be attributed the review issues in .org, May’s is attributed to a bug in my email marketing and from what I heard May was a down month for a lot of other product businesses. ↩