2014, Opportunity Loss

I hoped to write a “2014 Review” post last Thursday (the 1st) but I took the family to Knott’s instead — balance, ‘m I right?

Honestly, I had plenty of time to write this post, it’s not like I didn’t know how things were going weeks before. The real problem wasn’t time, it’s that while I have context, I don’t have a story I want to tell. Then I read Lema’s post about transparency and decided I had to write a backstory of 2014.

Up until the mid-point of 2014 things were smooth, still running a services business with some awesome recurring client work and things looked as though it would be a repeat of 2013 (which was great), but do to some misfortunate events I came to a point that my business had to change. The choices were nuanced but boiled down to: hustling more client work, as I’ve done since going freelance; or build a new product business for myself, something I’ve been doing for someone else for years prior 1.

Obviously I chose the later and built out Sprout Apps.

The business plan for Sprout Apps was always get the product out there, struggle for a few months while building customers and building the product, then build new products while the core app (Sprout Invoices) led the way. It’s been six months and I’m still struggling. Sprout Apps is not a failure but it’s hardly a success.

While I’d welcome the opportunity to write about my $350k+ or $700k+ WordPress product business I can’t. I love Matt’s response for so many reasons but his immediate response to these success stories will make me buy him beer…

That’s over 1 Million in revenue across 3 plugins and 2 businesses. First off, I applaud them as founders and their ability to build products with great teams surrounding them.

Now what about me? 9 fucking grand.

I don’t know about their financial goals for 2014 but mine were simple, that’s probably why writing about my non-success is so frustrating. Since a successful year for me would have been to build a business that sustained me full-time in 2015, with a stretch goal to hire a friend for support and development. That’s it!

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 10.51.54 AM

This sales report for 2014 looks awesome, right? Well, I’ll let you on a little secret: that’s a sales chart of a business operating at a loss with a single employee with a modest salary (me). In the coming weeks I’ll have a solid operating cost but from my estimates it’s…hrmmm…not depressing. I surely don’t feel defeated, it’s something I had anticipated. That’s why I’ll continue the challenge of building a WordPress product business through 2015.

The truth is, as Matt and James (from Ninja Forms writes), it takes time and commitment. Two things I’m lucky to have.

My story for 2014, turns into a TL;DR, with:

Sprout Apps operated at a financial loss last year and I will continue to heavily invest in it throughout 2015. Whether this is a “precursor to greatness” I’m not sure, personally I’d settle for a precursor to financial mediocrity and product greatness. 2


  1. I wrote a little about the decision to more into the product business here.
  2. Hopefully I’ll be writing these box reviews quarterly, along with more info about what I’m doing to help grow the business.