I realize that this post is a few weeks late, but I wanted to make sure I took a quick look back at our 2010 and a look forward to 2011, which is already off to an adventurous start.
I’m really amazed by what we accomplish every year. At times it seems like things are moving slow, but when I take a look back I can’t say I’m disappointed in the least. Some of the highlights:
- We started the year by closing Tastefully Driven, our Amazon store, and stopped shipping internationally
- We launched the Ask a Professional Detailer Blog on Detailed Image, managed by Todd, which had a major impact on our growth
- We hired our first full time employee
- We built and launched LockerPulse
- We had our record year in terms of revenue and profitability
Those are just the highlights that come to mind. We had a lot of other little “wins”. The more I run a business, the more I realize just how hard it is, and therefore I’m that much more appreciative of what we’ve built.
Changes to Our Team
Over the holidays George decided to leave the company. We’re thankful for all of his years of hard work, and of course we’re all still good friends and wish him the best in his future endeavors. I’ve always maintained that business relationships are like entering a marriage that’s guaranteed to end in divorce. There are just too many variables in life to expect a group of partners to run a business forever and ever.
Our lawyer was adamant from the start about the importance of having a rock solid operating agreement. Thankfully, we were smart enough to heed his advice. We reviewed and updated it yearly, the most recent update being in mid-December, a few weeks before George made his decision. Given that almost everything related to a partner leaving (either due to choice, being forced out, death, or disability) was clearly outlined, there wasn’t much to “negotiate” and therefore there wasn’t much to stress about (or potentially fight about). From a legal standpoint the transition was able to happen in a matter of days instead of dragging out over months or years, which is always best for all parties involved.
There’s definitely a lesson to be learned in all of this. Once you become bigger than a one-man shop, it’s absolutely in your best interest to sit down with a good lawyer and draw up an operating agreement, and then review it annually. No questions asked. For the few thousand dollars you’ll spend over the years you get a piece of mind that’s priceless.
New Warehouse Lease
After some uncertainty, we’re staying put in our warehouse for another three years. Greg did a great job negotiating the new lease. Essentially we wanted to continue our existing lease, but also wanted a new heating system put in. Our oil heaters are ridiculously old so they’re expensive to maintain and horribly inefficient, and oil itself is expensive. We’ve been having problems since when we first moved in. After some back and forth we came to an agreement. They are scheduled to begin work on a propane/electric hybrid system in the next week or two.
I think our general consensus is that we’ll be looking for a new place to move after this lease is up, which means that by this time in 2013 we’ll probably be looking. Not only will we likely need more physical space for our products, we’ll also likely need some “real” office space, and I think we’ll all be ready to have a little nicer, cleaner, more modern place. Obviously things could change, but that’s the thought right now.
What I Expect in 2011
While the past few years have been largely about new development projects – the new Detailed Image cart in 2009 and LockerPulse in 2010 – and about becoming more lean and efficient. There likely won’t be any new sites in 2011, and the operations are pretty well optimized. We also have a great team in place, from our owners to our employees and contractors, so I don’t foresee much change there either.
This year is all about growing what we have. We’ve all had to work a little harder recently and pick up some new roles and responsibilities, but we’ve still managed to push ahead full force with our plans. For DI, there are a lot of marketing initiatives we weren’t able to get to in the past. There are also a lot of things we want to do with all of the data we’ve accumulated over the years (think: a more targeted and customized shopping experience). For LP, we have a lot of great features planned, and I hope to build on some of our recent momentum and be aggressively marketing the site in the coming months. I fully expect it to be a significant source of revenue for us by year’s end.
We’re all looking forward to a fun, innovative, and prosperous 2011!
…And I’m sure there will be some more surprises mixed in as well 🙂