Happy New Year! You now have to begin again at zero.

2018 was an amazing year for me. It was fun, productive and profitable. I felt as if I was racking up points on a scoreboard all year long. I developed great new relationships, new clients and new revenue. I had new ideas, new opportunities, new experiences and new travel. But when I woke up yesterday it was all gone. The scoreboard that tallied all of my points in 2018 had been turned off. Everything had reset to Zero. And I was all like WTF?!?

My Business

My business, The Weaponry, has not made a single dime yet in 2019 (obscure reference to when Americans used to carry real money). We haven’t created any advertisements, designed any logos or scripted any videos. We haven’t crafted any smart strategic plans. We haven’t written any witty copy. We haven’t bought any media or developed any websites.

We haven’t created any new relationships. We haven’t earned any trust. We haven’t won any new business. We haven’t returned any emails, calls or texts. There have been no meetings. No travel. And no new hires to celeberate (in fact it’s just another ordinary day).

In short, we haven’t done anything at all.

My Blog

My blog has reset to zero too. I haven’t written or published any new posts yet this year. No views, likes, comments or shares. I haven’t passed along any newly learned lessons. There have been no new insights on entrepreneurship, success, creativity, advertising, or networking. I have no new subscribers this year. No views from the other side of the world. No silly jokes or obscure references to separate the insiders from the outsiders. No outlandishly inappropriate asides written to make readers snarf (blow drinks or other liquidy foods out the nose).

Reality Check

It’s a new year. Whether you had a great 2018 or a terrible 2018, it’s now over. And you, me and everyone else are starting over again with no points and no wins.

reset

Let’s Do This!

So today, January 2nd, 2019, my team and I will get to work. We’ll start at zero and see how much we can accomplish in the next 364 days. We plan to double down, and double the business again in 2019.

It’s All About The Team…

While it is true that I haven’t done anything yet this year, I do have an amazing team. Our Weapons are super smart, strategic, creative and experienced. But they are also extremely hard-working, fun, funny, collaborative and kind. They are our unfair competitive advantages.

…And The Clients

We have great clients from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. We have been busy developing trust and keeping our commitments. Which means that we are scoring points at a faster and faster pace. We have been building our brand and our reputation. Which has provided us with potential opportunities with new clients that could stretch our business far beyond the United States in the coming year.

Key Takeaway

It is time for all of us to get back to work. It’s time to stoke this fire to see just how hot it can get.** Time to score new points. Time to build on our momentum. Time to turn our potential into reality. Time to rack up great new wins that will make this another year worth remembering.

**But remember, no matter how hot it gets in here, don’t take off all your clothes (at least not at work, or around anyone you work with). We learned this over the last couple years. And that didn’t go away at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sorry Nelly.

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A better way to measure business success.

This week marks the beginning of the 22nd year of my advertising career. Over the past 22 years I have worked for an agency owned by private equity, an agency owned by a public holding company, and an agency that was privately held. I have learned a lot along the way. In 2016 I launched my own ad agency called The Weaponry. And I’m trying to apply all I have learned to make this bird fly.

Private Equity Goals

When I worked for the advertising agency owned by private equity, its main focus was growing to sell. A funny thing happens when you want to grow to sell your company. Especially when your investment clock is ticking, and you want to sell within the next 24 months or less.

You become hyper-focussed on revenue growth. When you obsess over revenue growth, you want to add business as quickly as you can. The quality of the work, the fit, the preparedness or the organization to take on the new work, and both the quality and the timeliness of the work flies out the window. Because short-term growth makes you do funny things.

Public Company Goals

Eventually that agency was bought by a large publicly held company. And the focus of the business changed. The new organization wasn’t obsessed with revenue growth. They were focused on margin growth. They wanted to make sure that we were making healthy profits on everything we did. They were constantly looking for ways to increase that margin.

The agency cut or discarded clients that didn’t offer the margin needed to sustain the infrastructure of a large, publicly held agency. As a result, they made decisions that were based on the target margin number of the day (that’s english for du jour). We walked away from clients who were facing some short-term challenges. We discarded several clients that had great long-term potential. Because the company was focused on meeting margins for the next quarter.

Family Business Goals

I recently worked with a company that had a very different way to think about their business growth. The organization was owned by a successful and impressive family. The key shareholders are not outside investors. They are family members. As a result, the most important measurement they focus on is generational growth. They ask deeper, more important questions, like How can we grow a healthy organization that can sustain generations of positive growth?’ And ‘Who let the dogs out?’

They certainly want good revenue. They also want a good margin. But they play the long game in every decision they make. As a result, they don’t grow faster than they can maintain a high quality of delivery. They don’t cut clients because they don’t live up to today’s margin standards. They are flexible and understanding of their clients’ challenges. That builds trust and loyalty. And long-term relationships. All of this has helped build both revenue and margin. And a long runway for growth for years to come.

Key Takeaway

Revenue and margin are important to a business. But we should never forget that they are results of how we run our organizations, and the hundreds of decisions we make along the way. When you think about your business in terms of generational growth, you will make better decisions for the long haul. You will build relationships that get you through hard times. And you will build something that lasts long after you are gone.