My 9 Biggest Lessons of 2019

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Want to increase your ROI? Build a bigger and stronger team? Improve your focus?

2020 has finally arrived ?? and the best way to start the year as an entrepreneur is to set new goals. Believe me, I understand that you are excited to put your goals into action… because I am too!!!

But what I want to talk about on this video is looking back on the past year. 2019 has been a year of ups and downs for me — and it would not be so meaningful if it weren’t for the 9 BIGGEST LESSONS I learned.

So before I move forward, I would like to take a moment to reflect on these lessons with you.

Do watch the video above and if you agree with these lessons or have your own realizations to share, leave a comment below! ❤️


Hey everyone, it’s Wilco here. And as I’m recording this video, we are into 2020, which is crazy, right?

It feels like we’re living in the future right now. And it’s also a great time to look back and see like what went well last year, and what could have improved. In other words, the main lessons I learned in 2019 and hopefully it will help you to grow your business as well. And really, if you look back at last year, it’s been a great year, like I’ve enjoyed every single, every little bit of it. There’s been ups there’s definitely been downs as there always are. But overall, it’s been a good year, both business wise and personal – my wife’s pregnant, which is awesome. So we’ve got that looking forward to in 2020.

But really, if you look back in the business before 2019. I always set a big goal, right always said like, this is what we’re going to do, and I did the same for 2019 I set a big goal. And honestly, I did not hit it. Actually not even close like it well, not that far, but like definitely didn’t hit it right. And that’s totally okay. And that’s probably the first lesson I want to share with you. And that is to enjoy the ride, enjoy the path instead of just the end goal because like I said, I set a big goal did not hit it. And do I feel bad about it? Not a tiny bit. We’ve grown a lot in 2019, which is great, right?

A couple years, a couple years ago, somebody told me that, hey, in a few years, you’re going to be at this level with your business, I would not have believed them. So that’s good thing, right. But I definitely did not hit my goals that I said. And some people would think like, oh, but I set a big goal. And if I don’t hit it, I’m going to be disappointed. I’m not gonna be happy because I’m going to be happy once I hit that goal. And that’s stupid, right? Yes. It’s great to set goals. Yes, it’s great to stretch yourself because that’s when you feel alive. Or at least if you’re someone like me, like that’s when you feel alive, you have momentum, and you actually go forward. But if you don’t hit that, that’s like, that’s not what your happiness should come from. Right? The happiness should come from the journey itself. So first lesson is to enjoy the journey.

And the second lesson I want to share actually started right before 2019 started at that point, I went to travel in New Zealand in Australia. We went there for six weeks, which by the way, also as part of the enjoy the ride, it’s not just about work, right? It’s about living life at the fullest. So, yes, give it your A game at your work, like give it your best shot. But don’t forget, work is not everything right? Like it’s always great to, to enjoy your work, but still, to enjoy other things in life as well. Like my wife and I, we try to travel month, sometimes two months a year for the sake of that like to enjoy life to the fullest and we really do that. So that’s part of the first lesson I enjoy to ride.

But while we’re doing that back in December of 2018, I was in Australia, and I went, I went there to to meet up with my previous, previous boss like 10 years before I did an internship in Australia in Sydney. And that guy, actually two guys, they saw them working on this little WordPress website like that was it. Like just a little WordPress website as a side project to what their main business was? And how far can you grow that right? Like, how far can you actually make a little WordPress site, which was comparing some credit cards as an affiliate? Like that’s it’s a tiny little project, right? They kept working on that site for over 10 years. And guess what, right now, today, they employ over 300 people Isn’t that crazy? Like, just to see that from? They went from like, tiny, tiny little website, the group of 300 people and they’ve got offices in New York and in Sydney in London. It’s crazy, right? But when I was meeting with him and I was talking to those people, we’d like I tried to get what really, how do you how do able to grow that fast?

And really, the core thing is people, right? To hire the right people because there’s no way you can you can grow a beast like that on yourself. And I’m not sure obviously doesn’t always like don’t think this applies to you only if you’re at that level because obviously I’m not at that level. But it opened my eyes that it’s really critical to hire A players right? Because we cannot do everything by ourselves. Really. That’s really that’s my second lesson is that if you’re if you’re in your business and you’re trying to hire people like hire A players. So like right now in our team, we got a team full of A players and yes over time and that needed to be adjusted over time there were some people who I hired initially like who I thought were good, but they weren’t actually A players. But over time you realize like, you need to have A players in your team. People who really, like really do well who want to give it their best shot and then that’s what really grows a team. Because it just cannot come from you as the entrepreneur itself, right. And as I was growing like this year, one of my goals was like, I’m going to create a better team. I’m going to create a rock star, a kick-ass team and I’m really happy with the end result.

But one of the lessons I learned as well over time is don’t hire on experience, right? Yes. When you hire someone, you’re going to look at how much experience do they have. And that’s important. Like if someone is super inexperienced, that’s obviously not an A player, right? Sometimes too much experience. It, it just makes, it makes it harder to adjust, right. So even though experience is great, my real point is you want to make sure it’s a fit and personally right like you want to make sure that you actually get along you make you want to make sure that if your company is for example, some company that zigzags like that moves fast, you want to make sure that the people in your team also zigzag they also move fast. If your company like if your culture in your company is, it’s like it’s clear that it’s important to have certain values you want to make sure that whoever you hire has those values as well. It’s not just about the experience because someone can be an experienced and can be total dick for example, which fortunately I didn’t experience yet. But don’t just hire people on experience, but hire people because they want to learn they want to grow. They want to they’re passionate about What you do because skills can be learned, but like a lot of other things like mindset and stuff like that, it’s way harder to learn, right? So don’t hire on experience and then once I got to that place where right so now we get A player’s my team and now we got, like we get people who are love what they do, they’re passionate with what they do. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually a team, right? Initially, when I started to grow our business, it was like early on it was really like me in the middle in a way and then everyone was like, I was giving them like transactional management so I was saying okay, if you know, you need to do this and you need to do that and everything worked.

But that doesn’t always mean it’s actually a team so in order to make that a team you got to make sure that they work together and they work not like independently of a supervisor like for example me right now really did like we got team meetings because structure we got people like that we got separate teams who work together without you know, any supervision or anything at all. So really focus on, fourth lesson is focus on building a team and again, this doesn’t really matter which level you’re at, like, even if you have like, for example, two contractors working, working with you, two contractors helping you out, still try to, just try to make sure that you’re not always involved, like try to make sure that somebody was okay to have them work together and say like, Hey, you want to have this, just go to that person and he’ll take care of you. Because that’s going to make your life so much easier you actually give people the power to do better. So don’t always try to pull everything towards yourself, which is hard as an entrepreneur because we are control freaks. I totally get that. But that’s definitely a lesson I learned this year as well. Now the fifth point is definitely something that will apply to you 100% and that is that you should do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work because as entrepreneurs we’re crazy, right? We work on something we figure something out that’s working for our business, and then once we figured it out, what do we do? We get bored with it and we figure something else out. We see some other flashy shiny thing or a course or we see our colleagues do something that we like how we want to try that out as well. And really a big lesson for me has been do more of what works.

And I’ll give you an example of that. So in our business obviously there’s many ways we can get clients right? There’s you can run Facebook ads, you are running a viral campaign, and there’s a lot of different things you can do and what we do is like, once people, we have their email address, we can then send them emails, right, and we can say like, Hey, we got like, we got a video up. Or maybe we have a special offer. Like if you’re on an email list, you probably know that right? And that works. It works. It’s a great way to get people into your business to let them know about what you do to make sure that they see the value in what you offer. And over time, they will, not everyone but a lot of people will join your business and they’ll sign up as a customer, crazy thing is even though it works, I stopped doing it.

There’s been times where I didn’t send an email out with an email list of over 100,000 people for more than a month, sometimes even two months, which is pretty Crazy, it’s like painfully crazy, right? So fortunately, we learned that lesson where we’re sending out emails, again, we’re making sure we’re engaging. we’re engaging with our email list because we know what works, right. And sometimes it’s just easy to forget. So that was a big lesson. Definitely, like there’s still room to improve. There’s some things that I know has been working a business and we just stopped doing it for whatever reason. So look at your own business and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work, and actually goes in line with lesson number six, which is to, to measure, right?

Last year, like I said, I set a big goal. I didn’t hit it, largely because we did not measure right, I basically look at the overall goal. Let’s say you have a big goal and like, hey, I want to go from X to there and like that’s it, right and that’s a big leap in a full year. But what I should have done and this is something we’re doing in 2020 break it down into little slices, right so if that is the goal, what should that be at the end of January? End of February? End of March? And now all the sudden is like, wow, I need to do this this this month, right? Because it’s easy to say, let’s say you have a revenue goal for like end of the year, you don’t really know whether you’re on pace and like, ah, but it’s only April, I still got the whole year that’s fine. And before you know it, it’s October November, like crap! The year’s almost gone.

But if you, if you actually slice up your goal into monthly goals, then all of a sudden there’s no hiding, right? Like by the end of the month, the first month you’re like, Oh, no, I’m behind, right and that pushes you to move forward.

So maybe then a goal should be in January, you need to have your, your ads at least profitable to serve at a certain degree. Like to break it up into sub tasks and set a time frame for that and that way you know exactly like these are what needs to happen this month, next month, this quarter, etc, etc. So that puts your back against the wall. So measure more. Another lesson I learned this year is that not everything is digital. Right? What I mean with that is that I’m a very much digital guy and which I’m an introvert, like, even though on video, it might not look like that. And definitely an introvert. So that’s why my whole business is remote, we got a remote team, people all over the world. We meet up on Slack, we chat, we do that. And we started doing Zoom as well. We do a lot of video calls now as well. So we actually see each other on a webcam. But this year also, I spend more time meeting with some parts of team like last year, the end of 2018, I went to the Philippines to meet up with the people there.

But this year also I flew out Mark who’s my operational manager, to France were I flew him out to the Netherlands, like we had an awesome time. And not just that that’s an awesome time. But there’s just things that happen if you meet with people in person instead of online, you know, ideas flow better. For example, these couple months back, I flew with Mark, actually, to India to our development team. We’ve got our development office in India, to just brainstorm there and map out on a whiteboard like what is our roadmap for UpViral? What’s the roadmap for ConnectIO? Where are the opportunities? How do we improve things for our customers? And even though we can do that digitally as well, you would never get the same experience, right? Like, there’s just things that happen when you meet people in person.

So if you have a remote team, it’s definitely worth it to meet up every once in a while, right? And number eight is do the right things. And what I mean with that is, oftentimes we’re so busy doing things and we, we see things in our business, we’re like, oh, yeah, we if we focus on this, we get x y, and zed results. And we just dive all the way and then we do the work. And oftentimes, we don’t zoom out enough we don’t really think like, even though that thing could work, is that really the best thing you can do? Right? Is that, is it the best thing to send out this little email while in that same time I could have, you know, I could have done something much better with a much bigger ROI.

And really what I mean with this and what I’ve been doing over the last year is that I try every two weeks, for at least half a day. Don’t do anything else than think. Think about what we’re doing. I literally go offline and go to a coffee shop or anything like that I bring only my iPad without Wi Fi, start making notes. What is it we are doing? What are the best things? I don’t want to do any work, this is working. Like I’m thinking, where are we going? What’s the best way of getting there instead of just looking at it to do list and crunching to do to do’s and all that. So ask yourself constantly do we do the right things? Right? are the things that we’re doing? Is that the best way to get where we want to be? Or should we do different things. So that’s really, really, really important.

And number nine is, I want you to know that is do the work. I see so many people who spend too much time thinking, or too much time learning or too much time doing whatever, but the only thing that’s really going to get here is do the freaking work. My apologies but, like do the work. Like if you don’t do the work. It’s not going to happen. So at the end of the day, like that’s where the real magic happens like an idea is just an idea. A dream is just a dream. But if you don’t actually execute on it, it’s not going to work. Right? And I see that so many times where people like they want to do this thing or, or but they have excuses, right? They’re like, Oh, they’re waiting. I even see, for example, I see people who say, I want to run Facebook ads, I’d love to run, but I’m waiting on this feature from you guy s from ConnectIO. And until that, until that feature is done. I’m not gonna try and like that’s crazy. Because every single day, there’s people who already crush it, you know, without that feature, right? Why would you wait, don’t wait actually putting the work do the work. And that’s really important.

So really, to summarize, and I know it’s been a little bit all over the place, but hey, it’s the beginning of 2020. My mind is, you know, mapping out 2020. So I was like, I need to record this video for you guys about 2019. So, my apologies if it’s a bit all over the place, but really, to sort of go back over to this video’s First of all, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the moment don’t just set for the end goal. Hire A players and don’t just hire them ne experience, but hire them based on you know, are they a fit? Are they actually passionate about what you do. super important, then make sure to actually operate as a team, have team meetings, make sure they work together, make sure they get to know each other. And make sure you do more of what works, right, which is a bit of an overlap with do the right things. But just look back in your business like what has been working, do more of that and what is not working, stop doing that.

Measure more in your business. So we actually know what’s working a lot of times we’re just you know, we’re completely blind. I’ve been guilty of that as well. So measure so you know what actually works. And realize that not everything is digital in case you have a remote team. It’s great to every once in a while meet up with them as well and actually do the work right without the actual work. It’s not gonna happen.

So those are the nine lessons that I wanted to share with you about from 2019. I hope it helps. And I’m looking forward to 2020 so I’ll see you soon.