The Annual Letter
One of our clients has an end-of-year New Year’s tradition I really like – the Annual Letter.
Once a year, the firm’s Chairman and the CEO sit down and write an annual letter addressed to the company’s shareholders and employees, and they post it on the company’s website.
In the letter, the two executives give a transparent and detailed review of the year behind them, as well as a look to what’s ahead. This company is exponentially larger than we are, but I love the idea – so, we decided to do it, too.
Our clients and partners will have a hard copy of this, but for broader distribution, I’m posting it on our blog. Hope you enjoy!
The Annual Letter: Looking Back – and Ahead
Greetings and Happy New Year! I’ve decided that this year, as we end WorkBook6’s first full year as a business, we’ll begin a new tradition – our annual letter. I’ve written this as a ‘thank you’ of sorts; it’s intended for clients, partners and the many great folks who have supported us along the way. Doing this over the holidays and the turn of the year had an unexpected effect for me: it was a central part of my own process as I reconcile the year behind us, and plan for what’s ahead.
While we started in earnest in 2016, 2017 was our first full commercial year. To put it mildly, we’ve been busy. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine having grown or expanded more than we have over these past 12 months. We’ve accomplished a lot, but I found the below highlights most notable:
- We grew from a founder and one part-time contributor to a team of eight talented professionals. We’ve grown both in our primary location (Tempe, AZ) and outside; WorkBook6 now has boots on the ground in Boston, metro Los Angeles and Denver.
- We’ve grown our client roster by more than 500%, and broadly expanded our reach within the customer acquisition and engagement ecosystem. Today, WorkBook6’s engagements touch many of the US’s largest direct response categories, as well as leading media, technology and services solutions that help to plumb and power these industries. We’ve also become very active in several not-for profit and affinity categories.
- We’ve moved offices – twice! We’ve been fortunate to grow more quickly than I expected, and our space needs have ballooned as a result. The new digs are beautiful and they’ll give us room to grow plenty without having to move again.
- We’ve found our operational stride; we’ve learned a great deal about our clients in this past year, and we’ve leveraged their feedback to create accountable, trackable programs. This learning will serve us well for many years to come.
- We’ve begun to build products where and when it makes sense. We learned early on that because our business model is new to the market, we would occasionally need to build our own solutions. Our own, custom CRM program, perenn.io, is a great example of this. We evaluated every commercially available product, but nothing let us fly as fast and freely as we wanted. So, Max Richardson built the industry’s first many-to-many partnership development relationship management platform, and it has been an amazing addition to the WorkBook6 team.
- Most importantly, we’ve written our own rules, and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. A little over a year into this, WorkBook6 has grown in most measurable ways – we’ve powered many proprietary partnerships on behalf of some of the largest and most innovative enterprises in the world. We’ve done it on our own terms – and without outside capital.
Just reading through the above, it’s a lot. This team worked incredibly hard to help us become a real company, and I’m immensely grateful to that gritty effort – and for the many long hours. To put it another way: whoa.
So Much to Be Proud of
There’s much to be proud of, but there’s so little time for pride. Everything we accomplished in 2017 has the effect of elevating our expectations for our production in 2018. So, game on, so to speak.
I’m a big fan of good advice from great thinkers, and one piece I’ve clung to this year is very simple: our output is the sum of all our vectors.
This point, explained through linear algebra, is that to succeed, you need to point every effort toward the right outcome. As we transition into 2018, nothing could be more relevant to our work.
To me, it’s critical, brilliant stuff: it’s not good enough for everyone in a company to just work on stuff. It’s not even good enough for everyone in a company to do great work on stuff.
To do the best you can, the trick is to get everyone to do great work on the right stuff
This is what we will do in 2018. Here’s how I hope that plays out:
- We power partnerships. We will own this. This is what we do and it is who we are. WorkBook6 will continue building a better, faster and more cost-efficient way for companies to grow profitably. This forms our strategic direction.
- We will operationalize rapid growth. We will continue to make improvements to the way that we onboard new clients, engage their new partners and track the progress. This operational vector will include the work of a newly-formed client success team, which will grow significantly in the coming year. It will also involve the deployment of new products and platforms from our technology team.
- We’ll do it the one best way we can. When this means leveraging great existing technology, we’ll do that. When it means building from scratch, we’ll jump right in.
- We will go to market more efficiently than the marketplace has ever seen. Our proprietary process will provide tremendous leverage to our clients and create efficiencies for them.
- We will spread the word on our clients’ behalf. Our brand will be their growth – and every dollar we spend on marketing WorkBook6 will carry the intention of helping our clients grow.
- We will continue to have fun doing this our way, and without external capital support. We love the accountability that comes with being bootstrapped, and we know that we can control the direction – and sum – of our vectors better by doing it this way.
That’s it, folks. We had an amazing year. And we want to make our company bigger, faster and more efficient in 2018. It’s been an amazing opening chapter for us at WorkBook6. For all those who helped us get to this point, we’re grateful beyond measure. And we’re thrilled to take on the hard hustling that remains ahead of us.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!