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My 2015 Annual Review

Posted by Austin Brawner


James Clear made me open my kimono…

Not literally, of course.

I got an email a couple of days ago from James Clear titled My 2015 Annual Review. I really like his blog, and I love reading year-end reviews, because I think honest reflection is the best way to move forward and grow.

James was candid, and he inspired me to open up and talk honestly about myself and my business.

So I’m opening my kimono. I’m going to talk about all the good and all the bad that happened this last year at Ecommerce Influence.

And I’ll try not to leave anything out.

1. What went well this year?

Podcast: The podcast was a big win for me. We met some incredible people like David Meerman Scott, Andrew Foxwell, Peter Fader and Kevin Lavelle, and we built an phenomenal audience and network.

Chad and I explored our creative side and put together some unique episodes that I’m proud of.

Check out our statistics below. Almost all of our downloads came in the last year, and we grew a ton!

Total Downloads in 2015: 111,878
Total Downloads All-Time: 157,395

The podcast is still one of the foundations of Ecommerce Influence and I’m proud of the episodes we put out this year. (It wasn’t all roses though… as you’ll see in part 2)

Partnerships: We began working more with our partners in 2015, and it helped us expand and give our clients more services and support than they would get just working with us.

One of my big goals this last year was to partner with Klaviyo – to be their preferred email marketing agency and get preferred pricing for our clients. That happened mid-way through the year and has been instrumental to our growth.

Team Growth: We matured and improved as a team and organization this year. I stopped running the day-to-day operations of our email marketing agency and moved into a supervisory role. Ian and Lisa took over and led our email marketing strategy to new heights. Our clients saw a massive improvement in their results.

In the past, I struggled to pass off important work to my team. But this year I took the leap of faith, and the whole business grew and improved because of it. I have complete confidence in their work, and we’re able to work faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Moving: I can say a lot about moving this year… because I did it twice! I’ll start with the positive, which was moving to Austin, Texas in September. I think I found a place that reflects what the business (and I) need right now. It’s packed full of entrepreneurs and it’s a great place to grow a business. If you’re in Austin TX… email me!

Good life in Austin

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

Moving: Moving to New York, NY. I won’t say this was a complete disaster because I enjoyed the heck out my time there, but it didn’t work out the way I expected. I moved to NYC in April of last year and moved out in September. I thought I was going to stay there for a long time but it was a bad fit for the business. It was difficult to work from NYC while the rest of my team was in Los Angeles, CA and expanding the team in Manhattan was expensive. We couldn’t experiment as much as we’d like with our increased overhead.

I’m happy that I got the opportunity to live in NYC even though it didn’t work out as planned. I was frustrated when I left NYC back in September because I had really just moved there, but now that I’m in Austin, TX it feels like everything worked out for the better.

One thing is for certain, I will not be moving as much in 2016…

Business Partnership: Chad and I split up the business this year. I couldn’t have anticipated it at the onset of 2015, but it happened. Even though I know it was for the best, I’m still dealing with some fallout with our podcast and marketing efforts.

We set up the business so I handled operations and client fulfillment, and Chad headed up the podcast and marketing. When we split up the business I had to dive in and take over a lot of his work. This led to some overwhelm in the last quarter of the year, and I was frustrated with myself for missing deadlines, especially on the podcast.

Speaking of the podcast…

Podcast: Towards the end of the year, podcasting felt more like a burden than a blessing.

I made the mistake of skipping a few episodes because I was swamped with our website redesign, and it’s been hard to get back in the rhythm.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it sent me into a downward spiral. I wanted to create something really, really good to make up for the episodes I missed. As you can see, it’s the beginning of the year and I still haven’t put out a new episode!

I underestimated the time and effort it takes to run a podcast. When we first started the podcast I was involved with everything But as we grew and gained more clients I became less involved out of necessity. As I took over the production role again, I should have anticipated a lot more work than I did.

3. What am I focusing on?

The Brand Academy: All of our energy is dedicated to the re-launch of The Ecommerce Influence Brand Academy. We built a spiffy new platform to support it, and I can’t be more thrilled to share it with you all!

The Academy is the only community in the world entirely dedicated to helping entrepreneurs “level up” from selling their first hundred products online, to becoming successful business owners and building formidable brands.

You’ll be learning a lot more about the Brand Academy in the upcoming month, and you can sign up here to be on the wait list.

Writing: One of my goals for 2016 is to write 750 words every single day this year.

I’m in the middle of reading the phenomenal book series The Last Lion Series about Winston Churchill and I’m inspired by how prolific a writer Churchill was. Even in the middle of the war he was knocking out thousands of words a day! If he could write a couple thousand words a day with bombs dropping on London and the fate of western civilization resting squarely on his broad shoulders, I can squeeze out 750 of my own.

That said, this is going to be a challenge for me. I’ve set writing goals in the past and I always fall off after a month or two. This is the first time I’ve made my goal public, and I’m hoping the social pressure keeps me going!

If you’re interested in joining me, you can check out a great resource for inspiration and accountability called 750 Words.

Become The Least Worthy In The Room: I always experience the most growth when I’m the least qualified or experienced person in the room. Growth comes quicker when you’re surrounded by people who have already gone through problems you’re dealing with, as they can help you level up quicker.

This year I’m dedicated to finding and joining a group where I’m the least worthy person in the room.

Now there’s a difference between being the least qualified person in the room, and being the lowest contributor. Being less qualified is tolerated (you’ve got to start somewhere!), but if you don’t contribute you’ll be un-invited from the group!

I often find myself forgetting to reach out to others when I’ve got big projects looming. This year I want to spend more time connecting with other skilled entrepreneurs even when I’m busy. The relationships I’ve built over the last few years are what I’ve valued most during this entrepreneurial journey and I want to find or build a mastermind group of peers to collectively grow to the next level.

What are you focusing on in 2016?

Let me know in the comments section below.


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  • I absolutely love your podcast and listen in all the time. I was listening to your sales funnel one while chilling with a glass of vino just last night.

    Take a breather, get your head back in the game and come back harder than ever. Thanks for all you do.

    • Thanks Stacey! Throwing on a podcast with a glass of wine is something I do all the time. Happy New Year!

  • Edward

    Hey man,

    Thanks for the update. Sorry that you had to split with Chad, but we still continue.

    Here is something to keep in mind and anyone that watches your podcast will confirm.

    Yes, you feel pressure because you can’t do a podcast or fail in writing an article but we as entrepreneurs don’t depend on that completely. We listen to other podcast we follow other blogs, great blogs too. You are one of those great blogs no doubt but when we get emails on updates we keep you in mind and thank you for your update but no ones business is failing because you didn’t send a podcast etc.

    So keep providing great content we will come in and listen, watch, join. Just like e commerce there are many great shops! Enough for everyone, all to say don’t pressure yourself too much man we love you!


    • Thanks Edward for the comment, I appreciate it!

      Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

  • Hey Austin,

    Glad to hear you landed on your feet, even if a little bit wobbly.

    As Edward said, don’t beat yourself up for not putting out a few podcasts. Yes, I always check to see if there’s a new one as I get so much value from them, but I’d rather wait, and have you stay sane.

    Speaking of being the least worthy in the room, I hope to see more of you in the Ecommerce Fuel forum. Talk about a bunch of worthy people all in one place! I get amazing value from participating in the threads. (And you might pick up a few clients too:)

    Wishing you a very successful 2016,

    • Hey Carole,

      Happy New Year to you too and thanks for the comment! Things are going well now and we’re getting ready for a big push in the next few months. I’ll see you in the Fuel forum more often, I agree it’s a great place and full of talented people. Hope all is well for you.


  • Emil

    Hey Austin,

    Well done brotha! Thanks for sharing the successes and the challenges as you grow the biz.

    Looking forward to reading more (and listening to the podcast)!

    • Thanks Emil! Website is finally done man, it’s been a long road but it feels good. Let’s catch up soon.

  • Austin (& Chad!),

    The content you guys have on the podcast is, in my my opinion, by far the best out there. I listen to old episodes at least a few times a week to ‘keep my head in the game’ when walking/driving etc and I’m always picking things that I missed last listen. The content is priceless, would be a shame to see you guys let that slide but understand it must be tough in keeping it going in a fast growing business.

    That said, I’d just like to thank you. I’ve been in digital marketing for about 5 years but finally branched out my own mid 2015 after being made redundant on the day my wife went on maternity leave. No shit. Was a blessing in disguise though – we’ve managed to take the bootstrapped startup from $0 – $70k/month in 6 months to December, 2015 and we’re now looking to scale to the US from Australia. The goal is to crack $1M in sales this year. Just letting you know, you guys have played a significant part in that and it’s much appreciated.

    Looking forward to seeing what you guys have coming in 2016!


    • Scott,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your story, I shared it with my whole team. Crazy timing to get laid off the same day as your wife went on maternity leave! Congrats on your success this year, I hope it you guys keep rolling all the way through 2016.


  • I was wondering what happened to you! I’m bummed we never got to hang in NYC, but sounds like it wasn’t the right fit. It’s such a tough city — tougher to be an entrepreneur. The damn burn is so high, it really limits your ability to experiment and take chances. I hate that about it.

    Anyway, let’s chat soon, glad to hear you landed on your feet. I’ll be in Austin in Feb and Mar if you want to grab a beer.


    • Great to hear from you Drew! Yes, I came and I went from NYC pretty quick and for mostly that reason. I like the new site, and congrats on getting a podcast going! I’d love to meet up when you get to Austin. I’ll be here for almost all of Feb and March.