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February 26, 2008

Reviewing our 2007 Goals - Looking Forward to 2008

At the beginning of 2007 we created company goals for the coming year.

In 2005 and 2006 we did a similar exercise.  This last year we wanted to create more specific, measurable goals that we could follow up on. 
 

At our company retreat last month, we reviewed the 07 goals. Below is a list of each goal with our one year assessment.

The overall mission of Swift Kick is to increase student engagement. All of our goals work toward that mission.

When we created our 2007 goals, a year ago, we mapped out what we thought was the best route. As the year went on, and new ideas and information came to us, we shifted our strategy and goals accordingly.

One mistake we made was not revisiting the goals list every quarter.  This left us with a bunch of "dead" goals at the end of the year.  These are things we didn't necessarily fail at, we simply decided they were not the right step for us at the time.

The goals process - as it creates a roadmap and focus - is hugely important.  It's also never urgent.  This makes it easy to put off, as we naturally focus on the deadline driven tasks first. 

A big goal for 2008 is to get better at focusing our energy on the right things.  This is a natural progression for any reflective business and much of it is simply trying things and learning about our own strengths and weaknesses.  With that in mind, our review of our 2007 goals:

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
GOAL REVIEW
SALES: 
Training / Speeches:  60 engagements, Avg. Revenue $2600 = $156,000We were spot on with this goal. We ended up with just over $160K for the year, our actual # of speaking gigs was more like 58 but that is not counting the multi-day trainings.

From our initial conversations with successful, established, independent speakers, we were told to expect 5 speeches our first year, 20 our second, and 40 our third.  To hit nearly 60 in our second is a good start.
Technology: 3 Major College Conferences = $40,000This was a strategic turn.  Working with APCA was a wonderful way for us to explore technology driven community and the implementation of our x+1 relevancy/ engagement ideas.

We felt that there was a huge opportunity for conferences to increase their effectiveness using these ideas and tools and APCA agreed and paid us a small amount of money to explore it with them.

In Jan of 2007, we thought we could provide a good system and talk to other college conferences (outside of programing, i.e. CFYE and others) and make the same deal.  This would give us the cash flow we needed to build the software connectors between our various systems and automate everything with the hopes of delivering the same solutions to schools.

We found out there were many challenges working with conferences, not the least of which was that the more we were genuinely innovative, the greater the strain on the conference.  We tried to implement too much new thinking and methodology all at once. 

While the technology worked technically (for the most part), it did not work as well procedurally and the solution was hampered by human integration / comfort zone / change challenges that we did not (silly, I know) expect.

One hugely important realization that came out of the APCA work was that email did not work very well for advisors - we never got above a 58% response rate to a survey.  Our goal was the students and they checked email less and less every day.

We needed another data collection channel and strategy.  Students preferred Facebook as their communication channel and they had already put much of the relevancy data we needed on their profiles.  So in March, we dropped the idea of working with other conferences (to avoid the change friction) and we began work on Red Rover - the new, straight to schools, x+1 survey, segment, and deliver strategy.
Sponsorships: 2 Sponsors = $25,000As part of the customized newsletter product that was part of the APCA solution, we felt that an old line news company would appreciate being able to deliver relevant news feeds to taste makers on campuses.

We were talking with the USA Today Education division as a possible partner for Swift Kick.  Part of the challenge with committing to relevancy is that we need to have access to content all down the long tail.  A content partner could help with this. 

When we dropped the email newsletter as our delivery method, we lost the immediate need for lots of content.   We just let the USA Today partnership conversation slide away.

We may kick these conversations back up with the next version of Red Rover, as we get into delivering relevancy filtered RSS feeds.
Info Products: 2 Books = $10,000 in salesWe've been working on a Dance Floor Theory book for a long time.  It's a normal "speaker" thing to write a book and sell it with a speech. 

This one was a strategic focus decision.  Red Rover would do what Dance Floor Theory training taught - automatically.  In this case, the software looked more powerful than the book. 

So we chose to put off the book. 
PRODUCTS: 
Deliver a compelling conference product to APCA for nationals in March.The word 'compelling' is too vague to define if we completed this or not.  This is a good example of a goal that shows we didn't have enough definition of the project.  Our goal should have been to have a better goal. 

This definitely would have helped the partnership.

The 07 APCA Nationals was the first time we implemented the survey, segment, deliver idea into APCA as part of our year long partnership.   We did some neat things that had never been done before at a programming conference.

It was a start, we got better, and in the end finished with a full outline.
Complete 2 book sized information products (hard copy, just to be old skool)Same as above with the info products
Present Center for the First Year product.  We were accepted to present Red Rover at the 08 conference in San Francisco. The conference was a big success for Red Rover. The presentation was not specifically for the Center, but for the whole conference.

At the moment, our plan is to work on adoption and data modeling with Red Rover and then approach the Center itself, perhaps this spring, about our road map moving forward.

After the conference experience, we're even more excited about this partnership.  The Center is very high caliber - and great people are involved nationwide.  It will be a joy to work with them.
Deliver a relevant RSS feed newsletter.We paid 8k for Exact Target as our main tech component in this. We sent out a few newsletters. Exact Target promised the integration with our database would work automatically.  It sort of worked but in a round about, time intensive way. 

The combination of low response rates and clunky technology killed this effort.

If email worked better as a delivery method (for students too) we would have invested the time and money to make the technology work smoothly.   

As it was, it was a complicated solution to a problem that was better served with existing technology that was simply underutilized. It would have been better to spend the 8k to fly to each school and set up an RSS reader for each advisor in person.

Because of the chunk of cash spent trying it, this one hurt.  It was an important lesson.
Launch a college activities point system with mesh up presentation layer.Red Rover 1.0 is the first step.
Launch collaboration workspace where volunteers can organize and work on projects.We tried several different ways to make this happen. Groups, docs, ghub etc. In testing, we continue to get better.

Our solutions right now are our wiki page, The Student Affairs Blog, and soon to be Student Leader Blog.
Camp preparation to launch in 2008We talked about camps, but no action.

We both really want to do this because it's just so dang fun. 

It may end up being part of the integrated solution for schools, in which case we just might see a camp like experience in 2008.
1000 Swift Kick generated blogs (4 per week)Very ambitious of us, especially since we were newbies to the blogging world. We wrote about 150 blogs in 07. That is between the SA and SK blog. We want to step this up. We are getting faster at writing.
FINANCIAL: 
Outsource Financial Responsibilities (Taxes, Ledgers, Reports)Minus the ledgers, majority of the financial work the taxes this year are being done by our fantastic logistics guru, Emma. We are of course not absent from the process, but a lot less time compared to last year.
Company financial reports distributed timelyWe did send out the 2006 company financials. But they were sent in June. Having them done faster and more quarterly would be nice. We have the system to do it, which is 70% of the challenge.
Sync all financial tools (Quickbooks, SF)Still using the same system as last year. Just better at it.
MARKETING:  
Establish baseline gig acquisition costs from 2006 reduce acquisition cost by 30%.We do have a lot of reports through our CRM and through the financials we created for 06 - but this is not one of the reports we generated, so we can't measure year over year how we are doing.

The good news is that this information is in our systems, it just needs someone to focus on it for a day or two to generate the right reports.
Create and implement conference process by nationals.This is another ill defined goal.  How do we know when we have a good process? 

This needs to be rewritten in 2008 if it's to mean anything.
Increase total contacts in database to more than 10,000We stopped collecting student contact info in Fall of 07, so the database grew much slower than expected.

The collection process didn't make sense because we were unable to deliver on the community / relevant info experience we wanted. 

The wikis and the soon to be launched Student Leader Blog should help to deliver a great follow up experience.  Then we can start collecting contact information at conferences and speeches again.
Avg. click through rate on newsletter of 10% per month by Q2N/A - We stopped the newsletter
Launch a revamped swiftkickonline.com by end of Q1We did complete this on time and have done many changes to the site since then.
Create an online logistics page for our trainings We created marketing sites for both MSFB and DFT. They could grow much more and will probably be transferred over to our wiki pages soon. We didn't finish this project until the end of the year though.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT:  
20 active and productive interns.We had 3 interns for the year. 20 seems like way to many at this point.  When we say interns, we really mean experiential learning.

It's a higher level of the student community pyramid. As we continue to grow every segment of the pyramid, and continue to figure out tools to enable students to easily increase their participation, this number will grow.

Hopefully, we can create another level to the pyramid so that unpaid interns can move to freelance pirate status and build businesses of their own.
1000 student generated blogsWe never started the Student Blog - it is on the radar for early 2008
100,000 blog views in networkOur total blog views for the year were around 12,500. So we were off by just a few :) We were overly ambitious newbies. Both the Swift Kick and Student Affairs blogs are growing every month, so that is a good sign.
3 conferences with ambassador programsThe goal here was to segue the community that we built online into a real world experience at a conference.  So that we would be running a "camp" in parallel with an established conference. 

The students participating would have special sessions, experiences, and benefits.  They would act as Swift Kick community ambassadors and recruit others into the experience. 

It's still a good idea, we have not tried it yet.
750 Basecamp completed tasks by Q1, 3,000 completed by end of the year We had well over 750 task complete within Basecamp for the year. The problem is, we still are not very good at using Basecamp on a daily basis, but it's vital for effective project management.
400 messages on social networking sites by Q1, 1,600 per year At the time we didn't think we would be doing a lot of our communication on SNS, but now we fully use SNS and often times have booked trainings via Facebook. So it's silly to track the number of messages we create. The next step is for even better integration of Facebook into our other Lego pieces
OPERATIONS:
Complete Salesforce sales flow between all tabs We are closer - but our Salesforce account needs a good clean out and overhaul. There are lots of pieces we still don't use, and there are lots of fields that are collecting dust because they're old.
Salesforce integration with current and new tools We did some more with this - but the push is going to come from other developers and not so much from us making the new tools.

All of our focus is on getting Red Rover to the next stage. We'll come back to tie our various tech systems together.
Create and plan for company logistics (Insurance, S-Corp, Payroll) We filed as an S-corp, didn't looking into insurance, didn't work on a payroll structure, didn't look at company health care (all of which we need to take care of asap)

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