Goals for 2016 and reflections on 2015
Last year I made a reflection post about 2014, and that was a great experience for me personally; I want to do the same this year.
Last year I started out the post with the following:
“2014 has been the best year of my life. I say this every year, but it’s comforting to know I can keep saying it.”
Is the same true for 2015?
Mostly yes. But some events have made it impossible to say yes overall.
While 2014 was an especially great year all around, 2015 has been more varied. It has been great for my career, less so for my health. Great for experiences, but I also lost a family member.
Starting out, I want to cover what happened in 2015.
What happened in 2015?
2015 has been quite eventful.
I’ve travelled a lot.
In January I went to Morocco in a Refuga trip (1 week, house with entrepreneurs, working all week), and met 20 great entrepreneurs. After that trip, I decided to become a digital nomad.
I bought tickets for Thailand in April. My plan was to build a very scaleable and international company in 2015, which would allow me to bring a stable income everywhere in the world. After the week in Morocco with like-minded entrepreneurs it became clear I wanted that.
At this stage I already had two quite good consulting gigs, but no other customers for my outsourcing software company, Jarboo.
I took a meeting with both of my existing gigs and told them my plans. Inspired by 4 Hour Work Week, I made it clear: “I love working with you guys, but this is what I am going to do. I already work remotely quite often, and the only difference is I will do that 100%.”
Both said yes. Because I also wanted to focus on my own company, I cut off one of the customers.
US, Mexico and a sick mom
Now, I had already made plans to go to USA and Mexico with my parents which I did in March. Now, this trip was… difficult.
While USA is amazing and it could’ve been a completely wonderful trip, instead it ended like this:
My mom got extremely sick and was hospitalized the whole trip. The planned vacation was just over two weeks, but my parents stayed an extra two weeks until my mom was healthy enough to travel.
It turned out my mom had extremely bad pneumonia combined with very bad heart problems we didn’t know about… not good news.
I continued on the trip myself, and got to see quite of both Florida and the famous Chichen Itza in Mexico:
Starting out as a digital nomad – without a working company
Despite my mom being unwell when she came home, I decided to go to Asia to pursue my digital nomad plan.
And it was great.
Starting out was difficult. Working 10+ hr days in pretty bad co-working spaces, with people you don’t know in a city you don’t know turned out to be difficult. I spent nearly a month in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and tried to fit in.
I just never did.
While Chiang Mai is beautiful:
I just never felt at home.
The food was great. The co-working space was OK. However, while I spoke with a lot of people, I just never found people with whom I had a really good time.
In addition, my own company had significant problems. Working remotely as a freelancer worked extremely well; finding customers for my company, less so.
I decided to take a plane to the Philippines with a small step-over in Hong Kong to meet my uncle’s wife and her family:
The Philippines were better.
I met quite a lot of people from the start-up community, which was significantly more ambitious than in Chiang Mai. I liked the attitude n Philippines better too, despite being in one of the most horrible cities on earth, Manila (pollution, traffic and not recommendable in general).
I had a great month in Manila. I met one of my friends, Matt:
I managed to find a nightclub with a pool inside:
I even managed to find a wonderful beach:
For work, I found a really great (but quite expensive) co-working space in the most wealthy area of Manila:
In Manila I felt somewhat close to home. I met friends. I had fun. It was a good office. People around me were quite ambitious.
Getting my company to work and becoming sick
In addition, I had found a nice guy called Chuck. He was an expert in “B2B sales”, and despite the fact that I was scared of his 150 USD / hr salary , we had 3 hour-long chats about my company, which basically taught me what I never understood before. Just a couple of chats with him made me realize I did so many things the wrong way.
Within 3 weeks after our first chat, I had landed my first three new customers – and since then Jarboo has been a stable success.
So Manila was a success… Well.
One Friday afternoon, I felt a really big pain in my stomach.
Normally I am quite whiny about pain, so I just assumed I was being… whiny.
But it continued. And Saturday night I called my insurance company, which was really clear:
“Go to the hospital.”
Now, I’ve done that before, but I wasn’t alone.
Having extreme pain (basically unbearable), 20 hours away from home and not knowing how serious something is… that is also the reality of being a digital nomad: you can easily become sick and lonely. I didn’t become lonely, but I became quite sick.
After being in the hospital for a couple of days, quite a lot of pills and a lot of surveillance on the food I ate, I was let out – still with a lot of pain which continued. It was first after 1.5 weeks I started to feel well.
In addition, at this stage I really wanted to accelerate my company. That required meeting customers. Where would I find my customers?
So I decided to go home.
This turned out to be a very, very good idea.
My mom still had heart problems. The good news was a pretty simple operation could fix it. So one Sunday night we drove her to the hospital, where she would stay a couple of days. I wasn’t worried, as she had been in the hospital many times before, and nothing ever went even remotely wrong.
We all said goodbye.
Next morning my dad woke me up at 4am:
“Janne (my mom) has passed away.”
I didn’t believe it at first. The procedure had apparently gone well, but now the heart was pumping at full again, it couldn’t sustain it and she died after the doctors fought for half an hour.
That meant my plans to travel out again were replaced by:
Some months of… what happened?
This came as a shock to us all.
In our family we’ve been used to people being sick for a longer period, until they die. Not relatively sudden events like this. This obviously made July and August difficult and less focused on work.
However, because of this I just kept working as a consultant while building my company slowly for 2 months. The only break was a small completely wonderful trip to my uncle’s house in Malaga, Spain:
And a short company trip to Lviv, Ukraine:
During these two months, I had built up quite a lot of traction for my outsourcing startup-company. I could see I could barely generate enough revenue to survive, so I cancelled my only existing freelancing gig at Saxo, and became a full-time “entrepreneur”.
I’ve done this for 4 months now, and it has been amazing. The money has been really fine (more than enough to survive), more than 20 freelancers are getting tasks every month and many have me as 100% of their working source.
However, when I travel, things tend to…. change.
I decided to continue the digital nomad lifestyle, and went to Romania.
Despite the picture showing a beach, I worked really, really hard. I wanted to make Jarboo become a great self-sustainable company.
However, one thing became clear to me.
Jarboo was a great company. I could really help people, and it made a big difference in the customers’ companies. But it would be impossible to scale it 100x, and someday sell it for 100 million USD.
At the same time, I had a very interesting customer called Monera. They were a startup spending quite a lot of money, and the more I worked with them, the more I liked the idea.
While sitting in Berlin (I grew tired of Romania), I started discussing becoming a co-founder with the company. Which I did.
Suddenly I was working in two companies! As if I wasn’t busy enough.
Working with Monera and the founder, Max, has been … crazy. I’ve learned a lot with regards to sales (especially B2B), marketing, how to set-up meeting, budgets, getting investors and probably a big range of other things I never really thought of before.
I look at the calendar and it says 2.5 months have past. Yet, it feels like a week.
But what I’ve learned the last 2.5 months is invaluable. No matter what happens with Monera or Jarboo, whatever I am doing, will be done very different. The learnings I’ve had the last months are crazy.
I also moved into an extremely nice apartment on Østerbro with my earlier roommate Martin:
This is by far the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in… And it has been an extreme pleasure.
Takeaways of 2015
- I travelled a lot. I just tried to compile the list: Morocco, USA, Mexico, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Romania, Germany, Spain and Ukraine. A pretty aggressive list – something I won’t even try to beat next year!
- Managed to build a successful company. Building from basically nothing, I had a company generating a very solid profit. I would be able to live very decently in any city of the world and work remotely – something I’ve dreamt off since I was 18 years old
- Selling to international customers. I’ve always had the dream to try to sell to more than Danish customers. Around 35% of the revenue of Jarboo comes from international clients
- I met more interesting people this year than any before. I’ve crossed paths with an extreme amount of interesting people this year. I’ve made more friends than ever before. I’ve learned more than ever before.
- Living intensely gives you stress. 2015 has been stressful. My mom’s death, jumping into becoming a digital nomad, building a company and becoming a co-founder of Monera…
I haven’t lived healthy. I have grown an addiction to soda. I eat unhealthy. I sit down most of the day.
- Sportswise has been quite good. I’ve been running on average 2-3 times a week, been moving for at least an hour 80% of all days and did my yearly 220km biking trip from West Jutland to Ølstykke in one day.
- Joined a potentially very big startup. Monera is the most crazy thing I’ve been a part of. The potential is huge, it’s super fun and I really think this can be the next big thing 🙂
- Tried to live in a “penthouse-like” apartment. The apartment on Østerbro has been the most awesome and beautiful place I have lived in for a long while. Amazing to try.
At this stage of writing, I opened my old post: “Goals for 2015”. Back then I wrote I wanted to have less goals, and focus on these three things:
- A healthy body
- Jarboo is ready for (international) scaling
- Geographic independence
By looking at this, I would score it a 2.5 / 3.0.
- Career and job-wise, I’ve done much better than I could hope for.
- I did have all the options for geographic independence, but decided to skip it after trying it.
- The input into my mouth has not been healthy, but I’ve been doing quite a lot of sports and movement.
Digging a bit into my original health-goal, however, it’s pretty easy to tell I’ve failed. The original post said:
Only the active training has been kept.
Work took over 😉
Guess I have to score 2 out of 3.
Goals for 2016
The next couple of years will be amazing, but exhausting.
No matter what, my “biggest goal” is to build a 100+ mio USD company. If that is Monera or Jarboo, I’ve no idea. Right now it seems like Monera is the best guess.
I cannot explain why this is my goal. It has not much to do with the figure of the money. I am just deeply thrilled for the ride. For the hirings. For the crazy growth. For the learnings. For all the things that go wrong. For all the things that succeed.
While this goal is primary, I have some secondary but extremely important subgoals I really want to focus upon the next 5 years (will be expanded upon):
- Work hard to get closer to 100 mio USD exit
- Live a very healthy lifestyle.
- Experience more “mini-adventures” and “adventures”.
- Save money for an early retirement
- Start work by 9am or earlier
- Become much smarter by reading books and learning from top experts in their fields.
I personally believe the shared keyword is discipline and focus on greater actions.
While discipline is quite obvious, greater actions are not.
You can either spend your whole Saturday watching Netflix, or you can rent a horse and try to ride. You can either buy a cheap cake in Netto, or you can find a recipe online and try to bake it yourself. You can either run in the fitness center, or you can try to run in a new forest.
Or…You can either work on your side project, or try to get an investment from a business angle and hire 3 people to help you.
I sincerely believe a lot in greater actions. And this will be a strong focus in 2016 for me.
Starting out, I’ve already signed up for a half marathon and ran 11km last week. I’ve made a list of 50 “new things to try”, and plotted in the first three months in my calendar. I’ve made a list of the books to read the next 3 months.
I believe I am ready. Ready to rock 2016. Ready to have the best year of my life.