Hey there, I'm Justin Cooke, partner at Empire Flippers and host of the Empire Flippers Podcast. I've been mostly lurking here, but I wanted to get more involved in the community through 2014 and, hopefully, share some of our successes and failures along the way to help out. Story My business partner and I live and run our business from Davao City, Philippines after we "outsourced ourselves" from our previous corporate jobs in the US. We started our own outsourcing company and had our previous employer as our first client. Towards the end of 2010, we ended up losing that first client and needed to find something to do with the loyal/talented crew we had in the Philippines, which marked the beginning of our IM journey. You can read more about our story here, listen to this podcast episode, or find out more about baselining your business in the Philippines. We started out building small niche websites and selling those sites off via Flippa. At the time, this wasn't our main business and we were much more open about the process and what we were up to on our blog. Our sharing of information through 2011/2012 resonated with people and we started to attract quite a few readers/listeners/customers during that time. In 2013, we switched direction a bit with a rebrand and wanted to focus more on the business aspects of what we were doing and provide an opportunity for others to list their valuable websites for sale with us. We opened up our products/services and brokering in 2013 and have watched those two sections grow as stated in our monthly reports. We spent most of the second half of 2013 building infrastructure that would support significant growth. We grew by around 40% from the previous year, pulling in somewhere around $600K total for 2013. (I don't have the final figures yet for Dec, 2013) Focus We need to grow by around 65% to hit our revenue goals for 2014. My business partner and I are both fully committed to re-investing any additional profits from the business back into growth (customer acquisition, staff, infrastructure, etc.) so I think we've got a shot. Here are the areas we plan to focus on to accomplish this: $10K - $100K Brokered Sites - We're aggressively targeting both sellers and sites in this area through 2014. We'll be starting off the year with quite a few new and varied sites for sale to help us accomplish this and our plan is to "own" this section of the market by the end of the y ear. Products/Services - We've done well adding these in 2013 and we're planning to test additional offers this year. We've had a few winners (Starter Packs, Site Listings, KW Research, etc.) and some losers (Site Maintenance, Mobile Apps, etc.). It's relatively easy to put together new products/services and test the market. We'll dump the losers and keep the winners. Creating More Sites For Ourselves - We got our start creating smaller niche sites that would earn anywhere from $3 - $300 per month, but we'd like to move up the value chain here. My business partner is testing out some new strategies that should improve our earnings per site and, hopefully, improve the margins and ROI on the sites we create. We're still testing through this, though. Tactics This section is likely to change as we test through what's working, what's not, etc. Still, I thought it might be interesting to discuss how we plan to add more readers/listeners and, ultimately, customers in 2014. More Apprenticeships - We've hired Interns/Apprentices to come out to the Philippines to work with us and I expect that to continue and even grow in 2014. We understand the need to build a strong team. Some we'll be bringing out here to work with us while others might be in a remote position. (Focuses: Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Paid Traffic) Interviews + Guest Posts - Nothing ground breaking here, but putting your message in front of the right audience is still a useful strategy. We know that we've got strong engagement once others are exposed to our brand, so getting ourselves in front of as many potential readers/listeners as possible will help us find our "true fans". Improved Conversions - Getting more traffic is great, but keeping customers around is even better. In the end of 2013, we revamped our email lists and auto-responders to allow readers to specify the content they want to hear. (Site building, site buying, or site selling) They can choose from any/all of those categories so that we can deliver the right message at the right time. The first few months of 2014 will be spent improving our on-site conversions to email, products, etc. We have our marketing apprentice working on this now, but we're considering bringing out a CRO apprentice in Q2 to specialize. Paid Traffic - More specifically, we'll be starting a remarketing/retargeting campaign for those who have visited our marketplace, product pages, etc. We'll have a "general" retargeting campaign for anyone who's been to our site and specific (builders/buyers/sellers) campaign with messaging, depending on their interests and where they've visited on the site. We're also looking at FB marketing and (possibly?) SoloAds. Free Tools - We spent thousands creating an ebook that we then gave away for free. This led to more than 40K downloads and an awesome opportunity to spread our brand. We also created a Niche Profit Calculator which has been shared here on BHW and other places a few times, driving new potential customers to EF. We plan to create more of these free tools through 2014 and get them shared. (Any ideas you'd like to see?) I see free tools/software as excellent lead magnets if they're truly helpful/valuable. Challenges I think we've got a real shot at hitting this goal in 2014, but it's not going to come easy. There are some challenges in our business and our plan that we'll have to overcome. Shift From Task-Based To Project-Based Management - My business partner and I have run teams in the US and Philippines, but it's always been task-based management. We're slowly-but-surely moving ourselves up the value chain in our business and having others take on our work, but it remains difficult and there are things in your biz that are just hard to give up. We'll really have to grow here to make this happen - we need a strong middle-management team to achieve our goals. ROI-Focused Spending - It helps that we're willing to reinvest additional profits into growth, but choosing the RIGHT spend is critical. Making sure we have the tools in place to measure all of our marketing costs will keep us from blowing cash on unprofitable ventures and allow us to re-direct funds towards those that are crushing it. Vision-Based Team Building - To build a strong, engaged team...we need to be better at sharing and inspiring our vision for the company in others. This doesn't come naturally to us and there's some learning we'll have to do. We've spent much more time towards the end of 2013 discussing and laying out our vision, though, and getting buy-in from our newest team members in 2014 will be the goal. I'll update this thread at least once a month in 2014 or as new things develop. I'll share where we're at, the good and the bad, etc. I hope you find some inspiration from our journey that you can apply to your own business. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like and I'll do my best to answer them. If you have any ideas, shares, or tips that you think would be helpful/useful we'd be happy to hear those as well! tl;dr - We brought in around $600K in 2013 and want to drive that to break $1MM in 2014. We'll be sharing our strategy, tactics, successes, and failures in this thread throughout the year.