Every three to four months, I like to share my goals retrospective, this time, the 2016 retrospective. But to hit two birds with one stone, this article will not only talk about how this year has been for me, but will also show you an improvement process that you might want to consider.
As someone who works with startups and who has built his own business, I’m fully committed to helping other entrepreneurs in their journey. To see how else I could help other startup founders like you, feel free to share your own personal retrospective below.
Now, let’s get started.
Step 1: Affirm who you are
Before sharing what we’ve done this year, it’s important to remind ourselves who we truly are.
Like what Simon Sinek said in his TED talk, ‘How great leaders inspire action,’ it’s key to start with who you are and why you do what you do, and then to describe yourself to yourself to have a mirror effect. So, let me try to do that here:
“I’m Amaury Khelifi, 34 years old, an expert in IT and an advocate of the startup mindset and entrepreneurial lifestyle. I’ve grown from a student of computer science, to an IT manager in the banking sector, to a founder of a startup, and then to a mentor to other startups. I enjoy every single day of my life, and do as much as I can to help people build and grow their own business.”
I jump out of the bed every morning to help more and more non-technical startup founders avoid classical mistakes that unfortunately lead to failure. Having been the CEO of a failed startup myself, I try to do as much as I can to make sure other CEOs do not suffer the same fate.”
Now that we’ve reminded ourselves of who we are, let’s analyze what we’ve done this year and what we liked and disliked about it. (Remembering who we are sounds weird, but it’s important in order to have that clarity.)
Step 2: Assess what you liked
Review everything you did this year and enjoy your success:
- Working with passionate entrepreneurs is what I truly love about what I do and what excites me the most. Building their startup is key for these people, it’s often a life project and they are committed to put all the energy they have into it.
- Switching from one project to another (different industries, different markets, different founder/team personalities) is something that I really like too.
- Recording videos and live training in English for My CTO Friend, my new online CTO platform for non-tech entrepreneurs, is another challenge that I find myself actually enjoying.
Step 3: Assess what you didn’t like
- Investing too much time in one project. I had a bigger project than usual this year, and being too involved in a project for two to three days a week for months at a time removed the objectivity that I should have when I help startups. Even though it would have been easier for me to make money from only a select number of clients per year, I wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as I had by working with just a few.
- Reaching the maximum productivity that a consultant can handle. In June this year, I was truly overwhelmed and wasn’t able to do anything else than other than work for my clients’ projects.
- Meeting many young entrepreneurs that cannot afford my services who need some help. This is one of the reasons why I built the new online training platform for startups.
Step 4: Review your small goals
- Build a new website: Done.
- Optimize the contact-management system: Roughly done. Not sure if this kind of task will ever get done as there is always some new optimization to do.
- Do my first English conference abroad: Kind of. I did two at the IAU College, an American university with largely American students, but still here in France.
- Build a practical training platform for early-stage startup entrepreneurs: Done. My CTO Friend is now live at myCTOfriend.co.
- Do my first webinar: Done. I’ve done seven so far on Facebook Live to promote My CTO Friend.
- Start a new podcast in English: Done. The podcast is at OutOfStartups.com. Unfortunately, I had to stop a few months later because it was time-consuming. The ROI wasn’t worth it without an online product to promote.
- Write a book: Started. But I changed course and turned it into an online training programinstead.
- Share at least one article every two weeks: Done. But it only lasted throughout the first half of the year. Being overwhelmed in June made me realize that it was no use to drive traffic to the site without a product. So I focused on My CTO Friend content and already have eight new articles ready to publish at the beginning of the year
Step 5: Review your long-term goals
- Develop relationships with venture capitalists (VCs): Started. A few of them sent me some clients, but I didn’t really start working on due diligence analysis with VCs.
- Work more internationally: Done. I have one new client abroad, from San Francisco. Not as much I wanted, but still a good start.
- Build an online business to grow: Building – done; Business – work in progress. The recent myCTOfriend.co platform does not generate revenue yet because I want to test the format with a few startups. There are still a few slots available, if you want to be part of the beta testers. Register to get an exclusive free access at myCTOfriend.co.
Step 6: Evaluate what (kind of) failed
- I didn’t increase the number of clients this year and kept it at 14, but with 35% more work and cash flow.
Step 7: Extract the big lessons
- Perfection doesn’t exist, the only way is improvement. We’ve built the training platform, but even if the feedback has been great, there are still a lot of things that need to be improved.
- It’s hard to stay current in terms of technology, that’s why I keep in mind my Startup CTO Club idea — to build a community of like-minded CTOs around the world and put together the best CTO practices.
- Producing video content is a huge challenge. I still have a lot to improve on, but I’ll get there.
Thanks for being with me in 2016!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this long article. I’d like to give special thanks to the founders and the teams of the 14 startups I worked with this year.
I sincerely look forward to reading your own retrospective and help other entrepreneurs even more in 2017. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and see you in January where we’ll talk about each other’s goals.