Episode 17

How to do annual planning that actually works

with Sonny Byrd

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In this episode Adam (@AdamVazquez) and Carlton (@CarltonRiffel) are joined by Sonny Byrd (@sonnybyrd) who Owns and Operates several small businesses including JoinGrey.com and Rockreturns.com. Sonny gives us a real-life look at the transition from marketer to operator and shares the practical steps for how he manages annual planning for all of his business interests. 

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Show notes:

* (3:38) Heard Hot Takes

* (6:46) Have You Heard

* (10:20) How Sonny went from acquired to acquirer 

* (16:17) Using content to connect with investors and customers

* (29:12) Doing annual planning that actually works

* (37:54) Specific steps to building a 10 year plan

Links & Resources: 

 

Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Automated Transcription – May contain errors

Adam Vazquez 00:05
Our guest today is an entrepreneur, marketer and now Small Business investor named sunny bird and I’m so excited to introduce you all to him. Sonny has led marketing for startups co-founded and sold a company called beta box and now operates several ecom businesses. I met Sonny fairly recently on Twitter before realizing that we actually live in the same city and previously had been co-workers at an ad agency together but but never realized it. And so since we met, decided to have Sunday on to come share his story of going from marketer to founder to small business operator, how he leverages content to grow his various businesses. And most interestingly, I think we got into Sunday sharing his detailed process of annual planning and he did it in a way and uses a format that I think you’ll find very simple and very helpful, especially at this time of year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know sunny and have already learned a lot from him. Now let’s get into this episode with Sunny bird.

Adam Vazquez 01:25
Welcome back into content is for closers. This is our final Pen Ultimate no ultimate. I don’t know the exact terminology on that. But this is the final episode of the year and essentially season three. That’s what we call this right? Season.

Carlton Riffel 01:43
Yeah, wrapping up season three. So season three is Adams wearing his hat. It’s cold outside. Apparently

Adam Vazquez 01:51
very cold outside. I also had this hat at my table when I started recording. So that had a lot to do with it. But very exciting episode today with Sunny bird. And I think we get we get into a bunch of different things with Sunny he has been all over the place. Weirdly, Carlton kind of mentioned the episode but met him on Twitter found out we live in the same city and then found out on top of that we were both working at the same ad agency at the same time. Several years back. So like just weird layers. Yeah, Destiny. Yeah, super suit. And I feel like the episode today hopefully showed some of that we have a lot just a very easy casual conversation. But but brought out I think a lot of helpful stuff around how Sonny is not in an ad agency guy, his his one of his companies got acquired by an agency. He’s a pretty pure operator. And so for those of you who are running businesses, and asking the question, what does it actually look like to use content? How do you plan on that? All those sorts of things? I think it’s a good episode for that. What do you think about it?

Carlton Riffel 02:48
Oh, it’s great man, I absolutely loved some of the details that he got into just the practical details at the end of the show, where he came down, like, this is what you should do if you’re planning if you’re trying to, you know, formulate a little bit of a plan. And I loved how to he kind of changed over time. Like he wasn’t always a planning guy. He wasn’t always trying to like figure out what all was going to happen that year. But I think there’s wisdom in that, as you get older, starting to look out a little bit further ahead and say, what are the things I have to get done by this quarter, the end of this quarter, and then breaking that into smaller and smaller chunks to get your daily? You know, your daily tasks list based off those goals?

Adam Vazquez 03:26
Yeah, that was great. All right. So what do you have for us in terms of in terms of her takes?

Carlton Riffel 03:31
Yeah, so in case anyone forgot, we’re doing hot takes hot heard tags, you know, we can be controversial and get and get more live sound bites? Sure. Yeah. Yeah, likes good controversy. So there’s a little bit of a chicken and egg problem with content in particular, there is the audience and there is the person that’s creating that content. And sometimes people are successful, not because they created great content, but because they already had an audience. And then sometime, right, people would just get the audience because they create great content over and over and over. So what would your hot take be? Is it more important to work on building the idea for the content first, and making sure it’s good? Or just starting to publish? And get, you know, a bunch of content out there? To start building your audience?

Adam Vazquez 04:20
I guess I would say it depends on your objective, obviously, but my bet would be towards you know, this is towards like, just doing the things starting whatever it is writing it, recording it. And I’ve done that, too, in a bad way, multiple times. So I see the value of the other side. But for me, the process of making content has more to do with what I learned which in addition to the actual outcome of it, and so you know, if I’m just waiting until I have an audience or waiting until there’s a perfect message, then I lose that benefit of of the actual creation process. So I think if I had to pick I’d probably pick pick that side. What about you?

Carlton Riffel 05:00
Gotcha. Yeah. So maybe it’s not super hard to take. But I think, for me, I would place more of an emphasis on consistency around what the audience needs. And once you know, you know, me, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I like to have everything that I say and do be like, very buttoned up and polished, and I hate Yeah, you know, being exposed prematurely with my ideas and things. So yeah, like to kind of calculate a little bit more and theorize about what would what would help move the needle the most, and then start publishing based on that, that plan.

Adam Vazquez 05:36
Right, and I think there’s a blend there, right, because like, like I said, we’ve done in the past my, my gut, where we just start publishing, and then we realized quickly, this is the wrong direction, concept, whatever. And we’ve, I mean, we have tabled ideas, I’d say on, you know, from, from your perspective, that we just never really got momentum behind. I mean, what I’m thinking of is content lab, where, and because we were trying to be so precise, so it’s probably some blend in the middle. But I feel like what Sonny described today is a great process for being able to have enough planning while taking action and testing what’s what’s working at same

Carlton Riffel 06:14
time, like personally discovering what’s what’s good. And then you kind of capitalize on that publicly, once you kind of suss it out and figure out what works

Adam Vazquez 06:24
for sure. Okay, so before we get to him, though, this is our last Have you heard of the year it’s an important one I feel like it’s people are this this episode is going to be on the feed for a while, we should note that we’re not going to be publishing week one of January, we’re working on season three, and doing some prep work towards that. So this was gonna be on there for a while Carlson, what are you gonna leave the people with

Carlton Riffel 06:45
now that you put all this pressure on me, I’m like, looking back at my list and thinking.

Adam Vazquez 06:50
If you’re not watching the video, Carlton’s eyes started shifting super quick, like

Carlton Riffel 06:55
put all that pressure on. Yeah, this meeting, hopefully be better than like Costco like, like last week, which did you see that their stock actually went up by like 5%. In the day after the herd effects, the herd effect herd bump people hurt. Anyways, I think it was related to something else. I’m gonna go with principles Dot Design. So principles Dot Design is basically an open source collection of design principles. So it’s got everything from businesses that you know and love to businesses that you’ve never heard of, it basically just takes to design systems and takes their business, like design values, and puts them all in one place in a really clean design. So sometimes if I’m like trying to think through an idea, I just go there and kind of like take a first principles approach to developing the idea. And looking at some of those core those values around what you know what design should be, and what really matters when it comes to the the basic principles of design. So that’s just one of my favorite sites for for looking at design principles. How about you? What’s your school after? You heard of this last year?

Adam Vazquez 08:00
Yeah, I’ll give my I just one question on that. Is it purely visual design?

Carlton Riffel 08:03
No, we’re actually so it’s actually like, words, there’s very, very, very little imagery on the entire site. It’s just one of the core values around what good design should be. So yeah, you know, things like accessibility or things like good design is, you know, fill in the blank.

Adam Vazquez 08:23
Yeah, that’s cool. That’s a good one to leave him with. I feel like you can do a lot with that one. I’m going completely different direction. I mentioned it during the episode, but I am currently reading a book called travels with Charlie in search of America by John Steinbeck. Yeah, and it’s not your normal Steinbeck book. It’s essentially just his journal as he drove around the country with his dog in this souped up truck that he he put a camper on the back of essentially. And I don’t know why it’s just completely I can’t go to sleep at night without reading this book. It’s it’s just completely captured my imagination maybe because we spend so much time on digital stuff. But yeah, if you’re looking for a book over the holiday, something to kind of get some creative juices going. Reading about somebody else going and doing this type of trip for me has been has been enjoyable. So

Carlton Riffel 09:10
is it broken up like daily journalism, or how does he do that?

Adam Vazquez 09:13
It’s not it’s it’s kind of breaks it up loosely by like geolocation. Okay, but it’s just a book. So the chapters are not necessarily you know, he just tells you his story so far. He just left the White Mountains and is headed back down into Maine so I’m early but it’s been really good so far.

Carlton Riffel 09:32
Hey, well, with that let’s jump to the episode with Sunny.

Adam Vazquez 09:44
Alright, we’ve got sunny bird here on the show. Sunny thanks for joining us and thanks for withstanding the Riverside six seconds of awkward silence that we just went through together.

Sonny Byrd 09:54
It was truly painful, but we’ve made it through you know, and I think we’ve been through a hardship together now. It’s going to set us up for a better conversation. So we’re all for it, because we’re better for it.

Adam Vazquez 10:05
For those of you that don’t that don’t know, and in case for somebody from Riverside hears this, for some reason, there’s an unbearable six seconds that you have to wait once you start recording. And so you’re just like, making uncomfortable eye contact for that entire amount of time. But anyway, that’s neither here, nor there. We’re really excited to have you on Sunday. And obviously, you know, you and I just met in person, not not a week ago, or I guess, a week ago, but I’ve have talked on Twitter before and have like, weirdly shared backgrounds in the past. So I guess, before we get too deep, maybe he just give the 30 seconds, you know, how do we get here?

Sonny Byrd 10:43
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, 30 seconds. I’m just, I’m just kind of a weird entrepreneur, my path is not terribly linear. I’ve done about everything you can do as an entrepreneur, I’ve started like a venture backed tech company. I’ve started ecommerce side projects, I’ve worked in SAS, I’ve worked in apps, you know, in any role that I’ve ever had, has generally been around marketing, and growth. And yeah, I’ve been a founder in my own right for a decade now. And most recently, wrapping up the bio, I’ve gotten more and more interested in profitable internet based businesses, owning multiple or acquiring these businesses and implementing systems to kind of keep them running. So right now, I currently I own and operate two companies. While I’m kind of trying to grow that empire a bit.

Adam Vazquez 11:35
Yeah, yeah, I’m excited for the audience to hear from you. Because a lot of the people who listen are marketers who want to own multiple businesses or a business or owners themselves who maybe own a business or two but but haven’t been able to figure out how content can really materially affect their business, but just it just to add some color to the background you just gave Sunday, and I got connected on Twitter, at some point, I don’t even really know how. And I was like, Oh, this guy’s cool. He’s got some cool things to say. And overtime, kind of where his interacting with his with his stuff, and then realize, Oh, he’s in Greenville, which is weird. That’s where I’m at, in Greenville, South Carolina, kept kept following kept seeing some things. And then at one point, you wrote about your experience working at VaynerMedia. And I was like, Wait, what is this? Because no one here else that I know, has worked at Vayner aside from me, and then it turns out, we both were there at the same time. So just lots of strange things that has been fun to kind of get to know.

Sonny Byrd 12:31
So we’ve got to be the only two Vayner alum in Greenville. Right?

Adam Vazquez 12:35
You would think we’d know. But there’s, you know, just under rocks. So anyway, obviously, with all of that, as a background, you understand, you have a unique perspective, I’d say on content, I guess, just generally, how do you feel like content has impacted the way that you operate? Whether it could be starting a business or now running these two businesses? How does your own content production affect those things?

Sonny Byrd 13:02
I mean, my my view of one of my views of content is that and as I’ve progressed as an entrepreneur, before I ever do anything, because I’m the guy who thinks every idea sounds amazing. Every single idea, I’m like, I love it, I want to start that company, right at the throttle myself. So so what I do before I do anything in business, I spend a lot of time like, just kind of fleshing out and validating what the thing is. And pretty much it looks like socializing content. I write a lot about what I’m thinking about what the idea is, I’ve got my own little kind of like weekly podcast where I say, Hey, here’s an idea that I’m working on. It’s literally just like a weekly personal journal. Like, here’s everything I did this week. And here’s what’s going on. Yeah, I think like 12 people listened to it. So. So really blowing up. Yeah. But yeah, so that’s one view of like, I create and socialize content about any idea or business initiative on the front end, to collect feedback and to see who in my network is interested and find investors or mentors, or whatever the case may be. The next view of content is that, of course, like, all of my businesses are driven by content, whether it’s extensive email marketing content, SMS, web based content on our sites, like I kind of view every online business as secretly a media production company, right? Like you got to create ad campaigns every two weeks, you got to update your homepage every month, you got to have promotional stuff, you got to have an editorial calendar for the whole year. So I kind of just like content is kind of just the gasoline in my world. And then the last thing that, you know has happened for me with content is it’s only been about three, four months. But I took to Twitter and basically said, Hey, I’m here, and I’m going to be sharing everything I can share pretty much daily. And that’s a newer thing for me, like, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, that’s just kind of like my deepest secret. It’s like, there’s something in me that’s just like, I want to be a writer. I’m not a writer. I mean, I’m not a qualified writer for whatever. But yeah, I’ve been publishing threads about stuff that I do when I’m working on deals, I’ve done even real estate investments. I’ve just been putting it all out there. And that has been an incredibly profound experience like that. It’s just been a magnet, like bringing people into my inbox, you know, even you, for example, like you and I would have never met had I not started my, hey, I’m a content guy on Twitter. And that’s what kind of brought us together. But it’s got me an inbox full of DMS, about opportunities, about ideas, whatever. So yeah, content is I frankly, I sit around writing for like, half my time right now.

Adam Vazquez 16:01
Really? Okay. So super interesting. All right. Well, on a few things there. So first, in the first part of that you talked about content being essentially like a network builder, you want to you want to build your or find your future founders, investors, etc. I always hear people talk about that. And I think it’s something that if you’re just listening, and you haven’t built a business yet, it’s easy to be like, but how, like, how do you just finding investors? Where are you just finding? So walk us through that a little bit? Like, is it something where you’re bringing on people you already know, are interested? How are you seeding that those platforms so that the conversations or the content that you put out, actually brings you benefit back? Does that make sense?

Sonny Byrd 16:42
Yeah, it’s a tricky question. Because there’s an element I’ve been, I’ve been hacking away for, like, almost 15 years, that this sort of business thing. And so I don’t have like a, you know, mega network, but I’ve got an established network. And I’ve got people that I’ve known in various industries for many years. So I have that going. For me, I have kind of like an intact network. But in terms of like, literally how to use content to bring things to me. I think that people overthink content too much, because I know I have for years, like I was paralyzed from publishing anything, because I’m like, oh, it’s not good enough. Or I’m not an expert, or whatever. Let me give some concrete examples, like, literally posted a thread that said, Hey, I’ve got a four and a half million dollar acquisition deal that hit my inbox. Here’s all the reasons why I think it’s interesting, if anybody wants to talk about it hit me up. And just something as simple as that. Because I don’t need 10,000 people to see that. Right. I need like three people to see that the right three people to see that. Yeah. And and it worked. Right. And so that’s, that’s what I mean, like, content gives me oxygen, because, okay, I’ve got this idea for a deal, right? It’s a $4 million deal, whatever. Within a day of posting that thing on Twitter. I have like five calls scheduled for feedback for input for how should you structure the deal? How should you lend against it, like blah, blah, blah. So my analogy is that publishing something is like shooting up a bat signal. On top of Gotham, it’s like, you shine it out there. You don’t know who’s gonna see it, but like, you just you just need the one. Batman to see it.

Adam Vazquez 18:35
Yeah, I love that. That’s a good analogy. So maybe flipping from that from the sort of the macro vision of what it means or how you use it. Now you said you spend half your day or whatever a significant part of your day writing or creating? What’s that process look like? Is it literally just like stream of conscious Is it is it tied to specific goals you have like, how are you doing that? Creation?

Sonny Byrd 18:59
Yeah, so for me personally, it every morning for the first you know, few hours of the day, has a gradual progression from like, really personal, just kind of like life development type of work, like journaling, stream of conscious journaling, what’s on my mind like that. That’s how I usually start. And then I progress over the next couple of hours into more like, professionally oriented stuff. So I’ll give you a quick example. Today, I started out journaling, that’s basically every single day. That’s like my rule. That takes like 30 minutes, right? And then I switch over into some other writing that is actually kind of like creative writing. Just just something I’m working on has nothing really to do with my businesses, etc. And then went from there into publishing a thread about e commerce and lifetime value of customers and how all the variables the E commerce formula come together, right. So the writing progress from the journal up to like a very kind of professionally oriented ecommerce, econ printer thread that I put on Twitter. Now, the reason why I’m doing that is because I have an idea to make a 30 day email program that would be like a beginner ecommerce accelerator, day one, this topic, day two lifetime value day three conversion rate, right and going through like a 30 day progression. So what I did today for my content production, is I said, let me write up day one of that 30 Day sequence, publish it on Twitter, and then the tag is, hey, I’m thinking about building this 30 Day e commerce accelerator thing completely free, just one email a day for a month. And this is what would make up the first email of that sequence. What do you think? Right? So that’s kind of a typical progression for me from journaling at 8:30am, up through trying to get something useful or valuable out there, in kind of my business lanes. Now, I may go further from there and be writing up an email marketing promotion for my ecommerce business or sales template email for my b2b business, like, whatever.

Adam Vazquez 21:12
I love that. So you’re kind of, you’re doing the personal stuff, and then you’re sort of developing and testing in real time, the the longer term stuff, as you’re compiling, is that normal to like, publish it and put it out on Twitter and be like, Hey, give me your feedback, or is that just because this this worked here? For you?

Sonny Byrd 21:29
That’s normal for me that Yeah, and you know, you don’t, you don’t always get a ton of feedback, you don’t always get a lot of engagement. But I think, you know, for Twitter, specifically, the ethos of the platform is fueled by vulnerability, vulnerability, to build in public, share your work share as you go. And so that’s just, that’s just kind of my approach to it. It’s like, Hey, I’m working on this. I’m, like, 5% of the way there. Here’s what I’m thinking, you know, I put out an idea for like a paid online kind, of course, that I would lead. And I literally wrote up, like a brief of here’s what this course would be. And it’s kind of about 10, axing your E commerce business, and here’s the playbook, put it on Twitter and was like, I think I would charge four or five grand for this, anybody interested? And 15 people were like, I want to do this, right. So so I haven’t actually kicked that off. It’s not a business yet. I haven’t taken anyone’s money. But again, just evidence, like I’m continually just sort of putting ideas out there testing different things give a little response, seeing where it goes.

Adam Vazquez 22:37
I love that I love the idea of kind of testing and then seeding ideas in the future. And obviously, you’re able to do that now with your your Twitter following is of a size where you can do that. I can’t remember. What is it? 3000 5000 10,000 3000 3000? Yeah, so quite Yeah, I mean, but they’re all there for that reason to where you can, you can engage with that. But like you said, that’s, that’s been built over time. Okay, I would, I would say the other thing that I really appreciate about you is, obviously all of your thoughts on building a small business, operating, etc. And then I also look at you as like a curator, like, sometimes especially earlier this fall, I was building out a list, which is how I use Twitter. I don’t I don’t really follow people. I mean, unless I like personally know them. This is my thing. And I was trying to figure out who all the SMB folks I should follow are so went to your you and a bunch of other people’s but your profile and saw, okay, he’s engaging or interacting with these folks. So on the consumption side, and it could be Twitter, not Twitter, what what are you what are you engaging with right now that’s making you better? Or Who are you looking to? What are you seeing this that’s helping you? Yeah, well, so

Sonny Byrd 23:46
organically, I fell into a Twitter gang. So this was unexpected, you know, like, I didn’t, I didn’t know anybody on Twitter. Like I wasn’t, I didn’t have like a network on Twitter or anything like that. But it just kind of quickly evolved. It’s like, the same 10 People were loving my early posts. And this little group emerged. And like, we literally are having like a holiday zoom call where we’re all getting together. So yeah, so that’s been cool. So we all support each other, we consume each other stuff. And that’s, for example, how if you, you know, looked at my Twitter, you might have found six or eight other people that I’m sort of affiliated with a little Twitter gang.

Adam Vazquez 24:29
I love that I didn’t even I’ve never heard of a Twitter cartel, but I’m all in on them now.

Sonny Byrd 24:33
Yeah, yeah. But I mean, in terms of the other content that I consume, so I try to be very, very careful about content consumption these days. Like I’m spent, I spent my all my 20s Reading shit online. 24/7. Right. So now I try to be real careful. I try to I call it so the content that I consume. I call it source material. I want it to be something that’s like quite foundational. That is going to kind of inspire me or serve as a jumping off point for something as opposed to being like just consumption for personal entertainment purposes. So I’ll give you a few examples. One of my most important, I guess, influences right now is a guy called David Perel or Perell. David corral. Yeah, so he’s got this online school called rite of passage. And he basically publishes two emails a week of, you know, these are the things I’m thinking about, these are the things I’m learning about. And I just like him, I like his stuff. I like his vibe. So he’s somebody I follow, like, and I consume very closely, and it inspires me and gives me ideas and such.

Adam Vazquez 25:42
Have you done the course?

Sonny Byrd 25:43
I’ve not done the course. Okay. I aspire to and I may do it maybe this year and one of the future cohorts? I’m not sure.

Adam Vazquez 25:51
Yeah, it seems like and maybe this is just his marketing that he does so well. But like graduating from that course the alumni from that course you immediately become a prolific content creator or I mean that’s that’s at least what it appears like it’s really think Paki McCormick did it. Show a bunch of folks who are really just creating at a high level now. So that’s, that’s something I’d like to do that as well. That’s cool. What else? Anything anybody else off the top?

Sonny Byrd 26:16
There’s one podcast that I’m kind of just religiously hooked on, which is my first million. I think that that pods probably quite popular with I don’t know, folks in our kind of headspace. But yeah, yeah, for sure. They’re funny, and it’s like really entertaining, but I get a lot of inspiration from whatever they’re talking about, or if they have a guest. Like I always find that after I listen to one of their episodes. I’m like feverishly wanting to like write down if Oh, you had this. Remember this thing? You know? So yeah, I look for content that does that for me. So of course, like I follow Balaji and navall. Like, anywhere they are on the internet, and read books, dude. Like I again, source material. Right now I’m reading a book called wonder book by Jeff Van meer Vandermeer. It’s an illustrated guide to writing fiction. So I’m always trying to have something like that around. It’s kind of inspiring me and driving some creativity.

Adam Vazquez 27:13
Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, the my first million stuff is a big, huge, obviously a huge fan over here. I feel like it’s one of my goals in life. I don’t really necessarily want to be on the show. But if I were on the show, what I would be so depressed and so disappointed if Sam didn’t say that our conversation was badass at the end of it. Like I feel like that’s a stamp of approval that you have to have. I just what you just said reminded me I’m reading this was I think a recommendation from them are another show I saw recently but travels with Charlie in search of America by John Steinbeck. Have you ever heard of that? Yeah. So it’s not his it’s just like a memoir of when he took a trip around the country. And its trolleys his dog, right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s pretty funny and interesting. But I’ve been been enjoying that for more of the creative stuff. Cool.

Sonny Byrd 28:03
You know, if, you know, there’s one other thing in that topic that was just mind blowing to me. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but they published, sort of edited version of Steinbeck’s journal that he kept during the time that he wrote Grapes of Wrath. I’ve ever seen that. Dude, it’s sick. Cuz you know, of course, in hindsight Grapes of Wrath, one of the most legendary books of our, you know, world. Yeah. And you get to see behind the scenes, literally his daily journaling of like, what was going on what was on his mind, and he had bad days and days where he couldn’t write and the Grapes of Wrath, like it’s one of the best books of all time. It was a really good read.

Adam Vazquez 28:45
I know, I just wrote it down to to check it out. I feel like and we talked about this, that experience is such a natural part of running, maintaining, operating, starting, whatever, really any type of business. But I think, especially with internet businesses, where we’re not necessarily out moving, you know, cutting down trees, so there’s more time to ruminate and be in your head at times. That that peaks and valleys is something that I’ve definitely struggled with. And I think it’d be interesting to read someone who, you know, is this prolific writer as he is talking about that too. That’d be cool. You don’t know what it’s called? Do I can just google now.

Sonny Byrd 29:22
It’s like journal John Steinbeck during Grapes of Wrath. And you’ll?

Adam Vazquez 29:26
I’ll find it and I’ll link it in the show notes as well. If anybody else is interested. Cool, super helpful, I guess content stuff aside, just you’ve got a million things going on. You’ve got the building. You’ve got the EECOM company, you’ve got other maybe real estate or business deals going on what’s got you most excited for 2022? We’re talking right now. Second week of December 3 week of December. Yeah. So just you know, calendar is about to flip. What do you have on the horizon?

Sonny Byrd 29:52
Well, I’m glad you asked that. Because I just spent yesterday like three, four hours Working on my kind of annual plan, which I’ve not always been a big planner, that’s never really been a thing for me, because I feel like all the best things that have ever happened to me have come from not following a plan, but taking Kirby turns. But I guess maybe I’m a bit older now or something. So I’ve taken to planning. And like David Parral, publishes his annual reviews and his annual goals. So 2022, I am super looking forward to really optimistic, and I’ve got a few different priorities that are sort of personal and business. I mean, the table stakes is I think I’m going to double my ecommerce business. And that’s, that’s the goal, like to get us up north of a million dollars in revenue in 2022. Okay, because my company’s very lean, you know, it’s, it’s me part time, and then one full time person. And that’s it. So if I can keep boosting those numbers, I would have like a really nice, just scenario on my hands,

Adam Vazquez 31:06
and have to incur costs in order to do that, or is it that that will be the staff if your now or at a million or 3 million or whatever?

Sonny Byrd 31:15
Yeah, so that’s the thing is, I think, to get us to a million next year, we can do that just with what we currently have cool without investing and you know, hiring a bunch of people and hiring an agency and yada, yada. That’s kind of my prerogative these days, instead of shooting for huge growth, unlike Let’s shoot for small, super profitable growth, kind of just maintaining what we’ve been building here. Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the goals for 2020 to another goal is, I really want to get into teaching somehow. And I don’t know what that looks like. But I’ve taken a lot of online courses over the years that have been really transformative for me. And I have a hunch that I have some, like, e commerce online university inside me, I tend to be a good teacher. And so I’m experimenting with starting in January, I’ve put together a group of ecommerce owners doing less than a million in annual sales. And we are all as a cohort going to double our own business together. And I just find that I just think this is going to be such an interesting experience experiment. And so the idea is that we will co create a 2x playbook as we go over the course of a few months. And we’ll each be sharing Oh, well, here’s what worked on my side, oh, hey, I added this email sequence. And here’s the results, right. So we’re all exchanging tactics, holding each other accountability for accountable for doubling our business. So over the course of maybe the first two quarters of next year, I’m going to be facilitating managing that group, documenting everything we do. And I just think that’s something interesting, it’s going to happen, right? I’m going to have a post, it’s like, Hey, me, and six my friends just doubled our E commerce businesses all getting north of a million in sales. Now, over the last six months, here’s exactly what we did. Here’s the playbook. Here’s how we stuck together. And I think that can become like a regular cohort program, sort of like rite of passage where it’s like, every six months, I’ve got a batch of 10 e comm printers doing less than a million a year in sales. And over the course of a six month program with group accountability and mentorship, etc, we we basically attempt to double your business. So that’s, that’s probably the thing that I’m most excited about trying to get that put together next year.

Adam Vazquez 33:51
I love that. Have you done a cohort thing either participated or led one before I never happened?

Sonny Byrd 33:58
So in terms of participating, I’ve done ship 30 for 30. Okay, which is you familiar with that? It’s just kind of like get your writing get your publishing every day for 30 days. And I really liked it. Actually, I think it was a really well done program. I didn’t take full advantage of it, but it was really good. And I did the audience building course that came from Sahil Blum in partnership with demand curve. And that was a cohort. You know, we all took the thing over the same course period of time. That was kind of funny. Like, it didn’t that one didn’t need to be a cohort. I think Cohort Based Education has like, is needlessly popular. Like sometimes you don’t need it. Yeah. So that course I was like, just record these zoom calls and send me a link like there’s no, yeah, there’s no point in doing it in sync.

Adam Vazquez 34:51
But so that was kind of my question, I think is like we so I’ve never done one but my question or my flag or whatever. Everything comes in my head is like, Well, okay, what happened with you in the 30? For 30? You said you didn’t quite take advantage of it. How do you if you’re not? Like, are you gonna charge people? Or how are you going to get them to have some skin in the game to where like they they stay and do it for the for the course of the year?

Sonny Byrd 35:16
Yeah, my my idea or my hope is that the first cohort, which literally includes me and my business, as well, six or eight of us that that, you know, that will be totally free. Or, you know, maybe everybody will chip in a couple 100 bucks just to cover whatever, like, some resources. But then if things go well, and I feel like there’s a really compelling program and offer developing, I would, you know, for the for the value prop that we’re going to double your ecommerce business in three to six months. Yeah, I’d be charging like five to six to seven grand for something. Yeah.

Adam Vazquez 35:56
Okay, cool. Yeah, yeah, totally worth it. But yeah, but the cohort

Sonny Byrd 36:00
thing, I think the cohort thing, albeit somewhat overblown and overrated, it is essential for accountability. And so something like growing your business requires a lot of support and mentorship and advising. And so I think it lends itself to the Cohort Format, because it’s going to hold everyone accountable. And keep you kind of weekend week out on track.

Adam Vazquez 36:25
Yeah, I we have a similar function in our business, just by the nature of what we do. Were some of the people who do shows with us probably wouldn’t record if they weren’t, you know, scheduled and paying for production and all these sorts of things. But I think creation itself could be well, it is I guess, what, 30 for 30. But creation and or growth, audience growth, let’s help each other grow our shows or podcasts by X percent or Twitter. I think those are interesting, because they’re super measurable. And you can kind of have impact on on multiple of them as you’re going and everybody’s going through the same thing. So I like that. I like that idea. A lot. Going back to your annual planning. And I know this is just super detailed. I feel like I’m, I hate when people ask it, but I like I like the way you do things. So what any specific format for that or any anything that you found to be helpful?

Sonny Byrd 37:17
Yeah, actually, there’s something very specific that I found to be helpful. Because again, this was never my strong suit. Like I very much needed a paint by numbers system when I got started with this thing. So there’s a guy on Twitter called birdly, GIRDL. Eli, you’ve ever seen him? Yep. Great follow, if you’re in the SMB world, I think he’s got 50 60,000 followers. He published a thread like six months ago. And he was like, when I was younger, I didn’t do enough planning. And I wish I had now, today, this is how I put together a 10 year plan. And he walks you through how his quarterly plan for this quarter feeds into his plan for the year, which feeds into a three year plan, which feeds into a 10 year plan. And I’m just like, hey, like, I’ve never done anything like that. So I started there. And the first time like, I remember the first time I started, what sort of a quarterly plan and the one 310 year plan. It was like I was blind, I had no idea what I was putting down and like three years from now, I want to be making lots of money, I don’t know, like, I want to have a second home. You know, it’s like you don’t know it really until you start pushing it. And so as I’ve, what I’ve realized for myself is that as you kind of keep iterating and reformatting this stuff, you get a little better and better to the point where it’s quite helpful. So it’s gotten to the point for me, where every day where I’m on task, I’m literally hitting three main things, which drive the quarter illegal, which drives the annual goal, which kind of feeds you know, I don’t know about the three and 10 year element, but they kind of feed from there. So I’ve been able to get to a point where my daily inputs are supporting an actual. And so I actually I made and I’ll send you, well, if there’s nothing like embarrassing, I’ll send you a screenshot. But it’s literally a it’s a table on a slide that just says Q 123 and four, and then has like my four or five bucketed priorities. And then the key thing is you have to define success. So in q1 of next year for my E commerce business, what does success look like? For me, it’s like launching a whole suite of new social campaigns. That’s the key one measure of success, just getting that done getting it out the door. So then you go from there, and you break down each priority in another table that basically says, Why is this important? And how am I going to do it? So I’ve got q1 priority, what success looks like? And then I’ve got take that and say, Why do I care about that? Why does it even matter? In exactly how am I going to do it? Oh, I might take an online course I’m going to read a couple books, I’m gonna brush up my design skills, like whatever it is that’s going to feed. So that’s how it all comes to like today, I’m working on writing that first email this 30 Day ecommerce accelerator thing which feeds into my to x e Commerce program. And I’m starting to I’m trying to build some buzz and attract around.

Adam Vazquez 40:38
Man that’s powerful to be able to bring it down to the daily like that. That’s such a difficult and I saw actually saw that now that you said the post. And he said in that thread that he kind of built, twisted his own version of Eos out of traction, which, weirdly, I am not a fan or I historically was not a fan of. But like I’m holding it up if you can’t see the video, like we just finished going through that process for the business yesterday. So it’s just funny timing with with what you’re talking about. But because here’s where I struggle, we have our quarterly goals. I don’t know what I need to do in three Tuesdays, you know what I mean? On that day, too. So is it like general like, you know, I need to write, and then whatever I need to write comes up for that day? Or how do you structure that so that the daily is actually laddering up to the to the bigger quarterly goal.

Sonny Byrd 41:30
I pretty much think of it as a series of sprints. And for that particular sprint, I gotta be focused on whatever that thing is. And so yet becomes a little hard like a lot of times day in, day out, you’re like, Am I on track? Did I actually accomplish anything today? Like, who knows? But right. But I essentially, my personal belief, is that despite how much we all work, I think you’ve only got three good hours a day, maybe four, but like three good hours, and for me, it’s pretty much going to be like eight to 11am or nine 9am to noon. Yeah. So I treat that time sacredly, and I break it up into roughly one hour sprints. And I say sprint one is priority one. So ecommerce, that whatever that quarterly goal is, sprint two is the creative one. So whatever my kind of writing goal is, and sprint three is audience and just drive whatever my audience goal is, whatever they may be, I just think in Sprint’s like that, and, you know, day in day out, I just need to take one good shot at each basket, just just get a repetition. So something that’s important for me, I’m very, very susceptible and influenced by my environment. So I have to be moving around. I work in my office for a minute, I work at the coffee shop for a minute, I hit a different coffee shop each you know, every other day, I work from home every once in a blue moon, although that’s become hard with little kids at home. Yeah. So even if I’m doing like something really boring, like nine to 10, this into 11, that 11 to 12, then take a break, I’m going to be doing it at a different place, kind of in a different environment.

Adam Vazquez 43:18
That’s good. This has been good man. I think I just know people are gonna dig this because of how detailed we’re getting with with some of the stuff and just how, you know, transparent you’re being with with that, which I really appreciate. Yeah, so I guess anything else that you want to throw out there or or let people know about before we wrap up?

Sonny Byrd 43:36
Well, you know, I talked about what I’m most excited about coming up, which is generally around ecommerce growth and creating some kind of an E commerce acceleration program for people with really small Shopify stores. This is not like Amazon not doing this, right, you know, building an actual brand and presence. So that would be my request to anyone out there. Bring me people who would like that, or bring me yourself like DME get in touch. Let’s talk about putting that together. Or if you want to participate in it, or if you know someone who would have an interest in something like that. That’s my big request. And, of course, I’m on Twitter 24/7. Yeah, at sunny bird. Hard to spell. So in NY BYOD.

Adam Vazquez 44:22
Yeah, yeah. Appreciate you coming on Sunday. Thanks for doing this.

Sonny Byrd 44:25
It was a blast, man. It’s great to talk to you. Recorded and great to talk to you non recorded. Let’s catch up soon. All right. We’ll do it again.

Carlton Riffel 44:32
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of content is for closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show, and you want to tell us that then you can head over to content is for closers.com where you can send us a message give us some feedback, ask questions or find detailed notes for every episode. until next time keep creating and keep closing