Exactly three years ago, I registered Julia Reis Consulting as a company while on a workation in Budapest. As in the last years, I used this anniversary as a chance to look back a bit and reflect on my key learnings on entrepreneurship and collaboration over the last 12 months:
In December, we officially launched our very first digital product, the HR Checklist. We had already sold it for about a year without an online shop and were stunned by a conversion rate of above 80% of people who bought it in relation to those we had pitched it to. We knew that we could not expect similar results when selling purely via our website and online shop. This proved to be correct. Actually, I was sometimes quite stunned how much harder it was to sell the Checklist via these new channels.
In a business based on trust and interpersonal connections, people seemed to be dramatically more hesitant to buy the Checklist if they hadn't heard about it from us personally. The latter would not be a viable sales channel due to the relatively low pricing of the Checklist and the fact that one of the goals of it was to support more organizations that we could handle from a capacity perspective in our consulting business. So we mainly worked on optimizing our webpage, email funnels etc. and are still on it. Two elements that proved helpful were mainly the great testimonials we received on the HR Checklist from its first buyers and the money-back-guarantee we started to offer (see the FAQ for details).
Additionally, we have several other digital products in our pipe. Due to the high demand of clients when it comes to coaching and support in launching and implementing OKR processes, an agile goal-setting framework, we decided that a product in this area should have a priority as the coaching seemed to be quite "standardizable" in comparison to many of our other fields of expertise. However, when screening the market of existing offers in this topic area, we realized that even the free content out there is already pretty good. So we decided against developing our own product and instead just launched our FREE OKR Toolkit, which is an Airtable database containing the curated information you need to launch and develop your OKR process. You can get access to it here.
Over the course of this year, we will continue to invest time and resources in developing digital products in order to be able to support more organizations in a scalable fashion.
Almost since the beginning, I have struggled with deciding what Julia Reis Consulting actually is: a consulting firm or a freelance business. In last year's article, I actually focussed a bit on this question.
Now I am at least one step further: It appears quite clear that we have become at least a boutique consulting firm as our projects are completed not only by myself but also by our Consultant Anna and with the support of our working student Silvia, who joined us in October.
One question remains open, however: How much do we want to grow when it comes to our team size?
The demand from potential clients would allow us to grow much larger than we are now, but so far, I am still hesitant as I fear that this might also lead to (even more) work and less freedom for me than presently. At the same time, we set ourselves ambitious objectives that seem more suitable to a larger organization.
I've set myself the goal to come to grips with this decision within 2022. Let's see where my thought process will take me.
As a first step on this journey to decide on our growth strategy, we've also started thinking about our own North Star, our vision and mission.
We started this with a method described by Dorothea von Wichert-Nick in her great book "Vom Gründer zum CEO" in which you start out by defining your "dream" and "nightmare" clients across a range of criteria. When doing this, we uncovered patterns we hadn't seen before and we were able to define those clients that best fit our way of working and expertise: mainly start-ups and companies with a digital business model and up to around 200 employees. We also work with organizations that are much larger or do not have a digital business model - and this is nothing bad per se! - but we realized that we should focus our efforts on the areas where we can deliver value in the best way possible and to the utmost satisfaction of both our clients and ourselves.
In the next step, we've collected some initial thoughts on our actual vision and mission but we are still in the process of finalizing those.
I am confident that - like our values - these will be helpful guides in our daily work and supporting us to focus on what matters most.
If you would like to stay up-to-date on our product launches and receive a monthly dose of content on topics surrounding People.Projects.Productivity, subscribe to our newsletter and/or follow our LinkedIn company page.