Brian Casel
Brian Casel

8 takeaways after 2020

by Brian Casel on January 1, 2021
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I originally posted this turn-of-the-year post as a Tweet thread.

Here’s my ‘20/‘21 post. The takeaways.

Some (surprisingly) pretty good. Some progress. Some disappointment.

First the personal front. Then business.

1: Weird to say, but our 2020 wasn’t that bad, considering

  • Remote work wasn’t new.
  • Biz largely unaffected.
  • CT managed to keep schools open more than most states. Face with medical mask
  • Luckily we went to Galapagos in Feb just before shutdowns. Plus several northeast US road trips.
Me and a Turtle in Galapagos Islands Niagara Falls

2: Financially, we’re good.

Not a record year. But we’re comfortable. Been a while since money felt tight. We’re lucky.

I treated myself to a Gibson ES-335.

Gibson ES-335

3: We won the parenting lottery.

It was a breakout year for both of their personalities (6 & 4). Pretty incredible to see them develop.

Total troopers with Covid times. Remote school. Masks. Easy peasy.

Now to business.

I’m struck by the duality (good/bad) of where I’m at currently.

4: Still 100% self-funded.

Still plenty of margin and sustainable cash flow to explore, invest, make mistakes, and course correct. Feels good.

But that doesn’t guarantee the next stair step is easy. It ain’t.

5: My biggest win of 2020:

I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with the nature of my daily work. I love designing software products.

Nature-of-work is core value for me in this career.

6: Biggest disappointment:

Not satisfied with the level or rate of growth this many years into a SaaS product business. This brings maddening self-doubt and second guessing–a state that’s not natural or comfortable for me, 13 years into self-employment.

Navigating an entrepreneurial career is a challenging puzzle.

How do you leverage your assets, optimize for better outcomes, minimize risk all while enjoying what you’re doing?

Some “next steps” for me:

7: Eliminate expectations.

The root of my disappointment has been not meeting my expectations after investing X amount of time.

We shouldn’t count on things working out as we expect. Exhibit A: 2020.

Make informed decisions. But expect nothing.

8: Embrace product-led growth.

Customers buy the product. Not it’s marketing.

Marketing should be focused in 2 areas:

  • Introducing a new product to market.
  • Optimizing the reach of a product that’s already growing, naturally.

“demand generation” isn’t a thing.

9: Embrace gut instinct

This year, it took some mental wrestling to learn to trust my gut instinct again. But that muscle is coming back to form here in 2021.

Lots of specifics in motion. Rolling out soon. Excited for ‘21.

And vaccines!