2021 Round-Up & TMBA News

Our 2021 Year-in-Review episode went live today.

I wanted to say a little bit more for those of you following the newsletter and our blog.

The theme of 2021 for me was “back to the basics.” Both personally (e.g., go to therapy) and professionally (build a quality working routine and improve the team).

No tip, trick, or life hack is going to build you a sustaining multi-million dollar business.

As my business mentor often says to me:

“[To grow a successful business] all you gotta do is work hard, work smart, and don’t spend your money.”

So at the outset of 2021, that’s more or less what we planned to do.

Here’s what happened.

Dynamite Jobs

While 2021 was the year of ‘back to basics,’ 2020 was the year of ‘what the hell are we going to do.

Back in 2019, we had our best year ever for our in-person events. Our members collaborated with us to create a calendar of monthly events that brought us together in cities all around the globe.

Our annual October event, DCBKK, was our most attended ever.

And then, well, COVID.

In March 2020, we refunded all ticket holders for our Austin event and sat on our damn hands.

The future of a group of entrepreneurs who – despite their 100% location independent businesses – absolutely thrive on in-person meetups was put into question.

It wasn’t obvious that we should use the time away from events to put our energy into Dynamite Jobs, which was just a side project.

Although the jobs space is obviously huge and there are plenty of opportunities, Dynamite Jobs’ revenue in 2019 was only $5300.

When it became clear that events weren’t coming back anytime soon (mid-2020 ish), we decided to see what we could make of it.

Our first step was to recruit a CTO – our old friend Simon Payne, who was back in the day a co-founder of Leadpages, among other startups. In early January, we brought on a senior recruiter, Greg Valentine.

We started daily standups. Weekly team calls. Goals. Productive debates. Sales calls. We built a development and recruiting team.

Ya know. The basics.

It’s worked so far.

This year Dynamite Jobs has had almost 2.5 million visitors, job candidates have created over 40,000 user profiles, and we have created over $500,000 in revenue while working with a growing list of clients.

It’s amazing what you can do with one year of solid effort.

We also had a lot of missteps.

We’ve built a handful of features that didn’t work out quite how we had expected.

The good news is we’re learning. Especially from our clients and users. And unlike in 2019, we’ve got plenty of them.

We can do this more effectively in the near year because in Q4 we completely moved off of WordPress to our own bespoke platform built in-house.

It really feels like a new company.

Plenty to do in 2022.

The Goals:

  • 4x revenue.
  • 4x traffic.
  • Build great software that our users love.
  • Build a great damn hiring platform.

The Key Products:

Dynamite Circle

I did not expect our membership to grow in the past few years since our event schedule hasn’t been as robust as it was in the past. But members continue to refer to their friends and the DC forum continues to be a place where like-minded entrepreneurs can connect and build meaningful relationships together.

The highlight of my year was reconnecting with our members in our first official Mexico City event in October.

Since our own business revenues were cut by 50% in 2020 – due to the closure of events – I had a sense that perhaps many members’ businesses were hit hard as well and was expecting some mutual commiseration in the hallway tract. Instead, I spent most of the event hearing about how many members were having their best years ever in business. Being around that kind of success and business agility was incredibly motivating.

As always: deals were made, information shared, relationships were forged. It was great after 2 years to be back in person with so many talented people.

 

In 2022, we’re hammering out an exciting event schedule and continuing to focus on the things that make the DC great– building masterminds, hosting events, and facilitating relationships between like-minds.

We’re also raising our fees for the first time in over half a decade (January 1st). If you’ve been thinking about joining the group for some time now, it’s a good time to get in at a grandfathered rate.

Tropical MBA Podcast

One of my long-term goals with the podcast was always to make more money running ads for our own businesses than selling the spots to third parties.

It’s not strictly true, but at least in some sense, selling ads on your show is admitting that other companies can more efficiently monetize the audience than we can.

Perhaps I was drawn to this option because I was torn about selling ads in the first place. We debated doing so for some time. The kicker was simply financial reality – our production costs continued to climb, and we felt it irresponsible to keep footing the bill from other business income. Ian especially made the case that it was time to find advertising partners.

What I didn’t expect was that listeners actually liked the new ads. Not only have the vast majority of listeners checked out our advertising partners’ websites and products, but they appreciated hearing about companies willing to spend money reaching them on a niche podcast they enjoyed (or that’s more or less how I’m generalizing the written feedback).

We also only partner with products we think are cool so that helps.

But in Q2 of 2021, it became clear that running ads for our own DJ Recruiting Service was so effective, that we considered dropping third-party ads altogether.

Before we sent the deposits back, we reached out to our partners and told them about our intentions to run Dynamite Jobs Recruiting ads (and related products) every episode. They could keep their spot if they liked, they just needed to ‘share’ with us.

Nobody batted an eye. Very cool!

In fact, 2021 was our “easiest” year of ad sales ever. Everything comes inbound (listeners just email [email protected], our producer) and the creative/production process is pretty much on rails. We’ve been sold out more than a quarter in advance for the entire year, which makes me think we should consider creating more ad inventory somehow.

I know marketing departments are obsessed with trying to attribute results to their marketing spend – and we do accommodate this on occasion by sending listeners to landing pages with discounts, etc. But the bottom line is – even if podcast listeners don’t quit their workouts early to take advantage of a discount – podcast ads with niche audiences work really well, especially for companies with a relatively high annual contract value.

I do think COVID also had an underlying impact on the ease of ad sales in 2021.

If you’re looking to dive into the back catalog, here were our most popular episodes of 2021:

In 2022, we aim to get a lot more original writing and ideas on the pod. It’s basically a time management problem– interviews take a lot of my personal energy, so the goal in 2022 is to be much more efficient with that time (by bundling them into just a few days a month) so we can have days dedicated to creating new podcast content.

Personal

Aside from that, it’s just another Thursday here in TMBA land. We’ll spend the coming days planning for the new year and spending time with friends and family.

I usually take this time period to write a great deal about what’s happened and what I want to accomplish in the new year. I’ll also make sure my personal finances are accounted for, simplified, and all in one document.

Based on the advice I’m receiving from many DC members, I’ll be re-adjusting my portfolios with a specific focus on opportunities in Crypto. We’ll continue to discuss this topic a great deal in the new year.

If entrepreneurship on the web is financial freedom outside of a career and location context (focused on “multiple currencies”), then crypto is financial freedom outside of a banking and sovereign context. I believe the technology of money will become as fundamental to the lifestyle business movement as WordPress and email. More on that and much more in 2022.

For now, I’d just like to thank you for following what we do. We wish you a restful holiday season and hope to help you hit the ground running with enthusiasm and energy in 2022.

Sincerely,

Dan Andrews