Wrapping Up 2016

Happy New Year and Here is to a Great 2017!

Just like many people I “fall” for the false deadline and “new start” of a new year. During Q4 of 2016, I spent a lot of time planning for 2017, working to get a bunch done by the end of 2016 so that things are in play by 2017.

Every year for over 40 years I have found myself making new year’s resolutions, acting as if the end of current year is some kind of critical deadline and of course being disappointed that I made very little progress on last year’s resolutions. However despite my horrible history of keeping my new year’s plans, I am very much optimistic and feel strongly that 2017 is going to be a defining year for FatLab, LLC.

Defining the Website Maintenance and Support Business in 2017

Business

In 2016 FatLab, LLC experienced a 55.6% growth over 2015 measured in revenue. During 2016 a lot changed. Our team grew with the addition of a new developer (Niki Sebastino) and a Managing Director (Ritz Penaranda), we developed some new agency partnerships and strengthened others, we launched several new flat rate monthly website maintenance plans and refined our internal and client facing processes.

Our revenue met and exceeded projections made at the end of 2015 (look at that, a new year’s goal met) and heading into 2017 I feel like we have a real plan and direction. I feel like 2017 is the year that a big decision has to be made: Will FatLab Web Support go the direction of becoming an agency or will it remain a smaller company serving a core group of clients? I’ll leave that there because that last question alone can lead to some really deep thoughts and rambling… believe me this is the stuff that keeps me up at night.

Politics

If you haven’t heard (joking), the United States is about to inaugurate someone for president who is neither a professional politician or of the female gender and the feelings about this seems to be at the extremes with very little consensus in the middle. I have many friends and family that think the sky is falling (or has already fallen) and my policy is simply that I will work politics but wont discuss it on behalf of the company. However to say we are not and were not affected by this last election and politics in general would be a lie.

We have a few political clients but that is not actually where we felt things change. As I mentioned, 2016 was a record year in regards to revenue but November and December were our worst months by far. This in and of itself is not that abnormal (holidays) however the metric I was most surprised by was the lack of phone calls, emails and support tickets. Even retainer clients seemed to be holding their breath leading into November. Things were just quiet. I have spoken to other business owners in similar and different industries and they say they feel the exact same thing… it was if everyone was holding their breath and just not moving.

As we head into the new year, there are more questions than answers on this front and lets be honest, I can’t control any of this so we’ll just plan to ride the wave.

Economics

Just like the political climate and very much tied to, I’m not sure anyone can make a solid prediction to what the economy is going to do in 2017. Oh it’s definitely not hard to find someone who will tell you that deregulation will lead to a boom or that rich white guys are going to richer while the rest of us starve to death… again so many extremes! I’m just a web developer and no economist so I won’t pretend to know what is or could happen. But once again, I find myself just along for the ride.

I could argue that any economic hesitation is to my advantage because organizations will need web support for legacy systems instead of developers and designers to build new online marketing platforms. But honestly we take care of many new sites post launch so I am not sure that really makes a difference in our business.

In short… who knows!

Target Markets

Agency Partnerships

In 2016 3 of our top 5 revenue based clients were communications agencies. Personally, I love this fact because I like to say I “grew up” in the agencies having joined Ogilvy Public Relations in Washington, DC right after graduating college and then working at several other large and mid-size agencies before going out on my own.

Agencies are a whole different type of client for me. Unlike our straight support focused clients, agencies allow me to be a part of the planing process and we get to build some truly custom applications, handle complex API integrations, deal with the larger challenges of much bigger communications/marketing campaigns and let’s be honest: work with some larger budgets.

The agency support model is unique from how we work with other clients and moving into 2017 I think we will continue to foster those relationships and work to make new relationships.

Associations

Ritz Penaranda joined FatLab in October 2016 as our new Managing Director after serving as a web project manager at a member-based association in Washington, DC for over 14 years. Ritz brings a whole new type of talent to FatLab and we plan to take advantage of this non-development focus to target associations and nonprofits in 2017. However this is not just text-on-screen banter but we plan to put our money where our mouth is by running the first paid advertising campaign for FatLab Web Support, specifically targeting associations.

FatLab currently serves many different associations and non-profits so this is not a new focus by any means. However with new talent and a new defined service offering (Top Dog Management), designed specifically with associations and nonprofits in mind, the association space is a truly defined target for us in 2017 and one we are very confident we have positioned ourself for in 2016.

Wrapping It Up

No more looking back… let’s look forward – Happy New Year!

photo by L.C. Nøttaasen

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