Awwww, look at this tiny little baby budget from my first year in business. I found it randomly in my files while looking for something else. I think this is the first operational budget I ever created for Wannabe Press.
This is the budget I pitched to my wife to get her to agree to let me have a company after burning through three other ones in my 20s. I wasn’t sure what she would say when I presented it to her, but I tried to make a logical argument for why this one would be better than the last. After all, this one already had more products and revenue than the last three companies I started combined and far less debt.
I was 32, and had just run a first Kickstarter ever for Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, where we raised $5,400. After paying for the print run, I had JUST enough money to start Wannabe Press, LLC.
Since then we moved from Delaware to Nevada, and then to California for our headquarters location. Even though I did not move personally, the business moved around in those first years before settling in California.
Plus, production costs have risen exponentially. Last year we produced 18 books, while we only produced three books in 2015. I can’t believe these books hadn’t been produced yet, as they feel like they’ve been in my back catalog for my whole life.
Also, you can really see how I didn’t understand ANYTHING about the production of a novel back then. I mean $200 for prepress? $80 for a Kindle book? $100 for uploading?
What even are those numbers? I don’t pay anything for any of that stuff anymore as I handle it all myself. Sometimes I might hire out the formatting, but that costs $20-$30.
So, for context, this one year budget in total is equal to about half of our monthly operating budget, though our current budget includes exhibiting, and shipping of books. I had no idea how many shows I would exhibit at in 2015, mostly because I still had a job, or how many books I would order. In FACT, I hadn’t even received my first palette of Ichabod books yet. They wouldn’t come until May of 2015, a month before I quit my last job ever (I hope), and this was created in October of 2014.
The company was so young I don’t even have 2014 or 2015 revenue or expense numbers, but I remember across both Wavelength and Wannabe Press we made $40,000 in 2015, with the VAST majority of that coming from Wavelength to the tune of at least $25,000. in 2014, the only revenue we had was a Kickstarter and then one show I tried in 2014, which was less than $6,000 overall in total revenue. The next year, I did 5x that business, and then two years after that, in 2017, I was making six figures.
We’ve produced six books this year, with 1.5 more finishing this year. The last issue of Ichabod Jones volume 2 should be done in January of 2020, but the first half of that issue should be done in December.
Our production budget for the year will end up right around $12,000, while exhibiting costs will be right around $10,000, and printing will be $9,000.00 before the end.
Our operating costs for 2019 are far greater than in 2014 as well. Just the move to California costs us $800/year in their franchise tax, plus an additional tax to the city of long beach for about $300.
It’s hard to pull out the other operational stuff from the rest, but our year to date spending according to Quickbooks is $99,000, with writeoffable expenses at $70,000 after amortization and accounts for things like home office expenses. For the purposes of my budget, the entirety of my mortgage is counted as a business expense, but since only 30% of my house is actually an office, I can only write off 30% of that amount, for instance. There are many other weird tax things that drive down the amount I can write off.
That includes travel expenses and meals, as well as all the things I mentioned above, and frankly, those are the expenses of three companies, which I wouldn’t have believed in 2014 that the two companies I started then would still be around AND I would add a third one to it.
Of course, with expenses growth has come revenue growth as well. While I made $40,000 in 2015, I’ve made low six-figures the last three years.
I show you this to explain a tale of growth, because back in 2014, my company does less than $6,000 in revenue, and last year we did $135,000, while this year we’ll probably do closer to $120,000.
I’ve been conscious to keep my company operating at a certain level, which is around $125,000-$150,000 a year because that’s about all I can handle on my own.
However, I’m hoping to throw gas on that next year and make a run at $200,000 in 2020.
I’ve been doing this now for five years since this budget was produced, and things it’s much more complicated now, but it’s amazing what one can accomplish in five years.
I went from literally nothing to a professional creator, became a professional speaker, run a marketing company, produce lots of books, and have learned so much since I produced this budget on 10/2/2014.
Back then I didn’t even know I would own a Verizon dealership, as I was still working for Sprint back then. I just wanted a small publishing company so I could put my logo on things, honestly, and I liked the name Wannabe Press. I certainly didn’t think I would own a teaching academy, or that it would actually be profitable.
I have no idea what the next five years will hold, but looking back on this first budget, I think that kid would have been proud of the human we’ve become.
I’ve been clawing and crawling every step of the way, but it’s amazing what five years can do. People often overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in five. What can you do in five years?
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I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.