Yearly Review 2014

2014: My Business Year in Review

With only two weeks left in the year, ’tis the season to look back over 2014 and consider my successes and unmet expectations, and set some direction for 2015. Join me in a look back?

My Goals for 2014

In last year’s retrospective post, I outlined four primary goals for this year. While I’m not sharing my bank statement, I will share percentages, because things are more fun with numbers, right?

Double my average project income.

My intention this year was to focus on larger, full-scale projects as opposed to smaller, “filler” work.

While I moved in the right direction, I missed the mark. I increased my average project income by 30%, that’s 20% less than goal.

Part of the struggle here is filling the space between projects with smaller tasks. While there’s nothing wrong with that model, I’d like to rely on it less and book my time more effectively. Bill Erickson and Curtis McHale, two people I respect tremendously, both use a form of weekly billing. While I’m not ready to embrace weekly billing wholeheartedly, I’d like to try it on for size this next year.

Flex my consulting muscles.

I’m so much more than just a developer. I have a broad background in business, management, and consulting and was anxious to put those skills to the test this year.

This goal was a bit more intangible than the previous one, but overall I consider this a mild success.

I’ve invested a lot of time learning how to add more value to my clients (and my community). By the way, if you’re not tuning in to people like Kirk Bowman and Chris Lema, you’re missing out on the value conversation.

Grow product revenue stream.

This is a fun number. I increased my product sales by 700% over 2013. Now, let’s put things in perspective. In 2013, I had one product that was only on the market for the last three months of the year. In 2014, I added a second product (aff link!) to the mix in February, meaning I’ve had two products available for most of the year.

From a numbers perspective, I’ll consider this goal a success.

My goal also encompassed spending less time on client work to spend more time on product development. That didn’t really happen – I spent about the same time on client work and then added product development on top of it (who says you can’t manufacture time!).

Improve my processes.

This is such a broad goal. When I put it out there last year, I meant “improve my processes” as in workflow. I did that by learning version control (git), improving my development and deployment methods, and recently embracing Beanstalk (though I’m about to bounce to sister tool dploy.io). Oh yeah, I’ve gotten more comfortable with the command line, too (although I certainly have a way to go).

In an effort to be more efficient, I created a mobile-first Genesis starter theme using Sass. It’s still a work in progress (I encourage pull requests!), but it’s a nice starting point. I’m also working on a re-release of the Utility theme that will serve as a great starter theme.

This goal will always be a work in progress, but I moved the needle forward in a good way.

They Didn’t Start Out as Goals, But I Did ‘Em Anyway

Just like it’s ridiculous to ask a college freshman to pick a major (who knows what they want to be at 18?!), it’s absurd to think I could note all of my goals for the year in a single shot. Life happens, things change, opportunities arise, and new goals are formed.

That said, here are a few other fun things I did this year:

Sometimes I feel busy beyond belief and other times I wonder “what the heck did I do this week?,” but I’m glad I can look back over the year and see some tangible results.

Moving into 2015

Can I copy/paste my 2014 goals here? Actually, my goals are pretty similar, but I’d like to put a little more meat around them this time.

Consulting/Project Income

I want to double this again. The only way I’ll meet this is to hold firm on my project minimum and, when I do take on random filler work, be intentional about it.

Additionally, I will offer existing clients a service level agreement to continue working with me on maintenance requests. Similar to last year, there were single days where I interacted with 5 or 6 clients. While that wasn’t the norm, it was the opposite of working effectively. I want to serve my clients with my full attention and effort – moving to an SLA will help me do this.

Grow Passive Revenue Stream

This year, I’m not limiting this to just products. Passive revenue also includes affiliate income and teaching commissions from Lynda (and who knows what else might crop up). To reach these goals I need to:

  • Release 2 themes (I’m looking to release the Utility Pro theme mid-January, so that leaves me 11 more months for another…)
  • Blog at least 1x/week (Let’s face it – regular content is what drives affiliate sales. Don’t worry, I’m not being a douche about it)
  • Teach more Lynda courses πŸ™‚
  • Continue to look for opportunity

This year passive revenue accounted for 25% of my income. I want to report in my 2015 review that it’s 40%.

Skills / Processes

I will continue to improve my skills with Sass, Git, and Grunt, CLI, etc – this will come with continued usage. I also want to dig deeper into theme internationalization and making websites more accessible – those are two important issues and I think developers will see more requests this year for those features than ever before.

In case you missed that last sentence, let me rephrase: There’s a wave coming and you’d do well to get out in front of it.

While I’ve started using things like Calendly, Zapier, and canned responses to streamline my life, there’s still a lot of room for task automation. Maybe while I’m sipping Christmas eggnog I’ll ponder the ways I can maximize my time. Just kidding, I’ll wait until after Christmas for that one.

???

One of the things I love about my job is the ability to flex to new opportunities. I can’t possibly predict what will happen in 2015, but I want to be ready when opportunity comes. The best way I know to do that is to keep my skill set up to date, continue to serve my customers well, engage the community consistently, and keep my eyes open to the bigger picture.

People can plan what they want to do, but it is the Lord who guides their steps.Proverbs 16:9

So, consider this goal (???) a catchall for whatever happens in 2015. Bring it on!

What About You?

Have you taken the time to consider this year and plan for the next? What are your goals and, moreover, what are your plans to achieve them?

If you write a similar post, please share a link in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

Cheers,
Carrie

22 thoughts on “2014: My Business Year in Review”

  1. Nice. Inspiring! No blog post from me, but my goals for 2015 are: gather together a suitable public portfolio, formally launch a development business, attend more Wordcamps, and look into starting a local WP meetup. And see where it leads!

      1. Well, here’s what I have so far:

        3 projects in the hopper, all very close to launch for various reasons.My future biz site makes 4, which is a pretty good start, plus 2 more probable projects to add.

        A business name and logo idea in development.

        A “decent” (to me) base of wordpress code in the last few months to draw on (I laugh at my code from 6-10 months ago ).

        A strange SASS mixin library slash abbreviation engine I developed that enables me to lay down a lot of CSS quickly and succinctly.

        Pretty good creative impulses (although untrained) mixed with always having liked to code mixed with an ability to sell.

        Far beyond a never-give-up attitude: I will never give up. I love the internet and have fought through years of energy-debilitating health problems to get to the cusp of getting to the cusp. I can figuratively take punches and keep moving forward.

        My health and energy (most of the time and fairly recently (3 months or so this consistently)).

        And an awareness that what I don’t know is an Everest next to what I do know.

        And of course (ahem) a lack of a written plan for my global conquest. Tiny thing, I know.

        Thanks for listening to me blather!

        1. Excellent! When you launch your business site, take your last comment and use it as the basis for a “Hello, world” post. πŸ™‚ Best wishes for a very successful 2015!

  2. One of my highlights of 2014 was getting to know more WordPress people and especially a funny cool Texan like you!

    Thank you for being a positive person on the internet, helpful when I’ve had questions, an inspiration with what you do, and quick with the wit!

  3. I find it reassuring that you – a WordPress and Genesis idol of mine! – just tackled git. One of my goals in 2015 is to start using git, and maybe sublime text or something like it (I use Dreamweaver now) and to stop cowboy coding! Thanks for all you do for the community.

    1. We’re all on a journey. πŸ™‚

      I’m biased, but I’d go with Sublime Text. There’s so much stuff it can do, BUT the interface is so uncluttered that none of those “extras” will get in your way until you’re ready to go looking for them.

      Are you on Lynda.com? There are both ST and git courses on there you might find helpful. (If interested, here’s a free trial link -> http://www.lynda.com/trial/carriedils)

      1. Good to know. I have a Lynda.com membership that is a lot like my gym membership (keep paying but never use it πŸ™ I fully intend to do your course … maybe that will be my 2015 goal!

        Just in the past week or two, I’ve finally decided to use Sublime Text, but so far it’s baby steps. Hopefully the Lynda.com course will help! I normally use Notepad++ but really miss some of the features of Dreamweaver (although, I still use it for some crusty old static sites!).

  4. Well, Carrie…I think we can consider it a HUGE success if I actually get my blog up and running and I can actually put content there and not be driving others crazy with question….there will be a whole lot of celebrating when that happens…you’re invited to the party πŸ˜‰

  5. I think you had a very successful year. I found you and have been researching my own opportunities since. I truly enjoy your podcast and blogs and look forward to meeting you in person some day.

  6. Hi Carrie, Thank you so much for sharing your goals with us very uplifting indeed.
    It’s very inspiring to have people like your self that dedicates their time to teach and inform others.

    My goals this year is to stay focus on what I love to do and that’s developing and working with WordPress. The problem I’m having right now it putting in the time to make it be a full time job. I have a full time job that requires at least 40 hr a week so that won’t allow me to work on projects that have been inquired.

    How do you stay so focus and follow it threw?

    Thanks so much

    1. Hey Rob,
      Thanks for your kind words.

      When I transitioned into full-time self-employment, I had the benefit of being single (no kids) and debt-free, which made the jump tremendously less scary. When you’re in a position of more financial responsibility (which I’m guessing you are since you’ve been married awhile πŸ™‚ ), that transition takes a lot more careful planning.

      In its simplest terms, put pen to paper and figure out the income you need (and at what rate) to replace your full-time work. Whatever that goal number is…. divide that income by months in a year… then divide by weeks… and work until you’re overlapping that goal income with your regular job income. When you’ve proven to yourself that you can bring in X with your business, then you can let go of fulltime.

      If full-time self-employment isn’t the goal, but rather additional income/flexibility, you can follow the same monthly/weekly pattern to determine what you need to make (set a target and figure out how many projects/things you need to sell within that timeframe to meet your target).

      At the end of the day, our hours are finite. I’m okay with hustle (and putting in a lot of hours) in the short term to know I can reach longer-term goals, but I’m not okay with endless hustle to the grave. For me, that defeats the point.

      I’m rambling a bit now, but when you ask the question of how do I stay focused and follow through, it’s because 1) I have a target in mind, and 2) it’s work I’m excited about it (yes, it’s still work and not always fun, blah, blah, but you know what I mean).

      Check out Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey. As a business owner without employees, not *every* bit applied to me, but the book had a lot of great wisdom that you might appreciate, too.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

      1. Hi Carrie, This is great advice thank you so much for taking the time to advise me

        I’ve been doing a few projects on a regular bases which is GREAT as an extra income, but I really love what I do with WordPress & Genesis and would love to make it a full time job.

        I need to work on my work flow and project calendar to have everything nice and neat in order to follow everything threw, which is my biggest problem πŸ™‚ a work in progress.

        I’ve been working with WordPress for a few years now and feel I’ve come to the point were I would like to make it my full time job..

        Grant you it’s not easy to keep those projects coming in but if I have the time and dedication to promote my services and work it should work out don’t you think?

        There’re a few WordPress developers I follow and admire, I have been watching your work and teaching methods for quite sometime for learning purposes and you are one of those that I look up to for guidance’s.

        I want to thank you so much for the great work you do by providing such information to the community.

        Have a wonderful day πŸ™‚ RobG

  7. Pingback: My Goals for 2015

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