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 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 🙂
  • 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.


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