A Texan Web Developer

2014 Annual Review

It’s the last day of 2014 so time to look back and see how the year went. Once again I’m going to use the three question format suggested by Chris Guillebeau to do my annual review.

1. What went well this year?

Financial: Business Revenue Up 24%

The year started off with a gamble. In January I returned to being an independent software developer because it was time for me to try new things and embrace autonomy. I spent the year focusing on my core skills in WooCommerce development and connecting with new people.

I learned a lot this year about value pricing, client communication, and working with sub contractors.  I made the transition from being only a coder to being a coder and a manager as I started working with contractors to build my team. It was a new challenge to coach from the sidelines instead of being out on the coding field, but a necessary one if I want to grow in the future. I’m focusing more now on building systems, marketing, and forecasting.

It seems the gamble paid off as I was able to increase the revenue my company Grow Development made by 24% from last year up over $150,000.

In September I sold the remaining WooCommerce commercial plugins I had and used the money to bootstrap some new projects.

I’m truly blessed to be able to do work I love with people that I respect and enjoy.

Financial: Never borrow money

This was our first calendar year since becoming debt free July 2013. Last year we said that we would never borrow money again, and we’ve stuck to that. Even when our only car died and we needed to buy a new one we did so with cash.

We sold our house in March and got rid of the mortgage. Our plan is to rent until we can pay for a house in cash. That may sound extreme, but I never want to owe money or deal with a lender again in my life. Plus, I love the challenge of being able to do it within a few years!

I can’t emphasize enough how emotionally freeing it is to be debt free. Without the burden of debt your creativity, relaxation, and generosity is increased exponentially.

Career: New podcast

In January I started holding WooCommerce Office Hours and I produced 20 episodes this year. The intention of WCOH was to be a time for me to help others by answering their questions and also a time to talk to interesting people about WooCommerce.  It’s been fun learning the mechanics of running a show (pro tip: test audio before going live) and getting to know people in the community.

family-in-paris

Family: Travel as a family

All of the work we did to become debt free, earn a living online, homeschool, become minimalist and sell our stuff led to us being able to travel the world. This year we spent almost three months traveling to London, Berlin, Paris, and New York City.

Any concern we had that our kids wouldn’t enjoy traveling was completely obliterated. The kids love traveling. They enjoy plane flights (with Dramamine!), subways, taxis, and exploring by foot. They love learning history by visiting the place it happened. They are working on enjoying trying new foods, but that will come later.

We look forward to spending more time traveling as a family in 2015.

Social: Meet more web folk

Each year I set a goal to meet more people and grow my network. This is partly because I’m an extreme extrovert and partly because I like doing business with friends.

This year I was able to attend some great events (BeachPress, WordCamp DFW, WordCamp Europe, WooCommerce Conference) and get to know more people.

BeachPress

I also joined a Slack chat with other independent WordPress people who are a constant source of encouragement, support, inspiration, and fun.

Spiritual: Join a small group

In January we joined a new church and found a small group to join. It’s been refreshing to be connected again to a group of believers who are invested in each others lives. Community rocks!

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

Career: Build a new company

I wanted to launch a new company last month, but the launch kept getting pushed back. Long-play work like this often gets pushed aside for the more urgent work. I wrote about not being ready to put in the type of work I saw from people I admire. That confession was important for me to not feel guilty or compare myself to others.

Career: Launch new plugins

I’m listing this in the ‘didn’t go well’ section because I’m focusing on the word ‘launch’. I built several new plugins this year that will be launched soon

3. What am I working toward?

In 2015 I’m going to focus on being helpful. It may sound silly, but it’s a simple goal from which many great things can come. Being helpful will include creating useful content, connecting with customers to understand their struggles and launching new products.

I want to pass $20,000 monthly revenue each month. I want to grow my team. I want to build and learn to market new products.

I’m going to continue to attend WordCamps and other conferences to connect with old friends and meet new friends.

We want to spend 4 months outside the USA slow traveling, and more time driving around inside the USA.

That’s it for me, I’d love to hear what you’re focusing on in 2015!