Every year I like to take a look back at the year to see how things went and reflect on the successes and shortcomings. Overall 2015 was a great year and I am very thankful.
Here are my previous reviews:
- 2012 – Plugins and working for WooThemes
- 2013 – Debt free and 10 years married
- 2014 – Back to working for myself and building the business
What went well this year?
In February 2015 I started meeting weekly with three other business owners. We share about our businesses, provide feedback, and support one another. When you’re a solo business owner it’s easy to feel alone and unknown. This group has challenged me and helped me grow in many ways and I’m very thankful for these guys.
Business: Launched Shop Plugins
On February 2nd Shop Plugins launched with the help of Jeroen Sormani. The site lists 11 paid plugins and has 6 free plugins on the WordPress.org repository. I set a six month revenue goal that we hit in August (woot!), and sales have continued to grow every month!
This year I partnered with Pippin Williamson to work on new versions of Sugar Event Calendar. In August we shipped version 1.5.0 and have new add-ons in development.
Business: Grow Development
This year I focused on working projects for my WooCommerce consultancy and completed 50+ projects. Limiting my scope of work to just custom plugins has helped me attract clients that are a good fit.
Business: WooCommerce Office Hours
In November I relaunched WooCommerce Office Hours my hour long WooCommerce Q&A show. I hosted four shows before the end of the year. I have some plans to update the format of WCOH for the new year.
Family: No more diapers
In February my youngest child was potty trained! This may sound like a silly accomplishment, but it is significant because our family is officially out of the “Baby” phase.
— Amanda Espinoza (@AmandaEspi) December 18, 2015
All of our kids are elementary school age which brings a different dynamic. The kids are able to do more things on their own and also able to do more mature stuff like go down water slides, go geocaching, play interesting board games, and sit through movies in the theater.
I’ve always been inspired by daily vloggers. I love the medium, the storytelling, and the ability to see life through someone else’s eyes. I started a personal vlog channel in 2015 and published 12 vlogs.
Vlogging involves several steps and I worked on getting better at each one:
- Planning the story arc
- Shooting video with various gear
- Editing video in Adobe Premiere Pro
- Adding music
- Exporting and publishing
- Making graphics
I’m looking forward to making more vlogs in 2016!
What did not go well this year?
Business: Growing a team
I had a goal of having two part time contractors to help with Grow Development and Shop Plugins. This didn’t work out mostly because of the next item (no cash reserve). Building a team is going to be vital to making the next jump in business growth so I want to do it right.
Financial: Build a reserve
Although I made great revenue with my two businesses my income was very irregular and my spending was reactionary. I didn’t have a plan for building a reserve so it didn’t happen.
Family: No travel in 2015
In 2014 we had a great year of travel as a family. We visited several countries and connected with a lot of friends around the world. I also learned about running a business while traveling.
Because we have no reserve, no team, and inefficient marketing channels (to get new clients) we decided to stay home and work on these things instead of trying to “do it live” while traveling. It was a bummer to be grounded for a year, but it was the right choice for us.
What am I working toward?
Family: More travel!
We will be hitting the road this year as a family and I’ll be attending WordCamps and conferences again. I used the Been app to calculate how much of the world I’ve visited. I want to improve my percentages this year!
Family: STEM Homeschool
Over the break I took my oldest two kids to a LEGO Mindstorms lab where they built small robots and programmed them to do tasks. This was so much fun! I was also inspired by a visit to the MiniMaker Faire earlier in the year.
Starting this semester I’ll be helping my wife with our kids’ homeschool. I’ll be teaching science, programming, robotics, and hopefully 3D printing.
I’m a paying member of Post Status (The best place to be if you’re a WordPress professional!) and in the Slack channel someone suggested a book Mike Michalowicz: “Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine”
This book was a wakeup call to me on how I organize my business books. I’ll be implementing the “Profit First” method Michalowicz outlines and hopefully will fix the no business reserve issue.
Products: New and improved
I have dozens of new plugin ideas I’d like to see launched, but I’m going to conservatively say I want to launch 12 new premium plugins this year. I’m going to be experimenting with pricing and functionality, but they will still be WordPress plugins focusing on ecommerce.
Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you have a fantastic 2016!