2021 in Review
Each year I like to sit down and review the year. See what worked and what didn’t. I find it’s a nice way to wrap things up. It also helps to prep and set goals for next year. I’ll start with a recap and then look back at what my plan was at the start of the year and see how it compares to where I am.
Let’s start with the business. 2020 was the worst year I had since I started. 2021 will be the best. Funny how things change. The change has come in a couple of areas. The volume of business has definitely increased this year as well as my prices. That combined to really boost revenue this year. Also, things have been a little more stable than in the past. I’ve been getting more medium and long-term jobs as opposed to just small short-term jobs. I’m going into 2021 with a contract already in place that should keep me busy for most of the year.
Another area I really grew was in getting things off my plate. I hired someone to do some social media marketing for me. She’s been wonderful. She’s driven a lot of traffic and brand recognition and contributed to the increase in volume this year. I also hired an assistant to help me with scheduling and some administrative tasks. She is amazing and has made me way more efficient. I was also able to hire a subcontractor to help me out with a gig so that was very nice. I definitely feel like I am becoming more of a business owner every year.
One downside to having a lot more work is that I have been doing mostly project work and not as much teaching as I’d like. Next year I’d like to see if I can get back to doing more of that. Luckily project work pays really well, so I’ll have more resources to put into developing the curriculum or maybe hire someone to help me.
I’ve managed to stay active in the LabVIEW Community this past year. Our Virtual Coffee is still going strong and well-attended. I did manage to help put on GDevCon N.A. this year. It was a great success! We actually made a small amount of money. We’re putting it towards next year, with which we have already started planning for next year. I also helped out to organize the GLA Summit. I was a little distracted by GDevCon N.A. so I wasn’t able to contribute as much as I’d like. Next year the dates will be farther apart, so I will have more availability to help with that.
Things have been a little crazy. I now have a second child. I have a 6 month old daughter named Claire and a 3 year old named Wyatt. They have both been keeping us very busy. Being a parent brings both great joy and lots of challenges. We did get a little vacation in to Mt Princeton Hot Springs after GDevCon N.A., but aside from that it has pretty much been all hands on deck.
COVID and having kids have definitely put a damper on my outdoor activities, but I still manage to get out and do some stuff. This year we bought paddleboards, so we did a bunch of that. It’s good exercise and a fun activity. The kids like hanging out at the beach and watching.
I also recently got into biking. I have a buddy who is really into it and he has been dragging me out. I’ve also been biking back and forth to work. It’s only 12 miles roundtrip, but its something. Often I’ll also add a little short bike ride over lunch to get some more miles in. It’s good exercise. I’m mostly doing roadbiking. I’d like to do more mountainbiking. Maybe next year.
When it comes to climbing I haven’t done too much this year. I did help with the CMC Alpine Climbing School. I taught a few classes for them. I managed to get up to Vedauwoo a few times. I took Wyatt with me. He seemed to enjoy it. I did squeeze in a few other little daytrips here and there with some friends.
I’ve gotten back into running a little bit. I signed up for the BigHorn 100 and a few other races to give me some motivation to start training. At one point before the weather got cold I was running 20 miles or so a week. I’ll doing a lot more of that this spring.
One of the best parts about living in Golden is just how close everything is. There is road biking, mountain biking and trailrunning all right out of my front door. There is also a whitewater park in town. I spent a lot of lunches breaks this summer going tubing or swimming in the creek. It’s literally a block from my office. There is also some bouldering, a short 10 minute bikeride from the office so I also do that occassionally.
I’ve been playing alot more music lately. I started taking piano lessons a few years ago. I’m making good progress and having lots of fun with that. I’ve also been picking up the guitar a bit lately.
I quite enjoy reading, so I read a lot of books. At the beginning of this year I put out a reading list of books I wanted to read for work. Out of the books I selected for work, as I write this I have read 7.5 of them. By the end of the year I should have finished them all. You can see all of what I have been reading this year here. I read about 20 books overall. Not as many books as I read last year, but I have been distracted with the kids and work was a lot busier this year. I’m still pretty happy with the mix of books I read this year.
Looking at 2021 Goals.
So at the beginning of 2021, I set out some goals. I made a point to bold a few of the measurable goals in that post. So let’s just look at how I did with that.
- My goal is 2 groups of 6 people. So my goal is to make sure those continue to run smoothly.This is referring to my Mastermind group. I did start a second group. However I couldn’t get enough people to sustain it. It lasted a few months and that was it. My existing group lost 2 people and gained 1, so net 1. Not a great year for the MasterMind Group, but it is still going strong and the participants seem very happy with it.
- My goal is to have 4 of them by the end of the year and to have at least 100 sales. This is referring to pre-recorded online classes. I just have not made time for that. I also have not been advertising the existing classes very well. I do have one online class up for Git, but that is it at the moment. I’ve sold a few copies but not really enough to justify the cost of making it. I’ve been distracted doing project work. I feel like at this point if I want to get that done I need to hire someone to help me out with it and I need to do more advertising. Also recording is kind of out of the picture since I have 2 screaming kids at home right now. I lost my quiet space. I guess I could rent a sound booth somewhere.
- My goal is 3 coaching clients by the end of 2021. This year I did get 3 coaching clients. I had two that didn’t want me to write any code for them at all, but just give them some direction and guidance. One of those only lasted for a short while – it was for a specific project that ended up getting cancelled. The other one is an ongoing thing, but kind of sporadic. They just call me up when they have problems. The 3rd coaching client had me writing some code with them. That worked out well, but that project has kind been in a holding pattern lately, waiting for more funding. I need to rethink the whole coaching thing and how I structure it. I’d like to have more continuous ongoing work in that area. I need to work on setting up some retainer packages. We’ll see if any of these relationships blossom into that.
- I have my reading list which will be the main metric on that. My goal is one Python book this year (in addition to the list of other books below). These statements are related to becoming a better coder and expanding my coding skills. As far as the reading list, as of writing this I am on track to finishing the 9 books I layed out. I did not add another Python book. I had one picked out that I wanted to read, but I couldn’t squeeze it in. However I did squeeze in an SQL book and did a project where I used SQLite and JSON and I really learned a lot and expanded my capabilities there. I also signed up for a JBrains TDD class. I made it partway through before I got too busy with work. I found some time this last month, but instead of going back to that I have been doing Advent of Code and using it to practice TDD. I also managed to get a CI/CD pipeline setup with automatically updating software. I’m quite proud of that. Overall I feel pretty good about this goal. I feel like I am a much better coder than I was at the start of the year. I’ve really added some tools to my toolbox.
- My goal with that is not only to get it off the ground but also to be a good team player and keep a good dynamic there. This is referring to GDevCon NA. In spite of the pandemic, we did manage to pull it off. This is probably one of my best achievements recently. Certainly proud of the team we put together there. I did keep a good relationship with everyone. As far as my leadership skills, I could probably do a little a better at making sure tasks were spread out a little better. I know there was a little friction around that. I could have done a better job to manage it.
- I need at least 2 serious leads every month, where I actually submit a proposal. A goal of 4 calls/month with people I have not previously met. These are referring to my business development/sales process. I hate to admit that several years into my business I am still very bad at tracking these things. I can say I have been averaging way more than 4 calls a month. I’ve been averaging at least 2/week. As far as serious leads and tracking that, I don’t think I got to 2 proposals/month, however for the past 6 months at least I have been busy enough that I am in a position to turn down work. The real trick will be to see if I am doing enough to keep the pipeline full 6 months from now. I really do need to get a better handle on these numbers. As part of that I hired an assistant. Hopefully she can help me track all that.
- I want to reach 1200 visitors/month to my blog with a views/visit>2. I want to reach 2.4K connections on LinkedIn and 1K followers on Twitter. This is one of the few things that is actually easy to measure. For the blog I am averaging 1000 visitors/month with a views/visits around 2. On Twitter I am at 333 Followers. On LinkedIn personally, I am at 1859 connections. I was at SAS linkedIn has 176 followers. So overall, the numbers are moving in the right direction, just not as fast as I would like. I did hire a social media person, so hopefully she can help me bump those numbers a little faster and more importantly help turn those vanity metrics into actual sales.
- I will keep that up for 2021. I will also start back up our local in-person office hours as soon as we are able. This is refering to the Virtual Coffee, which is still going strong. It is also referring to our local in-person coffee group. That has not been going strong. The pandemic kind of killed that. We did have an informal holiday happy hour. We had a few people show up, so the group is not dead. As soon as the pandemic goes away, we’ll get back to that.
As you can see, I probably need to get better at tracking these metrics. Overall I feel like things are going in the right direction. The main thing I need to change is to figure out how to do more of the teaching/coaching/mentoring and make that more of a priority. It’s kind of hard when the project pays so much more and seems to be easier to find. I also need to work on a system to keep these goals at the top of my mind as the years goes on and not distracted by day to day business operations.