2009 – The Year on Paper

Here we are again, we are at the end of another year and as Big Ben chimes in 2010 tonight, our heads are full of sparkling ideas and hopes for the New Year. My good chum Elliot Jay Stocks wrote about 2009 and his goals for 2010 which inspired this post.

2009 has been a bit of a difficult one for me on a personal level, it started off fantastically with me getting engaged to my best friend and partner Stuart in Central Park, NYC, my favourite place in the whole world. Roll onto April and I lost my Grandfather unexpectedly. He was such an inspiration to me from a business point of view, I grew up with him and Dad talking over various aspects of their business while I ate ‘Dippy Egg and Solidiers’ next to them. I listened and grew up with entrepreneurialism in my blood plus a lot of my Grandfathers wisdom along the way. Not having him to call for advice or a chat after April has been tough, very tough.

From the business point of view, this has been the most successful year to date, although I didn’t write down any goals as such, I always had in my head what I wanted to achieve.

  • I wanted to take on some iPhone User Interface Design and this I have done, more than I ever anticipated. I have Daniel Kennett to thank for taking that first leap of faith with me on his iPhone App “Clarus” at the start of 2009.
  • I wanted to attend more conferences and possibly speak at one. I managed this too although not as many attendances to conferences as I would like, I only managed dConstruct as a attendee and I spoke at the WDC2009 Conference in Bristol along with Elliot Jay Stocks, Dan Donald and Jon Hicks.
  • I raised my prices and changed the way I billed. In previous years I had been charging hourly and my schedule looked like children’s building blocks in iCal. It was generally much harder to keep a tab of everything and the admin side was a logistical nightmare. Fast forward 1 year and I now either charge, daily (mostly), half daily or weekly. This has been the biggest turning point for me as it’s allowed me to really get my head stuck into a project rather than switching between lots of different things during the day. The only change for the clients is that I have to be much more organised in getting content from them in order to keep daily work to one day.
  • I stopped taking so many phone calls on the office line (following the 4 Hour Work Week rules from the previous year). and switched to Skype and email. A big productivity plus point as there’s nothing worse than getting stuck on a call for an hour, writing down the contents of the call with pen and paper, then transferring it to your to-do list, when it could have been emailed in 5 minutes. (I’m expecting lots of people to disagree with me here… it’s OK)
  • I got rid of two problematic clients. They had been with me a while and I put up with a lot because I felt I had to “they’ve been with me a long time…” ran through my head but the flip side was, they weren’t treating me great or professionally so I politely said goodbye and the weight that lifted off my shoulders from that moment on could not be bought.
  • I’ve been more picky with who I work with. Sometimes, you just get that feeling that the project will turn into a nightmare or not be mutually beneficial to both parties, so to use Elliot’s words – I’ve said ‘no’ a lot more than I’ve said ‘yes’.
  • I bought a 27″ iMac and an Aeron. My goal at the start of the year was for an Aeron and a 24″ Mac, then the 27″ came out and that seemed like a better idea 😉

WHAT I DIDN’T DO THAT I WANTED TO:

  • Overhaul the entire UI of my App. This will come Q1 of 2010.
  • Meet Andy Clarke. We speak on the phone lots but still, our paths haven’t crossed.
  • Work/Life Balance. If I’m not sat in front of my computer working on client stuff I don’t think I’m being productive, it’s the one thing I’m terrible at managing and need to find a good balance with.
  • Blog more often. I had grand ideas of blogging every other day, this didn’t happen, client work took over but in 2010, I’d like to re-vamp the blog design and write more, because when I do, I love it.

GOALS FOR 2010

  • Take a path on the business crossroad. The business is at a crossroads right now, I either need to employ someone or have an awesome team of freelancers around me, either way, growth is on the cards and I need to keep my eyes wide open for the right people.
  • Learn iPhone Dev. Even just a teeny tiny bit, it’s something that interests me but since Objective-C might as well be Swahili I’d be interested to see where I’m at by the end of next year.
  • Get married. This will kind of take care of itself in September 2010.
  • Revamp the You Know Who site. I’m still not happy with it after someone called it “Pretty” recently – “Pretty” to me doesn’t say “Professional” so I’ll be having a good look at the brand and how to portray the right image.
  • Find an accounting system I’m 100% happy with. I’ve been on Freshbooks for a year now and due to the lack of a big red “overdue” button in the invoicing and editable invoice templates, I’m starting to look for an alternative.
  • Start a side project. I already have in my head, and have had for 2 years, an idea that I want to take forward – I’m going to allocate the time to do it in 2010.
  • Revamp the design of this blog. I’m hoping to do that sooner rather than later.

So, that’s me done for the year, I hope you’ve all had a fantastic year, I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt or what significant experiences have changed the way you work this year. I’m so appreciative of all your tweet and messages all year round, Twitter feels like an extended work family sometimes and it’s great when I actually get to meet some of you ‘out on the road’ so, all that’s left to say is, I wish you all the best for 2010 wherever you are.

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  • I’m down to the wire working on my ideas for 2010 — some great ideas though! Best of luck, congratulations again on the engagement and a Happy New Year!

    • Sarah

      Happy New Year to you too Andy, hopefully catch up at some point this year?

  • I made the switch to Freshbooks this past year and use it conjunction with Xero. Couldn’t be happier. While I agree that a big red overdue button would be helpful, I have to say that I am very fond of Freshbooks configurable, automated Late Payment Reminders.

    It is also the only invoicing app I found that makes it very easy and inexpensive to manage contractor time/invoicing … keep this in mind as you “grow” in 2010 – May be worth a reconsider.

    Cheers, and happy New Year!

  • I’ve been thinking many many things through too. I might post a link later when I post them. Good list though, quite inspirational. Thank you.

    ~ Suleiman

  • I completely agree with your comments about the telephone problem!

    It can be very difficult to get back “in the zone” if you have interruptions while designing. Can I ask how you’ve gone about reducing this? Was it simply reducing the hours your telephone is switched on or is there another way you’ve done this?

    I’m very keen to reduce the time spent on the phone and in meetings in 2010 but I’ve struggled to find a good balance.

    Thanks Sarah & best wishes for 2010!

  • Good post. Interested in the way you have changed your billing from hourly to half-daily/daily/weekly. How do you deal with those small jobs that take less time than this? Particularly if the job cannot wait until half a day of work has accumulated?

  • Hi Sarah, Appcelerator could possibly help with the iPhone Dev goal. I discovered them last week and mocked up my first app right away.

    Looking forward to reading about 2010!

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