I’m not sure why I’ve never done a year in review before, but this year was such an amazing year for me in terms of learning and growth, that it seems crazy to not write this blog post. I’m really, really excited for 2014 and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that 2013 turned out to be such a great year. To be sure, there were some very rough spots. I’m pretty sure I leveled-up about three times. And things got hard. There were times when I was about to throw in the towel. Moments where I wondered why I was running this business. Nights lying awake with my stomach in knots. But there were some key events that happened at the right time and I came through those dark times more motivated and more excited about my business than I’ve ever been. As I made it through those rough spots, I also was able to look back and appreciate what I took away from the experience. As 2013 started to enter its waning months, I even began to appreciate some of the harder times for what they brought to my journey.
I should say right now that I’ve got an awesome support system. This is not something that was new to me in 2013, but it was reinforced in a big way. My husband, parents, sister, brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and friends have been great sounding boards for when I’ve hit a roadblock or challenge. I’ve also been lucky to work with the amazing De Yarrison of Essential Shift. I’ve worked with De for two years, now, and she has been an incredible mentor, coach, and listener. Some of the most important things I’ve learned and discovered about myself was a result of one of our coaching calls. I’m incredibly grateful to my family, friends, and coach for their tireless support. 2013 was a successful year for me because of these amazing people in my life.
I’ve tried writing this post in many ways, but I keep coming back to lists, so that’s what I’m going to run with. Here’s my 2013 Year in Review, in list format.
By The Numbers
- I launched 10 new websites – You can see some of the featured sites I launched here.
- I support 45 websites – In some form or another, I maintain, backup and support double the websites I supported last year!
- Of those 45 websites, 35 are WordPress sites – WordPress continues to be my favorite Content Management System and the platform I use for almost all of my website development.
- I host 18 websites – This year, I started renting my own Virtual Private Server so that I could host my own websites. This has been a great learning experience, but it’s brought with it its own share of additional work. I plan on continuing to host my clients’ websites and grow my hosting services in 2014.
Best Overall Business Decisions
- Taking a Vacation – I’ve taken many vacations in the past, and we’ve always been big fans of traveling. But something really important happened this past October when we spent a week on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I did nearly zero work while on vacation and this freed up my mind to think about other things besides website work. Taking a break from work is more important than I ever realized. It’s now my goal to take several breaks throughout the year, whether it’s a weekend in the mountains or a longer family vacation.
- Hiring someone – This is a recent change for my business, and it’s still in the early phases, but it was an important and good decision for my business. At this point, my new hire is doing maintenance tasks, backups, and some technical work, but I plan to immerse her more into my business and transition more things to her to free up my schedule.
- Saying “No” – This has been, and continues to be, one of my biggest struggles. I *hate* to say no. Even when every part is screaming to say “No!” to someone or something, I’ll find myself saying, “Why, I’d love to do that!” Ugh. It’s this part of me that loves to please and hates to let others down. That being said, I worked hard on this in 2013 and I turned down work that I didn’t think was a good fit for me. I also decided to stop taking on new clients for the foreseeable future.
Top Productivity Decisions
- Finding a better email management system – I credit this decision to making a significant increase in my productivity and a decrease in my stress level. Double win! Read more about my email strategy here.
- Using a Task Organization System – One word: Trello. Trello has become my go-to website and app for organizing everything from our next house project to my next task for a client. It keeps me organized and works incredibly well with the GTD system. I work best when to-dos, lists, and reminders are “written” down in my Trello system as opposed to rattling around in my head.
- Reading Personal Productivity Secrets by Maura Nevel Thomas – This book speaks specifically to productivity in an age where we are bombarded with constant information, whether we seek that information or not. Thomas focuses on “Attention Management” and gives tools and solutions to manage ones attention in a smart-phone-tweeting-hashtagging-always-connected-kind of world.
I didn’t have a specific favorite project in 2013, per se; rather, I narrowed down the list to what I really enjoy working on. In no specific order, in 2013, I really enjoyed working on:
- Website design – This continues to be the core of what I love to do and what I’m really good at. I love meeting a business owner and bringing their business to the web.
- Graphics work – While I don’t plan on diving into logo design, I enjoy doing graphics work, and I’m typically messing around in Photoshop multiple times a day.
- Blogging – This is more of a personal thing, and I’m finding that I enjoy writing these blog posts more and more.
Other Things I Did in 2013
- I joined a WordPress Meetup group – I belong to the Philly ‘Burbs WordPress Meetup and love it. The people in this group are incredibly friendly, super-knowledgeable when it comes to technical questions, and supportive when it comes to running a business. I learn something new at every Meetup I attend.
- I started Geocaching with my family – We found our first ever geocache this past summer and have been hooked since. We love the time spent hiking and exploring local parks and my son has gotten especially good at finding the hidden caches!
- I decided to make more time for me – I found that as my business was growing, the time I spent on my own hobbies and interests was dwindling. I’m now carving out small pieces of time to play a game, work on my photography, or meet a friend for dinner.
- I revived my personal website – I created my own personal website several years ago, but then stopped maintaining it. I eventually just took it down because I couldn’t find the time to update it. This year, I decided to give it a fresh new look and put up some content.
So that’s it, in a nutshell! I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to grow my business and I look forward to writing up my goals for 2014.