Review of the Year 2014

As many of my friends are writing up their year, I thought I would put together some notes on mine.

In numbers

  • Posts to this blog: 39
  • Articles written for other publications: 16
  • Books published: 2
  • Perch releases: 25
  • Conferences spoken at: 14
  • Countries visited: 7
  • Miles run: 1384.5


I was explaining to someone the other day that I think through writing, and I really do. No matter what I am up to, there is an endless stream of stuff transmitted via my keyboard. I am lucky enough to get to publish that stuff, and some of my favourite pieces this year were:

Travel and conferences

For one who used to be scared of airplanes I’ve been doing a lot of travel in 2014. Speaking on subjects from DevOps to side projects, CSS Grid to bootstrapping.

It’s hard to pick out a real favourite from the conferences I have been to as they were all excellent in different ways. At CSS Conf I got a chance to speak to other people who love CSS Grid as much as I do. UIKonf saw me speaking to a room full of iOS developers, which was only slightly less scary than the room full of Systems Administrators I finished the year speaking to at PuppetCamp. ConFoo is always a great event to attend and speak at, I know the multiple track conferences aren’t a favourite for everyone but I love the ability to really learn some new stuff by picking from the sessions there.

If I did have to pick one event that really made my year it would have to be MicroConf in Prague. I really wanted to be able to attend MicroConf; and to be asked to speak was a real privilege. I felt that for a few days I really was with people who ‘got’ this bootstrapped microbusiness thing.


Perch turned 5 this year. We launched Perch Runway – our second product. We’ve shipped a huge amount of code. We have some lovely customers and it really is a privilege being part of what they do. Perch is a huge success by many measures, however I feel that in 2014 we didn’t move it forward as much as we might have done. We really need to get to a point where we can afford another developer and a community leader/support type role. I feel as if not getting to that point this year has been something of a personal failure. Must do better in 2015 as we have so many plans that are tough to execute with just the two of us.

… and other business-related things

This blog has become VAT central over the last few months after I picked up on the horrible implications of the change of supply rules. I’ve also been advising an amazing group of ladies who are campaigning for a threshold for the smallest businesses. As we head into 2015 and the new legislation beginning, implementation is still very unclear. It isn’t just Perch that we’ve had to deal with the VAT issue for, but also my ebooks. In the next few days I need to move them to a different system, as we’ll be selling them through as the company is already VAT registered.

Even before the whole VAT issue, I’d been thinking a lot about the implications of being a global, digital business. It’s not something we had to deal with as a consultancy. For Perch however, almost 50% of our sales are outside of the UK, and this brings a whole host of challenges.

On life in general

We moved to Bristol at the beginning of 2014, and I couldn’t be happier about that. We love Bristol and Drew and I feel as if we have really settled in.

January will mark 2 years since I fell and shattered my elbow. I’m still dealing with the pain and lack of mobility caused by that injury. Some days I deal with that better than others but I’d probably be a lot happier if I accepted that the current status is about as good as it is going to get. In many ways it is better than projected – I fling kettle bells around in the gym 3 times a week and can hold my body weight on my hands. However it still wakes me up with pain most nights, my hand goes numb and I drop stuff, and I still can’t type properly. It could be so much worse. I probably shouldn’t complain, but it is tiring. I’m not good with things I can’t fix through hard work or force of will!

On a brighter note I got to run the London Marathon in April. It was an epic experience, and I have a place to run the Brighton Marathon next year. I’m also hoping that – wonky arm allowing – I’ll be able to get back on a bike next year. I’ve spent some time this year learning to swim front crawl, so I just need to get my cycling up to scratch so I can do triathlon.

The teenager is now in her first year of a three year course in musical theatre at college. She did a “pre-vocational” year last year then had to audition for three year diplomas. She auditioned for several top musical theatre colleges in the UK and was offered a place at every single one. She has worked unbelievably hard to get to this point, and there is more hard work to come. I’m so proud of her.

Looking forward to 2015

I’ve already got a really exciting year of travel to speak at conferences and run workshops. Keep an eye on my Lanyrd page as I’ll be adding everything there as it is announced.

I’ll be self-publishing another book in the next year, and also doing updates to The Profitable Side Project Handbook to cover the EU VAT issues mostly (that update will be free to existing purchasers). I’ve also got a few interesting writing and editing projects on the cards for other publishers.

Goals for the coming year

I’ve been having great fun with self-publishing and learning how to create ebooks. I’ve started to put together a little site, newsletter and services based on helping other people to do the same. I really hope to grow that side project this year.

I really want to focus on getting to that point with Perch where we can hire at least one other person. Probably in a development role. It would be great for Drew to have another developer to discuss ideas with – especially as I will be away quite a lot. It would mean we could ship updates to the add-ons in particular more quickly. It would also mean I could feel that I could step out of trying to do bits of development when I should be concentrating on the business. It’s the whole working on rather than in your business thing. To do that means increasing profits to the point where we can afford that extra person.

I want to make sure I enjoy the amazing opportunities I have. I’m a very goal oriented, driven person. I get a lot done, but often at the expense of “living in the moment”. I’m going to get to travel to some new places in 2015, places I might not go again. I need to remember that the work will still be there if I take a day off to see the sights, or to just enjoy spending time with folk who I don’t get to see due to the distances we all live from each other.

I mentioned MicroConf earlier in this post, and for the first time in a long while I really felt that I had found “my people”. In 2015 I want more of that. It is tough running a tiny business, perhaps even more so when you do that with your life partner. For various reasons my 40 years on this planet have made me wary to look outside of myself for help. In 2015 my challenge is to step outside of the walls I’ve built for myself, be willing to accept help as well as to give it, and to really find my people.

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