I don’t typically write a post to review the past year or glance into the year ahead but I have decided to this year for a few reasons. First, by all accounts this was my most successful year as business owner and independent contractor. It is always a good thing to reflect on what you did so you can hopefully repeat it. Second, some recent posts by Ben Stucki and Jesse Freeman helped to solidify some thoughts that have bouncing around in my skull. And third, a recent Twitter thread about which technology Flash/Flex developers should be considering moving forward. I won’t cover all the details about what I did or what I plan to do, but I will offer up a few nuggets and some food for thought as we head into 2011.
Sweet success and a little history
The most vivid moment for me in 2010 was Apple’s decision to not support Flash on their ‘i’ devices. The Flash haters showed up in full force and too many Flash devs started crying about the sky falling. My bread and butter is Flex and Flash development so it was a kick in the teeth to hear about Apple’s plans, however I’m not a one trick pony so I tried to find the opportunity in what was likely a shift in the web development landscape. First and foremost I am a web developer, client and server side. I’m not language dogmatic, for me it’s always about keeping it simple and using the right tool for the right job. Sometimes that is Flash, sometimes it’s HTML and JQuery, I can roll with PHP, Coldfusion, ASP or something new if the need arises. In the years ahead it will more likely than not be HTML5, I’m fine with that.
The other standout thing from 2010 for me was reading Rework. It was a great read on business ideas and concepts and really made me think about how I operate my business and how I could do things differently.
Seeing the glass half full
The reality is web development work is not going away anytime soon. There is still a ton of lucrative work out there you just need to look for it and be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. For me it’s not about what you know, it’s about what you can learn and how fast. As a developer when you stop learning you are dead. If a fish doesn’t swin, it can’t breath, it dies. It can NEVER stop swimming. A developer should NEVER stop learning. I can not stress that enough. Being able to learn and learn quickly has likely been the single largest key to my success. Don’t run away from the unknown, charge at it head on and crush it.
2011, 365 days, 8760 hours
For me 2011 will be starting off with an eclectic bang. I have projects lined up into March (which is always a nice feeling): a website, a mobile site, some Flash work and some maintenance on a Flex app. I have also grabbed some good reading material to start off the new year with (never stop learning) .
My goals for 2011 are simply stated: increase business by another 25%, roll out a SaaS idea I have been working on and start contracting out some of the work I take on. One thing I have learned in five years of business, time is finite. You can work all you want as hard as you want but at the end of the day, a single person only has ‘x’ hours to work. As a one man shop, time is the single biggest limiting factor in how far I can take my business. For me to grow any further I need more time. I need to get other people’s time to work for me since I have maxed out my time and I need to find a way to generate revenue that is not tied directly to billable hours. That is nothing new, any business owner quickly realizes this, however as an independent contractor, I have long fought the need or desire to add more manpower, instead I choose to maximize my time. It took me a few years to feel like I had reached that point, and I purposely pushed past it, in order to make sure adding more manpower was absolutely the right thing to do.
There is a lot more I wanted to say in this post but I think instead I will wait and flesh out the ideas more for some future posts. Here’s to a great 2011.