I am part of a small group of studio owners. We meet once a month to discuss various things. They run the gamut from hiring new people, marketing strategies, new approaches to contracts and more. A large part of the group is just encouraging each other. Being a small business owner is a lonely thing. Sometimes you don't feel like you can talk to your employees about everything. Sometimes you just need an objective opinion on whether you have lost your mind (again).

2013 has kind of blown my mind. In late 2012 I was just leaving EllisLab after 18 months as their Product Evangelist. I had no idea what 2013 would have in store for me. I look back now at some of my goals and realize just how low I had set the bar. But back in 2012 these goals seemed huge! I mean one of my goals was to keep an office outside of the home. I was worried that after leaving EllisLab I was not going to be able to make the monthly payment for my office space!

Like many of you (if you set goals) I set some goals for my income as well. I wanted to be able to pay myself the same as what I made at EllisLab. It was not a huge number. Last week I wrote that check. It was a good feeling. The big change is that now instead of just looking at my business as a way of offering myself a paycheck I am looking at it as a business. So I am more concerened with the revenue we are generating as a team vs what my check has written on it.

So 2013 has been wildly successful. Blue Fish has added a number of folks to the ranks. We now have five people working on projects of some sort. Not everyone is full time but considering that in 2012 it was just me... We've also had gross revenue 200% over what I initially thought I could do on my own. We've worked on some really great projects for some really great people. We've made strides forward in our education on technical things. We've also made huge strides forward on how we operate as a business. I can see that we are starting to form our processes that will allow us to grow even more.

So, as part of preparing for the final meeting with my compatriots tomorrow. I was sitting here and reflecting on what has been accomplished this year and what we want to shoot for in 2014. Now that I have the right team in place (for which I am extremely thankful) I want to increase our gross revenue by another 70%. I know this is a large goal. It will mean taking a more active role in sales and focusing on dialing in our workflow. I want to add one more person as a full time employee in the 1st quarter. In total I want to add 3 people as employees next year. Bringing our totals to 5 full time employees and 2-3 part timers.

I personally want to get better at my job. If you've read the e-Myth book (If you haven't you should) then you'll understand me when I say that the technician in me has gotten better at getting out of the way in 2013. I know I am still a bottleneck in some situations. Sometimes I have difficulty letting go of a role that I have had to fill (designer, developer, sales, bookkeeping etc). I've found the key people to take over most of those roles though so now I get to lean on them and focus on making sure they have what they need to do their jobs.

I'd also like to get better at sales. I think many in our industry are very passive when it comes to sales. We put ourselves out there and hope that someone will contact us. We wait for the proverbial manna to fall into our inbox. I don't want to just wait for leads to drop in my lap anymore. I want to generate the leads. I want to have several markets that we are actively pursuing. I want to create new opportunities.

I also want to get better at appreciating and managing the people that work for me. I think I am doing a decent job. The only complaint I have gotten is when I am getting in the way and not flowing the information through in a timely manner. If that is the biggest complaint then I should be ok. But mostly I want the people that work for me to know I value them as people. That I want them to acheive their goals just as badly as I want to acheive my goals. I want them to succeed wildly. I want them to lean into their desires and push until they are looking back and thinking "wow... I can't believe what I've been able to accomplish this year".

Most of all, I am turning 40 this weekend. With this birthday more than any other I am realizing just how short life is. My goal has always been to make a difference in the lives of those around me and in 2014 I want to take that to another level.