Some pragmatic end of year roundups that are worth a read

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means that over the past few weeks there’s been a number of 2014 round up posts published out there on the internets.

Reading these can sometimes be inspiring, but sometimes they can have the complete opposite effect – “Wow look at all these people who are hitting all their goals compared to what I’ve achieved this year”. Sometimes it’s possible that this is due to authors only talking about the positives in their year, and presenting a somewhat unbalanced view of things.

Which is why I really appreciate those who approach their end of year round ups honestly, and aren’t afraid to discuss the goals they failed to hit alongside the ones they did.

So here’s a range of reading that match the criteria of being balanced and somewhat pragmatic, which you may find interesting if you’re a software developer / company owner / business type person.

JD Trask's 2014 Year In Review

JD is the co-founder and Mindscape and I found his end of year round up interesting for a few reasons.

Firstly, he wasn’t afraid to publish his goals for 2014 well ahead of time. It’d be really easy to announce what your goals were while writing your 2014 in review, so actually publishing them ahead of time and being able to reference them is a much bolder strategy!

There’s a mix of personal and business goals in there. Sometimes as a company owner it’s really hard to balance/separate these. Personally, I’ve had years where I’ve felt like I’ve underperformed from a business perspective, but when you stop and take all the personal achievements into consideration it becomes clear that it was actually a pretty successful year. Work/life balance is important, tricky, and is sometimes completely omitted from these roundups.

The post also shows that with some goals it’s not as easy as picking a single win condition, and that the way you measure a goal may evolve over the course of the year. I’m talking about points #3 and #5, where there’s still been good a good level of success, even if technically the exact goal wasn’t achieved.

Kalzumeus Software Year in Review 2014 

Patrick McKenzie’s (@patio11) write-ups and blogging are pretty well known to a lot of software developer/business owners for many reasons. If you’ve not read his writing before, then you should have a nosy through his greatest hits as there’s some really interesting reading there.

I find Patrick’s writing and his story “accessible”, for lack of a better word. I can read about the startup exploits of the likes of Google, Twitter et al and not really feel that I can identify with those stories a great deal. Whereas Patrick’s story (tl;dr – working on stuff on the side, while working a 9-5 job) is one that is one that a lot of people are going to be able to identify with.

He also writes very well, and goes into an insane amount of detail about successes, failures, and everything in between.

The length of his 2014 roundup may put some people off, but it’s worth it.

2014 Year In Review – The year that sucked, or did it?

There’s some good reading from Amy and co over at, and I came across their end of year roundup while reading some other posts (specifically Why Blacksmiths are Better at Startups than You and Why You Should Do A Tiny Product First).

The title very much implies that the content isn’t going to be 100% positive, and that’s indeed the case. Definitely worth a read.

The idea of giving up is worse than of it killing me: How $150,000 post-it came to be?

This one isn’t an end of year roundup, and it’s not even that recent, however I came across it during my holiday reading and it “kind of” fits in here as it contains a fair amount of looking back on experiences as well as discussing software/business stuff.

It’s a brutally honest documentation of a journey over many years of trying to create a startup company.

Here’s the thing – I really enjoyed reading this, but possibly for all the wrong reasons. It’s well written, funny (in a black comedy kind of way) in places, but the story itself doesn’t really have a happy ending. But for someone like me (who runs a successful services company, however still has a bad case of “SaaS Envy”, and who sometimes feels like everyone else is doing more interesting stuff than we are) it’s a great reminder about the ratio of startup failures to successes, and that there’s something to be really proud of in running a successful company even though you may not have invented (which probably needs all its vowels removed to sound like a proper startup).


If you enjoy reading any of these, or have some suggestions of other posts worth reading then please let me know!

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 11:26 AM |

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  • # re: Some pragmatic end of year roundups that are worth a read
    Commented on 1/15/2015 8:35 AM

    The key I think (in both running a successful services company while not getting too much SaaS envy) is to work out how to be an AND player - meaning how can you do both.

    This is of course easier said than done, here's some thoughts on approach:

    + Keep yourself profitable (I've seen what happens if you focus too much on the start up, and not enough on the "what's making you money right now" - of course having said that if you're like Xero and have a huge stockpile of cash this doesn't apply as much)
    + Choose something that has PASSION and MARKET VALIDATION. It's important that it has both these factors, one will keep you working on it (and excited) the other will help it end up as a commercial success (as opposed to a side hobby). Of course market validation is easier to talk about than prove but research and a plan is a start ;-).
    + Keep your eye on the prize. Working on the SaaS (or any project on the side) can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time, keep focused on the end goal while taking steps forward.

    Would love to see you guys create something, hope you do :D.

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