I never know how to start an article like this. I find that anything I write looking backwards or forwards sounds cliche. So I’m just going to write the words as quickly as they come into my head. In fact this is the only approach to writing that is currently working for me. Write what I think as fast as I think and then remove any unnecessary words - for which there are a lot.

Anyway, below I have documented the projects I have worked on during 2021, the lessons I’ve learned, my task management and how I plan to grow my business in 2022. In summary 2021 turned out to be a wildly unpredictable year. Firstly, I’ve learnt a bunch. Secondly, I’ve settled into some of my first online communities where I am meeting and working with new friends. On that note, if you’ve just written or shared something similar to this, send it over. I love reading these type of blogs.

Active / completed projects

  • Pot Head Coffee (owned)
  • Herb Career (owned with partner and started in late 2021)
  • Lily Lifestyle (client)
  • Jay B’s Fitness (client)
  • Genesis Stables (client)
  • Non League Promoters (client)

Lessons learned / learning

1. Shifting from a scarcity to abundance mindset.

I am by no means finished with this lesson and I was a little hesitant to even talk about it, but it has been hugely important. I’ve always leaned towards accepting any work in case all work runs out, saving my money for rainy days or just more broadly, viewing all opportunities with a glass half full mentality. This has lead me to being a busy fool and therefore unable to truly focus on what is profitable or enjoyable. Shifting my mindset in this manner has also helped me confidently execute some riskier investments, which so far, have paid off.

I’d also like to mention how joining the Shiny Object Social Club - a Web3 community - has helped me adopt this new mindset. Primarily its helped me explore the emerging and hugely abundant, Web3 / crypto / NFT space. I’ve also met some mates to chat and work with online.

2. Work like a lion, not a cow.

This lesson is closely linked to the one about but deserves its own explanation too. While I’ve known it for a couple of years, 2021 has been the first year that I’ve put it into practice. For me it has involved passing on subpar projects and indeed clients. Whereas before I would have compromised and taken on almost any project, now I do not. This has really helped me specialise and focus on not only Webflow but building enhanced Webflow websites with membership, directory and even Web3 functionality. Here is a better explanation of the lesson from Naval Ravikant:

“The way people tend to work most effectively, especially in knowledge work, is to sprint as hard as they can while they feel inspired to work, and then rest. They take long breaks. It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathoner running. You sprint and then you rest. You reassess and then you try again. You end up building a marathon of sprints.

People who say they work 80-hour weeks, or even 120-hour weeks, often are just status signaling. It’s showing off. Nobody really works 80 to 120 hours a week at high output, with mental clarity. Your brain breaks down. You won’t have good ideas.” - Source: https://nav.al/work-hard

What has really helped me put this into practice is the success of Pot Head Coffee during the last 18 months. This has created is a tangible, opportunity cost of my time and a steady stream of income which inherently allows me to adopt a different style of work.

Money earned

I love it when businesses open up the hood and share their revenue. It seems to work particularly well for internet businesses who’s target audience is in fact those interested in its metrics. Some of my favourites examples include RemoteOK.com and Bannerbear.com. What I am willing to share at this stage is that the gross profit of Stark Projects is a 50/50 split between Pot Head Coffee and client Webflow projects. Cash flow wise this works well as the coffee business can be a drain on cash flow when I have to stock up for a busy season. Unfortunately this is just a part of the ecommerce business model.

For my own enjoyment and lifestyle this split of ecommerce and freelancing is almost spot on. I am aware it is not the optimal path to maximise growth in any of my own projects or my business overall, but I can honestly say that 90%+ of the time I love my ‘job’. There is just enough variety to stop me from getting bored. Now it does have its drawbacks. I largely work alone and, particularly in recent months, context switching between the projects has become difficult. Hence I am trying an enhanced approach to task management in 2022.

Task management and tackling context switching

For the past two years I have been using a Weekly Desk Pad by MiGoals to track my to-do list. I prefer physical notes to software as I literally need it in my face for it to work. It is too easy to forget to open a tool like Asana and get stuck in whatever was last open on my laptop. The weekly planner on my desk is the first thing I see and an unmissable reminder of the week’s priorities.

However, the issue I have found with this is I focus on the latest - and often most enjoyable - tasks. Anything that takes longer than a week gets lost on the previous week’s sheet. I need something which allows me to track more important, longer term priorities over a monthly and quarterly period.

The result is a new quarterly focused document which sits on top of my weekly desk pad. One side details the goals for the quarter (The Value System by Visualize Value). The other has 12 hand drawn columns, one for each of the weeks in a calendar quarter. The idea is to adopt a work schedule that many solo founders / entrepreneurs use to avoid context switching so often.

The schedule typically involves spending one week on marketing / external things and the following on internal things such as processes or software development. For me it will involve spending one week on Pot Head Coffee (or other owned project) and the following week on a client project. I am allowing some flexibility as the goal is not just to implement this weekly schedule but to spend longer periods of time focused solely on one project. Previously I would dive in and out of different projects almost on a daily basis and this much context switching is just not efficient. It is obvious looking back which is frustrating. Anyway, thats the idea, I will report back next year how it has worked but I am hopeful.

Left: MiGoals Weekly Desk Pad. Right: Q1 split into 12 weeks.

2022 Goals + how I plan to achieve them

1. Grow Pot Head Coffee to a six figure business. We’re close and on the right path but have hit a few hurdles which majorly disrupted growth in 2021. Here’s my plan:

  • Q1 - Reinstate the subscription service allowing customers to sign up and receive our coffees weekly or monthly.
  • Q1 - Automate the wholesale side of the business allowing customers on various pricing to order and pay themselves. I’ve let this process become far too manual.
  • Continue executing SEO strategy which is currently being handled by a contractor, and has historically been a major revenue generator for the business.
  • Up content production for Instagram and TikTok - specifically Reels. This has taken a backseat in the last quarter of 2021 and is critical to accelerate word of mouth marketing.

2. Continue building enhanced Webflow websites for clients; including membership, directory and Web3 websites.

3. Improve my ability to articulate and communicate ideas. Hence the blog. From my readings, it seems that reading and writing are a surefire way to improve this.

Anyway, thats probably enough rambling for one year. I love reading these type of annual summaries so if you’ve recently shared yours, send it my way.