2014 was a strange year for me, on the contracting side things wen't well. I was in solid employment for the entire year with no breaks between roles. I managed to get my first AngularJS contract, as we know getting that first commercial experience in something is so important.
After that contract ended I was lucky enough to get into a role where there is a great deal of variety, a lot of front-end development, a lot of responsive web design and mobile development. The team I work with are small but very proactive. They manage to get great work out there in a small amount of time and it's a great experience to be part of a team that is so active, and does manage to ship great work so quickly.
New skills I've picked up in 2014 include:
- Sass, I've been using LESS for a while, but now I'm really beginning to like Sass, set up is still a pain at times though.
- Ionic, managed to build a demo app with Ionic at current contract. The team I'm working with seemed to like Ionic.
- ExpressJS, not using this commercially yet, but learning it with a view to offering it as one of the skills I have.
The business side of contracting is something that not really discussed much, there are many sites, blogs and podcasts on startups or freelancing, but being a contractor is not really discussed much. I think this is because everyone wants to freelance instead of contract.
For me I do see a difference between freelancing and contracting. A freelancer is responsible for finding the work for there own business while a contractor finds work through dealing with agencies and not directly with clients (though this can change if a client decides to go back directly to the contractor in order to employ them again).
So currently I see myself as a contractor eventually I hope to be both contracting and freelancing, but more on that in a min.
In 2014 my limited company business has not grown as I'd would have liked, there are a couple of reasons for this, all my own fault, they are:
- No planning of how the year will go.
- Not having a clear understanding of the tax payments involved in running a limited company. A couple of times I had to pay myself late after paying a tax bill that I hadn't planned for.
- Not having a good plan in place for tax, know when bills are coming up, making sure enough money would be in place to pay both these bills and wages.
I also started contracting after leaving my last permanent role without finding out what is involved in running a limited company. I finished my permanent role, then looked around for a new role, decided contracting was what I wanted to do. Then looked hard for a contract without looking into what is involved in contracting besides the dealing with agencies. There is all the tax payments, financial planning, cash flow and wages that you need to know about or at least have a basic understanding.
Looking back I think I didn't have a good enough understanding of these things. I thought I just needed a good CV, something on Github to show my work and off I'd go into the wonderful world of contracting. There's more to it than that.
On the health side of things have not been great, ended up in hospital for two weeks with a serious kidney infection. Then sitting around for two+ weeks lead to me getting a blood clot in my leg. So I now have to deal with that, which has not been fun.
I was lucky enough that the contract I'm on did allow me to work from home for a couple of weeks while getting better. Then I took two weeks off over Christmas and now I'm back working onsite in London.
So 2015 the year of growth, this is a list of plans I have for this upcoming year:
- Rebuild company website, my current CGCSoftware website needs a new look and I plan to rebuild the site using ExpressJS.
- Build apps with Ionic, I've been a fan of this framework for the last six months. I was planning to build a app as part of the 30 day challenge, but due to ill health I didn't manage to get one done. So apps are big part of the year.
- Grow the business so that it is a better place financially.
- Go to more conferences and meetups. I haven't been to many and now I think I should go to more in order to learn and meet others in the community.