Another year, another opportunity to look back and see how things went…
…or to check which objectives I didn’t manage to accomplish!
My most obvious miss this year was my ambition to “blog more”. Since my most recent post is my review of 2021, I think we can safely say that I failed that one spectacularly. Looking on the bright side though, I only need to write one more post this year for 2023 to be an improvement!
My ongoing clients kept me pretty busy this year, with lots of new features and content, including new online courses, new payment gateways and, in one case, a whole new management committee.
By contrast, the year saw just two brand-new website launches – one for a firm of building consultants and one for a tech start-up.
The latter was particularly interesting as, for the first time, I created a website using WordPress full site editing. This is an extension of the ‘blocks’ concept, introduced a few years’ ago. It incorporates the whole website, including the header and footer, and adds ‘templates’ which are essentially pre-formatted groups of blocks. This all helps to make it easier for site editors to change existing styles and to quickly create new pages with more interesting – yet visually consistent – layouts.
One part of my job I always enjoy is reviewing websites. I love being able to spot ways to improve a website – often some very simple changes can have a big impact.
A particularly memorable review this year was for a sports-bra retailer. The company’s founder is a huge supporter of women’s sport and I found her very inspiring. Thankfully it didn’t distract me from the job in hand, and I was able to identify a number of ways to polish up her website, including a slight change to the colour scheme, more consistent layout and styles and some site speed improvements.
Thinking about women’s sport was particularly timely in light of one of my non-work achievements this year – taking part in Endure 24 with a small group of (female) friends. Endure 24 is a 24-hour relay race, running day and night around a somewhat challenging 8km trail circuit, which includes features like the aptly named ‘Heartbreak Hill’… no wonder the event’s tagline is “Brutal, epic, relentless”!
Between our group of 7 runners, we managed 26 laps, or 208km (of which I contributed 32km).
In other non-work achievements, after our Covid-enforced hiatus, the Didcot Phoenix Drama Group were back in action. I acted in the short play Not A Cream Cracker at both the Henley Festival (at which we won an award for best all-female play) and Oxfordshire Drama Network Festival. Later in the year, we performed Don Zoleidis’ Nooses Off (inspired by Michael Frayn’s excellent farce Noises Off) at four local venues. It was incredibly hard work, but so much fun, and very well received. We even managed to inspire a couple of new members to join the Group.
My Duolingo streak continues (now over 1700 days). This year, as our family welcomed a guest from Kharkiv for a few months, I took a few lessons in Ukrainian and Russian as well as my usual French – but ultimately ended up relying on Google Translate anyway!
My favourite Ukrainian word (so far) is смачно (pronounced “smach-no”), which means yummy – it’s very satisfying to say!
I love my job but I’m less keen on the admin side of things. It’s been something of a relief that the second phase of the ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) scheme, initially scheduled for 2023, has been postponed. For sole-traders like me, the deadline is now 2027. Nevertheless I’m starting to think about it. I already use an online cloud accounting system, QuickFile (which is – amazingly – completely free for a small business like mine), but until recently I only really used it for invoicing and accepting payments. I recently started recording my expenses too, so I’ve got a complete picture of income and outgoings.
My plan is to ensure that I have full data for 2023/24, so I’m all set up and ready to start submitting MTD returns as soon as I have to do so.
I’ll still keep my spreadsheet going though!
It’s been through quite a few iterations since it was given to me as part of my post-BBC ‘Setting up as a Sole Trader’ workshop. A few years ago, I started tracking expected income and expenditure, as well as the actual figures. This year, having been slightly surprised by the size of my National Insurance Contributions (NICs), I’ve also added a few lines to calculate my tax and NICs too. I only need to plug in the tax/NIC allowance figures and percentages, and the formula will use my forecast profit figure to spit out the amount I’m likely to owe. Handy!
Aims for 2023:
- Have another attempt at blogging more;
- Keep up the ‘outside work’ activities;
- Get ready for Making Tax Digital by keeping full digital records;
- As always, keep on learning!