Kuztek just reached its fifth birthday! But the Kuztek story began long before its official conception in April of 2015. I initially started freelancing as a web designer in my teens, over 20 years ago now. I had family friends that needed websites and I would work for anyone, for whatever they could pay me, simply because I was excited to learn. I tried to make a living like that but it was not sustainable, so I took on various retail/service/non-profit roles to make ends meet, while also attending post secondary school. For around a decade, web design was fun hobby projects, part-time contracting, and small paid work for clients I found on Craigslist or through friends. By January 2010, I was tired of the work I was doing as a sales associate/forklift driver for BigSteelBox, and I found my first full-time employment as a PHP developer at Smack Digital. A few employer changes later and in 2015 I was working full-time at Forge & Smith as a WordPress developer, when a contract opportunity came along from FaithGrowth that allowed me to switch to doing Kuztek full-time from home. No more rainy day commutes or bosses, but also no more foosball and board games at lunch hour. I still miss the fun times at Forge & Smith, as well as the really cool projects we got to build, but I know venturing off on my own was the best decision for my family and personal development. This month marks 5 years of working for myself as my primary income and it feels great to have found stability, profitability, and great clients to work with every month.
The Wonder Years
Now, I want to share some fun numbers for the last 5 years:
I’ve tracked 7,659.81 hours in Harvest (as of April 27), with 6,005.26 of those being marked billable. I’ve worked with 82 clients on approximately 226 projects. Our largest project is 668.88 hours and the smallest project required .44 hours. Additionally, 80% of our work has been for clients in the USA, around 20% are here in Canada, plus one client from Italy and one from Belgium. The Kuztek.com site has had a measly 30,447 pageviews over the last 5 years. Some of our clients get that much traffic in a day and we are glad that our business gets almost all of our new work from referrals and word of mouth.
More numbers for the last 5 years:
- 1 standing desk that has been raised and lowered at least 2000 times
- 1 laptop
- Multiple issues with my local development server having to be set up again
- 3 power outages
- 1 internet outage
- Hundreds of unplanned visits from Jack and Dash
- 0 drinks spilled on my desk
- 3 pairs of headphones
- 80+ business coaching or Mastermind calls with Curtis McHale
- $10,481.28 paid in Stripe or Bank fees.
- $3,593.87 paid for hosting, domains, and servers
- $15,462.33 paid for software and software subscriptions
- 1,200+ bowls of cereal eaten
- 150+ lbs of candy enjoyed
- 160+ lbs of bananas consumed (to balance out the candy)
In the last month, both my 4 year old and 6 year old have learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels, and I would like to think that over the last 5 years Kuztek has made a similar transition. When I first switched to full-time, I had one contract that was for 20 hours a week, and those were definitely like training wheels for the company. They provided stability and a way for me to gain momentum without worrying about crashing too badly. Along the way, I had some projects that didn’t go as planned and a few clients that maybe I should not have worked with, but overall it has been great.
Looking down the road, I do hope to keep honing my skill set to be even more specialized and get into a profit structure that doesn’t have to worry as much about hitting targets for billable hours. Maybe that comes from more partnerships, creating plugins, or starting a SaaS. But even if none of that happens, I know I will still be learning new ideas and building upon what I already know to serve my clients better.