A Transparent Look at My 2023 | Captain Coder

A Transparent Look at My 2023

Marisa VanSkiver / December 27, 2023

Marisa VanSkiver writing goals in a notebook

You know one of my biggest pet peeves with social media?

(Beyond that it can literally go through a massive change tomorrow.)

No one is honest about how it looks to run a business.

Often, we see the shiny numbers of “Oh, I’m a 6 figure business owner”, but we don’t share the reality of what running that business is.

Growth doesn’t just happen overnight. Honestly, it’s easy to get distracted by something that doesn’t help grow your business, get some shiny object syndrome, and have some lulls you didn’t expect.

But you know what? We often don’t look at the victories as we should either. 

I’ll be honest – I don’t often love sharing the ins and outs of my own business.

But today, I’m reflecting on some things that went right – and some things that didn’t go to plan.

And why that’s all OK.

Our 2023 Goals – Missed

When I started last year, I had some big ideas for how I wanted the business to grow. I wanted to reach a certain revenue level, add a new service for monthly recurring revenue, and get out of a lot of the client work.

Yea, we missed most of those.

What We Did for Clients in 2023

The business still grew, just short of being multiple 6 figures which is still great. We signed several new clients, including 7 new websites. Our 3 main clients continued to grow and we helped them do some pretty incredible things.

One client we helped to transfer over an entire Hubspot website – with blogs, landing pages, and event pages – into their main website as they transitioned to Salesforce. We helped them to improve their overall SEO and user experience, bringing visitors to their main domain instead of a subdomain.

We’ve also started re-coding their website, transitioning it to a custom WordPress theme that will be lighter, more accessible, and faster.

Another client we helped to build several websites for, launching big projects, and helping them to transition some old code to ensure that their clients are ready for technological changes.

We also got to build incredible landing pages for another client, helping them to have their biggest boot camp and biggest digital course launch ever in October.

Why We Missed Goals

If I had to drill down with my business coach why we missed goals in 2023, it’s because I personally was too focused on making our clients’ businesses work.

That’s one reason why we get great reviews from all of our clients because we care about them and their growth.

But here’s the secret when you run a service-based business – you have to also run your business and treat it like you would a client’s.

I had some unexpected shifts with my business coach towards the beginning of the year that did not help, but we missed goals because I was scared.

Scared to put Captain Coder out there like I should. Scared to play bigger, try new things, and meet new people.

(I’m an introvert, I’m always scared to meet new people.)

I course-corrected a bit towards the end of the year and have lots of new things I’m going to try in 2024, but it absolutely impacted my revenue in 2023.

In 2024, I’m focusing on being fearless.

That means raising our rates because we do amazing work, putting myself in new (digital) places and maybe even some new physical ones, too. 

Am I scared?


But the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

So it’s time to make some changes in how I work.

Really, it’s just about treating my business like I would a client’s and stop being afraid to try something new.

Our 2023 Goals – Hit

Now that’s not to say that nothing went right in 2023. Like I said, our revenue still grew by 72%. It just wasn’t quite what I wanted to hit.

But the goals we did hit? Well, I think those matter more in the long run.

Team Growth

First of all, I was able to bring my developer Nicole on as a full-time employee. By the end of 2023, she’s salaried, with PTO, the full week off between Christmas and New Year, and in 2024 we’re transitioning to a 4-day work week.

Not to mention that I am now a salaried employee of Captain Coder. That means getting a steady paycheck and lowering my taxes, and I hear rumblings that I may even get a refund this year (that’s been unheard of for me as an entrepreneur).

I hired a second developer to help with our overflow.

My VA Kalyn started in December 2022, but she’s become an invaluable member of our team.

5 powerhouse women make Captain Coder run, which is pretty incredible.

I also said goodbye to my bookkeeping and I never once ran my payroll. (Always hire out the things you hate, which for me is financial).

Personal Development & Growth

One of the goals I had for the year was a huge deal to me – take an entire week’s vacation and have the business run without me.

This was the first real vacation I’d taken in 6 years and oh my goodness was it necessary!

I’ll be honest – I get bored pretty quickly so I was a bit worried about taking time off. But Mac and I went down to a beach house in south Texas and just enjoyed the waves, some good books, and good food. It was an incredible time and everything ran smoothly while I was out.

I also got to take a long weekend a couple of months later to visit my brother and his family and watch my nephew in his first big state swim meet. I worked a bit while I was there, but I got to enjoy just spending time with them and being less connected to the business.

For my personal development, I set aside a few days and flew out to a retreat/conference in November that helped me get some clarity on my business. It didn’t hurt that it took place at Disney World and I got to enjoy a day in the park.

And for my love of teaching, I got to start a middle school lunch coding club and teach a second class at Wichita State this year.

Look at the Whole Picture

What happens a lot when we run a business is that we look at just the revenue or just the numbers we’ve deemed important.

I’ll admit that I was a little bummed to see we fell about $20K short of where I was hoping to be at the end of the year.

But the thing is – we got to grow in some incredible ways this year.

Not everything will run how you think it will, but often you’ll get some good things you didn’t expect either.

Go through your own goals, reflect on what worked, what didn’t, but don’t forget to factor in all the good that you might not have accounted for.

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