SuperFriendly in 2020

Looking forward to a new kind of year for SuperFriendly by looking back at the past few years.

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Around 4 minutes to read

I believe that 2020 will be a big year for SuperFriendly.

Midway through 2019, we officially and publicly repositioned the company to focus solely on design systems. An overwhelming majority of the work we were doing over the last few years was design systems work anyway, so we decided to be upfront about this focus in hopes that the narrower positioning would bring some advantages.

And boy, it did. The end of 2019 bore plenty of fruits of that labor. We’ve seen a 1,000% increase in the amout of leads in our pipeline compared to what we had at this time last year.

In order to figure out how to set up well for a great 2020, I found it useful to look back at how SuperFriendly has done thus far. (I shared a more detailed version of this with the team and thought it could be helpful to share some of this publicly in case it helps any other agency owner out there.)

Time spent #

At the end of 2012, I shared some data about how I spent my time in year one as an owner of a new agency that was still primarily responsible for the majority of production work. Nowadays, at the close of year seven, I’m much less involved. Here’s a comparison of how 2019 compared to 2012.

The percentages don’t add up to 100%, mostly because I only wanted to show the most significant changes between 2012 and 2019.

2012 vs. 2019
 Total Hours WorkedAverage Hours per Week
Hours Spent per Task in 2012
Front-End Development35214%
Business Development27611%
Hours Spent per Task in 2019
Creative Direction58730%
Business Development28314%
Front-End Development703%

A few takeaways here for me:

Profit #

Our profit has really fluctuated over the years and is generally trending downwards. A major focus for 2020 is to at least level this out, if not trend upwards. A profit of 58% would do the trick, but it’s a touch too ambitious to be realistic. We’re shooting for 50%.

SuperFriendly Profit
YearProfit %

Purpose-driven goals #

As I reflect on and continue to refine SuperFriendly’s purpose, I’ve realized that a grand opportunity is to create better opportunities for creative people to flourish. Against that criteria, I think it’s important to continually evaluate how many opportunities we’re creating, for whom, and how good those opportunities are. A quick rundown:

Choosing a growth rate of around 20% 2, I’ve set these goals for 2020:

In general, I tend to use 20% as standard benchmark, because I learned from Tim Kadlec’s Fast Enough that a 20% difference is when a change is noticeable.

  1. Work with 30 different SuperFriends.
  2. Pay all SuperFriends a total of $500,000 (an average of just under $17,000 each).
  3. Of the 30 SuperFriends, let’s work with at least 15 women.
  4. Of the 30 SuperFriends, let’s work with at least 15 people of color.

(Dividing each of those things by four gives us our 2020 Q1 OKRs.)

Honestly, those feel like really easy metrics to hit. I’m hopeful that we’ll reach those numbers much earlier than the end of the year and be able to set our sights on more ambitious things.

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