Chris Roos by Chris Roos

GFR’s 2019

Happy New Year, folks!

One of my more prominent memories of 2019 is the collective stress we felt at the beginning of the year when we were running out of money and struggling to find work. So it’s been quite a pleasant experience to write these notes and remember all the good things about the year :-)

Review of 2019 goals

I finished the 2018 review post with a list of goals for 2019. Ticking off 5 out of the 7 seems pretty good to me!

  • ✓ Earn more money than we spend
  • ✓ Move to an office closer to Waterloo
  • ✓ Register with Coops UK
  • ✓ Get people using our service that helps teams celebrate success
  • ✓ Rethink our Show & Tell events
  • ✗ Win funding for some self-directed work
  • ✗ Celebrate GFR’s 10th anniversary

2019 achievements

  • Earned £356,354 and spent £320,662. Although we did nearly run out of money at the beginning of the year! We struggled to find work in the first few months which led to us all feeling quite stressed. On a positive note I think we’re now a little better at business development than we were 12 months ago.

  • Worked an average of 118 days each on paid client work.

  • Had 25 leads. 3 of which converted into paid work.

  • Moved into a new office near Waterloo. And then moved again into a larger office in the same building.

  • Officially became a coop! We adopted some coop-compatible Articles of Association and joined Coops UK. Many thanks to Siôn Whellens for all his help.

  • Launched Mission Patch! It’s been used to generate over 150 mission patches, which have been printed over 3000 times. Many thanks to Puck Studios for handling our printing, and to everyone that’s bought a sticker.

  • Stopped hosting our Show & Tell events. We ran a few in early 2019 before agreeing that the dwindling attendance, along with our own external commitments, meant that it was becoming harder to justify hosting them.

  • Worked with Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (Modern Slavery Registry), Ctrl Group, Outlandish (School Cuts), FutureLearn (SCA, Google Tag Manager, Microcredentials), The Audience Agency and The University of Oxford.

  • Ran an R Training Course for The Children’s Society.

  • Enjoyed working with Tom W for week when he stepped in to cover some illness.

  • Applied for, but failed to win, a few DO&S opportunities. One of these was as part of a consortium with another supplier; which was a new experience for us.

  • Partnered with Film Fixer to apply for funding from Innovate UK. We were sadly unsuccessful.

  • Employed our first intern, Greg, for 8 weeks after he completed his degree at university. We enjoyed having him around and hope that the experience will help him in his search for a full time job.

  • Held at least 2 away days to discuss the bigger picture of GFR.

  • Donated to Shelter, Place 2 Be, Cancer Research UK, Centrepoint, Great Ormond Street, British Heart Foundation, MS Society, Barts charity & No stomach for cancer, Mind, Crisis.

  • Attended the CoTech Spring Gathering, sponsored and attended CoTech’s Goodnight Disruption event as part of London Tech Week and sponsored a desk in the new Space4 office.

  • Enjoyed sharing our office with Chris and Edwin of True Footprint.

  • Joined the Global Climate Strike in September.

  • Celebrated James’s 10th anniversary of joining GFR.

  • Agreed to stop writing regular “Interesting links” and “Week notes” blog posts. We’d slowly drifted out of the habit of writing these and so made the collective decision to remove them from our list of regular GFR tasks.

  • Released 9 updates to Mocha. Excellent work, James, and thanks for all your help, Nitish.

  • Enjoyed an average of 34 days holiday each.

2020 Goals

  • Last year Go Free Range turned 10, and we also changed our articles of association to “officially” become a co-op registered with co-ops UK. We’d like to celebrate this with our friends and colleagues.

  • For a while we’ve felt uncomfortable paying ourselves mostly in dividend. Beside the ethical question, it also makes it harder to have different levels of remuneration based on, for example, days worked per week. We’re planning to switch to paying ourselves using salary only in 2020.

  • While a worker-owned company doesn’t need to focus on “growth” to keep investors happy, we are keen to work with different people, and have the capability to work on larger, “full-stack” projects. We’re planning to think about ways we could bring more people into GFR, including the idea of taking on another intern (having Greg around was a highlight of 2019).

  • After a bumpy patch financially last year we’re committed this year to making sure we have enough work to make ends meet.

  • We’d like to continue to work on Mission Patch and use it as a bit of a playground for some ideas. Feeling like we have to focus on “marketing” has taken some of the fun out of working on it, so we’re going to stop worrying about that for a while and see what happens.

  • We’d like to get more involved with CoTech and see where we can help. This may include learning more about co-operative development so that we can help other co-ops get off the ground.

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