2023 Year in Review: Freischwimmer

In 2022, I thought that the next year couldn’t get any more exhausting. I was wrong.

At the same time, 2023 was a year full of breakthroughs. I have probably never achieved so much in one year:

Friendly “in the black”* for the first time

At our 3rd Friendly team retreat in Budapest

In the first three years of its existence, Friendly generated a loss* of 72 520 CHF.

As a bootstrapped start-up without investors, I had to fill this hole out of my own pocket. My finances became so tight that I had to borrow over 50 000 CHF from friends and family.

I am all the more pleased that Friendly achieved a profit* of 13 795 CHF** in 2023 and that I didn’t have to contribute any more money for the first time.

And there are numerous other positive developments:

  • Annual net revenue increased by almost 60%, from 174 712 CHF in 2022 to CHF 278 558 CHF** in 2023.
  • The number of customers increased by over 40% from 84 to over 120, including a Swiss bank for the first time.
  • After an almost three-year-long thriller, we were able to protect FRIENDLY®️ as a registered word mark in Switzerland.
  • We enjoyed our third team retreat, this time in the Hungarian capital, Budapest
  • We received the swiss made software and swiss hosting labels
  • We published our first case study with Knies Kinderzoo & Knies Zauberhut.
  • Spoiler alert: we passed the initial certification for the ISO 27 001 (information security) and ISO 9 001 (quality management) standards!

* “In the black”, “loss” and “profit” are deliberately put in quotation marks because I have not yet paid myself a salary for my work and, as a sole founder without investors, I have yet to make up for the loss so far.
** Extrapolated, based on the numbers for January-November 2023

Stability at Wortspiel

At Wortspiel’s 10. (!) team retreat in Sarajevo

My agency Wortspiel was characterized by calm and stability in its eighth year of existence.

The fluctuation in the team was 0%. There were also few changes in terms of customers. We lost mandates in the expected range and gained a few new customers.

At 443 049 CHF (-3%), net sales were almost on a par with the previous year.

That makes me proud. My goal was never to build one of the biggest companies in its industry, but one of the best.

The fact that we have existed for almost a decade proves that Wortspiel creates value for employees and customers.

Atomic Habits: Ice baths, walks and no more overtime

Many small good habits can make a big difference.

After the cold showers, I went one step further in 2023 and incorporated ice baths into my daily routine.

Apart from convincing myself, the big challenge was implementing it. The obvious way of dumping ice cubes into the bathtub is quite time-consuming, expensive and has a poor energy balance.

I found the solution in this video on YouTube:

So I bought a standard freezer with a capacity of just under 300 liters, waterproofed it amateurishly with pool sealant and filled it up with a garden hose, which I attached to the tap in the kitchen using an adapter. I cool the water to 0 degrees by running the chest freezer on the coldest setting for about three hours a day using a timer.

My self-made ice bath

Since then, I have taken a two-minute ice bath almost every day, usually in the late afternoon. It takes effort every time, but it’s worth it.

According to studies, exposure to cold stimulates circulation, reduces inflammation in the body, is good for blood circulation and digestion and lowers the risk of cancer. It also noticeably releases happiness hormones.

For me, it helps to “extend” the day. I usually work from 8 am to 5 pm. Without an ice bath, I am so exhausted afterwards that I no longer feel like social interaction or other activities. After the ice bath, I’m full of energy again and can use more of the day wisely.

Another habit I’ve built up is more discipline when it comes to working hours.

In the early years of my entrepreneurial “career”, I often worked evenings and weekends.

I now only do this in emergencies. It makes me feel healthier and more balanced – and I get at least as much done as before. Parkinson’s law sends its regards:

“Work contracts to fit in the time we give it”

Last but not least, I go for a walk for at least 45 minutes every day. Since I’ve been doing this, I haven’t had any more feelings of depression.

To summarize, these are some of my regular habits:

  • Cold shower: 2 minutes in the morning
  • Ice bath: 2 minutes in the afternoon
  • Walk: at least 45 minutes a day
  • Exercise at home or in the gym: at least once a week

Divorce is final and binding

Finalizing my divorce also took a lot of time and energy. With two children, two companies, a house and no prenuptial agreement, it was a complex matter.

I am happy and relieved that we were able to find an amicable solution. I was able to keep my companies, my ex-wife got the house, I pay alimony, we share custody and my two daughters visit me every second weekend and during three weeks of vacation per year.

Hello 2024

I no longer set myself goals or resolutions for the future because that is an illusion. They don’t usually work out anyway. And who knows what the future holds and whether we’ll even live to see it.

Instead, since last year I have switched to focusing on the here and now. I try to live in the moment.

It’s not goals for the future that help me to do this, but priorities for the present.

My priorities for 2024 are:

  • more love for others and more generosity
  • less time for work
  • more time for myself, family and friends
  • live healthier

“If you live in the past, you get depressed. If you live in the future, you get anxious. If you live in the now, you have peace.”


PS: This is the fifth year for which I have written a review. Here are the editions for 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019.

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