Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Exit Strategy

New feature development has completely stopped. All my work is now focused on getting this big monster online.

Since I've definitely decided I won't be carrying on this site (full time at least), I need to get the site online so I can at least show to others what I had been working on for the last year.

Here is my plan:

1. Get site working online.
2. Get feedback from friends and family.
2. Publish screenshots, annotations and quotes on the company website (obviously all with a positive spin).
3. Spend a few days improving company website.
4. Make myself available for freelance work by contacting family, friends and ex-colleagues.
5. Do freelance work for 2-3 months whilst I look for an interesting job.

Prioritizing Feature Development

Particletree has a great article on prioritizing feature development and managing your user's expectations.

"If you’re not careful about managing your expectations and your users’ expectations, it can end up feeling like a game of constant disappointment because the things you want to do will always be larger than what you’ve already done."

This really struck a cord with me. One of the reasons why I've been so disappointed with my own site is that it has not lived up with the dream site that filled my head. I also realise that releasing a half-baked product will not live-up to users expectations. Much of the text on the main marketing site over-promises, so the actual product is bound to disappoint.

Since my site never met my own expectations, how could it ever meet my users expectations?

Monday, 8 September 2008

The slipperly slope of motivation

Thinking about quitting is becoming dangerous, or do I mean becoming the sensible option?

I'm thinking about possible jobs. It's flexing my imagination, perhaps a little too much.

The more I think about other options, the less motivation I have for my business. It feels like a slippery slope.

I still need to get my website online even if it's just for potential employers to see.

Should I jump before I am pushed?

Just got back from holiday. I didn't feel I deserved a holiday, but its the first 5 consecutive days off I've had in a year.

Most of that time off I wasn't thinking about the website. The few times I did think about it, I was thinking about my failings over the last year. I've come back doubting everything.

Is it a dream or just a minor dip?

Sometimes people chase unrealistic dreams. Sometimes people hit upon difficulties (or 'dips' as Seth Godin calls them) and overcome then. Ultimately, the success or failings of the business determine which it was.

My motivation has hit a another low. This is why I've finding myself searching for an exit.

Was my heart in this too much? Too much heart and not enough brain?

I feel as if I should jump before I get pushed. Running out of money always forces a decision. I havn't come to that point yet. I don't want to get to that point have to ask for money and get turned down.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Losing site of the project scope

I'm shocked. I've looked at my original business plan and cash flow forecast. The system that I am building now is far beyond the orginal first version. At some point I had changed my mind over a major feature which was going to be in version 1. That feature was very specific, for a very niche market. I changed my mind and went for another feature that was broader and had a large market potential. I thought it made sense on a technical level to do the basics first before adding advanced features.

I'm shocked because I changed the market I was aiming for technical reasons. That sounds bad. I lost site of the project scope, so it was enevitable that I wouldn't keep to any deadlines.

Am I proving that I am just a programmer and don't have a head for business?

Have I aimed for a too broader market?

Do I have enough time to salvage my mistakes?

Monday, 11 August 2008

People matter more than anything

I came accross a blog post with advice from Marc Hedlund, co-founder and CEO of Wesabe.

A couple points he discussed really struck a cord with me.

"Write someone and ask them for help every day"

Friends, family, strangers on forums, anybody. If they could help, I think it's worth a try. This ties in with my last post about being too quiet. I try and solve all problems myself. Most of the time people actually like to help. I'm going to act on this advise and try to contact at least one person every day.

"Don’t get caught up thinking you need someone, just anyone, to support you. It’s far better to wait for a star."

In the early days I was concerned that I was lone founder. I thought a lot about ways that I could get another founder on board. What I never considered was being open about what I am doing. By being open, people may actually want to join me or help the company in some way.

I'm working on rectifying my mistakes by launching the website with a basic blog and writing about my story so far.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Don't Keep Quiet

Like most programmers, I use forums and mailing lists all the time. Some people post hundrends of times a day on various websites, others lurk silently in the background.

I'm one of those lurkers. Most of the time I manage to get the answer to my question without asking for help. Only when I'm desparate I tend to post. What I should be doing is joining the conversation when I have something to say. If something inspires, angers or provokes some kind of emotion, I should say something.

When I do say something I should have a link to my website and blog in the signature, so people that have interest in me can find out more. I should post messages using my company email when possible.

Obviously this blog post won't apply to everybody, but if you do own your own business you should be using every opportunity to promote it, including message signatures!