Building a business

I tried to build a business for 9 months. I worked on the tech solely. I left my job to focus on it while my two partners kept theirs. I worked from home. We made some money but didn’t manage to grow much. I’m back at work and excited to be.

Why I built a business?

I’m interested in programming and I wanted to do a lot of it without others to show me the way. I’m interested in business and I wanted to decide what to do and how best to solve problems before it gets to typing. I wanted to get closer to the real world and feel like a bigger fish. I wanted to work in a small problem domain, with less complexity I could focus on programming.

How was it?

At times really fun and at others quite hard. It was incredibly useful for learning to build software, I got the hours in and I had to think for myself and see how decisions would come to bite me sooner or later.

It was hard to motivate myself when there was little urgency…  I guess not much different to a 9 to 5. While there is no-one to bring you up when you’re down there is also no-one to bring you down when you’re up, I really got into the zone at times.

I picked up momentum and once you I had it I wanted to work quite a lot but if I lost it then regaining it was hard. To recover my mojo I tried:

  1. To tackle some smaller tasks and build myself back up through small wins, just an hour or two a day can be enough to get you excited again and do 6-10 hours a day from there.
  2. Have a business meeting to regain excitement and focus on the most important things.
  3. Conversely, when I had momentum I often lost it if I went on holiday which is really hard to get around without someone else working with you to carry the momentum.

Looking back it was easy to feel that I hadn’t achieved much. Maybe I didn’t achieve that much. Maybe I failed. That’s quite hard to take on the chin. I took some refuge in thinking that it’s better to have gotten a little way along in the right direction than to build a lot of the wrong thing. And this line of thinking led me to focus on really figuring out what to build before typing away.

What have I learnt?

The most difficult part of building a business is having a very clear idea of what problem it solves and how you get from nothing to solving it. A few eureka moments suddenly changed the way I was viewing the problem and what solution to build.

I felt I didn’t get that far. But writing software is an exploratory process and what you build is an expression of a solution to a problem. It was easy to forget that I deleted a lot of code as well as writing it, that ultimately I was trying things out and where I ended up was somewhere along the journey from nothing to an OK product.

No business works without getting out there and finding customers and difficult interactions and emotional effort. In reality, if I cared less about the technical side and improving my skills, I should have built the most basic thing and gotten out there and found some customers, seeing what they value most and then built that.



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