This isn’t my first try doing my own thing. I’ve put substantial effort into three previous attempts. Thinking back on these, I can identify some things that went wrong and things I should do differently this time. Putting the same thing in will get the same results, and I don’t want that to happen again.
Past attempts have been focused on giant deliverables that take large amounts of effort to achieve. In traditional product development, this is known as a waterfall approach with big deliverables and a few key dates. I’ve found that it’s been hard to keep motivation with this approach because so much work goes into meeting that next goal. It’s difficult to show progress as well. When I’ve hit those moments of despair, this makes it difficult to stay motivated, especially since I’ve always maintained a steady paycheck from employment through past attempts. Planning and achieving small milestones will allow me to celebrate more successes and pivot faster, should I need to change things.
Speaking of a steady paycheck, the final straw for my previous attempts was switching companies for my traditional career. In my three previous attempts, I was starting to struggle with my efforts to start a company and doubt was starting to set in, when I decided to switch companies to maintain that paycheck and try and improve my climb up the corporate ladder. These switches caused me to need to refocus on the career and company, learning new processes and how to do the new roles that I took, distracting me from building companies. While I don’t love my job now, I’m committed to making this attempt at starting a company work, which means no hopping to a different company, or even team.
As I mentioned, previous attempts to start a company have been grandiose with large, complex systems and applications. Taking a simpler approach and looking at the minimum viable product will help me get a product completed faster, and get customer feedback and some revenue in the door sooner. It will also alleviate some of the frustrations experienced in the past of trying to learn complicated systems and software that led to increased frustration (there are enough other sources of frustration in this maze that reducing them wherever possible is beneficial). I will be able to build up several small successes faster and feed off those when I hit difficulties.
I’ve picked an idea that has little in the way of dependencies on others. I don’t need lots of software, in fact, I don’t need any software at all, at least at the start. This has been my biggest challenge in the past – finding technical people that I could trust and that were smart and hardworking that wanted to put in a similar effort to me. There are also many more resources out there for outsourcing nowadays. From the limited research I’ve done so far, it seems that just about every piece of this process can be outsourced including design, legal, manufacturing, and distribution. It appears that, with a little money and a good idea, anybody can sheppard that idea through the process and get a product built (I know… easy to say).
Goals and Motivation
I will also say that my goals and motivation are different now than they have been for previous attempts. Previous attempts were for power and wealth. I wanted to be a titan of industry, building huge companies that returned crazy profits to investors and employed tons of people. I’ve found that these things aren’t great motivation at times. Now, I’m motivated by doing something successful with my kids and helping other people with their journey; much more noble causes than “make stupid money”.
With this new approach, I’m betting on different results, and look forward to getting further than I have before.