Category Archives: Startups

Don’t be so afraid.

When I was young, I was so afraid of the dark, that if I was visiting a friend, and it was time to go home, whilst dark, I would run, right up the middle of the street.

I now understand that was a primal instinct. The lizard brain, screaming that it doesn’t like the possibility that something unknown could even exist, never mind threathen our life.

Now, I enjoy going for a leisurely stroll, at night time, around the neighbourhood. I know their are some places in the world where this wouldn’t be advised, there are also places where this would be magical. We make a choice on what to focus on, or to believe in.

The point is, we become better at judging risk, by being exposed, by building awareness of the facts – calculating the risk. Then, the more we take action the better we become.

Our senses are programmed to be heightened and feel fear when confronted by the unknown, when we limit ourselves and stay where we feel comfortable, we don’t grow, we never experience the joy on the other side. The joy being either a feeling of accomplishment or that we were able to overcome our fears and realise that it wasn’t so bad, and in the majority of cases is actually quite exciting.

It’s self-perpetuating, the more we expose ourselves to unknowns (risk), and find the courage to overcome our fears, the more we confirm that not only, will we be fine, we actually benefit from seeking challenging opportunities.

Still doesn’t mean I like snakes though.

#takerisks #embraceyourfears

Optimizing for happiness?

The following is a little exploration on the above, which, for me, boils down to a simple conscious choice – what’s more important, helping the people around you, or making money?

Counting the cost?

Some say when you have money you are in a better position to help people. Some say you should count the cost.

So, what is the cost of money? Or is this really a question of how we choose to make our money? And what are those choices?

  • Job (You have a job).
  • Freelance/Run a business (You own a job).
  • Own a business (Others work for you).
  • Invest in assets (Money works for you).
  • Build your own assets (Time works for you).

What is the cost, what is it that we have to invest?

  • Health – when being paid by someone else they’ll generally put their interests first, e.g. long hours, shared stress, market rates not value based pay.
  • Time – when someone else decides how we spend our time it is hard to help others, or work on ourself, or our own ideas.
  • Freedom – when someone else approves our time-off it is hard to take time to reflect if our activity is making us happy, or allowing us to explore new opportunities.

Which one of our money-making choices allows us to optimize for happiness?

To give a little perspective, here’s my philosophy:

  • Health before Wealth.
  • Money while we Exercise and Eat Fresh.
  • Pursue the interesting, Money will follow.

Optimising for finance?

I was once very focused on optimizing my finances, it wasn’t a bad thing, I was a pupil of Robert Kiyosaki and Jim Rohn, they provided great insight, JR said it’s important to set goals and measure progress, he said at least your financial position is easy to quantify, it is one way, your bank balance is a number. RK taught me about assets and liabilities, i.e. what credits or debits that bank balance.

My flow chart capturing insight from Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki)

Measuring happiness?

I’m now asking, is there a better way? To optimize for happiness.

To optimize, we still need a measure, so how do we measure happiness?

Happiness is a feeling not a number, right? How do we measure a feeling? Do we simply have to listen to ourselves?

I recently began following the work of Simon Sinek, the idea being – a feeling of fulfilment is what makes us happier, which he states, as human-beings, we get from helping the people around us. This is what provides a true feeling of self-worth. 

If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.  (Simon Sinek)

For me it has been a moment of enlightenment, an epiphany. Shifting my focus, to find ways to help those around me. For the sake of my family, I also need to balance the risk to my finances.

How do we measure how much we’re helping others? I’m not sure yet, somehow we need to track our progress. This article is both an activity, an exploration and a measure. I made a conscious effort to share, I hope it helps someone.

Optimizing for happiness.

Here’s how I intend to optimize for happiness:

To use my skills to market, build and sell our own digital assets, which will require minimum effort to scale or replicate, therefore giving our future selves the gift of time and money.

I will be a part-time best selling coder, spending the rest of my time helping the people around me.

I will listen to myself:

I made a healthy income as corporate consultant, it helped me buy assets and liabilities, it did not make me happy. I can make good income as a contract software developer, producing assets for others, it makes me happier. My wife runs a successful community, she asked for my help to grow and monetize this using technology. I don’t know what income we will make helping my partner as technology support, it is however, making me the happiest. Simple choice, right?

 

Are you a developer who wants a Best Selling Startup?

Three risks to consider in a startup.

  • People Risk – Are we the right people to solve this problem, to sell this solution?
  • Market Risk – Are we solving a real problem for real customers who would be willing to pay?
  • Engineering Risk – Is the problem solvable by technology and do we have the skills to actually build it?

One of our major goals as a software startups should be to focus on building a best selling software company. Just to ensure it’s clear, it’s easier fix a poor product with lots of customers, than fix a great product with little or poor customers. This requires 2 skills:

  • selling software – finding the quickest ways to get customers who are willing to pay for value delivered.
  • building ‘good enough’ software – going agile – deliver customer value quickly with minimum development effort.

Developers are mostly always hungry to build first, usually to build a prototype, which decreases Engineering Risk, this not only proves they have the skills, it then puts the spotlight on someone else. We’ve built it, it’s your turn to sell it.

We have to change this mindset. We need everyone to focus on removing the Market Risk first. What can engineering do to help prove that customers would buy a solution? before building products that no-one wants. If we can’t change this mindset then our People Risk just went high!

Smart Developers can now play a huge part in decreasing Market Risk. We have to leverage The Internets. You have the technology skills, you understand The Internets, help your team build the customer base first, using science.

If you choose to play this role and develop these skills, your value to organisation is increased significantly and you should be compensated accordingly. Over to you to go research the science of Growth Hacking.