I think I figured out why some people, like me, are serial entrepreneurs: We miss not having customers to serve.
Technically, I’ve only begun one real business (360Conferences) with paying customers. However, I also built up a technical user group that served hundreds of (non-paying) customers. In addition, I’ve done some independent consulting where the customer was another business. The point is this: I’ve done a lot of things where the endpoint is providing service for someone.
I like to cook elaborate meals to achieve an unspoken give and take:
I provide them sustenance, which fills a basic need to help keep them alive
They provide the time to eat the meal, which fills a basic need of helping our relationship grow
This is true of my wife, kids, family and friends. It’s an unspoken contract where everyone benefits, unless I give them food poisoning and they yap on their cell the whole time. Neither have occurred yet though and hopefully never will. 🙂
Business is a Special Give and Take
In business, there’s also an unspoken give and take, but it looks like this:
I provide a product/service, which fills a basic need that the customer wants/needs
They provide the time/money, which fills a basic need of helping our relationship grow
In a recent post, I talked about being a Jack of All trades. I love to learn and do new things. One thing that I’ve forgotten I loved to do was cook. Last year, I travelled a lot. I rarely had time to cook other than some occasional grilling on the weekends. However, now that I work from home, I have time again to cook.
In addition to having time, I also want to start cooking more of the food that I eat. See, I created my own diet called One Minute Bite.(Yes, I really did create my own diet!) The diet requires fewer bites so I need to make sure each bite tastes good! Plus, if I’m eating fewer bites, I want to make sure I’m eating more real foods vs preservatives. I know, it’s a crazy notion, but I’m a crazy guy. LOL
I just figured it out. That stupid saying was probably introduced to me early on in life. It’s a very teacher and parental thing to tell a kid. Most adults have a hard time finding that one thing they’re great at. It would be unfair to plant the notion that there’s more than one thing.
Here’s the thing though. I’ve lived what…35 years of my life in misery, literally, misery and agony trying to find that *one* thing I’m supposed to be master of.
Self doubt sucks
“Is it art?” I wondered until my portfolio quite literally blew away in the wind one day in high school. “Is it writing?” Fiction or non didn’t really matter to me. I wrote a novel, poems, short stories, news articles, technical articles, etc. “Is it programming?” I was good at it in the eighth grade and it’s paid the bills quite steadily since December of 1997. “Is it conferences?” A short stint proved that while fun, that certainly was *not* it. LOL
“Why can’t I figure this out? What’s wrong me?” Every other day, I find myself alone somewhere (my bed, the shower, in the car, heck, even the toilet) and I ponder that. I wonder why I’m broken. “35 years and you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.”
See, that’s the thing. I figured you had to be *something*. You had to be a Master of *something*, else you’d be a useless Jack of All Trades. I wanted a sign, from God, from my parents, from my peers, anywhere. “Let me know what it is and I’ll be there. I’ll dedicate my life to it.”
I’m a developer. I’m an entrepreneur. No company is responsible for my success or my downfall. I am responsible for seeing the industry and (re)acting accordingly. As a developer, I know the pains of learning new technologies. As an entrepreneur, I know the pains of someone trying to tell me how to run my business.
Apple won the RIA War without ever joining the battle
Just about a year ago, I was chatting on the phone with Steve Weiss of O’Reilly Media. I made a statement to him then and, sadly, never made any noise about it. I think I held back the noise because I have a long relationship of working with Adobe and their products. I didn’t want to admit that I was probably right, so I said the statement, felt the pain of its truthfulness and tried to forget it. The statement was simple:
“Adobe and Microsoft are trying to push this RIA term. They’re trying to convince the world that this is a technology they want and need. They’re each trying to instill their own vision of that world: Adobe with Flash/AIR and Microsoft with Silverlight. The one thing that everyone’s missing is this: Apple has already won. iPhone apps are THE most widely used Rich Internet Apps. Apple has silently won the war and no one’s even noticed. All they have to do is enable iPhone apps to run via Safari (for cross-platform support) and they’ll have crushed both Adobe and Microsoft’s dreams.” That last bit I was off. Rather than upgrading the iPhone apps to the Mac, they upgraded the size of iPhone OS device and created the iPad.
There are many ideas being presented today. I’ll try to highlight a few and also add some personal thoughts.
The youth of today are important. It’s important to provide them the tools they need to express themselves, or else they’ll find other ways. To kick off the show with some of today’s creative youth was awesome.
Content is no longer one sided. One point hinted out early on is that content is no longer the domain of one group. Today’s web users are just as excited to create content as they are to consume it. You need to plan for that fact.
It’s important to not just build great websites or ads, but to also know how your customers think and behave. I know that I would like sites to be smarter about me. I’m tired having to re-explain myself to each website/company.
The next point is that full version Flash is coming everywhere: desktops, netbooks, smartphones and TVs. The biggest problem was RAM usage. It’s a true dilemma for Adobe and device manufactures. I, as a techie, realize that devices and computers aren’t equal in power and ram. However, my mom doesn’t understand that. Most of the public just assume that a machine is a machine.
In yesterday’s post, I talked about finding your niche. Today, I share more about my niche and my plans to get back into it.
I used to run Silvafug, the Silicon Valley Flex Users Group. During my tenure, the group accomplished a lot. (Heck even without me, the group is still doing a lot.) However, one goal eluded me, despite having a great need to be attained. I think it’s time to revisit that goal. What is it?
Helping Flex developers bridge the gap from beginner-to-mid and/or mid-to-advance level.
I’m amazed by people who have a singular passion. In addition, I’m in awe with those that have many passions, but the will power to focus on just one to the point of major success. I fit in neither of those two categories.
My curse is I work hard to be just “good enough” in one passion, then move on to another. By “good enough”, I mean good enough for me. I’ll take a rare indulgence here (take a picture, it’ll last longer) and say that my “good enough” is better than some people’s “best”. I take this odd (for me) stance for a good reason, and it’s not just to stroke my ego.
Mankind has a strange habit of staying with something that is comfortable, regardless of passion or happiness. I know people (myself included) who stayed at a job because it was easy and comfortable, long after the passion and happiness were gone. These people are giving their “best” but without passion or happiness. Therefore, when I enter the same space with passion and happiness, I can attain more in a shorter time merely because the passion will help push me further. Continue reading “Finding Your Niche Via What Makes You Happy”→
Fair readers of this blog may recall my Tic-Tac-Toe posts from awhile back. The gist of the posts was this: I wanted to learn game dev, so I built a Tic-Tac-Toe game in Flex. The plan was to start with really poorly written mxml files and then gradually improve them to more advanced AS3 files. You can play the finished game here. Now it was a lot of hardcoded logic, poor design, etc, but the point was to get something working pronto.
I pulled that game up the other day because my son and I like to play Tic-Tac-Toe on paper. After a few minutes of playing online, my 5-year old threw down the gauntlet, “Dad, can I play this on the iPod [touch]?” Never to be one to step away from a challenge, I said, “Not this one. I’ll have to make a new one just for the iPod.” To which he replied, “Okay, let me know when it’s done.”
I think about business a lot, either analyzing and breaking down a business that is serving me or thinking about my own business. I’ve done that for quite sometime. Around 1999 or 2001, I hatched an idea: Someday huge corporations will be replaced by revolving teams of contractors. Employees will be expensive and pointless. Instead, you’ll just announce a need and pay those that deliver. Workers will no longer want or care to work for anyone but themselves. They’ll prefer to work on projects they pick with people they like vs risking their future on one single corporation.
It occurred to me that business as it stood back then was flawed. It started out good, i.e. you wanted to farm out the work to a set of experts vs trying to futilely build it in house. Very quickly though the process failed. You then had to seek proposals, review each proposal, each proposal’s owner(s) had to be vetted, then a time frame was worked out, budgets setup, etc. All of which meant nothing because every project I ever saw in corporate America would go over budget and scope.
My idea was to skip the proposal and vetting stage. Let ‘s face it. Most consultancy firms hire independent contractors anyways, i.e. you end up paying a markup of 50% to 100% just so Company A or Company B can hire Contractor A. Why not just get to Contractor A and his team for the project? Skip the middle man, go straight to the source. That’s what business is all about! Continue reading “The Future of Biz – Crowdsourcing”→
I always like when people blog about our shows while they’re going on. Therefore, I felt it was only fair that I do the same for WWDC, since I’m an attendee with no responsibilities.
Today was the keynote, but everyone and their grandma will blog about that. Instead, I’ll blog about some of the other cool stuff going down today.
First off, you can really make out with some great stuff at WWDC! Here’s a picture of what I’ve received so far…and it’s just Monday.
As you can see in the picture, I made out like a bandit today. Thus far, I’ve received a Nokia 5800, Jawbone Prime, 2 rubber ducks (bath toys for my boys!), 4 shirts (FastMac, Apple, Zagg, Symbian) and a Snow Leopard Preview DVD. Life is definitely good.