I am a serial entrepreneur seeking personal freedom within one year. This site is about that journey.

I don’t believe in unicorns.


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And tastes like chicken!

Tastes like chicken!

I have been involved in hundreds of projects over the 17+ years I’ve been developing websites and web / mobile applications. Some of them have been really big ideas, most of them have been really small ones. In the last few years, I have invested in  2 very large “big idea” type projects that completely and utterly failed to launch. I say this with no sense of pride… because I was actually a lead developer and partner on both of those projects. Both of these projects were really great ideas. Everyone we showed them to thought so, especially our moms. Both of these projects ran out of money before they were able to release. This is why I don’t believe in unicorns.

What I have learned since then is that there are two major things we did wrong in both cases.

  1. We did not find customers willing to pay before we started building
    My feeling is that if we had gone out early, before even starting to build the project in order to find several customers willing to put money on the table … this would have verified value, helped us to set goals specific to who was actually paying, and these early adopters would have helped us to promote the product when we really needed it… in the beginning.
  2. We did not release / iterate features soon enough or in short enough cycles
    We tried to eat the whole elephant, and not one spoonful at a time either.  If we had found our customers first before starting to build… and then asked them what they wanted, they may have told us that they needed / wanted something entirely different from what we were building. By shortening your release cycle on your products and features, you have many more opportunities to ask your customers if you are going in the right direction. A year of development on a product is way too long.

Hopefully these two rules will save you the pain that I went through to learn them.

Let me know in comments if you have had any experience with this!

 

How I learned that jelly beans are actually bunny poop


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I have a confession to make. I love children’s movies.

I suppose that this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, after all… I do have a 4 year old son.

Today he was watching a movie called ‘Hop’, which is a cute Easter movie about a bunny who doesn’t want to be an Easter bunny. Yeah, I know it’s not anywhere near Easter, but hey… he’s 4, and so who cares?

SPOILER ALERT! 🙂

Beyond the fact that the lead bunny poops jellybeans (mmmm… watermelon!), part of the reason I like this and other movies like it is because of the message that they send.

E.B., who is the main character and the Easter bunny’s teenage son – is expected to take over the family business. However, he does not want to be an Easter bunny, he wants to be a drummer and so he runs away and then is chased down by bunny ninjas who are part of the Easter bunny’s royal guard. What is he thinking? I mean… his initials are E. B. for pete cottontail’s sake!

Irontail doesn't like what I did there.

Irontail doesn’t like what I did there.

E.B. is run into by Fred O’Hare (I’m not making this stuff up) quit literally… as Fred hits him with his car. Fred is an unemployed slacker being hassled by his father to ‘man up’ and get a real job. So there is the theme, as these two characters connect … one who is confident in his dream and actively working on it, the other who is still trying to realize it but is being oppressed by his dad.

We will throw off the yolk of our opressors!

We will throw off the yolk of our oppressors!

Fred ‘helps’ E.B. fulfill his dream of being a drummer by stumbling through an interview for a mail room position when E.B. finds a recording studio where he is able to play a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” with The Blind Boys From Alabama, which then sets off a series of events leading to E.B. meeting with The Hoff for an audition where he plays drums to Taio Cruz’ Dynamite.

Hasselhoff is German for Awesome.

Hasselhoff is German for Awesome.

During the process of Fred helping E.B. to fulfill his dream of becoming a drummer… Fred realizes his own, that he wants to be the Easter Bunny, which is crazy because well… Fred is human! E.B. helps him anyhow… despite him thinking that it is a hare brained idea (I heard that groan), and despite his limitations, Fred actually excels at it because he has finally found joy in something he loves to do!

The movie’s primary antagonist is Carlos … one of the Easter Bunny’s chick minions who attempts a coup d’état (french for coup d’état) because he also has aspirations to become the Easter bunny.

So, I got several things out of the movie:

1) Don’t let others dictate what your dream is for you. You need to be responsible for figuring it out yourself.

2) Helping others fulfill their own dream / destiny will help you discover and fulfill your own

3) Present limitations do not determine future success

4) There is always someone willing to steal your dream. Defend it!

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 3 (Value)


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In the previous post in this series, I wrote about the mindset that you need to cultivate in order to intentionally build your business with personal freedom as your goal. In this post, I am going to talk a bit about something that relates to mindset, and that is value.

If YOU are the only value that your business offers, it will be very challenging for you to ever reach your goal of personal freedom. When evaluating the products and services that your business offers, are these things that only you can fulfill for your customers? The self employed and professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc…) are especially challenged with this problem because they are usually stuck in the situation where they are trading time for money, and their skills are usually specialized. This is, after all why they are getting paid, right? It can be difficult to get out of this cycle, but not impossible.

Where does a hamster go for Spring Break? Hamsterdam!

Where does a hamster go for Spring Break? Hamsterdam!

If the only value that your business provides is the result of trading time for money, your business will forever be spending time to make money, and you will have a very difficult time creating scale because you will always be limited by the amount of time in any given day and limited by the number of talented people you have to fill that time. This is particularly an issue for businesses who require highly skilled individuals to perform the work. The more skilled the service you are offering, the harder it is to find quality people so that you are able to scale.

One approach that you can take to solve this problem is by developing value added products and services for your clients, focusing on those things that you are able to Delegate, Document, and Automate while pricing for value instead of by the hour. Here’s an example…

My wife went to a chiropractor for an issue that she was having with her neck and shoulder. A few weeks later, I went in with her to talk with the doctor, review her x-rays and evaluate our options. While I was in the waiting room, I watched as 4 or 5 patients sat on some kind of a chair that swivels. It was pretty funny watching them, as it looked like they were sort of dancing the merengue while sitting down. There were also people there doing various stretches and using all sorts of torture devices hanging from the walls and ceiling. These people were all there for more than an hour while we waited for the doctor to see us. When we went in, after reviewing her x-rays and talking for a bit… he explained his pricing plan … several packages ranging from $1200 to $5000. Included in some of the packages was the option of doing all these funny stretches and exercises for an hour every visit. An actual ‘adjustment’ is anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes long, and he also had a masseuse who comes in for patients with certain packages. This guy had delegated the work to his patients by documenting and automating a process that they could use in order to get well on their own… and he had also added value beyond himself by offering the services of a masseuse.

Petting is so pas·sé.

Petting is so pas·sé.

He also does not charge by the hour at all, but by the session, or rather by the package. Remember what I said about adjustments being anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes? This is the actual time he spends with you. Each session cost might cost $125 but if he averages 30 minutes with you and the rest of the time you’re outside his office dancing in your seat, he is dancing all the way to the bank averaging $250/hr.

This is what is known as ‘Value Pricing‘. The entire time he was there, he didn’t mention hourly rates at all, he presented everything he does based on the value it has to us. Is it worth $5000 to get my wife out of pain? You better believe it.

Hopefully this post helps you on your journey to personal freedom and gives you a good start to exploring value pricing, and learning how to value your time in your business.

What steps are you taking to increase your value? Let me know in comments or else just say hello!

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 2 (Mindset)


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Is that a bad thing?
In this series, I’m writing about how to build your business in a way that it will run without you around. The first thing that I want to talk about is the mindset that you need to cultivate in order to begin to either pull yourself out of your existing business or to intentionally build and manage your business with personal freedom as the goal.

First and foremost, you need to determine that you are a business owner, not a manager. What’s the difference? Glad you asked. A business owner works ON their business, a manager works IN their business. As a business owner, you may need to occasionally wear the manager hat … but your goals are usually different. You should constantly evaluate your business from the perspective of an owner looking at it from the outside.

Another way to think about this is that a business owner develops systems and processes that are then managed by roles (people) placed within them.

Any time that a task comes across your desk, you should be asking these questions:

  1. Am I the only person who can do this?
    If you are not the only person who can do this, why are you doing it? If you are the only person doing this, spend some time thinking if that is actually true… and if it is, why? Hire champions who you can trust, learn how to delegate and get really good at it. For the bonus round, learn how to train champions to train champions.
  2. Is this something that can be documented?
    I used to spend a lot of my time supporting clients and staff on things that they really could take care of themselves if they knew how. I have since gotten into the habit of saying ‘Please make sure to document this if it isn’t already’ when-ever I delegate anything. In some businesses a simple FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page will suffice. Other businesses use larger systems like a Knowledgebase or a Wiki. No matter what you use, make sure that your clients and staff know where they can find information that they need without asking you for it.
  3. Is this something that can be automated?
    9 times out of 10 the answer is probably going to be yes. With a little time and effort I am willing to bet that most things related to the daily support of your clients in your business can be automated. If you are in a service industry, you might not be able to automate the actual service … but I am confident that there are many things that can be automated surrounding it. As a quick example… I used to keep track of all the time I spent on every task manually, and then invoice my clients manually after pulling in all of those tasks as line items into invoices within QuickBooks. I have since automated that entire process so that when I start any task, the timer starts automatically. Timesheets are sent weekly to my clients, and invoices are created and sent based on those timesheets. This works for me as well as any of my staff with zero effort. I used to spend hours every week reviewing varied timesheets and invoices sent to me by all my contractors and then placing all that information into invoices to send to my clients. I don’t do that anymore, and now I have more time to focus on working ON my business instead of IN my business.

I hope that this post was helpful and begins to clarify the direction that I want to take you on your own journey to personal freedom! Stay tuned for the next post in the series, and please let me know in comments what you are using to help you develop a personal freedom mindset!

Find out more about projects that I’m working on here, and stay tuned for the next post in the series!

This month’s 30 Day Hustle project for January 2014


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wordpress-logo

If you use WordPress, this will be of interest to you.

As part of my 30 day hustle with Jon Acuff,  this month I am working with one of my partners and good friends Deepak Oberoi on a small project to be launched before the end of this month. It is a business setup to support the needs of those who use and maintain WordPress enabled websites and blogs. In addition to custom WordPress development, We are going to be offering the following services on a monthly, weekly or daily basis:

WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates
Wordpress Backups
Wordpress Security Audits and Intrusion Protection
Wordpress Spam prevention
Wordpress Optimization (speed, database, performance, and seo)
Wordpress Uptime Monitoring (Pro-active and 24/7)

This service would be great for an individual, business or organization who has a WordPress website and wants the peace of mind of knowing that it will be optimized, updated, secure and available. Anyone familiar with recent security issues with WordPress and various hacking attacks should totally understand how important a service like this is.

If this sounds like something that you could use, and if you would be interested in receiving a discount and a free gift when we launch, complete the form below so that we can send you more information when we are ready to go! Also… feel free to share with anyone else you think might benefit.

 

 


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