Just Do It

April 3, 2007

Nike has it right.  Just. Do. It.

I’m embarking on a new venture.  My first partner has worked out so well that I am going to seek out one partner per week, every week this quarter.  If I can get to 12 partners, with enough work to give each of them, then I’ll really be onto something.  I have proven that I can acquire more work than I can do myself, so now I am going to see if I can acquire more work than I can effectively communicate to 12 partners, and that they can complete.

Because building a business is about building a system, I am going to be implementing or finding a solution for all of the following:

  1. Centralized source code control
  2. Centralized project resources (all information about a project available in one web based repository)
  3. Automated notification emails for #2, 4
  4. Streamlined partner payment processing.
  5. Streamlined bidding (partner specific)
  6. Expanded bidding targets; diversification of project types
  7. Knowledge base, including an existing code base
  8. Collaborative assistance between the various partners

Last month, I had one partner working with me and he grossed $2,000, on which I made $563.21.  Assuming I can maintain a 25% margin on each partner, I would need to acquire about $30,000 in work per month.  I have $30,900 worth of work stacked up as of this moment, so I don’t anticipate that being a problem, particularly if the partners allow me to diversify the projects that I can bid.

Now. Just. Do. It.


Read The E-Myth

April 3, 2007

I read this book, and I highly recommend it.  At the very least, you’ll get another perspective on running a business.

For programmers, I feel the book is especially good because it caters to our natural intentions — creating a system to handle complexity.  The strongest point of the book is that you should create a system to handle your business.  You are selling that system, both to your customers and to people who would acquire your business.  It also covers some common mistakes.  For those reasons it’s worth the two evenings it’ll take you to read it.

March Earnings

April 3, 2007

Net earnings:   $8,236.01

Net Earnings from Guru.com:    $ 2,360.00

Percentage thru Guru.com:   28.7%

Gross Earnings:    $ 9,782.80

YTD Gross:      $25,382.64

YTD Net:         $23,025.85



This is a decent earnings month.  I netted enough to pay the bills, and had a decent gross as well.  I am trying to setup some more relationships with external contractors so that I can get more of the work I have done faster, and also bid more work.  There are literally hundreds of jobs per week that I am letting slip through my grasp.

The Guru.com percentage is artificially low because a lot of my revenue came from 3 clients that were each directed to me by people I know.   I would expect it to be closer to the 80% range most months.


Notes on previous months:

In February, the net was $3,786.25, but the gross was actually $200 higher.  Not a big correction, but the difference between gross and net is worth tracking.

In January, the new was $11,003.59, but the gross was$11,613.59.  Again, not a large correction, but worth noting.

With these things in mind, because I added a partner in March, it appears as though my gross is growing, but faster than my net, which is to be expected.  I am curious how much work I can do (gross) and how much of that money I can keep (net).

Help Calms

March 7, 2007

Having help is an incredible thing.  If you know that you aren’t the only one who can do something, or that will do something for your business, it is an incredible relief.  It’s backup when you need it the most.  If you own your own business then you should look into getting some backup help as soon as possible.  You can get it in either your core competency, or in something you just hate doing.  Make sure you manage the people who are helping you, but try not to get in their way either.  I am finding subcontracting to others to be the best thing I have done for my business in the year that I have been working on my own.

If you want to be the CEO, then you have to have employees, or at least business relationships with other contractors and businesses to fulfill the needs of your customers.

Another thing I learned this week:  always do a follow up.  If you bid a job for somebody make sure you are doing some kind of follow up with them.  They may not pick you for this contract, but they are going to remember the level of service you deliver.  In my case, I locked in two contracts that were in question by making sure that I did adequate follow ups.

No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

February 28, 2007

I’ve only slept 3.5 hours out of the last 60.  That’s probably not good, right?  I am so tired, that I am now not even tired anymore.  I am just in a state of permanent zombie.  Coding in this state is another thing altogether.  I do not recommend it.  I do not recommend over bidding all kinds of work because you think you aren’t going to get it all — Murphy’s law says you will get it all, and then you’ll spend two months trying to dig through the avalanche of work you have to complete.  The side effect is you make good money, and you don’t spend much money, because you are always working.  Another issue is that people don’t understand what you mean when they ask you “so, what have you been doing?” and you respond “working.”  Normal people work 40 hours per week, hate their jobs,  and go home to do the things they are really interested in.

That’s the problem with programming.  I’m interested in it.  I don’t just stop coding, reading and learning about programming because the workday ends.  If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you have the same problem that I do.  Have you ever read your way to the bottom of the programming.reddit.com page, and then thought to yourself “crap, now I have to wait until tomorrow to read more.”  I’ve never programmed in Haskell (even for fun) and I have read at least 5 articles on monads.  Don’t even get me started on currying, or y-combinators — I’m reading that stuff everyday.

Thing is, I think everybody else is slacking.  The truly driven people don’t really need to be even exceptional at what they do because everybody else is so poor at it.

End of the Month

February 26, 2007

As a street walker contractor the end of the month is a very important and stressful time.  I spend much of it either trying to finish projects that are close to completion or following up on projects that are complete and need to be collected on.  Normally, I don’t have too much of a collection problem.  I either use an escrow account, or I get half up front which normally covers the cost of actually doing the project.  I find that the biggest factor in not having a collection problem is actually getting the customer something that solves their problem.  If their problem is getting solved, generally they are more than willing to pay you right then.  If you have solved their previous problem they now consider you a valuable “problem fixing” machine, and they want to make sure you are on board with them.  I’ve never had trouble with payment when I can demonstrate that I have solved their problem.

This month is completely off balance, because I have a very large project due on the 28th.  I’ve only collected ~$4,000 this month because I’ve been busy with this large project, which is worth ~$7,300.  I have another project that I want to finish in the next 48 hours as well that is worth $3,400.  Assuming I get these projects done and I get paid, February will obviously be a very good month.  If I don’t then February doesn’t look good at all, but I would expect March to look ridiculously good.  I would rather have two pretty good months than one bad one and one ridiculously good one.   So on this Monday I am up early after only sleeping about 3 hours so that I can grind away at my projects.  The mortgage is due; wish me luck.

P.S. Am I the only one having issues with Firefox today?  I got an update for it last night and now the damn thing is freezing on me and stalling on trying to load pages.  It’s very annoying when you need to get something done.  Normally, I have no trouble with their releases, so I am a bit surprised.  If they were dog-fooding their stuff they would find this problem in maybe 5 minutes, although determining the cause is likely much more difficult and time consuming.