The secret sauce of an entrepreneur

9 02 2010

The week after I posted my simple business plan, I was workin’ it.  I did everything I could to make at least one sales call per day to keep the momentum going.  I always found that after that first call I found energy and motivation to make a few more.  It’s always getting started that’s the hard part.

And so I’ve been thinking about what makes a good entrepreneur.  And one quality I keep coming back to is determination.  Or to better phrase it, “pigheaded discipline and determination“.

This means making non-negotiable disciplines truly non-negotiable, and relentlessly pursuing my business goals every day, whether I feel like it or not.

Add a dash of passion and focus, stir it up with some momentum, and I believe you’ve got the secret sauce of an entrepreneur.

Of course, the sauce isn’t the meal — you have to actually have an idea too 🙂  Anything missing from this secret recipe?

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Apologies, goal setting, and triathlons

4 10 2009

I feel the need to apologize to both of my faithful readers for the lack of “startup-related” posts the last month or so.  My original intent when I signed up to be a book review blogger was to write some insightful posts on how the book related to entrepreneurship and fit with my journey, but blogging is hard work!

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post to break up the mass of book reviews that have and will continue to deface the front page of this blog…

My triathlon

I haven’t blogged about it here, but over the past few months I’ve been training for a triathlon.  I actually completed the race last weekend (my first ever race of any sort), and the whole journey taught me quite a bit about goal setting.

First, I was amazed at how much more motivation and focus I gained from actually signing up for the race.  Never mind the fact that I had been training for three months — once I mailed in my registration form, suddenly everything I did was going to impact my performance on race day.

I thought about my nutrition, my training, my downtime, my sleep in a whole new way.  All of my energy could be focused on one goal, and it was powerful.

It also helped to have a specific day that I was training toward and approaching.  It gave all of my workouts much more meaning, knowing that I was doing something to improve my time.

I’ve thought about applying this to my next development sprint with ClimbPoint, though at the moment I’m lacking motivation.  I guess I need an inciting incident (the equivalent of a race registration form) to get me started, to move me to identify and start pursuing my next goal.

Which reminds me again how great A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is.  Go buy it and read it if you haven’t yet.  It’s a quick read.





Software that works for everyone, even non-admins

4 09 2009

So forgive me if I wax technical here for just a sec…

I’ve seen my good friend Brandon suffer headaches from running software as a limited user in Windows (e.g. not as a machine administrator).  Sometimes the software just wouldn’t install or run, but often it was crippled in some strange way.

My thought was that any developer worth their salt would have tested for this and supported non-admin users, and would allow installing the program somewhere other than the C drive (I am looking at you Google Chrome).

Sadly, I am part of the problem…but no more!  The latest release of ClimbPoint fixes the LUA bug, which incidentally is the only complaint that I’ve had from people using the program.  With that problem solved, I decided to make ClimbPoint available for download to anyone.  The latest version, despite it’s codename (Dicey at Best) is pretty solid if I do say so myself.

This post on StackOverflow motivated me to create a fix, and this guide to fixing LUA bugs was helpful in carrying it out.





Wisdom applied to starting up

3 08 2009

As I write this, I am right in the middle — man am I ever in the middle — of a huge push to release the next version of ClimbPoint, which will blow people away and remove all sorts of reasons people have had not to shell out the cash for the product (pie in the sky rah rah pitch courtesy of the FogBugz 7 vision statement).

Last month I decided that I would apply a little wisdom in releasing the new version (Dicey at Best) by August 15.  I’ve been reading Proverbs lately, and that’s one source of my idea for a development sprint (also inspired by fellow entrepreneur Tim Haughton).

Proverbs 14:23 – All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

I’ve also been inspired by the ideas of Earl Nightengale in Lead the Field, where he talks about reward being in proportion to a person’s service to others.  So in laying out the features I’d include in the next version I’ve picked the ones that I think will serve the greatest number of potential customers (kind of a no-brainer, huh?).

Anyway, in completing my development sprint I’m focusing on just two keys for success:

Work every day

Every day I’m aiming for only 30 minutes of focused work.  On most days I’ll end up working for a few hours, but none of that can happen without those first 30 minutes.  I find 30 minutes manageable, especially on those days when I feel swamped with other responsibilities.  I picked up this idea from Neil Fiore’s excellent book The Now  Habit.

Focus on starting

So my one goal each day is to start at least once.  I find that if I can keep my momentum moving forward, I’ll tend to use my mental free time to think about problems that are holding me up.  I also try to “leave a little in the tank” each day by stopping before I feel I’m stuck and by making a note of the very next thing I need to do when I come back to the project.  This tactic has really helped draw me toward work rather than repel me from it, so thanks to Twyla Tharp and The Creative Habit for that one.

Those are the two main keys, but there are many other ideas that I’ve gleaned from the books mentioned above.  I highly recommend all of them, especially Lead the Field.





Getting my MBA

1 09 2008

Earlier this summer I had the good fortune of speaking with someone about entrepreneurship who recommended The Personal MBA, which is a reading list of 77 top-notch business books.

Since learning more about business during graduate school I’ve thought a bit about the possibility of pursuing an MBA — but the reality is, I’ve had all the school I can handle for awhile.  So a Personal MBA seems like a great option at this point.

A couple weeks ago I put my Amazon Prime trial to good use and ordered the four books below with some seed funding from my grandmother 🙂 . I may order a few more before the end of the year.

So far I’m about halfway through The Ultimate Sales Machine, and I recently finished 10 Days to Faster Reading.

I was somewhat skeptical about a book on reading faster, but I can’t argue with the numbers: on Day 1 I was reading 400 words per minute with at least 90% comprehension, and on Day 10 I was at 600 words per minute and 90% comprehension.  Along the way I picked up some useful tips both on the mechanics and proper mindset of reading efficiently.

Of the set of books above, three of them are in the Quick Start category on the PMBA website.  After I finish those I’ll likely move on to a few books from the Productivity & Effectiveness section, plus one on communication:





Finding decent icons for Windows apps

12 07 2008

For the last few weeks I’ve been hard at work on a new version of ClimbPoint, and one of the features I was excited about adding was a nice toolbar to replace those tiny menus. Since I’m bootstrapping (and still looking forward to that first sale) I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on nice icons — in fact I was keen on finding something free.

There are a quite a few nice icon sets out there which are freely available, but the catch is finding ones that are free for commercial use. Most of the sets I found first, including this set for vista, were desktop icons for personal use. After a bit of searching I stumbled across the Sigma and Sophis sets at iconshock, which were reasonably priced at $130 for the general set.

While I was attempting to decide between the two sets (and justify the purchase) I happened upon a set from glyFX that was free for commercial use. Most of the other free icon sets that I found in my search were lacking at least a few basic buttons, but the Vista Complete Edition seemed to have everything I needed.

A few of the 30 icons in the glyFX free set

A few of the 30 icons in the glyFX free set

I do intend to purchase some icons down the road, but this find helps get me off the ground. Feel free to leave links to other icon sets in the comments, or check them out in action over on the ClimbPoint blog.





SEO for beginners

3 07 2008

Let me begin this post by stating that I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself an authority on search engine optimization (SEO). I do, however, feel somewhat qualified to write this post because 1. I am a beginner and 2. my site ClimbPoint is second on Google for a couple key searches.

Those who are well versed in SEO probably do not measure success only by their ranking on Google, but I do 🙂 Anyway, here are a few things that I think have helped me get on Google’s front page:

Write a blog
I know, I know, blogging consistently can sometimes seem like work — but it can also be fun and can serve a couple purposes. First, it can get your site associated with keywords in your industry (assuming that you’re blogging about industry-related topics, which I recommend). Second, Google seems to love websites that are updated frequently, thus it loves blogs (especially WordPress, it seems). Finally blogging can connect you with others who share your interests, and you never know where those connections could lead.

Be smart with your wording
This goes along with the first point, but also applies to your commercial website (assuming that your blog and website are separate). There are a number of articles on seo and keywords, but here is an inadequate summary: titles are important, use headings and links, and format as appropriate. If you’re blogging you can also tag and categorize your posts. This helps your ratings because WordPress tends to create index pages for popular tags, and your posts can show up on these pages, driving traffic to your site.

Show some link love
There are blogs out there that obviously only exist to post links on some topic like insurance or drugs to cure impotence. This is not the kind of link love I’m talking about here. By linking to relevant sites and articles you’ll both increase your site’s authority in Google’s eyes, increase the chances of someone linking to you, and possibly get a few visitors if the sites you link to show pingbacks.

Give it some time
Lastly, even though Google will soon be ruling the world it can still take a few weeks or even a couple months for them to update their indexes of the entire interweb. This means that those blog entries with carefully chosen keywords and well titled pages will take some time to make it into Google’s index. In the meantime, just keep writing — and take note of the sites that are listed on the front page for the search terms you’re interested in.

Again, I’m by no means an authority, but I felt I could offer some advice because of my success to date. It’s probably the case that the keywords that I was interested in weren’t that popular (only 237,000 pages on climbing wall software as of this writing). Hopefully though this post has given you a few ideas. Feel free to post other links and resources in the comments!