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.


Fun email marketing with MailChimp

28 05 2009

mailchimp2With the recent release of ClimbPoint 0.8 I decided to take another look at email marketing software and was pleasantly surprised — no, delighted — by MailChimp.

Prior to discovering MailChimp, I used generic mailing lists in Gmail and squandered a 60 day trial of Constant Contact (I think I sent out only one email).  This article has a good summary of the major features that MailChimp offers, but there are three that appeal the most to me.

1. Easy to use

First and foremost, it’s incredibly easy to use.  In fact, I was able to just copy and paste my list of contacts from Excel directly into MailChimp.  Creating the email was pretty painless too, no webinars required!

2. Fun and entertainingmailchimp

Sending emails sounds about as dull as it gets, but I have to admit that I truly enjoy using MailChimp.  I think it’s mostly due to the chimpy compliments, but the stats are entertaining as well.  Who knew looking at stats on the most recent mailing campaign could be so addicting?

Thanks to MailChimp, I now know that about 30% of my list members actually opened and read the recent email that I sent, and about 15% actually clicked one or more links.


3. Priced for startups

I plan to send under 100 messages a month, so I could never really justify spending $180 a year on a Constant Contact subscription — that’s 15 cents an email!  MailChimp has a sweet pay-as-you-go plan which ends up running about 3 cents an email.

My recent campaign cost me all of about $5, and it looks very professional.  If you’re interested in checking it out, sign up using this link and get a $30 account credit if you decide to join!

Kudos to the team at MailChimp for a job well done!

Thoughts from my third summit

5 05 2009

This past weekend I attended the third annual Climbing Wall Association summit in Boulder, Colorado.  My third summit was substantially different from the first two — this time I arrived in Boulder with a company, a product, and a purpose.

I officially formed ClimbPoint, LLC back in January, and there are now about eight universities using ClimbPoint at their climbing wall check-in desks.  My purpose for coming to Boulder this year was to pursue connections with others in the industry who could help me get the word out about easy gym management software for universities and rec centers.

In the past I’ve come to the summit hoping to please everyone, including all sorts of commercial climbing gyms.  This year though, I resolved to disappoint commercial gym owners by letting them know I wanted to totally nail the university market first before adding features useful for their facilities.  I was pleasantly surprised by the reception I received.

It’s too early to tell whether many of the connections that I made this past weekend will result in loads of sales, but I’m psyched that I got in touch with everyone on my list, including various climbing wall manufacturers, hold manufacturers, and key CWA staff members.

To top it off, I met 5 or 6 people from Indiana (?!), two of whom are opening climbing gyms at their universities within the next year.  Should make for a very interesting summer!


As always, I’m reluctant to share all the details of my interactions and my strategy going forward — I hope the lack of detail doesn’t sap my updates of any intrigue they might have had, and I will say that I’m considering a more open approach to blogging.  More soon…

Book review: The Noticer

26 04 2009

_140_245_Book.50.coverThis past weekend I read The Noticer by Andy Andrews and was impressed by how such a quick read with a simple message could be so powerful.

Andy weaves pieces of his own life story into a tale about a man named Jones, who mysteriously appears to those in need, offering the gift of perspective.  Many meet Jones when they feel as if their life has no purpose and no chance of getting better.  Jones disagrees and offers the hope of a brighter future by viewing the person’s struggle with new eyes.

The biggest takeaway from the book for me is the truth that everything we do matters, and our perspective largely impacts what we do and how we do it.  If I truly believe that each day counts and trust that my actions are making a difference in the lives of others, I can move with confidence.

This truth is applicable to everyone, but entrepreneurs specifically can find rest and renewal in the reality of a new perspective.  I know I’ve thought hundreds of times about abandoning some of my hopes and endeavors only to be filled with renewed energy after realizing a different perspective, many times through conversations with a potential customer or friend.

Fresh perspective is always needed, and The Noticer offers a few keys to discovering and living in a new, brighter reality.

Book review blogger

26 04 2009

A few months ago I signed up to become a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson.  I’d been on a bit of a reading kick since discovering the Personal MBA and couldn’t resist the book review program when I read the details.

I really would like to post my thoughts on the five or so books from the PMBA that I’ve read (and the other Thomas Nelson book that I’m currently reading), but my schedule at this point doesn’t leave too much time for blogging.

Or, to say it more clearly — I haven’t made blogging a priority 🙂

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be posting my first official book review blogger review on The Noticer by Andy Andrews.  It was a quick read, but a good book on the importance and power of perspective.

An LLC is born…

4 03 2009

Early on the morning of January 16 I became the proud parent of a brand new LLC.  Spurred on by a couple more sales early in the month, I decided to take the plunge and register ClimbPoint, LLC with the State of Indiana.

Once I decided to move on it, the entire process was seamless and done in less than a day — who knew you could register a business in Indiana online?  My next steps are to register for an employer identification number and complete a BT-1 form so I can charge tax on in-state sales.

Throughout the entire process, NOLO’s Quick LLC has been a great resource.  And for those who aren’t as interested in learning the ins and outs of an LLC, NOLO offers an LLC Maker that promises to get the job done faster.

So for those who have wondered what I’ve been up to this winter (and it’s been a long winter), forming an LLC was at the top of the list, right below traveling to India for a friend’s wedding.

For now it’s back to working on the next couple versions of ClimbPoint, which will definitely be out in time for the CWA Summit in Boulder.

Update on my sales machine

3 11 2008

Back in September I set out to build a sales machine with the hopes of selling four licenses of ClimbPoint and attending AORE out in San Diego.  I’m happy to report that while I didn’t meet my sales goal, I did sell enough to finance my trip to San Diego last week.

So for those of you who were anxiously waiting for the big October announcement that I wrote about a few weeks ago, that was it 🙂

More info on the conference and the sales machine coming soon…