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?





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.





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.





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.





One year of starting up

16 10 2008

Back on October 16, 2007 I set up shop here at AnotherStartup and began my journey toward a product launch.  Truthfully, I had been considering commercialization (and blogging about it) for over a year, but the creation of this blog was a milestone in that it marked the official beginning of my Masters project at Purdue.

So it’s been a year since I began to commercialize ClimbPoint in earnest, and it’s been fun watching my ideas grow into realities.  Here’s a look at what’s happened over the past year…

A few stats

My three most popular posts have been on crafting an effective elevator pitch, designing a decent logo, and finding icons for Windows applications.

I’ve also watched traffic to the blog increase steadily over the past year, and at this point I’m very close to breaking 300 page views per month.  The last time I checked I also had 10-12 people who subscribe to the site feed or receive email updates.  So the blog is still relatively small, but I expect that it will continue to grow steadily.

AnotherStartupStats

Above: page views per month since October 2007.

Major milestones

There have been a number of major milestones over the past year, which are summarized below.  To this point the full release of ClimbPoint this past August was the biggest one, but I think the October announcement will eclipse that.

It’s hard for me to keep the big announcement for October under wraps, but I think it’s substantial enough to warrant a separate post.  Stay tuned 🙂

To summarize, it’s been a great ride so far.  There have been many ups and downs, but I’ve been able to move forward at a fairly steady pace.  I continue to question my motives for starting up, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.  I do know that I enjoy creating useful, mistake-proof software, and it’s always rewarding to hear positive feedback.





Learning the Art of the Start: Recap

13 10 2008

Note: this post is long overdue, and is sort of a warm-up for posts later this month.  In fact, this Thursday is the first birthday of AnotherStartup.

A while back I created a series of posts on The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.  Each post below correlates with one of five sections in Guy’s book.  I’ve hit a few of the high points, but I recommend you buy the book or check out the video below if these pique your interest.

Reading and applying Guy’s ideas has been immensely helpful for me, and I still have a lot to learn about the art of starting — especially when it comes to connecting with customers and making sales (part four).

For those who aren’t quite ready to read the entire book, Tomas from The Closet Entrepreneur clued me in to a 40 minute talk on the Art of the Start given by Guy himself.  Guy is a great speaker, and the video below is a worthy summary of his book.





Spotlight on another startup

20 07 2008

Those interested in startups and watching micro ISVs get off the ground might enjoy a peek at the Agile Micro ISV blog (also linked in the sidebar). Tim Haughton, the author, is currently in an all out sprint to release and begin selling his document management software by the end of this month.

His decisions about a product name and logo were made in the span of a few days, and it’s been fun to reflect on my own approach and lessons learned while making some of those same decisions. I don’t have time at the moment to summarize his process and compare it with mine, but that’s something I’d like to do in the near future.

I’m also reminded of how motivating short development sprints like that can be, so I’m thinking of following along with a little sprint of my own. ClimbPoint 0.7 is pretty much ready to go, but there are some small details I need to take care of, namely testing — I can’t stand the thought of sending a half-baked product out the door.

Anyway, Tim’s blog is an interesting read…as for the sprint, I think for the moment I’ll continue on my “slow and steady” pace 🙂