It seems kind of obvious now, but building and working on something that scratches my own itch is an absolute game changer.
I've worked for companies that built software that wasn't used internally. I've also built apps in where I wasn't included in it's main demographic.
Now at the time, I felt like I was giving my all to those projects. But every once in awhile ( other developers will know what I'm talking about ) I would get these complaints about how the software ran a tad slow, or how a button doesn't really make sense where it's located and should be moved two inches to the left, or how the hierarchy of pages or screens seems a bit backwards.
Here's where the problems arise. As the builder/creator of the product, it's easy to chalk these complaints as nothing more than... complaints. Does it really make sense to make these changes? "It's most likely user error" is a pretty popular saying I hear and say.
Plus, what's the cost/time of making these changes? Does several days of development time really make sense to rewrite HTML to move the button two inches? ( Idk for whatever the reason moving that button destroys the layout of the rest of the page, It happens )
The point is, there is a conflict of interest there. The user just wants the app to be easy to use. The creators/builders have to outweigh the resources used to make or build the change to make the app easier to use, even though the creators/builders aren't even fully convinced that the change will actually accomplish that because they don't use the product!
But... if the builders and users are one in the same... the conflict of interest essentially disappears. You'll know if these complaints are justified because you'll experience them as well! And if they are justified, you'll make the changes because you want to be able use it with ease! You'll do it for yourself if anything.
Scratch your own itch, because we're all selfish. And what's good for you, becomes what's best for the product, which is what's best for the users, which benefits.... You.
I really started pondering what something Gary Vaynerchuk recently said in one of his viral videos...
"Enjoy the process, not the end goal".
Those words didn't really mean a whole lot to me until recently, but what I've learned about myself in the last year of working for myself is this.
I don't need the super riches. I don't need a fancy car. I don't need fancy clothes. I actually used to enjoy shopping, I used to dream about owning a Dodge Challenger ( maybe that's not really all that fancy, but hey I like it )
But nowadays, it seems like I want to do is code apps, film and edit videos, post on Instagram... ya know... work!
Maybe that makes me a workaholic, which granted... I believe I am.. but... what's wrong with loving what you do? And Doing what you love?
If all I wanted to do was play video games... you might think I was passionate. But if I was making money doing that... does that make me a workaholic?
The point is... If you truly enjoy what you do, the "escapes" of nice things don't mean as much, because you're already winning a game that most people don't even know they're playing.
The game of being happy with something "you have to do" for almost your entire adult life.
The game of job fulfillment.
And when you love what you do, you're willing to work like crazy. You're willing to sacrifice more than others ( and sometimes not even feel like you're sacrificing anything at all). You'll outlast and outwork others who are just in it for the end goal, because you're just enjoying the hell out of yourself.
And sometimes... the end goal... success. May just be a byproduct.
People emulate what is sexy. They flock to it.
I don't think I'm stating anything new, but I do find the application quite interesting. For instance... if you can take something that is thought to be boring, and make it sexy... people won't think it's boring anymore.
"It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy everyone would do it." - Tom Hanks, A League of their own.
"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have" - Tim Ferriss, Author and Angel Investor
I love these quotes because I think they have a lot of truth in them. Shit is hard. There are so many things I feel like that take painstaking, uncomfortable inducing, social life sacrificing, pain enduring moments, that could really benefit my career or life, especially in the long run.
Well... knowing what to do is one thing... but doing it is a complete other ball game!
Like I said... shit is hard. But looking back at some of the hardest and most uncomfortable moments I willingly put myself through... moments that really helped me fast track certain aspects of my life... there is a particular thread that connects them all.
In order for this to make sense, we'll have to go through some of these moments. Shall we?...
If I could start my entrepreneur journey all over again, I think there's a few things that I would have done differently to make sure it would go a bit smoother. I decided on bootstrapping for many reasons, and I still would do it again, but looking back, I realized how important and beneficial some resources are.
One specifically comes to mind.
For awhile now I've been thinking that being an entrepreneur and being content where I am... are total polar opposites.
I mean... an entrepreneur needs to be hungry, always looking to improve and to grow. Especially in the beginning stages, I was never fully satisfied with the amount of work I put in a single day, and that fueled me to work even harder and longer the next day.
And when I did start seeing some success... yeah having several customers is great... but I needed more to build up cash to expand, or to grow my ad budget, or to pay for some servers for the next project.
And even businesses that are super successful, becoming stagnant can breed room for an "Uber" to completely take over the market essentially over night.
So... how can you be always looking to grow and stay hungry... how can you be an entrepreneur... and be content and happy at the same time?
Motivation, Habits, and Discipline. Three very different takes on how to help get us to where we want to be.
I've implemented all three in some form or fashion over the years and all have merit... as well as pitfalls.
Let me explain:
If you are starting off with little content on your website, it's hard to come up with a way to drive traffic without buying ads.
What makes it worse is that because you have little content, you don't have much to share on your social networks...
It's a bad place to be, but there is some hope! I'm going to show you a way in where you can drive traffic to your website, just by sharing someone else's content.
I built an app, called Iron HUD. It was making me a grand total of about $23 a month.
After a few weeks, I decided to run an experiment. So... I strategically changed the price of the app, without changing any core features. The very next day, I doubled that $23 in a single day, which eventually averaged to about $1400 a month in sales ( close to $1000 in actual income after Apple takes their cut ). Not bad for a single app for an indie developer.
This was an amazing lesson for me in how the right pricing & monetization for my app can be part of a very effective strategy in increasing my app sales.
So what did I do? What did I price my app to in order to make this huge 600% increase in sales? It turns out that simply changing the price wasn't really the reason of the increase. Don't get me wrong... it helped, but it only played a small part of what really made the difference. The true differentiator, is that I started thinking like a salesperson, and not a developer.
This question has popped up quite a bit for me as of late. As a solopreneur, I have to be the one who has to do everything. I can't delegate ( mostly, I have some tricks on how I sort of delegate ). When I'm planning big picture stuff, I can't execute. When I'm executing, it's hard to remember how this fits in the big picture. I recently started putting a lot of effort into growing my email list. So I started my brand, got on to social media, and started blogging. These things aren't my forte, I'm an engineer!
Because of all this, I seemed to ask myself almost daily, "Am I being effective or busy? Am I wasting my time working on this?"
There's nothing worse to me than wasted time, but there are a few ways I have learned to get past this nagging question.