Recently my main source of work ended and it caused me to reflect on where I want to go with my career. I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship but have only made a few half-hearted attempts that didn’t really go anywhere. So this time, I’ve resolved to take the next 6-12 months off to just work on my own ideas and see if I can make something happen and get it to the point where I have business income to cover my (fairly low) expenses. I would consider it a success if I could get to $3000/month by next July.
I’ll be using this blog as an effort to track my progress and hopefully to offer tips to other people about things I’ve learned along the way. If I can go from no previous experience and no audience and build a business, anyone else should be able to as well.
My first attempt is going to be an info course.
I recently attended a 10-day Vipassana meditation course completely shut off from the outside world. During the course I realised that a lot of the time when I’m doing programming, I’m very much in my head and can be very disconnected at times. I don’t think I’m alone like this. Just go to any programmer’s meetup and look around.
A lot of what was taught in the course - be aware, be present, just accept reality - is something that I don’t do on a regular basis and I believe this hurts my work and doesn’t allow me to get the best out of myself.
A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about Programming Spiritually and thought I’d like to expand that into an 8 week course.
Many times on Hacker News I see posts from people that have become depressed or lost their interest in programming. I know what it’s like because I’ve been there and have figured out how to overcome it and think it could be of help to people.
After coming up with the outline about how the course will be structured and the contents, I realised that I faced a lot of doubt in my mind.
“Oh, this will never work.” “No one will be interested in it.” “It’s such a niche product, no one will buy it.”
But these are lies. I don’t know the future and no one else does either. The only way to find out if it works is to try it and see. If it doesn’t work then at least I’ll learn something from the experience for next time. Life works incrementally. One thing leads to another. I just need to trust myself that I had this idea for a reason and enjoy whatever comes from the experience.
I decided just to use a simple sales page initially for the course. A friend sent me a few examples of good ones he’s seen and actually I don’t know if it helped to see them. They were very bright with lots of images and visually pleasing to look at. The copy was very well done. This caused more doubt in my mind because my initial version looks nothing like them.
But then I realised that I may be looking at the result of years of work and tweaks and improvements. Who knows? Maybe they started from the same place as me? I just need to realise that they have different resources and experiences at their disposal so just focus on my own development and listen to the feedback that I get.
The most successful entrepreneurs are the best at trusting themselves. I read this article the other day with a quote from Richard Branson about listening to your gut:
Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you. They are there to make things easier. For me, business is a ‘gut feeling’, and if it ever ceased to be so, I think I would give it up tomorrow.
One of the reasons for me working on my own ideas is so I can learn more about myself and learn to trust myself more. In this world of information overload and a multitude of other people’s opinions, it’s probably something we all can do a little more.
Edit: Programming Spiritually is now available.
Coming up next time: Breaking the course down into an MVP that can be launched as soon as possible. In other words, “Marty, you’re just not thinking 4th dimensionally!”