Two and a half months with HackDigital.net, and I’ve learned more than I could have imagined. As someone that enjoyed reading start-up literature prior to backing one’s self, there’s something to be said for actually doing shit rather than reading it. Just before kicking things off back then, a colleague told me something I happily shared on Twitter:
— Luke Marshall (@marshwah) November 28, 2013
If I had known what I knew now would I have taken the plunge?
Of course. I was stubborn, determined, and hell-bent on making things work. What it hasn’t been, is plain-sailing, and here’s some wisdom I would impart to my former self.
Two and a half meetings a week can be trickyI’m consulting full-time and know that I’m currently dependent on one client. With that in mind, I’ve had 2.5 meetings a week since commencing work. Making them work is another trick altogether. I’m not talking about the usual meeting hygiene – proactive with scheduling, checking in the day before, and being diligent with follow-ups – I’m talking about flexibility.
One thing I’ve learned very quickly, is that if someone is doing you a favour (and be under no illusion, when you’re starting a business and someone agrees to meet you they are doing you a favour) it’s very hard to secure a time that works for you. My early in the morning/late in the evening tactic didn’t work well at all, and would usually involve me compromising, or not being able to secure times at all in some cases.
This isn’t the best when you’re consulting 9-5 full-time. Fortunately, I had a very understanding client who would allow me to be a bit flexible with my timings.
Your routine needs to changeI had it pretty good at Google. I could get out of bed at 8am, saunter over to work, grab some breakfast, and settle into my jam by 9.30am. I’m laughing maniacally as I read that because I don’t know who the fuck that guy is any more.
I work it. Monday to Friday is out-of-bed at 6.30 am. Get wet. Meditate. And hit the Mac. I can smash out the most pressing things by 8am and be on my way to work. Or at least get a run in. I find I’m usually waking up before my alarm and am bouncing out of bed. I’ve found A Year of Productivity to be pretty helpful for finding techniques that worked. My trick is to turn the lights on over on the other side of the room before I can say or do anything. It works.
Your routine is going to get compromisedJust as I felt like I was getting the hang of this, I got slammed by two things: construction noise outside my window at night and the snot-monster. I couldn’t have predicted the construction noise, and snot-monsters happen from time-to-time. I read in The Personal MBA about “normal accidents” and didn’t realise this was par for the course until now.
Instead of resting up and slaying the snot monster with gradual and disciplined recuperation, I soldiered on and ended up getting sent home one day at work. This was the wrong decision to make. I eventually saw a doctor and rested over a weekend to banish the demon, but I need to be more mindful of my health.
On the construction noise, I had to shack up with some friends and I divided this up amongst my network so as not to impose so much. Which leads me into my next point.
Give people the means to help youI can count many times over the amount of times my network has offered to help me get the word out, but struggles in being able to communicate what I do. I touched upon this in another entry, and still haven’t cracked it yet. The website has been rejigged, but there is a lot more I could do in this area. I think it might even be an opportunity unto itself.
My Mum should be able to explain what I do to her friends with a couple of sentences tops. I still haven’t nailed the simple elevator pitch. (And I thought I was good at pitching).
Maybe I dove in too earlyIt felt pretty brazen ejecting from the Big G and going full-pelt on the dream of growing something from the ground up. And a few months in, I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had thus far. I do have a pipeline but I also need to be prepared for the reality of what to do if the money stops coming in for a while. I’ve kept an eye on contingencies and have had conversations as well, and if that’s the way the ship drifts I’m happy to park the ego and take a shot at this when I’m better prepared.
So looking back to the man who started the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, do I think he would have kept going if he knew it was going to take 9 years? I think so. There’s a certain kind of madness that grips you when you’re in it for yourself, and that can be both good and bad. The purpose of HackDigital.net is to work things out, and things will work out one way or another.