Stark Raving Sane

Diego is thinking about starting a business based on Spaces. Woohoo! Since he quoted Hamlet, I have no choice but to quote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead:

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that our eyes once watered. - Guildenstern

I have absolutely no real advice to give to Diego as I have not actually started a business that's earned a dime yet. However, I'll just put my words of support out there. There are many people who have no desire to start a business. They like the idea of going to work, doing a task, doing it well, then going home. They don't want to worry about money, sales, contacts, marketing, customers or any of that. They just want to do their job, get their paycheck and then go home. These are the people who think you're nuts when you talk about starting a company. Then there are those who for some strange reason want all that hastle. They don't want to be a small part in a large engine, but rather we want to be the driver turning the wheel. So my thoughts are simply this: If you're thinking about starting a business, you must want to. If you want to, then you should.

In other words, sieze the moment.

"Pragmatism?!�is that all you have to offer?" - Guil

To be practical about it, what I'm doing is trying to weigh the opportunities of success vs. the chance of failure and doing the what I can to maximize the former while preparing the latter. The first time I tried to start a business, I spent a lot of money and effort on marketing, incorporation, t-shirts, etc. But I didn't really have anything to sell (welcome to dot-boom). Now what I'm doing is concentrating on a product (which Diego already has) and looking for opportunities to make money from it. However, in case what I'm doing is never able to support myself and my family, I'm making sure that the stuff I'm doing is adding to my resume so that I can continue being employed if things don't work out. And the fact is, things are most likely not going to work out.

But if they do, it would rock. That's enough incentive to give up sleep for a year or so.

The UltraEdit guy is a complete religious nutter, but his story is inspiring nevertheless. I've purchased this guy's app at least two times along with a zillion other developers and he's making a good living from it. All it takes is developing one good product that people will pay for and the economics of software work to your advantage: continue making money from the first product while you develop a second version or second product. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The key in my mind is that he was making money first. Diego: Slap a price tag on your Spaces Pro. See if it sells. Do what you need to do to improve the product enough that sells more. Once you get to the point where you're making some money and really, honestly think that by quitting your day job is a good idea, you're golden. There's a couple other examples of this approach as well, I think, in the MacWorld. The guys that published Watson and NetNewsWire are both pretty small and one product oriented. I'm sure that they've done similar things as well. Sending them an email for advice might not be a bad thing...

Anyways, so that's my approach. I'm going to try to focus on products and services I think I can charge money for. Once I start earning real cash, then I'll look at what it will take to get to the next level. If not, then all that experience with the technology and business makes me more valuable as a technical employee, so no time/effort lost. Only sleep.

But hell, I'll sleep when I'm dead. But should you listen to me? Like I said, I'm no expert...

Guil: "A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself."

Ros: "Stark raving sane."



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