When You Solve Your Own Problem…

When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.

This and other great ideas in a book called Getting Real. It is a book about smaller, faster, better ways to build web applications. Some great ideas about building software. Here is a list of my favorite ones.
Build Less
Less Features means you can get the product out earlier into the hands of the customers. You get to hear what they really like and what they would like. This can be invaluable.

Fund Yourself
You can focus on doing something good instead of spending time looking for money. Meebo did this and so did lot of others. In fact, this is the norm in many of the Web 2.0 startups.

It Shouldn’t be a Chore
I love this one. If the app does not get you excited, it is not worth building. It should be fun to build. You need to enjoy every bit of the process. And if you built it for your own use, make sure that the experience of using it is fun, as well.

Seek and Celebrate Small Victories
Build incrementally. With each increment, make it more useful.

Check out the following advice.

Hire Less and Hire Later
You Can’t Fake Enthusiasm
The Blank Slate
Context Over Consistency

Open Doors
Ride the Blog Wave
Promote Through Education

Feel The Pain

LinkLog: The Business Edge

One of the best blogs I have read recently talks about the Sports of Business:

In sports, you know who your opponents are. You know when you are going to play a game. You know pretty much how long the game will last. It’s mentally and physically exhausting if you are at the top of the game, but it still pails at the effort required to be successful in business.

The sport of business isn’t divided into games. It’s not defined by practices. It doesn’t have set rules that everyone plays by.

The sport of business is the ultimate competition. It’s 7x24x365xforever.

Mark talks about competing and having an “edge”. My favorite one:

The edge is getting so jazzed about what you do, you just spent 24 hours straight working on a project and you thought it was a couple hours.

Changing Direction to Save the Company

Here is another pearl of wisdom from Bootstrapping Your Business.

In many cases your first product or service will be partial success at best. Changing tack – moving to a different product sector or completely redesigning your offering – might be essential to save your business. But fear not. Most companies undergo radical transformations, and a great many undertake five or more changes of direction.

This is exactly what happened in my previous startup – Coromandel. We started with a goal to boil the ocean – built a SQL database engine. Licensed to a big time Unix vendor but the sales were lot less than we expected. Since we were bootstrapping, we took a small component from the engine and sold it as an ISAM file manager called C-Trieve. We got some traction. Then we improved it based on some customer requirements and added support for blobs. Called it ObjecTrieve. Luckily for us, this got into the Visual Basic market. VB 1.0 did not have any database functionality. After a couple of evolutions of the product, we came up with Integra VDB. In the first year we had about 2-3 million dollars of revenue from that product alone. While the space we were in was databases and application of databases, moving from an engine market to tools market did it for us. It was an entirely bootstrapped operation.

The Definition of Work

The definition of work:

How to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve.

In this essay, How to Do What You Love, Paul Graham talks about challenges in finding work you love.

 To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.

I really enjoyed reading it. He comes up with some interesting tests. Here is one. “Would you continue to do this work even if you don’t get paid for doing it?”

Finding work you love is challenging. According to Paul, there are two routes:

the organic route: as you become more eminent, gradually to increase the parts of your job that you like at the expense of those you don’t.

the two-job route: to work at things you don’t like to get money to work on things you do.

I think there is one more:

reduce your money requirement route: reduce what you need to live on so that you can take a couple of years off and do what you like doing. I heard about a friend of a friend who moved to an island in Thailand and lives on $100 per week. He just does what he loves.

This is a great essay. Definitely worth a read. While you are at it, check out his other essays.