Don’t give the hole away

You hear this a lot if you’re out on the golf course for an “easy” round of 18.  It’s meant for the short to medium length putts that have just enough break that you can’t just aim straight for the hole.  Typically you’ll over estimate the break and you’ll miss the putt badly because you played it outside of the hole.  Instead, you need to focus on how hard you hit it and aim just inside the edge of the hole, so that the ball can USE the gentle break and ease into the hole for your routine birdie.

It’s a simple reminder of a simple concept. Don’t overestimate the break and aim for the freaking hole.

It’s been a while since I’ve reminded myself to quit being stupid.  This is one of those moments.  You’re constantly facing small and medium sized decisions that aren’t going to have an exact clear path to an answer.  Of course this is especially true if your trying to build a business and your resources are extremely limited.  Your trying to maximize effort so that you’re hopefully adding value to the biz.  So when you’re a bit unsure of an answer to the current problem, or whether the problem even makes sense in the current context, go back to the ultimate goal and aim in that direction with your solution.

Go get it, and don’t give the hole away.

Build when you fail

Analyze it, figure out what you thing you could have changed and then…

Consider it practice and try again with something different.

There is no science to success at new ventures. Some are way better at figuring out the variables that can influence probabilities, but at the end of the day some things just aren’t quantifiable and the risk is never zero.

So why not just start on your next idea?

Trying again helps lessen that feeling of the fact that you suck.  And don’t worry, there is nothing like working on something new to completely make you feel like your an idiot at some level. But guess what, everyone’s been there, and if you haven’t then your incredibly lucky.

There is nothing like tasting a bit of defeat to motivate the crap out of you.

So while your pondering that and want to get into something cool, I tend to spend my extra time building things.

Just sayin’.

SWSX!

I hope your going to be there.  I’m looking forward to learning a ton, meeting people doing cool stuff, and hopefully hearing some great stories.

Make sure you tell me yours.

Changing Perceptions

Not the easiest thing in the world by any means, but I work on it a lot.

It’s almost certainly why I started writing.  It’s definitely why I quickly jump out of a conversation about software development (what I do and what I know) and into what your doing with your business and how your making it happen.  Probably directly into the challenges you faced trying to make it happen.

People always have a very limited view of who you are.  It’s inevitable.  Take steps to start making those perceptions different than they are.  It’s as simple as engaging a person you don’t normally talk to in something completely unrelated with what you do on a daily basis.  Figure out what they are doing and what their challenges are.  It’s going to make you better.

Most importantly, always be listening.  You’ll start hearing things you don’t agree with all over the place.  Then you can take your shots about what people are missing, which is where you’ll make your mark.

Take it to the bank

I love to think about ways that banks could be better.  It’s especially fun right now, while banks are folding left and right, and taking on government money. Small disclosure here, as I spent the first part of my career learning at a rather large bank, and took away invaluable experience.  I loved it.  BUT, don’t love the parts of banking that scream opportunity.

Here’s 3 things that my bank (and I’ll keep it annonomous) can and should do to make customer’s more happy and attract more of them:

1.  Build more intelligence into online banking. I’ve talked about this before.  It’s just a no brainer to me to use the online banking platform as your primary marketing/face of your organization.  People going to branches all the time is a thing of the past. Invest capital accordingly.

2. Start streamlining loan processes.  I should be able to do most things though the site above that gets me 95% of the way towards my loan needs before I even talk to anyone.  Its not that hard.

3.  Give me a 1 stop shop.  I know this is difficult, but take one example.  Most banks have investment arms that are just so out of tune with reality, that I can’t believe people even use them.  It’s sick even thinking about paying $29.99 a trade or higher.  Especially with how easy it is to move money electronically.  So if you can’t compete, what’s the point?

Simple.  Technology is your facilitator on all fronts.

Opportunity is absolutely all over the place right now in this business as customers are willing and READY to take their money elsewhere.

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Choose Wisely

Market is going either up or down today, how should I play it?
Which direction should I turn for lunch, left, right, or straight?
What color should I paint my walls, blue, red, orange, or magenta?

More than anytime in your life, possibly in history, you are presented with choices in almost everything you do.  Its no different in business.  Customers are more squirrely than ever.  They want the latest thing yesterday and fads pass in an instant.

So how do you mitigate this choice risk?  Make small, marked decisions and don’t anticipate wildly far off into the future.  This sort of goes along with my views on  “Happy Path” development, but I think it goes deeper into business fundamentals.

Lay the groundwork for future business growth, but don’t build it out fully until the need is there. If you THINK you are going to have a nice niche in another space with what you’re doing now, great. Get revenue first, analyze your business metrics and whether it still makes sense, THEN start to tap into what might be in that other space.

Customers have choice, and its tough to forecast what they will choose tomorrow, much less next year.  Choice is also a behavior., and behavior’s are hard to change. So swim downstream by building incrementally and don’t anticipate years into the future. Whether your involved in a startup or work for a company, lay the groundwork for accomplishing the future, but be patient, smart and incremental in tackling things you think might be successful.

Developing

If you are sitting back, learning, and trying to figure out how your going to make money on the flip side of this broken market your just silly.  Oh and if you haven’t bled out at least a little money then you suck.

I picked an awesome time to wratchet up my investing/trading habits.  More fun to come.

My glass is still half full.

Skills, and Perceived Limitations

“What do you do?”

Nothing wrong with the question at all, but I immediately find it irrelevant to the overall make up of who I am.  Not to mention what I can accomplish. You should too.

Corporations, heck even smaller companies, all do one thing to you immediately.  Place a skill set label on you and immediately draw up what you CANNOT do. You write software? Well, you sure as sh@# can’t talk to customers or perspective clients. You handle customer issues/account problems, no WAY you have enough intellect to know how AWESOME and MAGICAL writing software is. You manage projects? It is physically impossible to understand the sheer VELOCITY of accrual-based accounting.  The list goes on and on.

This is no good. Its a fundamental flaw.  Lets all agree to throw these perceived limitations out the door.

My reasoning is simple. They’re silly.  For example, I understand how to read a balance sheet.  I invest my money in the market diligently. I network in the local community. I follow local and national companies to see where and how they are gaining ground in the market.  I look at business models to see if there is something there that is interesting or different. Yet by day, all I can do is write software and manage the technical side of a product.

My point here is not to brag at all about what I can do.  Not at all.  Hell, that’s really hard to do because I’m not all that smart. It’s to start looking at yourself with the ridiculous skill set that you bring to the table.  Just because you haven’t sold products doesn’t mean you can’t.  Not having tried something is not equal to not being able to do it.  STOP FOLLOWING ALONG WITH THESE PERCEIVED LIMITATIONS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO.

The faster we start to dispel these limitations, the quicker we all become more competitive in the marketplace.  I want to work with an army of skill-diverse, smart, empowered, employees working WITH me. Not ones with super specific skill set worried more about office politics than the end goals of the business.

So start believing in yourself and your skill set.  There is more there than you think.

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Happy Path

I talk about being simple a lot.  I like software to be simple.  It’s not as hard when you keep it that way.  That’s important for a lot of reasons, but for me the most important thing is relating how that software is going to put dollars in your pocket.

The single most overlooked aspect of simplicity in software development is the concept of a “happy path”.  Look around, as tons of companies are doing it.  They’ll call it agile development, or some other silly buzzword, but in its simplest form, its nothing more than coming up with a happy path for how the customer will want to use your product.  Non-software people in your business will understand that and get engaged at a different level.

How does Joe Customer accomplish the problem your trying to solve with your software?  That’s it.  Go build that.  Get that done.  Stop getting hung up on implementing things that don’t matter.  Bite off that simple niche and build it with a limited feature set.  You’ll know when your done building if you need to add a few things here and there to make it work right.  Those few things will have a MUCH smaller development time and complexity curve.  Not to mention it can be offloaded easier because the “guts” are there and you can inject people with less domain knowledge (code monkeys) into the mix because you’ve really defined the “domain”.

Most software projects would just be better off re-written in a year or two anyway because of the speed of the tools evolving around it.  So instead of designing to write large complex systems, stay simple.  Build your first happy path and release it, and if it doesn’t solve your problem (and you’ll know because people won’t pay for it), bolt on another happy path and continue to build that way.

Simple is hard to do, but when done right keeps you moving at the speed of the competition around you.  Happy path software development will help you accomplish simple.

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Power Of Two

I am probably the farthest thing from a political person you can find on the planet.  I try to follow as much as I can, but I will be the first to admit that I keep elections at arms length. I don’t know why I’m like this.  I take a super keen interest in all things financial, and usually care immensely about my personal bottom line.  Which is why I should be more involved in the candidates and their policy stances.

So here we are with just a couple of months until for the presidential election and I find myself grossly unprepared.  There is still some time for me to sort things out, but it’s unlikely I’ll fully get there.  I can already see the writing on the wall for this.  BOTH candidates are standing on firm footing, and promising tons of change.

Education is the name of the game in politics, and following the issues especially with the media spin and just limitless nature of people having a voice on the web, is tough.  So with my money, when I get into situations like this where filters are broken and EVERYONE has an opinion, I typically fall back on some sort of intelligence quotient.  I like to interact with smart people and get ideas from them, and help me see angles I don’t.  I would like to think that both candidates have some decent level of intelligence, but I can see where one camp really has the edge when it comes to this.  So that’s probably where I’m leaning with my vote.  When all else is equal, I like smart.

Just explaining where my mind will be in November if I can’t figure out where these two candidates REALLY stand, which is likely because that’s what politics is all about.  Smoke and mirrors.

A LOT of people would disagree with this logic and I’m OK with that.  Just tell me why I am wrong.

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