The end of the beginning

I have officially reached the end of the beginning

By the ‘end of the begining’,  I am referring to the early stages of starting a business. I have completed the ‘planning’ and ‘research’ , I’ve settled on a design for the site, and now I am preparing myself mentally for the hard slog that is, running a business. The blinkers are on. I’ve completed all the nitty-gritty things which need to be done before you can label your thoughts an idea, or even begin thinking you have the makings of a business. A majority of these things have little bearing on whether or not the idea will be successful, however on looking back they have taken a disproportionate amount of time, so I am glad they’re out of the way. For example, due to the incompetence of a high street bank which shall remain nameless, it took three weeks, four meetings, two replacement cheque books and an unhealthy amount of time on hold, before I finally managed to open a business account. These things always seem to take up the most time and energy, and when you are trying to startup, time and energy are in short supply.

I am unaware of a checklist, or specific set of requirements, which need to be completed before one can safely say they have reached this point, I am assuming every situation is different, and each individuals circumstances unique. However I know that I have reached this stage, as my candle now only burns from one end.

In a previous post I wrote about the difficulties of working a day job and trying to build a website. It was more a complaint than an observation, and I likened it to burning a candle at both ends. From today onwards, or to be precise from yesterday, I can no longer make that complaint as I am officially unemployed. I always knew that I was going to leave my job, that was a certainty, the only thing I was unsure of was when. I was eager to seek advice on the topic of quitting your job, I even planned to write a post on it, however It seems the gods have no time for indecision because I was pushed before I could jump. I always assumed I would leave on my terms, or at least try and  elongate my stay if I felt I was being forced out, but during the meeting I didn’t put up a fight. Deep down I knew that the time had come,  and ‘reflecting’ on it, I am glad its over and done with. I don’t have any regrets about working, nor do I harbour any animosity towards the CEO, in fact I think I respect him even more for getting the deed done. While working there, I learnt a considerable amount about business and more importantly myself, and at times, I actually enjoyed going into work. One of the unofficial strap lines of the company was Work hard, Play hard, and I hope it’s something I’ll be able to replicate in my company when I get the chance to.

Now that I am no longer working my only focus from this point forward is the website, I no longer have any of the safety nets I have grown so dependent on over the last few years. I’ve graduated from University, I no longer have a 9 to 5, and I am too old to play professional football. As a result this has to be a success, I literally don’t have a choice. In the early 1500’s an explorer from Cuba, called Hernan Cortez, set sail for Mexico with 600 men. On their arrival he ordered them to burn their boats. His reasoning was that with no means of going back, they were forced to go forward.

I think I just burnt my boat.


The art of decision making

‘Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder’

I didn’t want to start this entry with a cliché, however, it’s the best way to describe how I felt during my brief hiatus from blogging. It has only been five days since my last post but for some reason it seems much longer. They say when your blog is young you should try and post a new entry every other day, I think that’s the level of output I will try and aspire to from now on.

During this period I discovered something new about myself, I realised that I’m suffering from an acute case of Foot in Mouth disease. I’m not referring to the strain which resulted in the slaughter of over 200,000 animals in 2007, but the variation of the disease which causes humans to say stupid things at inappropriate times. During a staff meeting on Friday I made a gaffe of epic proportions, I said something so stupid George Bush would have been jealous, needless to say it wasn’t my finest hour. I won’t go on to repeat it as I’m sure some of my colleagues read this blog, and the less said about it the better. On my way home that evening I then confirmed this diagnosis. I made the classic error of offering my seat on the tube to a lady I presumed to be pregnant, I then proceeded to make it worse by making a  ‘joke’ about how she needed the seat more than I did, as it looked like she was about to give birth on the northern line. They say timing is everything in comedy, and now I understand why. I made the comment when we were halfway between stops, so I had to endure about a minute of the most awkward silence ever, as soon as the doors opened I got off, I didn’t care about the fact that it wasn’t my stop. Great start to my weekend.

Apart from confirming what I already knew about my ability to do stand up, I also realised something else during this short break. I’ve realised that starting and running a business, will require me to make complex decisions very quickly. The previous topic I wrote about (design versus functionality) galvanised me to change the entire layout of the site, and literally 48 hours later, I had to make a decision about a developer who offered to come on board in exchange for some equity in the company. Ideally I would have liked to have to spent at least three or four days deliberating over each situation, however I am slowly realising that time is a luxury when you’re starting up. As I write, I am mentally conditioning myself to make these hard decisions very quickly, relying on logic and not emotion and I am taking solace in the fact that everything gets easier with practice.

Hopefully I should add a couple of posts by the end of week, and lets hope the first week in March doesn’t end the same way as the last week in February.