11 Aug 2009

Doing My Own Thing

In which I describe some of the ideas and thoughts behind my entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a bit of a rambler, but was very therapeutic for me in the writing.

Yesterday I read an inspiring and enlightening post from Marco Arment titled “Do your own thing”. In the post he talks about gaining acceptance from the stoners at school simply because he “does [his] own thing” rather than the accepted norm of “partying”. He describes:

A stoned guy’s idle conversation became the goal for my life outlook. No other statement or occurrence has been more fundamental in making me stop worrying about what other people think and do, which in turn makes it true.

In a rich man’s world …

Lately I’ve had a lot of thought units (similar to goal units ;)) focused and concetrating on developing a monetizable business product. “But”, you say, “I thought you were running One Simple Goal, the fastest growing web presence next to AOL and Friendster!” Hold your horses there friend. To debunk you on two points:

  1. OSG is not fast* or growing (much to my chagrin). Though, to be fair, I haven’t really expected lots of popularity from it as I haven’t had a chance to promote it properly… yet.
  2. OSG has no monetization value in its current offering. That’s not to say I haven’t thought about monetizing it with ads or a “Go Pro” area where paying members get more tools and value. Just saying that I’ve only thought about it, but each time it’s like pulling teeth. I know I just don’t want to go through with that and ruin the OSG experience. ‘Nuff said.

That’s not to say that I haven’t thought/dreamt of owning or running a business of my own. It’s actually something that I strive for every day, at all times some random background process in my head is slowly working on ideas and idealogies to move me forward in that quest. Obviously it’d go much quicker if I could work at it full time, but then the income would be scant for a while, which is basically a non-option at this point (i.e. mortgage, kids, food, etc). I mean, I know that other entrepreneur’s do the boot-strap thing, but at my current state, I don’t think it’d be wise or healthy to engage in that kind of masochism.

Back to our regularly scheduled program …

Where were we? Oh yes, monetizing a business product. The whole “doing your own thing” tag is great in concept, but application is a bit more difficult to manage. I’m not saying it’s anywhere approaching impossible or in the realm of moronic-thinking. Not saying that at all. I’m saying it takes dilligent and concerted effort. It takes knowing from the beginning what it is that you are searching for, searching to become. Because entrepreneurialism is really about being or becoming something, not just having to report to yourself at work each day instead of that guy.

So who exactly am I trying to be or become? What does “doing my own thing” look like? I can honestly say that I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve known for more than 3 years that doing my own thing is what I want in life. I want to dictate what I work on, who I work with, and (most imporantly) why I am doing what I do. I’m a programmer, or developer, or whatever else you want to call me from that realm. That’s the majority of my skillset, what I know how to do to make the cash. I’ve been building web applications in PHP and Java for over 6 years now, and I’ve gotten pretty dang good at it. Unfortunately it just hasn’t been FUN for the last little while. Corporate mandates and bloated systems with bad code rot have kind of disenfranchised me from working on other people’s projets (read: my current and previous employers).

Oh Ruuuuuuby, Don’t take your love to town

Then along comes Ruby, the most wicked-awesome programming language you’ve never heard of. Okay, maybe you have, the guy in the back with the glasses. But the rest of you, you know nothing of it. So let me enlighten you. It’s amazing. It really makes programming enjoyable, and dare I say, FUN again. One of my recent tweets really describes it fully though:

I do more fist-pumping-programming in Ruby than Java. Probably a 10 to 1 ratio.

So, recently the thought process has been to follow a ruby path towards entrepreneurialism. That may include doing side-projects in ruby, or even setting up a full-fledged Client-Work company (ala rand9?) solely dedicated to building apps in Ruby, Rails, Sinatra, etc. It may involve getting heavily involved in building an app with a real monetization strategy, like a service people are willing to pay for (Huzzah! for good ideas).

Whatever makes programming fun again, that’s how I’ll do my own thing.

Playful banter, you say? Go check out the awful performance lag for each request. It makes me madder than it makes you, I promise.