Look Out!This whole working for yourself thing is a huge learning curve. I really pushed myself with lots of late nights to reach my recent deadlines. One night I was up till 5:30 in the morning getting ready to deliver a new program to someone the following morning.

So two out of the three projects were delivered pretty much on time. I released the Ski Pad iPhone app last week and it seems to have gone down well. The second project I was working on was a desktop program, developed in Delphi, to track jobs and print tickets for a skip hire company.

The other project… Well every time this project gets discussed there seems to be more issues that add to the workload…

I was hoping that this last spurt would get things done and then I could have a break to recover. The first two projects, although delivered, have both already got bugs and other changes that require fixing!

So I had a day or so without doing much but then I was straight back at it… I’ve already had to release a new version of the iPhone app, which should be live very soon, as the number of bedrooms being stored was incorrect and that was simply not good enough. There is also a problem with occasional, random crashes but I just haven’t had the chance to narrow that one down yet.

I’ve been in the software development game a long time now so I know there is always going to be some bugs to fix and a first release is never complete. The thing that caught me off guard is how quick these problems came to light. I was expecting a bit of breathing room before having to start fixing problems…

Looking at it in hindsight the main problem is because they were delivered at the same time. Anyway this has certainly taught me a lesson. I must make a mental note to never release more than one new product to any clients in any one month!

One of the reasons I wanted to start working for myself was to have a bit more freedom. Right now I feel that it’s completely the opposite.

I love coding but handling the human aspect of things is a whole other ball game. Obviously I need to make money so I need to sell software to others but I need to make it on my terms not theirs.

The skip software I wrote was great fun. When I got the suggestion for the program I gave a quote which I thought was very reasonable because I actually wanted to write the software.

Shirley, my wife, works in this line of business and it is something we have talked about in the past. With her experience from a users point of view and mine from a developers view I was confident we could come up with something very useful but extremely simple to use.

The plan is to develop the software for this small company and once we’re happy it’s stable then I can make a few tweaks here and there to make it a bit more flexible to allow it to work for other companies. This will then, hopefully, allow me to resell the program to other skip companies. Anyway I’m sure I’ll go into more detail about this in the near future.

The original company will get the benefits of a tailored package, at a reduced rate, with the promise of all future updates for free. I then have something to sell again and again with little, or hopefully no, further input.

This has to be the ultimate goal. Passive Income! i.e. income that just flows into the business without any action being required.

Apps for the iPhone or iPad also seem to fit this profile. Once an iPhone app has been accepted to the store you can just sit back and watch the sales come in. There is of course a little more to it than that as to get your app noticed you have to find an untapped market and/or somehow spread the word using advertising or viral marketing.

Creating apps for other people takes away this passive potential. Instead you simply work for a period of time to get a lump sum at the end. There are also likely to be bugs that you are contractually required to fix so these should be taken into account when working out the lump sum you are willing to accept.

With apps that you create yourself then you only need to fix bugs on the popular, lucrative apps. And even then only if you are getting complaints and you think that it is actually going to improve the user experience and hence get you more customers.

Being a developer this is quite an alien concept. The natural instinct is to try to make everything work perfectly, although we all know that will never actually happen, fixing any little bug as soon as you come across it. Eventually though, you realise that this is futile. Time is limited but bugs seem to be never ending…

So what is the point of this post you may ask?

As I mentioned earlier I really pushed myself to the limit and feel thoroughly drained at the moment. Did this get me anywhere? Well actually not as far as I expected.

I did reach some of my deadlines, which can be considered very beneficial. Software is completely useless until it’s been released after all. But this win was very short lived as I now have even more work to contend with and I am shattered even before I start…

Looking forward I really need to try and create something for myself! That was the original plan when I left the 9–5 job and that is still the plan but I simply haven’t dedicated enough time to it yet.

I needed to get the business off the ground first. At least now there is a little bit of money available and I can at last afford to spend some time doing my own thing, when I can get the current issues sorted of course…

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3 comments

Shirl

Love the picture wheres the connection ???

Michael Ludgate

You’ve certainly left the 9-5, to enjoy the 11-3. This is a much safer way to work on your own terms, but it’s not surprising the time constraints on new projects are only slightly reduced; I think you’re being too hard on yourself.

Not sure about releasing different projects, your lot has varying levels of complexity and eyes upon it, I’d expect problems to surface at different times making it almost impossible to predict when remedial action is likely to be required.

Liken your projects to sculpture, the original material has a cost to you, but once you’ve started work it’s constantly gaining value. Not a weight around the neck, but an asset approaching best ROI for the time you can afford.

    Pete O'Shea

    I wish it was now 11–3 but it feels more like 7–6 most days and sometimes another stint in the evening!

    I agree you cannot predict when the problems come in but there usually seems to something wrong pretty much straight away 9 times out of 10. The more obscure problems then trickle in over a period of time.

    The sculpture analogy is a good one the trick is knowing when you are actually adding value and when you are wasting time on minor points that make no real difference.

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