Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The 1 Year Anniversary

It's nothing short of amazing to me that 1 year ago today I started working full time for myself, and made Ideas2Executables my day job. Wow.

I feel today, very much like I did 6 months ago: this is the most fun and exciting job I've ever had, and wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. People actually pay me to do this? Can you believe that? Sure, working for myself has brought along a level of stress I couldn't have imagined, and sure, it's a 7 day a week job. But still, it's awesome.

I've learned a ton this last year, and yes, much of it by trial and error. Here are some of the more poignant lessons I've learned:

  • Be curious. I'm supposed to be the geek, the expert, if you will. Yet, I've learned time and time again that listening to my customers and hearing out their suggestions is often the path to finding a solution. So, while I never to fail to offer my opinion, I've learned to limit my "No you can't ..." type of statements whenever possible. There's a balance to strike here of course. But the bottom line is that listening to your customers isn't just courteous, it's also an ideal way to learn, grow and succeed.
  • Never underestimate the role of a superb business partner. It's simple - without my wife Shira, there's no Ideas2Executables. She might not write code, but she does about a million other things - including accounting and invoicing. If I had to take on all these responsibilities, it just wouldn't work. Shira, though, is more than just a CFO. She's also a person who I can bounce ideas off of, debate with, and know that she'll always push back on me. If I'm successful, it's because of her.
  • Learn to say no. Saying no to projects and customers should be easy. I've found it isn't. First, saying no implies that you're not especially competent at something and that hurts to say. Secondly, and more subtly, I was very much used to the startup world where I was regularly given impossible tasks with impossible deadlines. They were a fact of life. Owning my own business, I've had to learn to push back on this - and to recognize these situations as what they should be: the time to pass on a project. Consistently, being honest with clients about what I can't do, has more often than not built up our relationship, not torn it down.
  • Always have a paper trail. It takes two seconds to dash off an e-mail and get in writing exactly what everyone's intentions are. Always do it. Nuff said.

I owe a special thanks to all of our customers - it's working with you that have made this last year a success in every way. Thanks - and here's to many more!

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