Startup Life: Make Sausage Not Art

Old 5 Comments on Startup Life: Make Sausage Not Art 11

When you hear N00bs talk about what matters most to them as professionals they wax lyrically about the purity of their commitment to the art.  They spin tails of a utopian vision that will be brought about by the dedicated few that “truly” understand what “it” is all about.

When you hear long time professionals discuss what they do they more often than not will be bitching about late payments, and bounced checks.  What you find on your path from being a n00b to being a pro is that to be successful good paperwork, and work flow management, trump passion every damn day of the week. The ideal  of “Fighting the good fight” runs into the reality of fighting the spouse… (spoiler: the spouse wins…)

So when you are building your business the first thing that you have to do is find some detachment.  This does not mean you lose all passion and slog away as some animatron, but it does mean that you have to come to terms with the fact that what you want to have happen most likely wont work out that way. Running GeekBrainDump.com I wish every post could be written by a 10 year veteran of the field to be able to present the most nuanced view of the topics possible.  The reality is those folks would cost $75 per post… So I’m left with what I can afford, and I have to figure out how to make that into something useful to the audience. You have to balance what you want against what is actually possible.

The next thing that is hard to swallow for all involved is that the audience is important, BUT you can’t worry too much about the criticism they offer.  There’s a big difference between what people want, and what they’ll accept.  They may want a steak dinner, but if all that’s being offered is a McDonalds Hamburger they’re probably going to eat it.  When dealing with your audience/ clients you have to weigh what you can reasonably provide against what they’re demands are.  Remember that at the end of the day your boss is your spouse.  It ain’t your clients, nor your investors, or any of the other folks you may imagine you report to.  At the end of the day you have to sit across the dinner table from your significant other and be able to explain why exactly you thought doing what you are doing was a better idea than just getting a normal job.  So the question of “Should I take this $1000 and reinvest in the business, or should I use it to pay to get a bathroom remodeled?” is a very real question.  When coming to an answer what you have to try to figure out is “Will my audience/ clients leave if I don’t do better?”  The question is not whether they’ll complain, because they’ll do that no matter what you do, but rather will the business actually suffer.

The final component of creating your sausage is to focus on the workflow.  When you create a business the reality is that you can’t do everything.  You simply can’t micromanage all components even if you wanted to.  You have to offload work and give it to other people that you trust.  There’s a two fold problem with this.  The first is that no one else sees the world in same particular way that you do.  No matter how good the people you hire are, they will do things in ways that annoy the bat crap out of you. You will look at what they give you and genuinely mutter “WTF?” to the point it almost becomes a religious mantra. At this point you have to take a breath and ask yourself “Is this acceptable?”  You don’t ask whether or not it’s really what you wanted.  You don’t ask whether it could be better, because it can always be better.  You sit there and take a quiet moment to ask yourself “Can you accept the work that has been provided, or is it so bad it must be trashed?”  If it’s not trash worthy, then you accept it and move on.

The second component to creating the workflow is to realize that your place has changed.  You are no longer the person elbow deep in spare parts or code. You are the one to determine who should be elbow deep in spare parts or code.  To be able to build something significant you must become the coach, cheer leader, camp counselor and mentor.  As I was told many years ago, “Your job is not to work on the work.  Your job is to work on the business.”  As I grow GeekBrainDump.com the overriding goal is that it should become a self sufficient entity.  Even if something tragic happens to me it should be able to continue on indefinitely under the systems that have been created.

At the end of the day the world needs both artists and sausage makers.  To be successful you have to be honest about what you really want to be, and then act appropriately. Too many people fail because they imagine themselves to be doing something that they are not.

Author

Eli Etherton

I am Eli "the Computer Guy" and have been in the tech industry for approx. 20 years doing all kinds of odd projects. I started as an electronics tech in the US Army, worked in corporate IT during the IT Boom, was an individual consultant and grew my tech shop to have numerous full time employees and supported small business clients with computer repair/ server maintenance/ web development/ surveillance systems/ telephone systems until the great recession. After that I started creating video training on all the topics I know and now have a YouTube Channel with over 500K subscribers. I am the founder of GeekBrainDump.com and my plan is to create a tech "news" site that I would actually find useful if I was still in the server room.

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5 Comments

  1. Manny Kokolis September 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

    So, all the N00bs are liberals and the pros are now conservatives.

    • Eli the Computer Guy September 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I can’t figure out the definition of “conservative” or “liberal” anymore.

      It’s more along the lines of when n00bs hear they get to help deploy 200 new servers they debate the perfect OS that should be installed. Pro’s on the other hand groan and debate how the hell to dispose of that much packing material…

      The higher up the food chain you are in an organization the more you realize “trivial” tasks are many times some of the most important…

      A good example was when when the biggest problem during a move was that the sound insulation for the fancy new backup diesel generator hadn’t been installed on schedule, and the whole move had to be delayed because they couldn’t risk the noise fine if there was a power failure and the generator automatically turned on…

  2. ebey September 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Interesting ,though

  3. ebey September 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Maybe you can ask other tech youtubers to write articles…

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