Quitting a job is tough, especially when you have a small child or children and bills, but I took the plunge. I set out on a mission - to provide people and companies around the world continuous value. I'm absolutely obsessed with technology and with that obsession comes a burden. The burden to do everything in an organization with absolute perfection. Well, at least I thought it was a burden... until now.
I kept myself up at night stressed and constantly thinking to myself why am I the only one who is concerned with quality. Instead of it being a burden, it was a new way of life. A new way to continuously deliver value to my clients as a consultant and to users that watch/read my content.
I think there are a lot of companies that do things the wrong way for the wrong reasons. There is a project management saying - you can have fast cheap or good, pick two.
Unfortunately, I see too many organizations going for the first and second options. That's where my journey started.
I wanted to set out on a mission - to provide users and businesses alike the know-how to implement quality.
What does quality even mean?
slow down, evaluate, and understand. Let's break this down for businesses and individuals.
Every organization has deadlines. Every person has deadlines with their learning goals. Without deadlines, there's no end goal. There need to be deadlines on POCs, MVPs, software deployments, infrastructure deployments, video courses, technical books, boot camps, and everything in-between. However, you need to understand if the deadline that was created exists for a real reason.
Business perspective: Take a look at the deadline. A deadline does not mean to just go fast for the sake of going fast. Sure, getting 60 features out a month is cool.. until those features don't work or the code base breaks another part of the application. At that point you have to ask yourself - was it really worth it? Your users have something pretty to look at, but if they click something, the organization's competitors will be getting new users/subscribers for free.
Personal/User perspective: There is a TON of content out there. With the ever-changing technology field, we sometimes bite off more than we can chew. I've seen the trend of new tech growing at a rapid rate in the past year which makes it even more difficult to keep up. Slow down, take a deep breath, and relax. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. I can admit that I'm still personally working on getting better at this.
Business perspective: After slowing down, it's time to evaluate. Take a look at the good that came out of slowing down and understand how to keep that trend going. Evaluate the pros that occurred while not worrying so much about a no need deadline. When the software is deployed and users have it in their hands, take a look at your numbers from a few months ago. Are users staying? Are more users signing up? Yes, because the software isn't breaking once per week. The user now sees your software as reliable.
Personal/User perspective: Evaluate your goals. What do you mean out of the content you're using to train? To get better at a specific skill like DevOps or Cloud Computing? To learn tools for your existing job? To learn new software for a project at home? Evaluate the goal before jumping into learning all-the-things.
Business perspective: Understand the need to slow down and evaluate. You may be asking yourself shouldn't this be the first step? In my opinion no because understanding a new process, the need for a new one, or why it's important comes after seeing it in action (or seeing a failure, which is what I'm trying to avoid for you and your organization) which is why POCs are important.
Personal/User perspective: Understand what your end goal is and why you want to get there. Is it for a new job? To get better at your existing job? To learn a new software that you think looks fun? Every reason that you have is a valid reason. You just need to understand it. Without understanding your end-goal and why you want to get there, keeping on the path becomes faint.
How to be successful in this venture
The previous section Why? was my reasoning for making the plunge to working for myself and help others. I want to talk a little bit about how to be successful, in my opinion, for this venture.
- Find mentors. If it wasn't for Adam Bertram and Mike Pfeiffer I wouldn't have been able to do this so successfully. I'm an engineer and I've never run my own business. Adam and Mike have done both and continue to do both successfully. If it wasn't for them showing me the other side of not only business but how to properly create content (and I'm still learning this because it's a never-ending learning experience), I would've been up sh*t creek without a paddle.
- Network. Talk to people, it's your greatest ally. Twitter and Slack channels are phenomenal for both. I've found some of my greatest friends and fellow technology enthusiasts from forums, slack channels, and communities. Try to get to conferences as well. I'm personally going to make it a goal to join at least 1 per year and hopefully start speaking at different conferences.
- Dedicate the time to yourself. Yeah, dedicating time to your business is obvious, but dedicate time to your life. Spending time with loved ones, grabbing a beer with buddies, playing a video game, and/or anything else you enjoy is crucial.
- Love what you do. This is, in my opinion, the most important aspect. It's impossible to be successful in this venture without loving what you do. Doing it to make money will only bring you back to a full-time job. This isn't for the faint of heart or for people trying to make a quick buck. I've cut my yearly income significantly by doing this. I know I'll make it back eventually, but I didn't do it for the money. I did it to help businesses and technology enthusiasts build quality.
- Support system. Having a support system was what helped me so much. If it wasn't for my friends and loved ones having faith in me, I still would've done it, but it would've been much, much harder.
How to keep up with daily tasks and not stop moving
In the previous section, I talk about what I believe it takes to be successful in starting your own business. In this section, I'll talk about how to keep moving.
- I bought an elliptical for home and kettlebells. I plan to work out daily before I start my work-day. This is crucial in my opinion for the mind, body, and spirit. It's easy to sit at a computer chair all day in PJs and write code, but your body will deteriorate FAST.
- Keep getting dressed
- I haven't quite gotten this one down. I typically stay in sweatpants or shorts, but what I'd like to do is at least put on jeans and a polo shirt. This gives the feeling that I'm still at work. This maybe isn't necessary, but it makes a bit of sense to me.
- Yeah, chores. Do the dishes, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, go to the grocery store (or use Uber Eats.. wait, no.. that's not good advice), pick up your kid(s) from school (this is a chore, right?). This provides a sense of organization and reliability to yourself to get things done.
- Interact with people
- It's easy to look at your computer and work all day without talking to people. I think this is extremely negative to our well-being. As humans, we're wired to interact and not to be alone. Ping friends on Slack, call your parent(s), text your buddy, and REMEMBER to go out with your friends and/or significant other. Anything that keeps you connected to the world. Oh, and remember... talking to yourself is okay, but the problem begins when you start answering yourself :).
- Take a walk
- Get some fresh air. Look at your surroundings and take it all in.
In the previous section, I wrote about the need to keep moving. So what now?
My goal is to split up my time 50% consulting and 50% content creation. I want to stay hands-on and help businesses provide quality to their end-users. I also want to help people reading/watching my content provide quality to themselves in their technology journey.
My plan is to do 4 hours per day of consulting and 4 hours per day of content creation. This is what will happen in a perfect world, but we don't live in a perfect world, so let's see what happens. There are many aspects of growing a brand that I need to focus on. Marketing, social media, accounting, paying bills, sending invoices, etc.. I'm learning how to take my engineering hat off sometimes to do these things.
Am I happy?
I've never been happier. I was making a lot of money working full-time, but I learned that money truly doesn't buy happiness. Not to brag, but to give you an example - I got to a point where I was ready to put a down payment on a Tesla, the COOLEST tech car in the world. I could do things like that and I was still not happy. There was always something missing. Who knew the missing piece was to take a hit on my salary and work 7 days a week to start a business!
Being happy in general is hard. I hope some of my points in the previous sections help you if you're thinking about taking the plunge and starting your own company. If you have any questions at all, small or large, feel free to reach out via email and we can set up some time for a phone call, video chat, or to exchange emails.
Thank you for reading. Michael Levan signing off.