A little over a year ago, I left the Robot Co-op and started Enjoymentland here. Since then, a lot has happened. My wife got pregnant and we had a son, to name perhaps the most life-changing one. I continued to develop Locavore. A worked on a little side project that ended up turning into 750 Words. And behind the scenes, there has been another big project that I’ve been working on, which involved creating a tool for restaurants and bars to run more efficiently. It was a paid gig, and I partnered with a great friend and a great business to put this together. We built something amazing, really useful, and actual simple and fun to use. Before I left for paternity leave, I had it at a point where it was 98% done and was being rolled out to our alpha testers.
Yesterday, we decided not to launch it.
It’s not that we don’t think we built something amazing. I think it’s probably the slickest thing I’ve ever built, actually. I put in a ton of work, and addressed some amazing problems with simple solutions that things like the web can now solve easily for businesses that are a bit behind the times, technology-wise.
Mostly, for me, it came down to a few frustrating technical problems (one of our data-suppliers decided to bail on us at the last minute), and the fact that selling new technology to non-tech companies is sort of difficult. It reminds of the feeling I had when (as a hopeful young novelist) I had to start pitching manuscripts to agents and publishers. The joy of writing and the joy of selling pull from two completely different springs. One spring is bountiful in my soul, the other, not so much.
And then there’s the issue of opportunity cost. Doing anything costs exactly as much as the price of not doing something else. Sometimes it’s not enough to have a good idea, or a good business, or even big success… we should all be striving to find the success that best suits us, that ties our passions up with our work, that sustains our sense of purpose, that justifies this one chance on this planet that we have to do anything we want.
One of the benefits of small companies and few business partners is that we can make swift changes. We can “fail” early. We haven’t made any giant bets that we can’t take back. There is not an irrecoverable amount of sunk cost.
So, without much further ado, we’re freezing the project, stepping back for a bit, and re-assessing. Sure, it sounds suspiciously like The Dip, or The Resistance, speaking here, but I’m almost certain that we’re all doing the right thing (after a night’s sleep). In fact, I think it’s mostly fear and uncertainty that would keep us on the project, rather than take us away from it. Leaving the project is what I’m afraid of. Especially since it means that I’ll be losing 66% of my monthly salary (which was already down 50% from The Robot Co-op), and we’ll be living on life support until something fills the gap. Also, strangely, I was on their payroll as a means to secure a home loan originally (one that never went through since we didn’t sell our house before Niko was born, and now we’re off the market until next year) so that might become an issue again when we decide to move if I still don’t have an “official job”. But whatever, right?
Talking with Kellianne last night about it, I think I’m going to give myself 90 days to either come up with, build, and become profitable on a new idea and business, or strongly consider re-joining the gainfully employed people of the world. Which, back in the day, I thought I’d never be able to do because I was too spoiled by the luxuries of self-employment, but it turns out that luxuries also mask dangers and anxieties that taunt us in the night.
90 days. That puts me at September 16th. New profitable business or bust. Now that I’m 100% above ground again, I’ll be posting here more. Wish me luck!