The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tumultous

If there's a single word that reflects our year at TheGoodBlogs, it would be tumultous. The dictionary associates turbulence with confusion, agitation and irregularity. Making money from blogging or helping bloggers is extremely tough. There is money to be made but I do wonder if the returns justify the effort. Ask any blog network and most if not all are struggling to hit it out the park. In a year that has hit financial lows all around the world, advertising spend, (the bread and butter of most blogs and blog networks) are way down. Anyone who plays free games will notice that in the last quarter of the year, it was possible to play an entire game or great parts of it without any real ads.

Back to TheGoodBlogs. We constantly face the challenge of writing out own software (for free) or writing it for others (for a fee). The former has more long-term upside but the latter pays the bills. The lesson we learnt this year it is that unless it is our own idea, the customer must pay. No more promises of equity in return for labour. To have your future in someone else's hands is a dangerous thing.

This year we have encountered everything:
  • a failed joint venture that sapped our resources with no revenue (don't get fooled by stories of how much money other people are making. Most people only tell you the successes and not the failures or the true net revenue)
  • a client that had little appreciation of what it costs to write good software (be wary of anyone who has never worked with a software team or been part of a startup)
  • a great project that we delivered on time and on budget (our best success todate, the client knew what he wanted, what his budget was and the goals were achievable)
  • a project that had we took over after it had stalled (note to entrepreneurs, doing a startup with part-time help is going to take you 5 times as long to launch) and did it two weeks what would have taken them to do in 2-3 months.
  • a promising startup that couldn't get funded and with changing short terms goals. We assisted with the launch for free. Unfortunately we pulled out because the ongoing cost of non-revenue generating work was too much for us to bear. (If the there is no money on the table, make sure you have enough in your own pocket to throw away)
  • a project that we are are awaiting word from that is still to be funded after 3 months. (raising money today is far from being a sure thing even if the investors are friends)

    Far from being a stella year, we did the following in the face of extreme challenges. We brushed up our skillsets and spent time working on flash, touch screens and mobile devices, in particular the Blackberry and the iPhone.

    I read an interesting quote last week, it said that aspirations are only glimpses of what the future could be and perseverance is the only guarantee for success. I shudder at what a recession could do to our own business in 2009. At the same time, I think we as a company have learnt many valuable lessons of what we should not do in the future.

    Learning about what not to do and stop doing them are things people generally don't think about. Probably because it is usually gained through failure. But if all our experiences were only good ones, did we really learn anything at all.

    My two words for 2009?

    Cautiously optimistic
  • 2 Comments:

    Anonymous Jeanne Dininni said...

    Vernon,

    Sounds as if you've learned quite a few valuable lessons in 2008 -- lessons which I'm sure will help you a great deal as you attempt to make your way through the economic wilderness in which we currently find ourselves.

    Best wishes for your success!
    Jeanne

    1:29 PM  
    Blogger The Idea Dude said...

    Hi Jeanne,

    We sure did!

    Thank you for your best wishes!

    Vern

    3:38 PM  

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