November Milestones

For those who are curious, this is my current plan of action. These are only the bare essentials that need to be complete prior to launch. This is clearly a very aggressive timeline, but I think it’s doable. Many of my todo items (and I do mean many) have been pushed until after the “go live” date in order to meet the deadline. Trademark isn’t necessarily a necessity but I left it on there nevertheless.

Appetizer Timeline

Trick er Treat

Drunk Zombie
Man, I’ve been there buddy!

This Halloween though, I dressed up as a computer nerd that sits in front of his computer all day long stressing about a deadline he can’t possibly meet. Actually this is the first Halloween in a long time that I didn’t dress up and go out on the town. Which is a tad depressing, but the good news is I worked my butt off and got very little accomplished. Now, according to this blog, “time is up” and I am supposed to be launching the Appetizer off into the great wide web world today (wait, did I get that right?). Unfortunately though, if it was to launch now, it would crash before it even left the ground (aka. fall over). How’s that for a trick kids? Enter excuse…

My projected deadline has proven a bit too optimistic. I underestimated the complexity of this application and the amount of time it would take to do some of the cool stuff going on with it. Approximately 200 hours of straight coding has been clocked in already and there’s probably another 50 or so to go. So apologies, but the deadline will need to be pushed back another 28 days. It will be well worth the wait though, I promise you. If you’re paying attention, this means the new target launch date coincides with my 30th birthday. Old Geezer day doesn’t officially happen until 5:24 a.m. though, so the new target launch time is going to be 5:23 a.m. Ha! Young Zack will get the credit for this puppy yet.

So, now that I can breathe again, let me tell you a little about where we’re at with this thing and where we’re headed. Scott (my trusty designer) has been working diligently on the logo and has produced a very nice selection of samples for me to choose from. He’s done a great job helping me figure out what the heck I want, which isn’t easy let me tell you. For the passed couple weeks, we’ve been tossing ideas back and forth and working iteratively towards the final product. We should be finished in the next day or two and ready to show it to you guys.

Once the logo is complete, Scott will start on site design, something we’re both excited to get moving on. The bulk of the back-end should be built this weekend, so I can focus on working with Scott to get the front-end user interface put together. It will be time to start stepping out of geek mode and into creative mode, followed by business mode, followed by (hopefully) R&R mode. The remaining non-backend tasks (that can be disclosed with you good people – hey, I have to keep a few tricks up my sleeve) are as follows:

  • Apply for a trademark on the logo
  • Design and build the user interface
  • Write the final draft of the copy (display messages, about page, FAQ, etc)
  • Select a web host and move stuff over
  • Find a good attorney and discuss legal ramifications
  • Draw up legal documents w/ attorney (terms of agreement and privacy policy)
  • Find a good accountant and setup book-keeping system
  • Get a payment system in place
  • Finish writing my marketing/business plan
  • Get some initial advertisers on board
  • Test, Test, Test

Oh yeah, did I mention register and setup my business? Should probably do that too eh? That’s quickly becoming a higher priority now that the end of the beginning is drawing near. I’ve held off on it to avoid slowing down and killing momentum. Once the application is complete though, it will be time to get the business side of things inline. Fortunately the expenses have been fairly minimal to this point, so write-offs aren’t much of an issue just yet. Once this is built, the next stop for me will be the Small Business Development Center, to find out what they have to offer…free of charge.

Yep, it’s going to be a busy November for yours truly. I’ll keep you updated on my progress provided I don’t become too senile along the way ;).

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Oh, and if you’re in the Portland area, you should go check out the Davis Graveyard. I went the other night and was very impressed with how elaborate it was, definitely worth the trip.

Balancing Act

The following is a recent email conversation I had with someone regarding the difficulty of balancing a full-time job and an on-the-side start-up.

Someone: Just curious: how are you keeping the momentum while keeping a day job? I find that it takes me almost the whole evening to get out of my day job mode, so weekdays are out. As for weekends, that’s mostly family time. So I find vacation time is best to really focus. Of course, that’s limited. How do you find the time to focus?

Me: Well it’s definately not easy, I hear you there! Of course if it were, everyone would do it, am I right? Basically it just came down to making a commitment and not leaving a choice to do anything else. It’s tough not being able to spend as much time with the fam, but I keep telling myself that it will all pay off in the end and this is just a means to get there. I set up a schedule with milestones and todos and I stick to it, it’s that simple…and yet extremely difficult. I constantly have to discipline myself. I have my work hours posted on my wall at home to keep me in line. I don’t always stick to them as there are days when I am way too stressed and just need to relax, but for the most part I follow it. I’ll probably take some vacation time here in the next month or so and really goto work on things, but for now I have a limited amount of time and lots to do…so there’s no choice.

Someone: I like your idea of shame the best. That is, since you’ve told everyone what you’re doing (in public on the blog), you’ll be shamed if you fail to give your best attempt.

Me: I agree, shame is definately a good tactic. If I fail I will have no choice but to samuraii myself at once. That is part of the reason I started the blog though, was to motivate me to follow through for a change. Still, I think once I eliminated choice and made this a priority, it has helped me stay the course. It’s basically like a long finals week at school. And during finals week, you generally stay pretty focused on school and know that you can’t do anything but.

So basically my trick is to brainwash myself. How about you? What tactics do you use to stay focused during times when it is incredibly easy and tempting not to?

Baby Steps

I now have my project layed out in Base Camp, which if you’ve never used, is a very user friendly web app from the guys at 37 Signals. Here are my milestones…

December 20th is my target launch date. I would also like to get a private beta version out by my birthday, November 28th, when I will be 30 years old. My god…where has the time gone? I better get a move on! Setting up milestones has helped me analyze what needs to happen and has made the process that much more real and exciting. I now have direction and deadlines to keep me in line. However, I am definitely a newbie at managing a commercial web app project, so if you’re laughing right now…I assure you, I don’t get it. Please comment and fill me in.

So now all the pieces are layed out before me and the process is much less overwhelming and complex. At this point, I just have to “Baby step to four o’clock [December 20th]”. (What About Bob)