I’ve always had an interest in being an entrepreneur.  When I was in the second grade my dad was working as a coal miner, a notoriously unstable and dangerous line of work.  That year he went through another layoff, the second in two years.

Not one to sit idle, he rounded up group of his friends that were in the same situation, out of work with families to provide for, and started a logging business.  That crew made use of the resources they had at hand.  They didn’t have money to buy equipment and couldn’t get a bank to give them a second glance.

They used second hand chainsaws, borrowed trucks and siphoned gas out of the tanks of their cars.  They went door to door canvasing for work.  They had plenty stacked against them.

But you know what?  They succeeded.  They found business and put food on the table.  That impresses the hell out of me.

There is no shortage of people out there with the same grit and determination.  If you own and operate a business I bet you’re one of them.  You claw and scratch, scrimp and save until you are successful.

I want to help where I can.  I am going to start posting bootstrapping information I find to help you you spend less time searching and more time doing.  For the bootstrapper, time can be as precious as money.  I want to help save both.

In addition to information and resources I also want to provide encouragement.  Nothing helps you stay motivated like hearing about how others in similar circumstances rose to the challenge and won.  I want to share those stories.  If you have one please let me know about it.  I’d love to post it on the site.

– Nat

Question: What’s your inspirational entrepreneurial story?

Fiverr.com is a site were entrepreneurial minded folks can offer their services for sale.  I’ve used it to hire people to critique my flashcard maker website.  That resulted in a really professional report for an investment of five dollars.  I was truly impressed by the result and how easy it was to place the order.

I’m going to start offering some of my basic services on Fiverr to get started.  The way their system works is you start slow, only able to offer small $5 “Gigs”.  As your experience and reputation on the site grows you are promoted to new levels and can offer more expensive services and multiple quantities of Gigs.

I like this progression.  It helps sellers gain competence as they gain experience with the system and rewards the truly dedicated participants with increasing opportunities.

I will keep you posted on how things are going as I get started.  Right now I have two active Gigs.  I’ll be adding more soon.

Question: Have you used Fiverr?  Did you buy or sell services?

For subscribers to my email newsletter I am offering a free copy of my WordPress web site setup checklist.  This simple, easy to use template will help you make sure you’ve covered all of the necessary steps when setting up a new WordPress web site.

All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter to begin receiving it via email.  Soon after you’ve confirmed your subvscription you will receive a welcome email with instructions on how to get your copy of the checklist template.  From then on you can use the template each time you setup a new site with WordPress to make sure you don’t miss any critical steps.

Enjoy!

A week ago I gave up caffeine, again…

I hope this is the final time.  So far it’s going pretty well.  I had a couple days where I had headaches but those were knocked out by a couple Tylenol.  There have been a couple evenings where I dozed off watching television but I haven’t been what I consider overly tired.  Fingers crossed, but I think I’m doing pretty well.

In honor of my first week of being caffeine free I’m giving away my last un-opened box of Keurig Iced Coffee.

Keurig Iced Coffee

Keurig Iced Coffee

All you have to do is answer the following question in the comments: “The reason I NEED coffee is…”

I’ll draw a winner randomly from all of the comments on Friday.

Good luck!

I don’t know about you but when I see pictures or video of Google Glass I think of the scene from the Steve Martin movie, “The Jerk“, where his invention, the opti-grab, is causing users to go crosseyed.

However, I’m pretty inspired by some of the concepts I’m seeing for smart watches.  Take a look at this concept for an iWatch.  I think that’s something I could purchase and use.

Question: Google Glass or iWatch?  Which would you prefer?

Months ago I put my name in the hat to participate in the early release of Google Glass.  I got an invitation via email this week to participate in the “Glass Explorer Program”.

Pretty exciting huh?

The conditions of participation listed in the email were:

All Glass Explorers must:

  • Be US residents
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Purchase Glass
  • Provide a US shipping address or pick up their Glass at one of our locations in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles

So far so good.  So I click through to the site.  What do I see?

Just a reminder that all Glass Explorers must:

  • Be US residents
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Purchase Glass for $1,500 + tax within the US
  • Provide a US-based shipping address or pick up Glass in our our New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles basecamps.
  • Bring a valid US ID or proof of residence when picking up Glass

Holy crap!  No wonder they didn’t put the price in the email.  I wouldn’t even have clicked through.  Not sure why they weren’t up front about the price in the email.  Maybe they realized it was over the top and that extra step of clicking would make someone just that much more comitted to a purchase?

Oh well.  Maybe the general release will be more affordable.

Question: Have you been invited to into the Glass Explorer Program?  What did you think of the price?

A man living in Florida is awakened one morning by the ringing of his phone. In answering I the finds the caller to be his boss.

“How soon can you be in Chicago?” His boss asks him.

“Tomorrow morning if I hurry,” the man says.

“Great!” his boss replies and hangs up the phone.

The man scrambles about to arrange a flight to Chicago. His efforts require great inconvenience and expense but he manages to board his flight and arrives in Chicago the next morning with only the barest of essentials to last him through the trip.

He presents himself to his boss as soon as he makes his way from the airport to the office.

On seeing him his boss demands, “What are you doing here?”

“You asked me how quickly I could get here when we spoke yesterday,” the man says.

“Yes, but I don’t need you here until Sunday. I just wanted to make sure you could get here by then. Oh well. Try to keep yourself occupied until Sunday then be back here bright and early.” His boss says.

The man leaves the office and makes arrangements to stay in the city four nights. He acquires clothes and necessities he needs for a longer stay than he had originally anticipated. He spends the next four days trying to make use of his time but spends most of it wandering without direction through the city.

Finally Sunday arrives and presents himself before his Boss bright and early.

“Where are the musicians?” his boss asks?

“Musicians?” The man replies.

“Yes. Musicians for the performance tonight.”

“I haven’t brought any musicians,” the man says.

“Well you had better hurry up and get some here before noon. They need to practice before they perform.”

The man hurries away and begins calling everyone he can think of to find the musicians. With barely enough time left he manages to find a group available and willing to play that evening that can be ready to rehearse by noon.

At the appointed hour the man arrives at the office with the musicians in tow. But his boss is no where to be found. His cell phone rings. It is his boss and he is not happy. “Where are you?” His boss demands

“I’m at the office with the musicians.”

“Why are you there!  I’m at the venue.  They should be here!”

“Which venue?”

“I’ll send you the address.  Get them here now!”

His boss hung up and the address appeared on the man’s phone.  Thirty minutes later the man and the muscians arrived at the location.  They hurried into the venue and found the man’s boss pacing back and forth.  He looked at the man and muscians puzzled.

“What is this?” he asked.

“These are the muscians,” the man replied.

“I need a marching band for the pre-game show!  What am I going to do with them!”

The man couldn’t think of anything to say.  He just stood there in shock.

“We’re done,” his boss said.  “Get on a plane back to Florida.  You’re fired.”

The man slowly turned around and walked away.

The End

Question: Have you ever acted without fully understanding your requirements?  What was the outcome?

If you told a traditional project manager that they’d be running a project where the requirements amounted to a statement of, “I want a website to sell widgets to anonymous customers via the Internet.” They’d probably head for the hills.

However, in Agile development, high level statements like this or user stories are the key means by which requirements are communicated. So how does a traditional project manager bridge this gap?

Agile relies heavily on the product owner being closely involved with the development team. In effect they become a living, breathing requirements document. Any time a developer has a question about the requirements it is expected they will interact directly with the product owner to have them answered.

This allows the developer to keep making forward progress and keeps the product owner updated on progress on and changes to the deliverable. It ensures there are no surprises when the sprint is complete and the user story is delivered.

The requirements document of traditional project management is replaced by continuous interaction with the product owner. In essence the time the product owner would have spent at the beginning of the project is now distributed throughout the life of the sprint.

Question: How have your requirement gathering practices changed as you shift to Agile development methodologies?

My wife and I are firmly entrenched iPhone users. We have been for several years now. We like the features and we’re familiar with how iPhones work. In other words, we’re not likely to change any time soon.

Our daughter on the other hand…

She uses an Android tablet and phone. This choice isn’t one she made against her mother and me. It isn’t even a preference for the technology. It’s based on the decision my wife and I made not to entrust an eleven year old with hundreds of dollars of mobile technology.

You see, we’re not providing this technology as a reward or entertainment. She has a need to use the tablet for school related projects. The phone is a safety measure. We want her to be able to make contact with us when she’s participating on one of her ever increasing extra-curricular activities independent from us.

That being the case we want her to have devices that meet her requirements but at the same time won’t break the bank. The obvious choice here is Android. For a little under $90 we can furnish her with a reliable tablet and phone. It makes replacing them more palatable if they’re lost, stolen or broken.

So, how difficult is it to support her on a different platform than her mother and I use? Not at all. She’s become a whiz at the interface. I don’t think she’s asked me a single question about how to use or do something. The features meet all of her requirements and she’s found additional apps to keep her entertained when she isn’t strictly using the devices for their necessary purposes (she does extra chores to earn this privilege).

I’m happy with the decision even if it means I’m raising a generation that will think I’m old fashioned for using an iPhone.

Question: Is your household a split platform household? What challenges has that presented?