Archive for March, 2008

When there is too much to do

Friday, March 28th, 2008

My favourite saying at the moment is this:

“I can either work myself to the bone, and not get everything done that I need to; or I can NOT work myself to the bone, and STILL not get everything done that I need to…. so there is little point in killing myself in the process.”

I say this, yet here I am, its half past midnight, my eyes are so blurry I can’t focus on the font before me, my back is screaming in agony, and my tummy is not at its prettiest after too much toast… and STILL I haven’t got everything done that I need to.

Skimbit part of Web Mission 08

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Some more exciting news for Skimbit… Web Mission 08 is a competition for the top UK based start-ups to head over to Silicon Valley to promote our businesses and form strategic partnerships. Initially I didn’t think it was for Skimbit – to enter you had to indicate how ‘socially sustainable’ your business was, and if selected, had to contribute a sizeable sum of cash, certainly more than flights and hotels in San Francisco would have been if I bought them directly. But – I reckoned – it was a great opportunity and worth the effort, so I entered.

And when I found out I was accepted, although I was pleased, I do have to admit I had a fleeting moment of thinking “Well, I bet not many people applied, its not such a big deal…”

So imagine my surprise when I found out that over 100 start-ups had competed, and only 20 were selected! And that the judging panel included Doug Richard and Mike Butcher! And that there is huge press coverage of the event: Skimbit even managed to appear on TechCrunch US!

And looking at the agenda, I now totally realise what a fabulous opportunity this is! I’m busily trying to organise meetings with potential partners in the Valley and San Fran (if you are one, or know of one, let me know!), and am meeting with some US-based PR firms to help my ‘launch’ in the US. Very exciting stuff!!

Using your 9-5 life to motivate your entrepreneur life

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

One of the reasons I knew many years ago that I had to become an entrepreneur, was that I wanted the ability to dictate the terms of my life.

I hated HAVING to be at work at 9am, and feeling guilty and stressed if I was running late. I hated having people silently judge me if I was writing a personal email or reading a blog during work hours, and the challenge of having to always book things like dentists and home deliveries in my pre- or post- work hours. Its not that I have an aversion to work, far from it, but I hated that the times I was not performing in a ‘normal’ business way would be judged negatively. And perhaps this is more an indication of my inherent guilt, as possibly I was imagining these silent frowns of disapproval, but nevertheless, I hated feeling that way, and knew that being my own boss would be the only solution.

And I feel very lucky to have achieved my goal: I am my own boss, and I am more or less master of my own destiny.

Of course the irony is that far from working less, I am now working MORE than I ever did, when I was a normal employee. The beauty of my arrangement though, is its on my terms, and every day that passes I savour that feeling. I love that because I work best in the evenings, if I choose to start work at 10:30am, and work til 9pm, that is fine. If I need to go to the doctors, I can book at whatever time I like, and work from home til that time comes. What freedom! And if the way I work best is to stop every hour for a game of Spider Solitaire, no one is going to ever judge me. Brilliant!

The one big challenge though, is that this freedom requires a great deal of self-discipline. I love working and I am inspired by my work, but sometimes, my inherent laziness gets the better of me. Never is this more apparent than when I ‘work from home’. Now, don’t get me wrong, my working from home is vastly productive, and I enjoy the solitude to focus on something complicated. But… the lure of tempting procrastination is strong, and I find it hard to resist even though I really really want to, without the power of the guilt I feel when I am working in an office.

So, although I work for myself, being in an office with lots of other super dynamic people not only motivates me, but dispels my desire to procrastinate. I actually find the rigours of my training as a 9-5 employee actually helps and gives me discipline to go to work early, work hard, etc. I know some people are brilliant at working hard at home, and are great with self-discipline, but I have come to terms with the fact that for me, I need to almost trick myself that I am going to a normal job, in order to get the most out of my time. Of course, I do give myself some of the flexibility I have aspired to, and in all, this proves a healthy workable balance.

Miso-stained laptop replaced with Mac… “Finally!” many say

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

As you may have read in a previous post, I recently had an incident with a wayward cup of miso soup, that decided to disastrously waterfall all over my IBM laptop. I should be grateful that due to some quick-thinking drying under a ladies room hairdryer, and a kind boyfriend who spent the next hour dismantling the computer so I could dry each component, the computer remained pretty much intact: no data was lost, and I could still use the laptop.

However, one quite hilarious outcome was the screen lost the ability to render black, and rendered it as red instead… so everything was in shades of pink. You could work on it fine, and I did get used to it, but every now and then someone would pass my desk and laugh at me for being so girlie… I then had to explain that the pink was absolutely not a deliberate choice… After a while, this became more of an issue than I like to admit!

Of course, there were other more sensible reasons to change laptops – my computer had ground to a halt speed-wise, and considering I like to work with about 20 open applications, my little ol’ PC just wasn’t coping. And the final problem was Norton’s anti-virus which managed to render my computer unusable for 30 minutes a few times a day. So, for all these reasons, I decided to buy a new laptop.

I steadfastly refused to buy a Mac for ages, despite my office-mates all using them and singing Apple’s praises constantly. And my reasons, I admit, were a little strange. Firstly, I like the IBM trackpoint (that little red thing you use instead of a trackpad), and only IBM has them. I like how I don’t have to move my hand to do everything I need to do on my computer, and again, due to the manic pace at which I use my laptop, this is a critical factor for me. Secondly, I have little hands, and I liked having a US/Aus keyboard as I could reach the Enter key easily (UK keyboards have a small enter key that is too far away for my little finger to reach while touch-typing). Finally, there was this resistance to going with the crowd – everyone kept praising Macs, it was almost not cool enough to do what everyone else did. Yes, I know, silly reasons.

In the end, I went for it though. And I mitigated my first two complaints by buying an IBM USB keyboard in Australia – so I can still use the IBM trackpoint on an Aussie keyboard, on my new MacBook Pro!! And in the end, I see what the fuss is all about – it really is an utterly superb machine and operating system. I bow gracefully to all those I rebuked for so long, it is a delight and pleasure to use, and considering the amount of time I spend at my computer, a little bit of extra pleasure never goes astray!

The Apple purists around me still moan and laugh when they see me – there with an IBM USB keyboard attached to my Mac, and perhaps this little idiosyncracy helps mitigate my third concern – I certainly am not going with the crowd with THIS ol’ system!