Posted: 24th May 2012
How does one succeed at something? Simple really, stay focused on it.
It's been a while since I last wrote in my blog. Why? Because I've been focused on the one thing, growing Project Bubble. In the process I've been trying to remove all other things that could potentially distract in order to get this focus.
When I last wrote I was explaining how wonderful it is to be able to work full time for your startup. In November 2011, two years after launching Project Bubble in Beta, this dream became a reality for me because the revenue it was making was enough to support me and my wife working full time in London.
It's an awesome feeling being able to work full time for your startup, and it's been a really amazing 6 months since I last wrote. I'll explain what's been happening in that time and tell you about an important discovery I made.
After going full-time in November I set about doing some much needed development that required intense concentration and a lot of time. I built various features for Project Bubble that were much needed, such as the API, mobile site, and the calendar.
In early 2012 I formed Project Bubble LLC as a separate incorporated company in the US, away from it's UK based incubator Haloweb Ltd as the business was doing so well. This process alone took weeks, lots of paperwork, phone calls, and a visit to the US!
By late January I was very busy indeed. The userbase had grown to about 10,000 and we had about 300 businesses using Project Bubble every day. The support emails were coming in thick and fast (about 2 hours a day) and I was trying to spend the rest of the time on marketing and growing the business. This mean that I had practically no time in the rest of the day to work on other projects or past clients that previously I would have spent a fair bit of time on.
There had been a switch. Previously, I'd spend my evenings and weekends working on Project Bubble and the day working for clients and other projects. Now I was finding that I was spending my evenings and weekends working for clients and other projects which I didn't really need the income for.
I'd always been the type of person who had lots of projects going on at the same time, and a lot of you who know me will confer. Whether it's a new startup idea that I'd built in a weekend (I had at least 3 of these), a few online forums that brought in a few quid per month in advertising, a new project that aimed to help lots of other entrepreneurs like me, or just freelance work for old clients.
I thought that if I had a lot of irons in the fire one of them would surely become successful or I'd have a plethora of other projects that I could fall back on in case my main one fails. The trouble was that I was stressing myself out with the many projects, and not really spending enough time on the one thing that was actually showing the most promise.
I realised that I needed to focus on Project Bubble solely and not be distracted, or it was going to lose direction and fail. So I started to begin the cull.
I decided to remove all my projects that weren't bringing in very much revenue and were taking up too much time. Even if they weren't necessarily demanding my time I knew that it just wasn't ethical for me to continue to be attached to them (and in some cases take people's money for them) when I wasn't intending on continuing to support them or lead them in any particular direction.
I sold quite a few of the small businesses I had that were bringing in revenue (albeit a few hundred pounds per month) to entrepreneurs who would take them in new directions and offer something a lot better to the communities. I officially ceased support for some of my other projects and offered them for free with no support. I had to tell clients that I was no longer able to work for them in any way at all as I was now working full time for a new company. And finally I was able to outsource support for all my past clients who were on maintenance contracts for websites I'd done for them.
Basically, between February and April I managed to cut down all my many projects to just two, Project Bubble, and Invoice Bubble (which is an offshoot of Project Bubble). I no longer have ownership or dealings with anything else pretty much. It's a huge weight off my mind and allows me to focus.
So now I'm completely focused on Project Bubble. I'm able to work fully in marketing, or development without distraction from other projects, and I feel it's going to be very beneficial to the startup's growth. With that said, we're having a baby in June so I might be distracted by a very worthwhile cause for the next month! I'll probably blog about that separately as there's something I want to share about entrepreneurs who are also Dads like me.
I'll be focusing on customer support for the next few weeks as that's taking out about 3 hours per day at the moment. I'll be writing a help section on the site and then hiring a virtual assistant to handle the emails, hopefully reducing my support time to about 20 minutes per day.
I'll be focusing on marketing in July/August so that we can grow the revenue to a place where we can actually hire another developer.
Then towards the end of the year I'll be focusing on the CEO side of things along with product design. By the end of next year hopefully we'll be a multi-million dollar revenue company with a tight-knit team working somewhere in the US. Hey, dream big!
Without focus, none of this would be possible. So don't be afraid to drop the things that are weighing you down so you can really soar.
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