Friends, I have something to tell you. I started a business. It’s called Southerneer. Like Southern + engineer. Yeah…sorry…it’s just…yeah. Anyway, I’ve decided to transform this little side venture into my livelihood. As in if it’s an abject failure I might cease to live. I think that’s how that works.
From an objective sense, I understand that this is a big step. Financially, it’s significantly more risky than holding down a regular job. And it will be way more challenging as I’ll have to break out of developer nerd mode from time to time and actually talk to people and do “businessy” stuff. If and when I hire people they will depend on me to make sound decisions to keep the business afloat and ensure that they can get a paycheck and eat and keep a roof over their heads and support their raging habits and instatiable fetishes. That’s heavy.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel any change yet. On a day-to-day basis I’m essentially doing the same work just on a contract basis with Redwood: they get a job that requires hacker skillz and I do it and get paid. Only now I don’t get paid when there aren’t any projects. This should register as a burning necessity to find new work, but it doesn’t…yet. I also don’t feel any difference or significance related to “running a company”. It just seems fake – just me sitting in a room tip-tapping on a computer pretending that someone might actually want my help one of these days. Moving from consulting for big banks and large corporations in Charlotte to the startup world with Redwood meant a lot more responsibility and accountability for my work – on the technical side I was often working on a team of one. A lot of projects we took on both internally and for clients involved technology I was only vaguely familiar with. Grappling with the discomfort of committing to work with little idea of how to actually get it done was frightening in the moment, but also formative. As the only technical voice in the room I was often overly conservative with estimates of my capabilities and this put a huge strain on our business development team. Now I wear both hats and I will have to weigh the pressure of venturing into the unknown vs. the prospect of turning down a project and thereby not making money. If it doesn’t kill me I will hopefully emerge stronger for it.
So what exactly do I do? Great question. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I’m capable of doing just about anything web-related. I can do SEO, analytics, web design, site admin/hosting, etc. I’m decent to good at most of these things and they will probably represent the bulk of my business for the first couple years. But my real passion is developing applications. Not just presenting information (i.e. a company website) or making something simple look fancy, but taking data and generating something new and useful from it. This is much more difficult to pull off but to me it’s also much more interesting and something I can throw myself into wholeheartedly. I’m furiously building up my skills to get to the point where I can confidently pitch myself to a company who is seeking this type of expertise. I know there are tons of hacks out there claiming the ability to do this type of work and they inevitably botch it and leave their customers dissatisfied. I’m better than those guys. On the other hand, there are companies and individuals out there who build sweet stuff that I can only stare and marvel at. There are developers here in Chattanooga who blow the doors off anything I can do. I’m just staying hungry and learning all I can. I’ll get there.
In the meantime, dear friends, I’m asking for your help. Pleading. Begging. I need to eat. And I need to work to earn my food. I’m desperate so I come super cheap. If you or anyone you know needs help with anything to do with the web I’m all ears and ready to take on the challenge.
Your pal, Eric