Information Technology Dark Side

Struggles of a Self-Taught Coder

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The Bootstrapping Thing I Suck Most At

June 13th, 2014 · No Comments

Benjamin Franklin said

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a
reason for anything one has a mind to do

I’m not being a reasonable creature, and it’s darned inconvenient

Last night I stayed up playing Civ 5 until 2:00 am. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have because I felt guilty that I wasn’t working on my bootstrapped business.

Playing is healthy and we need to do it. I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I know this is true in a academic sort of way, but I can’t seem to integrate that into my nature.

This is in spite of tremendous evidence in my business that doesn’t even include the experiences of other bootstrappers who have successfully built product businesses without killing themselves. And yet, when I “only” work 50 hours in a week I feel guilty. This has got to change.

The Case Against My Work Guilt
Let’s recap the evidence proving that
1) I don’t need to work 80+ hours a week anymore (if I ever did)
2) That I don’t need to feel guilty about goofing around

  1. In 2009 the partnership that started TroopTrack fell apart and I spent several months dealing with the conflict – first I bought out a partner, then I dissolved and re-formed the company, then I spent a month wallowing in depression and emotionally regrouping, all the while ignoring the day-to-day operations of the business. Our subscriber base didn’t really grow, but hey, we’re still here.
  2. In late 2010 I hurt my back very badly. I struggled to walk for a while and spent six+ months walking with a cane. I made almost no changes to TroopTrack during this time and ignored all but the most critical customer requests. Several customers called me to ask if I was okay. I think they worried that I had died. Here’s the rub: Our Subscriber base continued to grow
  3. In late 2013 my sister-in-law moved in with us. She had terminal cancer and Shannon became her full-time caregiver. Shannon had previously been operating the help desk and had been rocking it. With her gone and TroopTrack growing at an unprecedented rate, we fell far behind and didn’t catch up for more than six months. Guess what? Our subscriber base continued to grow

The Verdict: Guilty of Stupid Guilt
Great. Now I have to feel guilty about feeling guilty when it happens.

Just kidding. Hopefully putting this down in the open like this will make me feel better about it.

The worst part about this guilt is that it’s totally unreasonable. There is no need for me to work that hard anymore. I have Ryan, Spencer, and Shannon backing me up. We are paying the bills and growing like a California wildfire. It’s stupid to feel guilty about not doing something I don’t need to do.

The fact that TroopTrack’s customer service/support has been on life support a couple of times without negatively impacting the long-term viability of the business should not be construed as a belief on my part that I can just ignore the business and it will be fine. That’s stupid. The point here is that there is absolutely no reason for me to think that I have to work 24/7 just to keep the business growing. There is way too much evidence for that belief to persist any longer in my consciousness. It’s time for it to go.

Be free Dave.

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