Archive for the ‘FastTrac’ Category

New Fuses

August 17, 2011

No sooner had I finished Long Fuse, BIG BANG than I came to realize which fuses I should be lighting. The business I want to launch in a year will need significant understanding and experience with a number of technologies that I am familiar with but not competent in, yet. When I stepped back and thought about a conversation with a young colleague from a business I have done work for in the past, I came to realize there was a lot I could do if I built solutions for the client who knows me best. And if I worked with this young colleague, we could do the job better.

This morning, or rather late last night, I came to realize that the concept I was thinking about could be approached in a much different way. Instead of building a solution for the one client, I could build a platform that would allow that client to collaborate with all his suppliers, and also with the people who work for him. When he is doing estimates, he could use their experience on the jobs they have done in the past to validate the estimates he is proposing to his clients. The crews know how much effort things are likely to take, and whether enough materials have been included. They don’t need to know about pricing, just effort estimates and material requirements.

So this morning, when I really woke up, I had another insight into the solution I am going to propose for this client. Instead of building a comprehensive business management tool, I’m just going to build the estimating system he has been asking for the last year or so. It will be a database running on a server so he can connect to it from wherever he is. People in the office will be able to look things up for him as needed. When he has estimates developed sufficiently, he’ll be able to share access to the database with his suppliers, so that they can put prices on the materials he has included in his quotes.

All of this provides a way for me to stretch and learn how to integrate all the pieces. I’ve done some of them in the past, but never on my own server, and never as a web-based application. And as it turns out, my wife and I are doing a number of big home improvement projects ourselves, so I can figure out how to build a good estimating tool by doing estimates for the jobs here at home. If the solution works for me, it might be ready to show other people. And if it works locally, it might be something other businesses would want to subscribe to. That would generate some cash flow and build my reputation with possible investors for the next company I want to start.

But I need to do this the right way, and actually launch it as a business, rather than the hobby-style of enterprise I’ve played around with since retirement. I need to build this business with the intent of selling it in a year or two, so I can move on to the next business with some specific experience behind me.

I love getting ideas just as I am falling asleep. They get better after I write them down, and often improve when I sleep on them, and write again in the morning.

When was the last time you got up to write something down because you couldn’t sleep? Did the ideas improve when you slept on them? What changed when you wrote about them in the morning?

Moving On

August 15, 2011

I just finished Long Fuse, BIG BANG and came to the realization that my big idea isn’t ready for prime time. I don’t understand how the underlying technologies would work. I don’t know how to convince people I have a solution they would need. The list is much longer, but the insight is useful because I realize there is something else I can do instead.

A friend has a business I have helped in the past, and there is an opportunity to do a project for him, at no startup cost for him unless the solution actually works. The technologies I would need to understand to get his solution to work are the same ones I will need to master for my own business idea. The people skills I will need to learn for his business and the relationships his solution will support will help me out on my own project.

But I’m going to do my project later. I need to light a couple of other fuses first. My bang will be much bigger if I just work out the kinks on some smaller projects first.

Where does that leave this blog? I’m not sure yet, but I thought I needed to put a stake in the ground and declare my intentions. Constructing Change is going on hiatus for a bit, as are Deming Habits and the Failurist Manifesto. The tutorials for Things never really went anywhere, so I’m going to drop that entirely.

So where does this leave me when it comes to blog topics? How about starting up a business using the FastTrac methodology from the Kauffman Foundation. I took the course last fall with my wife and went through five iterations of my business idea before settling on the one I’ve been developing all spring and summer. I can sit in (quietly) on the class this fall and start up my new business plan, and write about it here. Of course, I won’t give away any trade secrets or spill any beans, but I think writing about my FastTrac experience would be very helpful to me, and hopefully for some of you as well. You could even sign up for the class, if you ask me where it is being held.

So that’s all there is for today. It’s about four weeks until class starts so I can start going through the book to refresh my thoughts on the subject. Unfortunately, all my notes will be handwritten, in one of those composition books I’ve spoken about in the past. But there will be plenty to talk about here – the process of starting up a business. Maybe more people will follow me if I’m describing something most people could do, if they just had a good book to guide them.

We’ll start in earnest tomorrow.