Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

on March 15, 2016

I have spent a lot of time over the last few years working on my business idea. Progress has been sporadic as I have raced through development work for a few weeks and then slammed hard into technical challenges that I didn’t have the skills to overcome at the time. Starting a business feels like one exhausting episode of manic depression, and it tends to follow this pattern:

Monday morning: I am full of creative ideas, for I am a creative goddess! I will write code, and it will be beautiful. When my child has her afternoon nap I will harness these thoughts and I shall type like the wind.

Monday afternoon: I was going to do something about fixing a bug in my crossword. Oh god, what was the bug I was going to fix? I can’t bear to do another crossword right now to see how it is running; I need more words in my database. Maybe I’ll add a few more now, then I can test if they work while I do the crossword. That will be a bit more fun, and I can kill two birds with one stone. God I’m efficient.

Tuesday morning: Right, my child is at crèche, so I have a few hours to get everything done. Oh ugh, I’m only half way through translating those words from yesterday. Translating words into languages that I don’t know is so time consuming, even if it is a great way to learn. Maybe I should get a translator to do it for me, and then randomly check the accuracy of a few? Maybe I should get a second translator to do the checking?

Tuesday afternoon: My database is broken. How can I get other people to help with this when I can’t even stop myself from breaking it? Why is my database broken? Maybe it hates me. My child is refusing to have her nap. Does she hate me too? Probably. Everyone hates me. I hate me. I suck at coding and I need to get a real job.

Wednesday morning: I forgot to close a string. Ha ha. Funny. I am a debugging goddess! Look at all this great code I have written today.

Wednesday afternoon: The back end of my website is beautiful. I wish people could see some of this hidden functionality. What a pity the front end looks like arse. Maybe I should get a designer to make it a bit prettier?

A screenshot of languagelearning.ninja as of March 2016

This design may look like arse…

Thursday morning: I can’t believe how much time I wasted yesterday looking for a designer. That was prime coding time! What was I thinking? It might look like arse, but compared to my first version it’s pretty sexy. I’m getting better at design; I just need to spend a bit more time practicing. Designers are expensive. Translators are expensive. If I do it myself I can save a lot of money, and then I can spend the money I have on something a bit more important for the project.

Screenshot of languagelearning.ninja from March 2015.

…but this older version looks like fat, hairy ass.

Thursday afternoon: Why did I try to go out and do some photography for the website with a 2 year old? Thank god the camera isn’t broken. I hope the camera bag dries before her father gets home.

Friday morning: Oh, right, child isn’t going to crèche today. Bummer, I forgot about that. I wonder if I can look up designers and translators on my phone while I take her to the park. There just isn’t enough time to get everything finished, but I’m such a control freak that it’s difficult for me to let go.

Friday afternoon: I am exhausted. Damn it, that bug is still in my crossword. Next week. I’ll fix it next week.

Yesterday I decided that it was time to stop messing around and to get some help. I took my credit card out of storage, went over to 99 designs, and launched my first contest. It was terrifying. It was symbolic.

Working through the form (which I closed no less than 4 times before I just got on with it and finished) forced me to face a few truths that I didn’t particularly feel like facing:

  • Time is more important than money, and I need to quit wasting it.
  • I am not good enough to finish this project by myself, and I never will be. This is ok, because it would take me so much time to get good enough at everything that I would always be playing catch-up with new technologies and ideas and the project would never finish.
  • My sense of money is skewed, because in the past 6 months I have easily spent that much money on miscellaneous rubbish that I’ll never use (if not more). I can spend that much money in a single month on chiropractic and massage without thinking twice about it.
  • It’s ok to tell other people what I think of their work when they are working for me.

I eventually submitted the design contest, paid the money, and remarkably I didn’t die immediately. It was a great start to the process. Designs are already coming in, and if you’re interested you can check them out here. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a great idea for some code that I need to write before my child gets home from crèche; after all, I am a coding goddess.

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