Friday, August 19, 2011

Setting Goals

I've been a hobby acoustic guitar builder for a few years now. Recently I've taken to giving myself public dares on my other BLOG as a means of setting some goals and motivating myself to spend more time on projects related to my aspiration to someday build great sounding and looking guitars. Those challenges have helped me focus and make more progress over the past three weeks than I have over the previous several months.

Another one of my goals has been to be a founder in a new business. It's important to note the use of the letter "a" in that previous sentence rather than the word "the". I'm really more of a team guy and have never viewed myself as CEO material, at least in my initial venture. I've had this plan in my head for awhile now where I'd be a principal in a new company, work hard at it for a few years, reach a graceful exit point that included a modestly large sum of money and then take that experience and create a situation where I was the prime mover and shaker. It's a nice dream, but it isn't going anywhere and I'm tired of waiting.

This doesn't mean I'm quitting my day job and starting a new company right now. What it does mean is I'm daring myself to do some serious work on my latest business idea to get a better idea of where it might lead. I generally have about three semi serious ideas a year. I get excited about them for awhile and then move on to something else for a variety of reasons.

An idea might require programming skills that I don't possess. I'm not a bad programmer but I'm not a great one either and I've done most of my work in Perl and SQL over the years. I have a love/hate relationship with Perl but it's the tool I know and learning a new one would take a lot of time that I'd honestly rather be spending on things like writing and learning to build guitars. My wife and I also like to hang out occasionally so that's an important consideration as well.

I've joined and followed a number of professional organizations focused on entrepreneurship since finishing my MBA but really haven't gotten that engaged in any of them. That's been bugging me recently given my stated desire to be part of a new business. I've finally come to the conclusion that at least part of the problem is I don't feel like I'm bringing anything to the table when it comes to potential interactions in those kinds forums. Sure, I have an MBA from a school with an excellent reputation in the area of entrepreneurship but what have I don't with those skills since I finished that MBA? Brainstorming ideas, primarily with myself and interviewing a handful of people as part of my research was a good start but I need to do better than that.

My latest idea requires programming skills that I actually have, at least for the initial stages. My dare to myself is to write some code and develop the potential business model to the point where I can make an informed decision on whether this idea is worth further exploration. I have some other dares in mind if things look good at that point but I don't want to layer to make this overly complicated right now.

I'm giving myself one month to do this. I've scheduled a weekly event on my Google calendar to remind me to update this BLOG on my progress.

If it's a lousy idea, I'll determine that along the way and report more fully on what it is I was planning and why I don't think it will work. Otherwise I'm going to be somewhat vague. We were taught in business school that teams and execution are much more important than ideas but right now all I have is my idea and I'm not willing to share it with the entire world yet.

So in summary, I'm not quitting my day job any time soon but I am going to put a lot more emphasis and focus on figuring out if my latest idea has any merit over the coming month. That will include writing some code to test my idea and putting together a preliminary plan for how the business might work from a monetary perspective. Once that work is done I'll have to figure out the next portion, if any. Wish me luck.

Image by orkboi via Flickr  
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