One simple thought to keep you motivated on your startup

Working on your side project or business idea takes a lot of motivation. Deep down you know you should be working.

But it’s tough. Tough to get started. Tough to avoid distractions. Even tougher when you’ve just put in a full day at your 9 to 5.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’m in the same boat too.

In January this year I started the web app challenge. My goal was to build software for the property management industry. Initially I worked extremely hard. I knew I needed to make a dent into my new product before I began to second guess myself.

Every time I came up against a difficult problem I would get a bit disheartened. I didn’t want to start work when I got home.

I was tired.

Eventually I’d set aside a weekend and put in the hours to solve my problem. Most of the time the solution was simpler than I thought it would be. So I began to ask myself “Why am I finding it so difficult to sit down and work on something I actually want to work on?

At my job I’d be reminded about how much I really wanted to work for myself. And how much I want to build a business that allowed me freedom. Freedom to travel.

Then it hit me. I kept losing sight of that goal.

My goal is to quit my job within two years and have a business that meets my financial needs. Every day that I don’t work on my goals is a day longer I stay employed.

That’s an empowering thought for me.

Now, my aim is to spend at least one hour each day working towards my goal. This small shift alone has increased my productivity.

I keep a score. 730 (365 days x 2). Each day I don’t work at least an hour on my new business, I add one to the score.

Each day I do work at least an hour, I minus one from the score. Hopefully, by the end of two years I will have spent roughly 730 hours or more on my own business.

That’s about 20 full time working weeks! Time that could be easily wasted watching the latest TV shows in the evening.

So here’s my challenge to myself and to you. What can YOU build with 20 full time working weeks?

Scratch your own itch

When you’re building a product, web app or otherwise, the de facto advice is to “scratch your own itch”. It makes sense. Find a problem which bothers you enough to take some action to solve it. Ideally, you won’t be the only person with the same problem and others will be experiencing enough pain to do something about it i.e. pay you for your solution.

If you’ve been following my posts lately, you’ll know I’m midway through month two of my web app challenge. Going against conventional wisdom I’m not scratching my own itch – I’m scratching someone else’s (that sounds wrong…but you get what I mean).

Now although the itch isn’t mine, it belongs to someone close to me and I feel their pain.

What’s the pain?

90% of their business activities are recurring repetitive tasks that could be automated. Right now they do everything manually – yes, manually.

Is there a solution out there?

Yep, plenty. We could use one of these existing solutions but decided against it. After speaking to several businesses in the same industry the consensus was that existing providers were either too expensive, too hard to use or a combination of the two.

Another thing I noticed was that many of the existing providers didn’t offer an overly “user friendly” web based offering. Instead they required to customer to have on site equipment (severs etc) to run their applications. On top of this most providers (in the UK at least) seemed to have websites that looked dated and didn’t demonstrate their product well.

There were some exceptions to this of course and I made use of free trials where available. I found that whilst many performed the job they were not intuitively easy to use.

What am I building?

I’m building a property management application. The person who’s itch I’m scratching is my Father. Whilst his business is a lot more than just property rentals, this is the area I’m choosing to focus on as it’s where they are experiencing growth and need a solution thats more scalable than spreadsheets and files in filing cabinets.

It’s nice to have access to a “subject matter expert” at home, but I’m also in touch with similar businesses to ensure I build a tool that caters to the majority of needs rather than something bespoke for my Dad.

How much time have I spent?

Keeping in mind I have a day job, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about how to spend my out-of-work hours. I try to make it to the gym 3 times a week and leave Friday/Saturday evenings for socialising. The rest of the week I try to work pretty much immediately after getting in from work until bedtime.

I’ve found staying motivated is hard. It’s even harder to get to work after “relaxing” in front of the TV for an hour. In my head I keep telling myself, I’ll have more time to watch TV after July. It’s been tough and some days I get nothing done, but having limited time is keeping me focused.

I haven’t done any specific time tracking, but my guess is about 10 -15 hours a week.

“The one human quality that must be developed is self discipline for success. The will power to force yourself to do what you know you should do when you should do it, whether you like it or not, whether you feel like it or not. Success is tons of discipline.” — Brian Tracy

Where are the links I promised last post?

In my last post I mentioned I had been in touch with a great bunch of guys working on their own web app challenges. They’ve been a great source of motivation and inspiration so far. Here are links to their blogs/projects:

App Name App Author Target Monthly Income
by July 2013
App Description
Convert Kit Nathan Barry $5000 (USD) An app to help improve the conversion rate of your landing pages and make the set up of auto responder email courses easier. Martyn Garcia 10 paying customers The best conversion optimization platform the world has ever seen. Developer and designer friendly.
The Niche Finder Paul Devlin $5001 (USD) A tool that scans eBay recording product metrics such as how many of each product the seller has sold each month. The products are then displayed in a best seller list so users can find popular products at a glance.
ThankBee Rob Chava $1000 (USD) With ThankBee, Android app developers can:

  • Invite buyers to friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or to join their mailing list.
  • Invite users to give them valuable comments and feedback (possibly solving issues that would normally end up as negative reviews).
  • Promote their other apps and services.
  • Offer special discounts or trial codes to users who cancelled their purchase.
Procedure Office Will Claxton $500 (USD) Virtual Assistant Management Software

  • Manage any number of Virtual Assistants easily all from one simple to use dashboard
  • Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for quick reference to common repeatable tasks
  • Custom Tasks & SOPs have colour coded Priority Levels
  • Set SOPs to Re-occur on the VA’s to-do list
  • Business Owners receive notifications if scheduled SOPs not completed on time
  • Statistics on task completion timing and scheduled SOP completion percentages
  • VA’s can have multiple clients, this makes managing daily workload much simpler as everything is in one location.
Property Management App CD £3000 GBP (~$4700 USD) An easy to use, web-based Property Management Tool for UK based Letting Agents

Get things done

It doesn’t matter how big the task at hand – finish it.
Break it into smaller chunks of you have to and finish those.

I’m reminded of a quote:

The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people do what they should do, whether they feel like it or not.

Be healthy – 30 day challenge

Early this year I wrote about doing 30 day challenges and promptly forgot all about it. You can insert all the usual excuses here.

My main excuse: I spent some time travelling and have been enjoying life. In recent weeks, I have returned to ‘reality’ and have a more stable routine. I’ve actually started working more normal hours (9 to something) and this has brought with it some new challenges.

A little background. At some point during my travels I lost around 8kgs of weight from 68 to 60, and in the last three weeks I put on around 3 to 4kgs, mainly due to little exercise, poor diet and lots of drinking. About a week ago I revisited my old blog posts and decided it was time to do a thirty day challenge and get back to writing more frequently. And so, my challenge for this month: ‘Be healthy’.

What does that mean?
– Eat well (cut out junk e.g bad carbs, chocolates etc.)
– Exercise at least 3 times a week
– Drink lots of water & green tea (avoid fizzy drinks, sweetened tea and too many juice drinks.)
– Stop drinking alcohol (this is hard given the culture and people I am surrounded by, where drinking is very much ingrained as the default social activity of choice)

How am I doing?
I had meant to write this post sooner but didn’t get round to it. On the bright side, I have some stats for the last 7 days:

– I have been to three separate social drinking occasions / nights out and stayed mainly on tap water.

– I have been eating ‘healthy’ meals where possible, although I have cheated and snuck in the odd chocolate / doughnut.

– I have exercised 3 times for at least an hour.

A few people have asked me why I am doing this challenge, so here’s my reasoning:

– I want to see if I can do it (a lesson in self discipline and willpower)

– I want to save money for other things e.g. Flying lessons and investments (more to come in a future challenge)

– I have a personal goal to reach a certain level of fitness.

– It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to drive home after a night out than take a cab.

– I wanted to see whether alcohol makes me enjoy a night out more or less. So far I’d say I’m happy sober and can make my own good mood without the need for drinks. Waking up without a hangover or feeling rough is great too and gives me more time to enjoy the weekend.

If you’re thinking of doing a 30 day challenge – do it! Leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing too 🙂

Taking a break

When it comes to learning or doing something I am overly interested in, I have to throw myself into it completely.

You might have noticed from previous posts that I’ve been looking into spread betting lately – well not lately. I decided to take a break to focus on other things in life and do some reading.

Will write another post outlining what I am working on for the festive season.

Small trading win

8.50am Opened up my trading account this morning, and saw the criteria had been met for one of my rules. Entered the market long and coulg have taken a +7 pips profit, but “let my profits run, as advised in the “zen in the markets book”. The market was moving very slowly at the 5300 mark and I wish I had taken my profit, but you live and learn. Moved my stop to +1 and got stopped out on the market reversal. Small win, but overly happy that I am clearly learning and improving.

Trading Psychology – dealing with your ego, in search of Zen


I was thinking about writing again that today was another uneventful day in the markets. Or if not that, at least a difficult one. But it wasn’t. The market is doing it’s thing, moving up and down, since the open. That’s all it ever promised to do I guess. So what’s my issue? I’m sitting here waiting for the “perfect conditions” – yes I know there’s no such thing. Okay, so I’m looking for a clear signal to enter the market and, like yesterday, I haven’t traded yet.

That little voice in my head is saying “It’s okay, you’re learning, watching the market, when you make a move it’ll be right”. Fair enough, I may be learning by watching the market, but I’m getting a bit concerned about my lack of trigger pulling. Now, I know jumping into the market at random is gambling and a surefire way to lose, but I’m at the point now, where I see my signals (albeit not perfect), and still can’t muster up the courage to put in a trade.


I think I have a bruised ego – seriously, hear me out. I started thumbing through Zen in the Markets – Confessions of a Samurai Trader this morning. The book starts of talking about how there’s no place for your ego in trading and it’s your ego that’s responsible for you taking profits too early, and letting losses run (which is the opposite of what you want to do). It’s also responsible for feeling the pain from your losses and pleasure from wins. From what I’ve understood the aim is to detach yourself from the past activity of the market, see what it is telling you and follow it’s signals, all the while, remaining detached from the outcome (profits/losses). Makes sense, right?

The aim for today is to get over fear of losing, spot the entry signals and make a calculated entry based on risk/reward. Now that I’m accountable, I’ll update this entry with results.

4pm (ish)

So, I bit the bullet. Made a loss. Totally rushed into the market (since I said I would trade and have to be somewhere in the next 20 mins). Lesson learnt: don’t trade because you want to, or because you’re in a hurry. Only when the market signals you to, and you have no control over the market, so if it’s not showing you what you want to see, walk away and come back later. And I’m going to do just that.

Till tomorrow!