Living by Doing

I'm a single founder working on improving my business and myself.

8. September 2014 17:24
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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As you probably have noticed, I have not blogged for some time.

8. September 2014 17:24 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

First it was because I was on vacation, then I thought it was because I had taken a break, but now I believe it was because I was unsure what the reason for this blog was, why did I write?

If it was to get readers I am doing a lousy job since I get around 1-2 visitors every day, and I have been doing zero to get more, even though some part of me wants to have a million readers the part of me that has to write the blog couldn’t really care.

This made me wonder what the part actually writing got out of this; some of the answer is a place to let thoughts get out of my head. The process of writing and rewriting a blog post helps me get some of my thoughts straight and document where I am and what I am doing.

I have slowly come to the conclusion that I am writing this blog for me, to help me find my way in this strange world, and to document what I am doing. Then you might ask why blog, why not just write a diary, but the accountability of a blog is necessary for me otherwise I skip it too easily.

Since the last blogpost I have gone through some major internal and external changes that has taken some time and energy to getting used to, this has drained me for energy to the extent that blogging was a task that slipped out of my “must do” list. The fine about this is that it made me reconsider blogging and made me realize that I actually got a lot out of blogging that I otherwise might have missed.

I feel like a different person now compared to who I was before the vacation. My motivation is more internalized now and for the first time I have noticed that it really pisses me off that what I have created might not survive. This has made me fight for our survival in a much fiercer way than I have ever done before, but it is taking its toll on me.

The real life panda update had roots going deeper than I initially thought. It was not only a question about money but also a question about the work we do and the way we deliver this work to the end customer. Luckily, everything is something that is fixable, and the fixes are simple, hard but simple.

4. August 2014 22:08
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Growing from the pains inflicted by a real panda.

4. August 2014 22:08 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

My consultancy business has grown and we are now ready for a new level of customers.

It all started when a real life panda hit me, this forced me to think hard about my business and I came to the following conclusions.

1. I love my consultancy business!

2. I love my employees

3. I love the solutions we create for our customers.

So I had to figure out what was wrong and what we could do better, to grow our business organic and quick, the findings was not obvious but luckily I had four weeks of vacation to ponder the questions and come up with answers.

The payoffs of the changes we have made are more instantaneously than I would ever have believed!

Today we delivered the first solution made since the panda hit us and we delivered on time and more than promised, to the customers surprise and great delight!

I cannot wait to hear the feedback from the customer, and to be honest, this is probably the most proud I have ever been of something we have made!

What we have done differently is as profound as it is obvious and simple.

Simple, not easy though!

I have used the metaphor of a golf player standing at the tee whacking the ball down the fairway.

Previously each part of a project was not intertwined into the next, like a golfer who moves the club a fourth of the swing and the lets go of the club and let it tumble to the ground. Then he picks it up to continue the swing until he hits the ball where he once again let go of the club and once again picks it up and ends the swing.

This way of doing projects is very unsatisfying for the customer and us. Now we follow through, never letting go of the club. Even more we will continue to follow through on the swing after the ball has been hit, this is important for a golfer since the end position of a gulf club has a big impact on the direction and length of the drive.

The same is true for our projects, after we deliver the technical solution, we have to continue our support, educating and helping the customer translating all text, getting images for the website, and even further on, helping the customer with google, SEO, SoMe, advertising, cutting edge ideas, split testing and much more.

It is not enough to create a technical sound solution, or to be the master of design.

You have to make the customer love you and your solution by smothering them with love, help, support while listening to their needs and desires.

You have to follow through and help them with everything they are unsure about and kill all doubt and fear before it becomes a fire.

If you do all this and whatever else that pops up along the way you just might be lucky enough to create something special for the customer, and if you are lucky they might even think it is special enough to tell their friends about the magical company that actually delivers, on time and above their promise.

28. July 2014 21:13
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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The vacation is over

28. July 2014 21:13 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

The general theme of the vacation was sickness, first my wife, then my daughter and at the end me.

At least the last 4 days was really wonderful and made up for all the sickness, thanks big brother!

Regarding being sick on you vacation - I was emailing with my favorite SEO expert and he nicely suggested that it might be because I was too overworked before my vacation that I got sick.

I had silently made the same conclusion before he wrote, so it was easy to read and accept the truth that I just have been too stressed for too long.

To alleviate me from stress I have decided to make some changes to my business life.

1. No customer consulting Monday

I need to make sure I have a day where I can talk with the employees, help projects get along and work with my own projects. To be able to do this I will book every Monday for the rest of the year and not put any customer into that space.

From now on Mondays will be team meeting, individual meetings with employees about personal stuff, projects and their work situation in general.

2. Improve project management

Until shortly before my vacation every project sailed its own way, its own course in its own time, the new Mondays will also be used to follow up on projects and decide what project will be the next one that we will sprint on.

3. We will start working in sprints on our larger projects.

Currently I think we will do one or two weeks sprints with one week rest between.

Sprints will be a period where everybody focuses on one project and helps each other. This do not mean that they shall ignore the regular customers, small support items and stuff like that but it do mean that they should use all available time to help the project that is being sprinted.

We did this the last two weeks before the vacation and it was such a fun and energizing experience where every one of my employees (and me) smiled more than usually and generally had a great time working together.

Seeing a project moving forward at great speed is extremely giving, it motivates and opens you up for doing things faster than usually, thinking in new ways and trying out stuff that you normally would have avoided.

4. Work on projects so that they are complete and followed through

I have been having this image in my head most of the vacation of a golfer at the tee driving the ball down the fairway.

Even though I do not play golf, I do know that, even though the golfer only has contact with the ball for a short instance, the entire swing is important to the length and direction of the ball.

At the moment we hit the ball (delivers the project to the customer) we kind of loose interest in the swing.

From now on, we will focus on every part of the swing, so even where the club ends after the swing is completed is important to us.

I got the inspiration for this from the excellent book “From worst to first” by Gordon Bethune where he talks about how he asks who is most important in the business by comparing it to a watch and asking “what part is most important” and the takeaway of course being that no part is more important than the other.

If you remove one part the clock stop working.

The same way with a project and a golf swing, if you do not follow through it has an impact on the project delivered.

5. DYFR by Brennan Dunn

Keep reading and applying what I learn by reading DYFR by Brennan Dunn.

Even though I have been self-employed for 15+ years I apparently still have a lot to learn!

Status

We are still working on our next non-consulting project, a mobile time registration solution for MS Dynamics Nav – the feedback we get from the beta testers are great and it is really moving forward.

 

9. July 2014 21:56
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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Vacation

9. July 2014 21:56 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I am currently on vacation, which is the reason for the lack of posts.

The first week I went mostly offline, living on a smallish island, in a tent camp with no electricity, only gas for cooking, petroleum lamps for light in the evening/night and a toilet that is a hole in the ground.

Did I forget to mention that I had to do one task every day, cooking some days, making the fire (for the marshmallows) the other?

Do this sound like vacation to you? Well I am looking forward to this week all year, and I really enjoy it!

Actually, it is the best week of our vacation, and our six-year-old daughter talks about it all year round!

Why is it so good? Because it is so primitive that you have to look around yourself and notice those around you (remember no electricity so your phone dies pretty quick), and when you do you discover that you are among 100 others that are there for the same reason as you and you get a sense of belonging there!

If you did not know it already, that sense is what drives us!

On a side note, a fellow Micropreneur was surprised that I took four weeks of vacation, but is that not what we are working for, the freedom to take a lot of vacation if we want it?

See you in three weeks’ time :)

23. June 2014 21:55
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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How it feels like being hit by a panda in real life.

23. June 2014 21:55 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I do not call myself a SEO expert and I do not make most of my income from SEO consultancy. On the other hand, I have been online since 1991 when i got my first email address and I have been interested in SEO before the acronym was invented.

Until now I have only been hit once by a google update, back when they introduced duplicate content penalty. I had a site the look a lot like another site that was penalized and I stopped doing any other SEO than pure white hat.

The reason was mainly that it was too risky trying to make a living dodging google.

Last week I got hit by something that felt like a 40 feet panda, and not online but in real life.

My revenue stream from consultancy was cut by around 50% because some customer’s simultaneously scaled down their engagement.

If it was just me it would be ok, but since I have five employees, it is some beating.

The hardest is not losing they revenue, the hard part is like in the virtual SEO world that I do not know when it will change, if I will find new customers or if this is the new normal.

On the other hand, I can influence the real world more than I can influence google, so I am currently doing a lot to get new customers for my consultancy business.

I also decided to use this panda to pivot my consultancy and move us into a higher gear and really focusing on shipping our solutions to the customers. This will mean that we all will work on one customer project until it is done and then move on to the next.

Status

The conversion roller coaster is currently on the fun part of the course and my stats are once again looking like I would love them to be all the time.

On the other hand I am pouring a lot of energy into the consultancy at the moment, so I will settle for anything.

 

16. June 2014 16:37
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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The feeling you get when you do work that matters.

16. June 2014 16:37 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

It is this intense feeling of satisfaction that permeates your entire body, In contrast, normal work can feel dull and boring.

The hard part is to realize that you can only do work that matters from time to time and often only in shorter periods than other work.

This is like saying to a junkie that he can only get his substance every Monday and only half the day (Often the junkie wants it now and all the time).

I am a “doing work that matters” junkie and I am learning to live with the long periods where I do work that is interesting, helping others but that not really matters.

So how do you get to the point where you are doing as much work that matters as possible?

First thing to do is to figure out what matters. What work do you like to so without being paid and without getting anything in return?

It has taken me many years figuring out what matters to me, I looked for the recurring theme I could spot from the times in my life when I felt I did something meaningful and something that really mattered.

What I realized was that I like helping others to become more and to help them build their self-confidence.

After you have figured out what recurring theme in your life makes you satisfied and feels like something that you would really miss if you were to live without

Then you have to figure out how you can use that in your work life, how you can somehow translate what you like creating (for free) into something that adds value to other people’s life!

Because if you like doing something that no one sees any value in you first have to create a sense of value from your work, and even though the reward is higher, I believe you can shortcut the process.

You must figure out how your work can add value to others life, again in the example of me I add value to others life by employing them and helping them level up on their personal journey.

In the process, they will help me create value to our customers by creating wonderful solutions that solves the customer’s pain, perhaps even because that is what matters to them?

Status

Again a week without much work, I am running some split test on the page but my kid had her 6'th birthday so I took the day off to celebrate her :)

 

10. June 2014 01:00
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

What character do your actions make other see in you?

10. June 2014 01:00 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

When someone visits my homepage it convey a specific feeling but at the same time the user will learn something about the person who created the design and the person writing the copy (the latter being me)

When someone see me in real life, see my work environment or my home they see more than the physical stuff lying around.

What they see will give them the opportunity to learn a lot about my character.

When you go to my homepage, you will see that the person behind the design is thorough, orderly and likes things being orderly.

When you read the copy, you will learn that the person behind it writes quickly and could use some more consistency.

When you install the software you once more has the chance to learn something about the person behind the software, this time you will learn that the person adds new features into the program whenever someone asks for it and do not give much thought about usability.

So the next time you do something, make something or leave something behind, remember that it will tell something about your character and that the receiving person will "see" you in the light of this character.

I am working and practicing new character traits, such as orderly, worked through and well designed, these are the character traits I want other people to see in me when they see what I have done.

What do you want others to see in you?

Status

My traffic, conversion, page views, bounce, revenue and all other indicators has gone down again - If anyone out there has any suggestions, good ideas or just wanna show me some support, please email me because I do not know what (more) to do....

2. June 2014 22:22
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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What we are thinking when we are not programming.

2. June 2014 22:22 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I talked to a fellow Micropreneur and MicroConf attendee last week and I was delighted and happily surprised by the fact that he had the same thoughts about the world as i write about here on my blog. His words was something along the lines “Why do you write what I think/How do you know what I think”.

It was a little bit surprising to me, not that he could connect with the writings but that, it was such a close match to what he thinks. At the same time, it has been obvious to me the last couple of months that more and more people are connecting with me because they have the same worldview.

It has been liberating to write this blog, exactly because of the above. When I started I had a lot of doubt about each post, what would people think, would the ridicule me? Now I know that what I write about inspire and connects with people, and more than that, it connects with people I like and feel connected to.

The thing is that I have always been thinking about why. Why am I an entrepreneur, why do I need to be around people, why I cannot live with lying, why, why, why?

I have slowly been concluding that I am what I am, and all my shortcomings and bad habits is a part of me that I do not wish to change.

So now, I am starting to use these sides of me to my benefit.

My restlessness and my disorganized and quick programming style is becoming a fast and agile development process.

I have turned my restlessness while talking into walk and talks.

My inability to stay focused day after day working on the same problem is my strong ability to handle multiple projects at the same time.

Repeat & rinse.

Status

I am making progress on a "simple" UI mode in the software, still some work to do but I think I have finally cracked the nut.

With regards to the numbers below I have come to the conclusion that I do not have the faintest idea on how to explain it, if you have any explanations please email me!

 

26. May 2014 21:05
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

Trust

26. May 2014 21:05 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

When I work on my website, it is all about building trust, to the consumer that the product is legit and to google that the website is worth visiting.

We use words as trust builders when talking about testimonials, reviews and technologies.

We use words as churn to describe what happens when a user stop trusting us.

I think I might have built a website that builds too much trust, so that the customer trust that I can help them and since the software has a somewhat high learning curve, I do not deliver.

I have been thinking this based on the emails I get when people uninstall the software.

So I must improve the software.

Status

I got hit (strangely) by Panda4 - it looks like i get the same amount of traffic, but they bounce more and buy less.

19. May 2014 21:45
by Anders Thue Pedersen
0 Comments

This weekend I was in a bad mood, apparently for no reasons.

19. May 2014 21:45 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

I realized Sunday that it might be connected to the state of the watermarking software and the general feel and quality of the product and the code I ship.

I made the connection because I booted up my machine to work on a new feature, and from the time my IDE was ready until my mood dropped radically there only went a few minutes.

You see, even though the software is working as people expect, there are many aspects of it that I am unsatisfied with. The UI is not intuitive, it is way too cluttered and the code is messy and hard to maintain, slow at some point and amateurish at others.

The messy code makes it hard to get anything done on the UI because everything takes a long time to fix and at the same time it is so unsatisfying to work on something that has a quality that is lower than what I believe I can write that it almost hurts me physically to start writing on it.

Working on the software is like looking into a time traveling machine, the code that is 4 years old has clearly been written by a person (me) that did not have the same energy and overview when programming.

This makes it even harder working on the software, because I have to look at my younger and more uncertain self and forgive myself for all the things I did wrong could have done better.

The nice thing is that when you succeed in forgiving yourself, it is often simpler and quicker to fix past mistakes than you would ever have believed – and when you re-release the software with the new code you might even feel a new feeling – pride, of what you have done and your accomplishments!

It is all about small steps, moving one foot in front of the other. It do not matter how small the steps are as long as they are completed and another one is taken, this way you will eventually get to a better place.

So I will turn on my IDE now and improve the software a bit more today, and a bit more tomorrow and the day after and the day after until I am proud and satisfied with every part of the program.

Of course, this do not mean that it will be “perfect” and that there are no parts where I could improve. What it means is that every part of the software will be as good as I can make it now, and that I will probably have to improve it in the future again.

Since I am trying to play the game to have fun and to be happy (as opposed to win and get others to be losers) I will enjoy working on it while I am and enjoy doing other stuff while I am not.

What I am working on and playing with at the moment is what level of code and UI I am proud of, because I believe that when I am proud of what I do it will shine through to the user and potential buyer.

Status

The numbers are down again, had some rough google days, and my position on many secondary keywords has dropped.

But the conversion is down too and honestly I have no clue to why that is, but perhaps my UI really needs improving to turn up the conversion?