11 August 2018

Week 9: Revenue!

First paying customers! It's alive...

It’s been about a month since I wrote a journal – a lot has happened in that time. I can’t remember it all, some of it isn’t worth writing about… I actually have another post to write too, coming shortly.

I went camping with this guy. We made many fires.

The Skinny

I wrote about struggling with focus a couple of weeks ago. As is often the case, when you exorcise the demons, you can move on. Within 24 hours I had a plan.

It’s been a patchy few weeks – I chose to take some time to fill my coffers so have done 9 days of paid work. This was actually in anticipation of paying a developer to help me build an MVP.

However, I ended up changing my plan when I realised that I could test my hypothesis far more quickly with next to zero code.

Hence, Progression Pack was born.

The exact chronology of events isn’t entirely clear in my head, but there was a moment of epiphany around the time I started playing with my new favourite tool, Airtable. I realised that while it was by no means perfect, a lot of what I was imagining my product to be could be built, hackily, within this amazing database-come-spreadsheet tool.

Once I’d created a proof of concept, it dawned on me that the best way to truly test the myriad opinions I had formed was to put it in the hands of real people.

A week later (having scratched my head over pricing and currency) I bought progressionpack.com and shared my landing page on twitter. Lo and behold, two pre-orders!.

I can’t overstate the high I experienced at that point. People had put faith not in me as a consultant but in a product – and not a cheap one – that I had devised. This problem was real. My first revenue.

I’m now really focused on product and customer development in parallel.

Product development is largely me fleshing out the content of my framework and supporting materials (I’d love any help with reviewing my words if anyone fancies lending a hand).

Customer development is taking the form of a 1 month paid pilot in advance of the official launch at the end of September. I’m in conversation with a couple of really exciting folks, so hopefully will have some great learnings (and happy customers) within a few weeks.

Having spent a month or so taking my time, I now have a bunch of timelines to hit. August is going to be a busy month.

The Good

  • Making hay! I set up a company Make and Grow, launched my first real product and got not only sales but fantastic feedback from many folks. So many makers don’t get as far as revenue (dare I say, many startups that raise big money). It feels like a big deal.
  • Folks, I’m feeling so ruddy fired up right now I can’t tell you. Highs like this week are, I swear, impossible if you’re not building somethign yourself. Maybe that’s just me.
  • I ran a workshop with a bunch of designers from the Triangles London slack channel, and it was super interesting. Still picking through learnings, but I love love love the generosity of people.
  • I went to three weddings, and went camping. I like standing in fields.
  • It’s not hot as hell any more.

The Bad

  • The wobbly focus cost me time, doing paid work costs me time, and making bad technical decisions attempting to build beyond my capabilities costs me time too. I don’t understand the nuances of React enough to be able to move fast on Gatsby (I now know) and ended up taking at least 100% more time building progressionpack.com than I would have done if I’d chosen, say, Jekyll.
  • I’m on a high right now but there have been lonely periods this month again. Unproductive weeks, self doubt. Definitely still fairly regularly fantasising about someone to share the whole thing with.
  • Related to the above, the hook of putting something out there means more time refreshing Twitter, Linkedin, Twitter, Linkedin. It led to this slightly whiny tweet.

Goals for next update (2 weeks?)

  • Have locked down some great companies in my pilot
  • Have a complete first draft of the entire progression pack, and have learned if it’s living up to expectations