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Failure Fastlane Failure: I created a job

kanunay

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I'm not sure how long this is going to be, I might have to break it into several parts. Here's my story of invention that is part success, part failure.

A tool is created

A little over a decade ago, I was working for a small company doing IT support and programming. It was a good job where my programming skills could finally be used. I was happy that I was no longer driving from place to place cleaning viruses out of PCs and re-installing Windows all day long. We had a major project to replace their aging accounting system, and I was given total control of the project. It was fun.

Once that project was completed, things started slowing down and I found my mind wandering again. I had a personal project that occupied my thoughts, and I was working on this project at night and on the weekends. I was in contact with a couple of people on the internet that worked with a similar kind of software as my project, but I did not think there was any demand for such a thing - it was something I was doing for fun, in my spare time.

Eventually, somebody found out about this project on a forum I belonged to. They asked some questions, and I arranged to demonstrate it to them. It was unfinished at the time, with a lot of bugs. But it was complete enough to demonstrate. The software completed the task without error, many times faster than similar tools. I was told a small market existed for this kind of tool. The fire was lit, and I would go on to spend many late nights and weekends debugging and completing the software.

The partnership that wasn't

During this time I worked at my IT job. Unfortunately, the pay was low - it was a small, struggling company and since the major project was done, I was doing support tasks only. There was no room for advancement or increase in pay. Winter came, and I struggled to pay the bills. I wasn't going to take on a second job because I wanted the time to work on my software.

After many meetings and demonstrations, the friend from the forum and some others had contacted some companies that were interested in using the software. They talked about starting a business, and offered to buy my software. I would take a position in the company to continue development, and support the software product. Being constantly broke, I accepted the offer - it was a huge increase in salary along with some cash that would get me out of the hole I was in. Unfortunately, I was young and had no experience, and nobody to guide me through this kind of event - I come from a family of slowlaners with no business experience.

I'll continue this later...
 

kanunay

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Going up

I quit my IT job and started work full time on the software. The early years were a lot of fun - we kept getting more clients, expanding the software with new features, and working on many interesting integration projects. Companies all over the world were using the software I created. The years went on, I received salary increases, and we hired developers and support staff. I began to spend most of my time on special projects, while managing support staff and the developers. It was a fun and exciting time.

I was overwhelmed with projects but I didn't mind because it was challenging and fun, and most of the clients were great to work with. But it kept me from realizing that I was just an employee. This went on for many years.

The basement

Eventually new projects stopped coming along. The developers were laid off and we were down to minimal support staff. This is when I realized something: I was the tech guy. Just like my IT job before. No new exciting projects, clients were being lost to competitors, and I was starting to be assigned projects I really didn't want any part of - I was back to doing Windows PC stuff again. At least for the time being I was still making decent pay.

It was during this time I also discovered that many years of bad business decisions had been made. Tons of money was wasted, and the reputation of the company had been damaged by some employees. But I was just the tech guy, in the basement writing code. I wasn't aware of these things because they were not my responsibility and I didn't have any control over them - I was just an employee.
 

kanunay

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The lesson

I'll bring this long-winded story to an end with what I learned from it. The adventure wasn't a complete failure because it was a good job for many years. But I should have accepted equity in the business instead of selling the software for cash. That decision cost me my retirement.

Now it has come full circle. I'm back to the place I was when I took the job at the small company doing IT support - cleaning viruses and re-installing Windows, working every day on stuff I absolutely detest. It pays the bills. My talent is wasted here and I'm on a mission to find what I should do next.

If someday you find yourself in a position where you have invented or created something, think carefully before you sell it for cash. I knew a market existed for my software, and I should have done research and put some effort into seeking advice before I sold it for what amounted to pennies on the dollar.
 

RoadTrip

Bronze Contributor
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Thanks for sharing your story. We don’t have to tell you what went wrong since you already know pretty well yourself. Lesson learned, move on.

The positive things: you know how to spot needs. You know how to develop. Why not start doing contracting work for better pay (you have the skills) and start thinking of something to do on the side as your fast lane business?
 

kanunay

Contributor
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Apr 20, 2018
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Thanks for sharing your story. We don’t have to tell you what went wrong since you already know pretty well yourself. Lesson learned, move on.

The positive things: you know how to spot needs. You know how to develop. Why not start doing contracting work for better pay (you have the skills) and start thinking of something to do on the side as your fast lane business?
I've considered this, although I have no idea how to get started. The few people I could network with are all connected with my current employer in one way or another, also my employer makes heavy use of freelancing sites to outsource stuff.
 

srodrigo

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Sep 11, 2018
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Why not start doing contracting work for better pay (you have the skills) and start thinking of something to do on the side as your fast lane business?
I'm confused too. @kanunay if you say you are a talented programmer, why are you removing viruses? I don't believe you can't get a programming job there. Have you actually looked for one, or just went for the easy option of your previous job?
 

kanunay

Contributor
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Apr 20, 2018
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I'm staying with my current job right now, it pays better than any of the programming jobs I've found around here. In my spare time I keep learning new stuff to stay current. I'm not in good enough financial shape to risk losing my current job due to conflict of interest, which is why I haven't pursued consulting or freelancing.
 

RoadTrip

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Nov 27, 2012
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I don’t see what your current employer has to do with you freelancing. And I doubt your current job pays more than freelancing.

As you said before, you are rotting away in your current position wasting time with your talent. Why not put your talent at work as a freelancer. There is so much demand for good IT professionals these days. And at least it is one step closer to independency.
 

Jonathan Hoch

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Jan 17, 2019
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You're in a situation where you are still trading your time for money. The advantage that you have over others in your position, is that you are looking for a way to build a business. Most people are living the scripted life in the slow lane. I cry for them.

So, why not take the most common items that you do, day in and day out, to focus a business into a specialized niche? If it's as dumb work as cleaning viruses and re-installing windows, who cares? Create a system for quickly and efficiently completing these tasks. Systems that don't require YOU to be the one who runs them.

As the business owner, YOUR task, is to develop the systems that you can drop employees into. Think about it: any successful business that you've ever worked, you were trained for a specific set of tasks. These are systems that the chain of command have put in place to maximize task completions!

So instead of just building yourself a job, use your expertise to hire people who you can train to do the tasks. And provide them a system to do it as efficiently as possible. Use the security of your day job to pay the bills while you work on creating your task completion systems.

After you have a system in place for that, you will need to do the same for customer acquisition. Sales funnels are the most effective, and are infinitely applicable in today's world. But make sure you build a system that you can hire someone else to run. That way all you need to do is find great employees!

Obviously it's easier said than done. But if you don't look at it like this, you'll always be trading time for money.
 

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