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Grabbing Life by the horns

A detailed account of a Fastlane process...

TKRR

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Nov 27, 2017
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107
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For years I've been interested in getting something going, but the time is now to do it.


I have my grown up job as an engineer, but I started my adult life as a musician, this is something I’ve kept going ever since I started, over 26 years ago now. While I eventually got my electrical engineering degree at 30 after working a lot of dumb jobs, ever since getting my “real” job, I’ve constantly been thinking, “When are you going to grow up and do something with your life?”


I have a fairly comfortable job, I work for a good company, but looking ahead I know what my options are staying in this field as an employee. It’s not that I’ve capped my earning potential as an employee, but it can only go up so far. What I see in my horizon is that by the time I pay off my student debt my kids will have take out 5 times as much as I did and I’ll be paying their debt too. In my current position, even best case scenario, there just isn’t that great of a future ahead. The idea of ever retiring or being financially independent seems practically impossible. That is, unless I do something about it.


Prior to finding this forum and reading Unscripted (95% complete), I had already got the wheels moving. Here is what has happened in just the last 30 days.


My wife and I had a fight about life and money. What came out of that fight was some hurtful words, but my mind just ran with it till I turned it into something positive. What resulted was an idea for a blog and potential branding opportunites. Though I know blogs are not what they were, and not a way to riches, I’m using it as a testing ground. A couple reasons for it are: 1.) Wanted to have a place vent and try out ideas, 2) To learn how to write better and more often, and most important 3.) a way to help people and myself. At this point I haven’t monetized this blog or anything, but I’ve posted on it daily for 20 plus days, not missing a day, I have a goal of at least doing that for a year. It has been slow going as far as readership, but since I don’t really know what I’m doing, I’m just taking it as a learning opportunity.


The idea of the blog is to motivate me and others not to be so hard on themselves and expect to be perfect, that the idea is that you should just do something, anything. If you don’t do something, then nothing will change in your life. With that in mind, I had to practice what I preached, so I decided to write the book I’ve meant to for over 10 years now, but never had to courage to go forward with.


I started writing 16 days ago and finished the first draft yesterday. I will spend the next month or so editing it. This book fills a need in the music market, but honestly, I wrote it because I wanted to have something to show my kids. I wanted them to know they can do anything they want and that if one day they want to know what I’ve learned in music, they could hear my thoughts. It is a pretty heavy theoretical book, and well over 30,000 words now (which is a lot for a music book of any type) and I still need to add musical examples (in music manuscript), it will probably be around 250 pages long in the end.


I have also petitioned multiple world class musician friends who want to help me edit it. Some of them are published authors as well, so I’m trying to find out what I can from them in the publishing game. If this gets picked up and takes off a bit (likely for college music majors), it could either be a text book or a book that turns into a class. It could also lead to masterclasses, article opportunities and video lessons. I’m willing to go self-published, but I want to see if I can leverage a publisher for some credibility. Also, I want the writing and quality to be unmistakable. This is the product of passion, but I know that I don’t want it to turn into hate. Music is the love of my life, but between gigs and this book I have always done stuff my way. I purposefully have not taken the money gigs or money book ideas, however, this book fills a pretty cool niche.


The third project in motion, and most important is starting a tech/engineering company. While at work in the past month, I kind of just reached a point of no return. I’m sitting here trying to fix shitty engineering other companies are doing. This is not uncommon either, yet these companies get hired over and over again. They do crappy work, the customer knows they do crappy work, but they still hire them. This comes from multiple reasons, mostly because the customer just doesn’t understand my industry, they just know they want and need it. The company I work for does business the right way (for the most part), but I’m looking at this thing and there is just so many ways to do better work than most of these companies. There is potential in not only customer service, best practices, but also standards. This can save companies thousands, possibility millions, just to improve standards. Then the old hats of the industry that create the software we use are slow and non-open platforms. There is room in this market to really change everything, like Space X. This market is currently at 250 Billion, and expected to triple in the next 10 years alone.


I don’t know exactly how to put this plan in motion, but I have a strategy for creating a company that will eventually lead to taking bigger and bigger chunks out. Starting with an open source platform, exceptional customer service and standards. I want to make sure the customers stopped getting screwed over and over again. They need a voice of reason. They need up to date options. You’d think these things would be obvious, but trust me, it is not the game that is being played by the big guns.


To plan for this venture, I have started my research, started a business plan (I know that is not needed in some ways, but I’m getting conversations going with other engineering company owners and they all ask about it). I’d prefer to not take any money out and get started with a leaner approach, my attitude is changing a bit however, because having some more capital would put me in a better place to pounce on these ideas faster and more efficiently. Either way, I will continue to move it forward.


A few things I have in my favor: I’m insanely hardworking and creative. I often don’t watch TV for months, never got into video games. I am obsessed with music, but I think there is something to the proverb of giving the busy person something to do, because they’ll get it done (like writing a 30,000 word book on a very technical topic in 15 days).


I’m also tech literate. I always call myself a round peg going into a square hole. I came from the artsy musician/art world, but have the problem solving skills of an engineer. I have learned multiple programming languages, particularly in my field, and know electrical engineering. I am a big picture person though, not a details person. I know this is something I’ll have to fight with, or get someone to catch my lack of attention to these things. However, I have experience leading large teams on complex projects, dealing with everyone from janitors to CEOs, and I find those interactions very interesting. I have a lot of opinions on leadership style and general PM skills, and I’ve learned a lot about different ideas.


So after that mouthful; here are the steps in place right now:


  1. Finished first draft of book, getting it edited over the next month (including help from colleagues) and will begin pitching to publishers.
  2. For company:
    1. Started business plan
    2. Bought and put up landing website page
i. Part of my strategy is to create a blog that is giving away good engineering practices and stuff related to my field. Plus constantly updating the website will hopefully add to its appeal. My company will have global appeal if we want it.​

  1. Have 2 dinners already planned with friends who are entrepreneurs, first one this Friday (right before a gig, haha)
i. I am going to start planning some more soon.​

  1. Joined local community entrepreneur “club”. I live in a affluent neighborhood and the community takes entrepreneurship very seriously.
i. We will be contacted by a mentor in the next couple days to go over our business plans and just learn some stuff.​

  1. Have a weekly meeting with a fellow engineer who is also starting up a venture, though in a different area, we are bouncing ideas off one another and plan to help each other if the need arrives. Meaning, I have known potential sub contractors I can use, prior to needing to have to hire anyone.
  2. I created a smart spreadsheet that helps me calculate expenses, building sizes needed, tax information etc.. this may one day turn into an app, but I’m still tweaking it. I didn’t see something like it in the market place so I just created what I needed.
  3. In the next few months, after I’ve got the business focus strategy honed in on, I want to start the selling process. I have to be a little careful with my current company because we have a no compete clause in our contracts. So this is why I have to be crafty with the type of service we will be offering.
  4. One of the potential ideas is to create a software that will be used as a customer acquisition strategy (helping to give them industry know-how), but I’m not sure I want to do it. I don’t want it to be an action faking idea. I want to only do it if it makes sense for the plan ahead. Too many ideas flooding my head, so I need to make sure my focus is strong.

My goal is to get this business started up and running full time in the next 12 months. I have targets for when I would quit my job, but there is a bit of a conflict of interest, so I can’t really do both at the same time. I need to sell a job then use that as a means to quit. The other option is getting the funding I need to go at it full steam either through bank or investor, however, it would have to be good terms.


Eventually this can all turn into some kind of fast lane thing, but I believe it will take me a few years to get it going. As I said I like being busy, I like creating things, and I love helping people. It is time to stop playing by the rules and do something with my life.


Part of the re-ignition to entrepreneurship and something I’ve thought about a lot is the following experience:


Last year, I took my wife and kids to Ft. Lauderdale for a week. We walked and drove by these houses on the water with Yachts the size of cruise ships. My wife said… “how do you get one of those? “ I said… “Not by working for someone else.”


Here’s to the journey. I’ll try and keep you up to date on these multiple fronts. Anyone who has started an engineering firm, I’m all ears. Luckily, despite the fact engineers are “techy” so many of the websites and marketing is very old school. I think there is an avenue there to bring the newer tech company attitude to the market. Luckily silicon valley has made the “young eccentric” engineer look fashionable and knowledgeable. This will help create a company I can be proud of, not just old hat.
 
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TKRR

Bronze Contributor
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
User Power
Value/Post Ratio
155%
Nov 27, 2017
69
107
Ohio
I'm near the end of the Unscripted book and he just mentioned Monogamy.

This is obviously a problem for me in a way, as I know my mind is always doing a million things at the same time. I know that the only real business idea I need to working towards in the engineering company, the other ideas; blog and book are distractions from that goal.

However, I feel like I need to get the book done, I've begun editing it and will soon get others involved. Then I can hopefully launch it in the next month or so, however, getting it going had two reasons, 1 to actually do it, but the second reason was to learn about the book process. One of my ideas and intent to create a lure of "knowledge" was to write a specific book in my field of engineering. I wanted to get the music one out of the way, because that was a life goal, and maybe it will turn into something and gain some buzz, but it is very small niche. However, the engineering book would appeal to not just a bigger crowd, but a crowd with 100s of times more money and possibilities.

The blog test is also a way for me to learn about blogging, promotion, because another strategy for my engineering company is to be on top of social media and all that, I want to have some know how on what it takes. The work of getting used to daily blogging has been very good for the habit forming, at some point I see those daily/weekly blog posts shifting to the engineering website. So the blog is a testing and learning ground for all of these pieces.

So it may seem like action faking, but there are motives behind every decision of the moment. Because I was able to write this book, it has given me the confidence that I can take on much bigger things, like learning the code I need to do for some of the parts of my engineering business plan and presenting are company as cutting edge. I thought I might have to outsource some of that stuff, but I don't know that it makes sense, I think, I know, I can be more productive than just about every person I've ever met. I don't want to take on so much, but despite enjoying leading a team of aspiring people, I like to be aware of all the aspects of everything I'm working with. So I will probably get help later to polish it up, but I want to have first try at it and make it the way I'm envisioning (it's just code afterall).

That reminds me, I wish I were more into code as a child, though in some ways I think I'm a better coder because I don't love doing it. One thing I love about code though is that it is the "Great Equalizer". I bet the Rothchilds', Rockefellers' etc.. must get annoyed with the new generation of billionaires. The old money dominated for so long, but Bill Gates is worth more than most of those old money people combined. It's like that other software company heads will will be dwarfing them soon as well. Then again, probably no reason to fret. I would be curious how the world looks to someone like Jeff Bezos now that old money can't intimidate like it used to.

So...get through first edit of book this week, send it out next week to musician colleagues.

Finish up business plan, learn how to manipulate databases with python and make desktop apps, meet with entrepreneurs in the tech industry, hone in on most straight forward entry point into work.
 

TKRR

Bronze Contributor
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
User Power
Value/Post Ratio
155%
Nov 27, 2017
69
107
Ohio
Had our first meeting with a entrepenuer. They work in an engineering field too, though in manufacturing, and it was really good to be able to bounce some ideas around. I learned a few things too. The biggest thing I learned, is I really need to work on my 30 second pitch of what it is I'm trying to do. Part of the reason it is a little unclear is I'm a little unclear of what area to attack. There are so many angles, but I'm trying to center in on a few. He also had a bit of a pre-concieved notion of what I did, so I had to work through that understanding. However, by the end of the conversation he was getting pretty excited about what I want to do and had ideas of his own, and a couple potential contacts to get started.

It was kind of exciting talking to someone who wasn't my wife or family about all of this, particularly one that we only know a little. (he is a neighbor where we moved a year ago, but has always been a super nice family). His wife is also involved in the company and my wife was picking her brain about stuff. It was a nice meeting.

Talking to him also made me think more about what kind of service/product we are really going to put together and has my wheels turning and moving forward.

To the next steps.
 

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