Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board



I was hoping to get some advice from y'all. Basically this is my situation. I own a small computer software company that has around 8 clients using the software. The software sells for between $20-30K USD into a vertical market that is in difficulty. I used to sub-let some office space but recently moved my office into an extra room in my basement. I spend the day dealing with customer support issues, general business type stuff and trying to find new customers.

I think that I spend too much time surfing the net and my motivation to make the business succesful is lacking. I am not totally convinced of the viability of the business even though I have been doing this for 3 years full time.

Any ideas how I can start the fire again? I was hoping to get some ideas or suggestions on motivation. The thought of making more money just doesn't seem to be pushing my along.


Kevin Moore
Monday, May 31, 2004

Can you find a mentor-like person? Someone you can meet with every month or two to briefly describe what you've been up to, and get a little advice?

Often verbalizing your successes can be more benificial than anything you'll get back from your listener. It also would reinforce some kind of accountability.

Don't know how easy it would be to find someone like that though.

Additionally, I'd suggest joing several user groups in the area, depending on what languages, platforms, etc. you're involved in, or interested in. It gets you out of the house, and human contact is essential.

Monday, May 31, 2004

- Read this message board - its always good to know however bad you feel there is always somebody worse.
- Visit trade shows and see what other companies are doing
- If you are at home at 9pm and suddenly feel like going downstairs to work, then do so! Much better to work when you want to, then sit around during "normal hours" twiddling your thumbs

but most importantly I think its important you know "what is the next step?". ie what should you (or want to) be doing, and what is the first physical action you have to do to get started on that job. And when you do that step look for what is next. At least that way you can start doing useful things without being overwhelmed by the bigger picture. ...

Monday, May 31, 2004

"Can you find a mentor-like person? Someone you can meet with every month or two to briefly describe what you've been up to, and get a little advice?
Don't know how easy it would be to find someone like that though."

I haven't used them, but there is a nationwide nonprofit organization devoted to provide mentor-like help to small business owners.  It's called Score ("Service Corp of Retired Executives"). 

As an alternative or in addition to that you might consider doing some psychotherapy focussed on helping you set and reach your goals.  I've done that myself with good success.  It's not cheap, but it's probably one of the most cost-effective things I've ever done (i.e., it will help you increase your income by far more than it costs).  Plus, it would likely have benefits far wider than just helping you reach your work goals.

Whatever you do, I think the most important thing is to set some reasonable goals and make sure you're continually taking steps to reach them, even if the steps are sometimes small.  First thing to do is to decide exactly what you want.  Then figure out what you've got to do to get it.  Then do it.

There are some self-help books out there that I've found somewhat helpful:  "Zen and the Art of Making a Living" and "Getting Things Done" are two that come to mind right away.

Herbert Sitz
Monday, May 31, 2004

Often web browsing will suck as much energy out of you as actually working.  Two possible work arounds to this:

1. Use a stop watch and only let yourself be on the computer for X hours per day.

2. Block the websites that you know are wastes of time.

Monday, May 31, 2004

PDF, I'd disagree with what you've suggested.

I think the worse thing you can do is go down to the office if you feel like working. It's essential that there be a clear separation between work and relaxation. If you're scared about forgetting a sudden insight, write it down, and get back to it in the morning. It's not going anywhere.

If you don't enforce down-time in this manner, you're not going to be able to put in the hours it takes to run a business, at least not in a focused manner. Your work hours will suffer, and your quality of relaxation will as well. You're not a robot, so give your mind the freedom to get away from work.

Herbert's right about setting goals. As an addition, be sure to write these down, as well as how you've met them.  Human beings need a sense of accomplishment, and this is an easy way of getting that. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just writing down a couple things a day, and a brief note on how you did got them done, or what the result was.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Kevin, you might be best selling the support side of the business so you can move on to a new development project.

You might not get much for it, but it would let you move forwards. If no existing support companies are interested, consider putting a proposal to your customers that they set up a co-operative operation and jointly fund a support guy.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Take a trip down to your local corner "pharmacy" and get your hands on the "crystal meth". That will get the fire started in no time.

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Monday, May 31, 2004 haas some interesting stuff
that may help.  Or maybe it's just time to do something

son of parnas
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

"I think the worse thing you can do is go down to the office if you feel like working."

I think this is baloney ;)  If you find yourself working all of the time and your relationships are suffering because of it (and/or you have no life), that's one thing. 

But if you find that you are sitting around all day feeling unmotivated (OP's problem), when you have a flash of motivation the best thing you can do is take advantage of it, regardless of what time it happens to be.  During the day, if you are sitting around surfing the web instead of working and can't get back on track, it's better to take a break to do something useful (defined period of time) than sit around and think about how you are wasting your time.  It's like insomnia...

The other thing is that if you are working from home, it is very important to get out of the house.  Go meet a client or two.  Or have a networking meeting of some sort.  Or go work in the library.  (Change your routine - it can help!).

Some people also find it helpful to have a "going to the office" routine.  Ie get up and dressed into "office clothes" - get out of the house for a jog or a morning coffee or whatever, and then go to work.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

What excites you about what you're doing?  Is it developing software?  Providing a product that is valuable?  Finding new customers and selling them on your product?  Something else?  Think of it this way... if you could hire one employee to do all the things you don't want to do, what would be left that's really interesting and rewarding to you?  This is the stuff you should focus on -- mentally and emotionally, anyway, obviously you can't ignore the non-fun stuff.  Although maybe you could hire someone part-time....

Should be working
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Read the 'E-Myth Revisited' by Micheal E. Gerber.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Read Steve Jobs BioGraphy ...

Learn to be a Star Perfomer

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

This guy has some interesting articles:

I found "Cultivating a burning desire" and "From slump to supercharged" valuable.

Rikard Linde
Wednesday, June 2, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home