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Finding Your Entrepreneurial Calling

When building a business or a product for a business, you have to pay attention to a lot of different things. A short, but hardly comprehensive list of questions comes to mind:

  • Are you solving a problem?
  • Will people pay for that solution?
  • Is it easy to reach the market?
  • Are there no competitors or is the market saturated?
  • Is this a B2B or B2C app? (Hint: Go B2B!!!)
  • How quickly can you get to market?
  • What’s the size of the market for this app?
  • etc.

Honestly, the list goes on and on. But one of the questions that you need to be asking yourself is:

Am I passionate about solving the problem or at the very least, am I passionate about what I’m doing?

This is more important for greenfield apps, but also applies to ones that you acquire because it can dictate how long it’s going to take before you get frustrated and either give up, or allow the product to languish.

This problem is described in Seth Godin’s book “The Dip”. At some point, things are going to get difficult. They’re not going to go as well as you would like them to. And you’re going to start to seriously wonder if you’ve made a mistake.

This is the dip. This is where many people give up. Things start to go wrong and you start to believe that you made a mistake. It’s possible that you didn’t make a mistake, but unless you persevere, you’re not going to know. You have to proceed. You have to move forward.

If you don’t continue to push, then failure is absolutely, 100% guaranteed. And how many things in life can be guaranteed like that? But even if you push through, you still might fail due to factors outside of your control. However in those cases, at least you can be sure it wasn’t because you gave up too early when persevering could have lead to success.

I’ve been working on AuditShark for a very long time now. I’ve received lots of advice along the way. Some of it has been helpful. Some of it is negative enough that it’s not worth listening to or mentioning here.

But the fact is that I’ve persevered. I have somewhere around 150k lines of code written. I’ve been speaking quasi-publicly about AuditShark since Episode 36 of my podcast, which was February 20th, 2011. That’s a full two years.

It’s been slow going. There have been some periods of intense activity, and other periods of intense slackerdom. Yes I just made that up. Sometimes, you just get burnt out for a while. But people question why I continue. Why do I persevere in the face of such a monumental task? Shouldn’t I be so burnt out by now that I’m ready to give up? It’s been two years!!!

Actually, it’s been longer than that. I won’t say how much longer, but it’s definitely been longer. The reality is that this is a challenging problem and I’m only one person. Sure I use contractors and outsource quite a bit, but it’s still a ton of work.

So why do I continue?

I’m passionate about helping other people. The interesting part is that this extends waaaaay beyond Auditshark. It’s why I like running the Micropreneur Academy and helping aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s the reason I like answering business questions from other people on my podcast. I like connecting people to other people who can help them. I enjoy lifting people up when they are down.

I don’t enjoy helping people who don’t want to help themselves and have given up, but if you’re willing to work at it, I’m generally willing to do what I can to help.

How does this relate to AuditShark?

I hate script kiddies. I hate the people who are out there who feed off of the hard work of others and don’t give anything back. In some ways, they’re the seedy side of the internet who are a detriment to the internet and mankind in general.

Most people don’t know a lot about computer security and it’s easy to get tricked into giving away information that can hurt you. Technology is complicated enough that even most software developers don’t know everything they should be doing to keep their code and applications secure.

And this is a problem because when a software application is compromised, so is all of the information for the customers. That’s a big problem and the larger the company you work for, the bigger the problem it is.

I want to help. I want to be there to make sure it doesn’t happen to other people when the sole reason that it did would have been because they don’t know any better. I want to be the guy they can turn to and say “Hey, I really need a second set of eyes on my servers to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong. Can you help me?”

Why yes. Yes I can.

Like MicroConf, it’s not about the money. It’s about helping people. If I could give it away for free, I would. But I need to make a living and I need to be able to work on this full time. I want to be the guy who helped make the internet more secure. I want to be the guy who others can look at and say “Wow, you really helped us out. Thank you!”

I don’t care about the fame. I don’t care about the credit, and I don’t care about the money. I want to help people.

That’s my calling. What’s yours?

1 Comment

  1. Pierre Mengal on May 28, 2013 at 8:13 am

    The Dip is a great book. But the full title is “The Dip. A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)”.

    I see too many entrepreneurs killing a big part of their life because the passion. It can be a huge judgement bias that prevents them from knowing when to quit.



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