Hello again

I thought it was about time that I posted again as I've neglected this blog over the last few weeks due to other distractions.

The truth is I've been obsessed with working on my internet 'projects'.

I've got two projects on the go:

1) I'm still a partner in Autonomy Business Solutions Ltd of which our main venture is a website selling Voice over IP (VoIP) phones and associated hardware. My original plan when I emigrated to Australia was to drop my share in the business down to 10%, however, this was before I decided that I was going to start an Internet business of my own. It quickly dawned on me that in the 'Internet age' I could still make a valuable contribution to the business in the UK, and I would be stupid to give it up, especially when it's making a profit (however small) even though it as always been a part-time project and we've hardly done anything to market it.

I've learnt a lot about Internet marketing over the last few weeks. My aim is to take what I've learnt, and continue to learn, about Internet marketing and apply it to the website. First of all though, it became clear that we had to start again with the website.

So in agreement with Michael (my business partner) we have put a project out for tender on www.elance.com to develop a new website to meet all our requirements. We've chosen a company to do the work, drawn up a contract and Functional Requirements, and as of yesterday, the terms of the contract have been agreed and development is underway.

I'm so glad I read the 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris otherwise I never would have known about Elance. Elance has allowed us to outsource the work to a company in India for a fraction of the cost it would have been if we had got a local company to do it.

Once the new website is ready I'll give more details on what we're trying to achieve with the new site and point out the flaws (my flaws - I originally built the thing) in the old (current) site.

2) My second project is my 'Social Network'. I don't want to go in to too many details at the moment but this is what has been keeping me up working until 1am over the last few weeks and which nearly burnt me out.

In an effort to save money I decided to attempt to build the site myself. The site is going to be a social network along the lines of myspace, facebook, bebo, etc but for a particular niche demographic. I got stuck in to developing the site and made some good progress to start with. However, I soon got stuck on some of the technicalities of the site. You see, to achieve some of the functionality I want you need to at least have a decent understanding of databases (in this case MySQL) and the programming language that the site uses (PHP). I was so determined to build the site myself that I was trying to learn PHP and MySQL on the fly. I got absolutely obsessed with the site and spent hours working on the technicalities trying to get the damn thing to work. I soon realised that at the rate I was going it would be a good 6 months before the site would be ready.

It was at this point that I took onboard the advice in some of the books that I've read recently such as The E-myth by Michael Gerber, as well as Rich Dad Poor Dad and the 4-Hour Work Week which I mentioned in my posts about starting an Internet business. The point being that (1) I need to put a financial value on my time and (2) concentrate on being the Entrepreneur, not the Technician. I shall explain:

  1. Sometimes, doing things myself to save money is actually false economy. This instance was a good example of that principle. I would have spent 6 months of my life working on the technicalities of building a site, whereas instead I could be spending that 6 months working on ideas, content, features and marketing to meet the primary objective of the site - creating passive income.
  2. Many small businesses fail because the owner spends too much time working in the business and not on the business. If this thing is going to work I need to spend my time working on developing the business overall and not get bogged down on the technical stuff which someone else could do a lot better and a lot more quickly.

So I'm going to concentrate on the ideas and the vision of the business. I'll let someone else put my ideas into being. My social network project was posted on elance.com a couple of days ago and I'm reviewing bids as they come in. I've budgeted £1000 for the project which isn't much for the complexity of the site but I'm confident elance will come good.

I worked it out, at the rate I was going it would have took me 840 hours to build the site. So for a cost of £1000 that would have been roughly the equivalent of £1:19p per hour. I value my time at a lot more than £1:19 per hour!

When I finally gave up and made the decision to outsource the work it was such a relief. I was literally killing myself working a full-time job and then coming home every night working on the business until midnight. I know the dream of a 4-hour work week can only be achieved once you've actually established the passive income but even so, there are better ways to do it.

So these are the main two projects I've got going at the moment, and I've got ideas for many more in the pipeline. It's a bit of a gamble I know but I can't stand the thought of working for someone else doing a 9-5 job for the rest of my life. I'm still working hard every night on the business, but I'm limiting myself to a couple of hours rather than the ridiculous hours I was doing before. More importantly, I'm working on my business, not in my business.

I'm also making sure the weekends are dedicated to family time. We came to Australia for the dream lifestyle and I somehow forgot about that when I got obsessed with developing websites. I won't make that mistake again. The weekend before last, the day after I made the decision to outsource project 2, we spend Saturday at the beach and then most of Sunday afternoon in a beer garden! This weekend gone we spent some time doing some long overdue organising in the house, and on Sunday we had Cath and the neighbours round for a BBQ. Lauren even went for her first dip in the complex pool which is literally 30 feet from our front door. The pool is in the shade most of the day so doesn't really get warm but Lauren was straight in, no messing! I might even venture in this weekend.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing a bit of work on the business at weekends but I'm not going to let it overtake my life like I had been.