A few weeks ago I was reading a blog post by Guy Kawasaki entitled "By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09" and it really got me thinking.
If you read the article, a great deal of Guys expense was on "outside" profession services. $4,500 for software development, $4,824.14 in legal fees, $399 for a Logo and $1,115.05 in legal fees. I've had the honor of meeting Mr. Kawasaki a few times (though I'm sure my face is as recognizable to Guy as the paper bag my nome de plum wears) and his book "The Art of Start" is a must read for all you entrepreneurs out there. He dropped $12K on this little project of his, let's see if we can bring down the price tag even further.
So here are my rules.
1. Only work on this project during "off" hours - I'm currently gainfully employed by a company I co-founded in 1999. Over the years I have heard the horror stories of hardworking entrepreneurs who have had all kinds of legal trouble from former employers who claim that the intellectual property of the company that the entrepreneur created was on the former employers dime. A great article on this subject is "The Dangers of Moonlighting" at Found+Read. My current colleagues are the nicest of guys, but let's just say that every time we go out to lunch calculators are involved in divvying up the check. So rule number one means no working on this project for 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday... weekends, holidays and the wee hours of the morning are mine.
2. Only work with my own resources - Like only working on "off" hours, I will only work on equipment, services and licenses that I pay for out of my own pocket. That means working on my home computer (the under powered one that my wife uses for email and family photos and my daughter uses to watch Homestar Runner) instead of the fancy laptop that my work provides. I will not use my cell or office phone for calls related to this project. I will use the DSL line off my home phone line instead of the high speed cable modem that work reimburses me for.
3. I will Blog my progress - Every day that I work on this project, I will report my progress on this blog. This is a tough one! I don't consider myself a writer.... I've written a few patents (not exactly riveting material), technical specs and the occasional love letter to my dear wife, but nothing that has forced me to write every day. Please be kind to my ramblings!
4. I will report every time I incur (or didn't incur) an expense - For example, my domain (which will for now remain secret), was purchased from GoDaddy and cost me $7.99. This blog was free from the wonderful folks at Blogger (or should I be thanking Google? It gets so confusing on the 2.0 version of the web). As a guy who doesn't have thousands of dollars to spend, I'll be attempting to squeeze every bit of value out of open source tools, low cost hosting and good old reliable begging and bartering.
So thems the rules, let the games begin! Nothing worth doing is ever easy... though some day I'd like to give it a try!