Looking Glass Solutions How we Succeeded and Failed at Business  and  What We Learned Andy White @arcwhite http://arcwhite...
LGS <ul><li>'Open Source' </li></ul><ul><li>Service based </li></ul><ul><li>Software Development, Training, Training Room ...
Why did we do it? <ul><li>Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Extended Coffee Breaks </li></ul><ul><li>Working...
History <ul><li>Started by Evan Leybourn in 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>Developing web-based Digital Asset Management System – ...
History <ul><li>Got_It! dried up </li></ul><ul><li>Uhohs </li></ul><ul><li>Made decision to search for new work </li></ul>...
History <ul><li>In late 2006, added Training Room and Courses </li></ul><ul><li>Training Room obliterated in Supercell Sto...
Final Days <ul><li>2008 - joined business network (TCG group) </li></ul><ul><li>They threw us some good work – but not muc...
Final Days <ul><li>Tried to lose some Support Work </li></ul><ul><li>Ended up adding more </li></ul><ul><li>Oops </li></ul...
The End <ul><li>Closed up formally on Dec 31 </li></ul><ul><li>However... still winding up some bits and pieces </li></ul>...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Well, a lot of things... </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Experience </li></ul><ul><li>No Regrets! </li...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Trying To Do Too Much </li></ul><ul><li>Can't be everything to everyone </li></ul><ul><li>Broken ...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Wrong Mix Of People </li></ul><ul><li>Good team – like family </li></ul>
The Family <ul><li>Evan Leybourn – Director, Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Ashley Flynn – Developer (sort of), Sysadmin </li...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Wrong Mix Of People </li></ul><ul><li>All technical </li></ul><ul><li>No marketing skills, No sal...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Starting From Nothing </li></ul><ul><li>No war chest </li></ul><ul><li>Tight times stressful </li...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Undervaluing Skills </li></ul><ul><li>Not charging enough </li></ul><ul><li>Some awesome work, no...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Not Enough Networking </li></ul><ul><li>Who you know >= What you know </li></ul><ul><li>Yearly tr...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Accounting – not enough knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Book-keeping – not enough attention </li></ul...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Shutting down is painful </li></ul><ul><li>Outstanding invoices, debts, voluntary versus involunt...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Harder to end a business than start one </li></ul>
What went right? <ul><li>A lot of fun </li></ul>
What went right? <ul><li>Some pick-up towards the end </li></ul><ul><li>Once we started marketing! </li></ul><ul><li>Still...
What went right? <ul><li>Flexible Hours </li></ul>
What went right? <ul><li>Flexible Hours </li></ul><ul><li>.... And Lots of Them ... </li></ul>
What went right? <ul><li>Some cool projects </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of learning (technical, social, legal, financial, legal...
What went right? <ul><li>Did manage to make a living </li></ul>
What went right? <ul><li>Met some really awesome people </li></ul><ul><li>Our team </li></ul><ul><li>Other FOSS folks </li...
Recommendations <ul><li>If you have an idea </li></ul><ul><li>If you have the will </li></ul><ul><li>If you're not afraid ...
Recommendations <ul><li>Go for it! </li></ul><ul><li>Very satisfying, very rewarding </li></ul>
Recommendations <ul><li>Try to leverage your hours - $$ for hours can be a losing proposition sometimes </li></ul><ul><li>...
Recommendations <ul><li>Have a Business Plan </li></ul><ul><li>If you don't know how to do one, learn first </li></ul>
Recommendations <ul><li>Test and Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Test your ideas, measure the response </li></ul><ul><li>Test yo...
Recommendations <ul><li>'Ware starting from nothing </li></ul><ul><li>Be frugal when there is plenty </li></ul><ul><li>Be ...
Recommendations <ul><li>Right mix of skills </li></ul><ul><li>You need to market & sell (duh) </li></ul>
Recommendations <ul><li>Marketing Plan is Planning Gold </li></ul><ul><li>Don't go without one </li></ul><ul><li>... Unles...
Recommendations <ul><li>Always have an Exit Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Even if you never use it </li></ul>
Recommendations <ul><li>Now seems like Good Time for FOSS business </li></ul><ul><li>Inquiries – 2 or 3 per month </li></u...
Never Give Up <ul><li>You will be successful (for some values of success) eventually </li></ul><ul><li>Business is about t...
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Presentation: What we did Right and Wrong with LGS

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Presentation: What we did Right and Wrong with LGS

  1. 1. Looking Glass Solutions How we Succeeded and Failed at Business and What We Learned Andy White @arcwhite http://arcwhite.org [email_address]
  2. 2. LGS <ul><li>'Open Source' </li></ul><ul><li>Service based </li></ul><ul><li>Software Development, Training, Training Room Facilities, System Administration and Support (Linux, Windows), Data Recovery, Consulting.... </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why did we do it? <ul><li>Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Extended Coffee Breaks </li></ul><ul><li>Working with Cool People </li></ul><ul><li>Profit </li></ul>
  4. 4. History <ul><li>Started by Evan Leybourn in 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>Developing web-based Digital Asset Management System – Got_It </li></ul><ul><li>PHP, dynamic HTML before AJAX </li></ul><ul><li>Good fun work, one project </li></ul><ul><li>I join in 2005, become Director in 2006 </li></ul>
  5. 5. History <ul><li>Got_It! dried up </li></ul><ul><li>Uhohs </li></ul><ul><li>Made decision to search for new work </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of Drupal sites </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of web sites </li></ul><ul><li>Not a lot of 'proper' development </li></ul>
  6. 6. History <ul><li>In late 2006, added Training Room and Courses </li></ul><ul><li>Training Room obliterated in Supercell Storm early 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Took 3 months to get back up! </li></ul><ul><li>Office out of action for 1 month </li></ul><ul><li>Very painful </li></ul>
  7. 7. Final Days <ul><li>2008 - joined business network (TCG group) </li></ul><ul><li>They threw us some good work – but not much else </li></ul><ul><li>Years of low and/or late wages and tight Christmas </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological strain </li></ul>
  8. 8. Final Days <ul><li>Tried to lose some Support Work </li></ul><ul><li>Ended up adding more </li></ul><ul><li>Oops </li></ul><ul><li>Trying to do way too much </li></ul>
  9. 9. The End <ul><li>Closed up formally on Dec 31 </li></ul><ul><li>However... still winding up some bits and pieces </li></ul><ul><li>Almost-but-not-quite broken even </li></ul><ul><li>Could have been worse! </li></ul>
  10. 10. What went wrong? <ul><li>Well, a lot of things... </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Experience </li></ul><ul><li>No Regrets! </li></ul>
  11. 11. What went wrong? <ul><li>Trying To Do Too Much </li></ul><ul><li>Can't be everything to everyone </li></ul><ul><li>Broken focus, broken results </li></ul><ul><li>Context Switching </li></ul>
  12. 12. What went wrong? <ul><li>Wrong Mix Of People </li></ul><ul><li>Good team – like family </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Family <ul><li>Evan Leybourn – Director, Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Ashley Flynn – Developer (sort of), Sysadmin </li></ul><ul><li>Brett Zezulka - Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Jennifer Edmonson - Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Xianzheng (Joe) Zhao - Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Simon Pascal Klein - Designer </li></ul><ul><li>Alex Moon - Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Chao Yan - Developer </li></ul>
  14. 14. What went wrong? <ul><li>Wrong Mix Of People </li></ul><ul><li>All technical </li></ul><ul><li>No marketing skills, No sales skills </li></ul><ul><li>Oops </li></ul>
  15. 15. What went wrong? <ul><li>Starting From Nothing </li></ul><ul><li>No war chest </li></ul><ul><li>Tight times stressful </li></ul>
  16. 16. What went wrong? <ul><li>Undervaluing Skills </li></ul><ul><li>Not charging enough </li></ul><ul><li>Some awesome work, not awesome pay </li></ul><ul><li>'Soft Touch' </li></ul>
  17. 17. What went wrong? <ul><li>Not Enough Networking </li></ul><ul><li>Who you know >= What you know </li></ul><ul><li>Yearly trips to OSDC </li></ul><ul><li>Not much engagement otherwise </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons of Social Media </li></ul>
  18. 18. What went wrong? <ul><li>Accounting – not enough knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Book-keeping – not enough attention </li></ul><ul><li>Insurance – not enough anything </li></ul><ul><li>Day to day 'stuff' – context switching </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of holidays, spotty pay, eventual burn-out - Painful! </li></ul>
  19. 19. What went wrong? <ul><li>Shutting down is painful </li></ul><ul><li>Outstanding invoices, debts, voluntary versus involuntary insolvency, bankruptcy, ongoing liabilities, good will issues, reputation issues, disposal of assets, physical de-location, closing accounts... </li></ul><ul><li>ARGH </li></ul>
  20. 20. What went wrong? <ul><li>Harder to end a business than start one </li></ul>
  21. 21. What went right? <ul><li>A lot of fun </li></ul>
  22. 22. What went right? <ul><li>Some pick-up towards the end </li></ul><ul><li>Once we started marketing! </li></ul><ul><li>Still getting lots of inquiries... </li></ul>
  23. 23. What went right? <ul><li>Flexible Hours </li></ul>
  24. 24. What went right? <ul><li>Flexible Hours </li></ul><ul><li>.... And Lots of Them ... </li></ul>
  25. 25. What went right? <ul><li>Some cool projects </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of learning (technical, social, legal, financial, legal, business) </li></ul>
  26. 26. What went right? <ul><li>Did manage to make a living </li></ul>
  27. 27. What went right? <ul><li>Met some really awesome people </li></ul><ul><li>Our team </li></ul><ul><li>Other FOSS folks </li></ul><ul><li>Government and business people </li></ul>
  28. 28. Recommendations <ul><li>If you have an idea </li></ul><ul><li>If you have the will </li></ul><ul><li>If you're not afraid to suffer for success </li></ul>
  29. 29. Recommendations <ul><li>Go for it! </li></ul><ul><li>Very satisfying, very rewarding </li></ul>
  30. 30. Recommendations <ul><li>Try to leverage your hours - $$ for hours can be a losing proposition sometimes </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver value for the client's money </li></ul><ul><li>Don't be afraid to charge for that value </li></ul><ul><li>Don't be afraid to maximise your profit (but be nice about it) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Recommendations <ul><li>Have a Business Plan </li></ul><ul><li>If you don't know how to do one, learn first </li></ul>
  32. 32. Recommendations <ul><li>Test and Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Test your ideas, measure the response </li></ul><ul><li>Test your business plan, measure response </li></ul><ul><li>Test your staff, measure response </li></ul><ul><li>Always work to improve </li></ul>
  33. 33. Recommendations <ul><li>'Ware starting from nothing </li></ul><ul><li>Be frugal when there is plenty </li></ul><ul><li>Be generous when there is scarcity </li></ul>
  34. 34. Recommendations <ul><li>Right mix of skills </li></ul><ul><li>You need to market & sell (duh) </li></ul>
  35. 35. Recommendations <ul><li>Marketing Plan is Planning Gold </li></ul><ul><li>Don't go without one </li></ul><ul><li>... Unless you're really talented! </li></ul>
  36. 36. Recommendations <ul><li>Always have an Exit Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Even if you never use it </li></ul>
  37. 37. Recommendations <ul><li>Now seems like Good Time for FOSS business </li></ul><ul><li>Inquiries – 2 or 3 per month </li></ul><ul><li>GFC (cuts many ways) </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities for developers </li></ul>
  38. 38. Never Give Up <ul><li>You will be successful (for some values of success) eventually </li></ul><ul><li>Business is about trying, and trying again </li></ul><ul><li>Take care of yourself – death is an end state for your involvement in business </li></ul><ul><li>Good luck! </li></ul>

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