Warning: this post contains images of me over the years. I take no responsibility for the damage this may cause to your retina and/or mental state. Time’s a funny thing; it just keeps on passing. There it went just now. And again. And here I am, burning your actual time postulating about how time passes. And again, with that apology. Sorry. I should stop now. Another thing is that we have this impression that there’s a “right time” for things.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I have a keen interest in the provision of high speed broadband in Guernsey, including to homes. If not, you can catch up with my reasoning in this post a year ago, and this one a few days ago. The main issue right now for home broadband in Guernsey is that Sure controls the main fixed line network, and they are currently committed to a strategy of VDSL (fibre to the cabinet, copper to the home), which can provide a pretty decent, if not particularly future proof, service except for the fact that the rollout of new cabinets has been slow enough that there are still quite a few gaps where line distances make VDSL impractical; including both of the addresses I’ve lived in 2014.
I’m now sometimes referred to as an ’entrepreneur’, and occasionally I spend a little of my time trying to figure out what that actually means. I realise that a lot of the time, how other people perceive it is quite different to how I see myself. Much of the talk around entrepreneurship is about blue-sky thinking, of aiming for the moon shot, of being the big-talking guy who is always selling his next grand vision of the future.
I’m passionate about the fact that there’s never been a better time for people with talent and passion to get out there and start their own businesses. The Internet has flattened the playing field considerably, and globalisation and the recession has led to a lot of people to realise that employment isn’t the safe harbour they might have previously thought it was. The opportunities for making an impact from a small starting point are more numerous than ever, and people are increasingly aware of their options in a way that was unthinkable 10-15 years ago.
There’s a campaign that’s been running here for a while called ‘Buy Local’ which encourages people to buy things from their local shops rather than ordering online, thus putting money back into the local economy. In general, this is a sensible message that I can support. But the more I think about it, the more I think it may be missing the point. I think what needs to be said is that the fact that you’re local isn’t justification for customers to prefer you over another supplier if your product or service are sub-par.
“90% of startups fail” I hear this meme repeated over and over, from ordinary people whom it terrifies into spending a lifetime using their talents primarily for someone else’s benefit, to those business leaders who use it either to discourage shifting investment away from their ‘safe’ industries, or more subtly dropping it into conversation to increase the chances they’ll keep their best staff. I hate it, both because of the psychological blackmail it represents, and because for the vast majority of people starting a business, it’s total and complete nonsense.
It’s seems you can’t tune into any sort of political debate on the economy these days without a glut of commentators and politicians lining up to tell us how all our problems can, nay must, be solved by ‘attracting investors’. We must do everything we can, we’re told, to catch the eye of these incredibly elusive and rare beasts, who are constantly on the move and always on the lookout for the juiciest pickings.
One of the things I hear on occasion is the maxim ‘People buy from people’. Usually what people mean when they say this is that the only real way to sell things to people is to go meet them, shake their hands, wine and dine them, play golf with them, organise trade delegations to impress them, and so on. I’m sure that’s still the way it works in some industries, especially those which are large, slow-moving and headed mainly by the over-50s who are most comfortable negotiating over walnut boardroom tables.
If you limit your reading material to articles on TechCrunch and similar sites, you’d get the impression that to succeed in business requires that you plan to scale to a massive level. The received wisdom is that if you’re not targeting a user base of several million, and are not raising capital in Silicon Valley commensurate with that aim, then you’re not doing it right. This is nonsense, of course. It simply reflects one end of the spectrum of business ventures - that which is high-risk and high-reward.
The SourceTree 1.2 launch sale is now over, and I thought I’d post some indicative results. I went for a fairly large discount of 40% over a full week, and some people I know commented to me along the lines of ‘what about all that money you’ll be losing on each sale?’. I decided on a large discount because SourceTree 1.2 was a major update that I was actually quite proud of, so I wanted to get it in front of as many people as I could.