Hello… Is It Me You’re Looking For?
Okay, let’s start with the obvious: I work with software, and you need help with software. You already know that, or you wouldn’t be on this site trawling through profiles. Sad to say, but you’re probably not on here looking for fashion tips.
So maybe we can be a little thoughtful about this. I’m not just another clump of tech-support gray matter, and you’re not just another mass of billable hours. We’re people, and we can help each other.
You see, I’m not new at this. I know how the game works, and wasting my time doesn’t have the novelty or learning factor it once did. So at this point, I’m looking for a pretty specific kind of partner. Sorry to be so direct; I’ve been hurt too many times.
All this is to say: READ THE DESCRIPTION below. If it isn’t you, no hard feelings, and best of luck with everything. But if it matches, let’s make sparks fly!
Thoughtful, introverted problem-solver type. Likes reasoning carefully about difficult problems. Weakness for austere, obscure, and otherwise inaccessible software languages and tools. Voracious consumer of technical knowledge. Stickler for logic.
People commonly think I only get computers, but that’s not true: I get how your business interacts with computers, which—if you think about it—is in an awful lot of ways. Are you pretty sure your local real estate office needs a mobile app? Don’t just ask me how to get it built; ask me if that has even an outside chance of being a good idea. I’ll be grateful, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the torrent of good, actionable advice that comes back your way, starting with a question that I hope with all my heart you’re clear on: What are your actual goals?
But enough about you—we’ll come back to that.
- Seriously, clarity. Elegance of thought and crispness of execution. A driving force.
- Interesting problems
- Clear goals, combined with flexibility about the technical path to those goals
- Minimal overhead
- Clear, detailed, efficient communication
- Mutual trust
- Being well-paid for adding a huge amount of value
Sorry to unload here, but:
- Unclear goals
- Rote and/or meaningless work
- Multiple, conflicting stakeholders
- Scope creep
- Cleaning up other people’s messes using the dumb tools they left behind
- Arbitrary or sudden urgency; “crunch mode” as a result of poor planning
- Working very hard on things I believe have no chance of succeeding
At this point, I’m just looking for someone who loves to laugh.
j/k! You need to be an effective, lucid, clued-in person with clear goals that involve technology, and a willingness to partner to get them achieved.
I just listed them, so I’ll break them down further:
Effective: You make things happen. When you say you’ll send something over, you send it. When you set a deadline, you meet it. When you call a meeting, you don’t sleep through it, or reschedule it via text message ten minutes after it should’ve started.
Lucid: You are able to communicate clearly and helpfully—with high precision about your goals and needs, and cogently (but perhaps in more general terms) about technical matters. You are not muddled, defensive, obstinate, vague, erratic, or any of the other major common obstacles to communication.
Clued-in: You are generally in touch with how things work. You’re also able to detect specific gaps in your understanding, and you value the advice of people who can help you close those gaps. Your project idea is not a crackpot scheme, or so vaguely thought-through as to be unworkable, and you do not consistently mangle sensible advice into poor decisions.
Could be anything, as long as it appears well-positioned to deliver value. In other words, there has to be something in there that looks like it could work.
Your startup idea could be very exciting, but not if your startup is (sorry) a terrible idea. A startup requires the least real-world checks of any kind of project. If you need a restaurant website, at least there’s a restaurant of some kind out there in the world. If you’re starting “Foursquare but only for wine bars,” then you’ve got nothing at all but your badly formed idea. The point here is that startup ideas are not inherently exciting, although again, they can be.
Other ideas, whether big or small, face the same test. I don’t even mind setting up your “My First Year Learning the Violin” blog (for free, on something like WordPress.com or Squarespace), but: Who will read it? Why will they read it? Will you really find time to publish to it regularly? I’m not saying you don’t have an answer to these questions, I’m saying convince me!
j/k! Budget isn’t actually all that important, although it is true that some smaller projects simply aren’t worth taking on given the overhead they entail.
The bigger problem is that small budgets correlate very strongly with people who are not effective or clued-in (see above). Below a certain threshold, the smaller your budget, the lower the chance that you will be a thoughtful, professional, and reliable partner, or that your core idea is well thought through anyway. This, not budget itself, is the root problem.
That’s great! I’ve tried to be as up-front as possible, so I’m hoping we’re on the same page. Drop me a line and we’ll see what happens.
And thanks for reading. You wouldn’t believe how frustrating it is trying to meet clients in bars.
Image Credits: Jacky W.