I’ve been reading through Seth Godin’s Linchpin recently and of the main themes, one has been sticking out to me: shipping. Especially at the end of the year, you want to be able to look back and say “What have I accomplished?” I wish I could write a year-end post like his, describing the many things he completed and shipped in 2010. I’ve spent the last few weeks figuring out my major goals and steps I can take towards accomplishing them in 2011.
First and foremost, I want to start a product company. I’ve worked at two very different startups and enjoyed the challenges at both. I also feel that given my technology background and entrepreneurial knowledge, starting a company is the best chance I have for breakout success. I’m working on mobile games now, but feel that’s more of a hobby project. I don’t have enough of a passion for games to see myself still spinning out a few games a year 7-8 years from now. My opinion could change depending on how much success I have, but for the moment the games business is not my long-term focus.
In conjunction with starting a company, I’m interested in pursuing YCombinator or TechStars in 2012. They both sound amazing, could teach me a lot, and would have a huge impact on whatever business I start. They’re both also insanely competitive, so coming up with ideas, shipping products, and demonstrating that I can get things done this year would go a long ways. Between living arrangements, training for Ironman, and lack of preparation, I’m not going to be able to apply for 2011, but I think I could make a strong case for winter or summer 2012. Pinning all my hopes on a program that competitive would be foolish, but everything I’d need to do to prepare for a tech startup program would be beneficial if I decided to start a company on my own, so I think all of these goals are 100% worth it.
Given the big picture goals listed above, I came up with a few goals for 2011 that will put my in good position to achieve my long-term goals. I’m going to be tracking progress on these weekly to make sure I’m not falling behind on anything.
Launch three games – I think this is an attainable number that would teach me a lot, demonstrate that I can ship, and hopefully make some money.
Launch one non-game product or app – Creating and launching games is very different from any other type of tech product, so I’d like to put something else out there. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big idea, but I’d like to get something substantial that takes a different type of thinking and marketing than casual games.
Come up with solid business ideas – In order to start a business or apply to the major tech startup programs, I need a real idea. They all say that the idea isn’t as important as the person, but it’s the idea that starts the conversation, so I might as well not have to overcome a terrible idea. I’m going to schedule dedicated time every week for industry research and brainstorming so this doesn’t get neglected. By the end of the year, I want at least one well thought out idea that I’d feel comfortable starting and working into a substantial business.
Read and complete all exercises from SICP – I feel like ever since I finished my math degree, I haven’t been pushing my brain as much as I used to. Once you learn a language enough to be productive, there isn’t much that pushes you mentally in day-to-day development. In 2011, I’m going to start every day off with mental exercise. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs gets recommended all the time and seems like a good place to start. Others have tried and completed this in a year, so I think it’s a reasonable goal.
Finish an Ironman triathlon – My girlfriend got me into this hobby last year and I really enjoy it. It’s good to have a completely non-technical goal to work toward so I can balance out my life and not sit in front of the computer all day. Completing an Ironman will be a huge accomplishment, it’ll get me in shape, and I’m sure it’ll be fun too.
Build better online presence – I feel like I’m smarter and work harder than my online presence or resume makes me look, so in 2011 I’m going to fix that. Many of my other goals will work toward this, like shipping four products, but highlighting my achievements, getting more content into my blog, and a better presence on some key sites will help a lot in convincing people that I’m serious. Specifically, I’m going to reorganize this site to highlight things I’ve shipped so people looking me up on Google figure out quickly that I get things done. I’m going to average one blog post per week throughout the year. I’m also going to try to get recommendations on LinkedIn, and keep a more active presence in some of the relevant online/Meetup communities.
That’s it for my 2011 goals. Stay tuned for more posts and updates on progress. Happy New Year!