A Freemium Business Model

I have an android smartphone, and I have *very* few paid for applications on it. Mostly I have document viewers, the wordpress app, mail/calendar/map from google, and so on - plus a couple of free games. In January I downloaded a new game and I've been playing it pretty regularly since*.

Tapfish is a game where you can buy, raise and sell fish - like a tamagotchi, all grown up and moved to the smartphone platform (and prettier!) You can play quite a bit of the game without paying for anything - so much in fact that I got quite into it. When you consider that I've played daily for 6 weeks, 10 quid for the add-ons that will let me play more of the game seems reasonable. Continue reading

Speaking at DayCamp for Developers

I am delighted to announce that I'm speaking at the upcoming DayCamp for Developers in early March. The idea behind the daycamps is to bring important but non-technical skills to developers everywhere - so the sessions are virtual and so are the speakers! This time around the topic is Business, so we have a series of speakers to give you advice from a practical, developer-centric point of view - on everything you need to know!

My own talk is "Time and Money"; both are pretty important concepts to have a handle on when you are in business, either as a freelancer or when starting or helping to start a bigger business. Even as an employee, these are really important concepts to understand; most of what I learned about business I learned working with business people in the jobs I had beforehand.

Time is important because we need to figure out how much we have and how to share it around. Money is important because we all like to get paid. I'll be sharing my own tactics for keeping both of them under control so I hope you'll join us!

Celebrating One Year in Business

A year ago, I left my job at Ibuildings and went freelance. At the time, I didn't really know what I wanted to do next, and I was excited about the opportunity to try out a few different things. I blogged about my new (ad)venture when I launched it, but I haven't written much since and people keep asking me for updates - the anniversary seems like a good time to reflect.

Well, I still don't know what I want to do next, but that seems like less of a problem these days. I'm busy but in a planned-in-advance, only wearing myself down because there was something so exciting I couldn't say no, kind of a way. I am not a great fan of travel, and have always tried to avoid it, but in fact so many interesting things came up this year that I ended up on the road more than ever. It turns out that there is a world of difference between being sent somewhere on short notice, and planning a series of interesting professional engagements that just happen to involve being away from home a lot all at once. And if I don't want to go: I don't go. It's amazing how many people will wait til next month if you ask them!

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Business Strategies: Office Day

I'm now self-employed, which means that I have to do my own administration, invoicing, accounts, correspondence, sales, marketing and maintenance (not to mention running the household, a sports team, and whatever else I've volunteered to get involved with lately). I am pretty organised as a person, which is a real gift now I have all this going on! I have some coping strategies and I thought I'd share one that has helped hugely - the office day.

The idea of the office day is that I block out a whole day every month or so where I'm not going anywhere, not on site with clients, not speaking, not delivering anything, just in the office, doing whatever needs doing. I tend to put these days in either day before or after runs of days away - either with clients or at events, just to give me time to catch my breath. Working this way means that when I'm working on something, I can just work on it, and know that there is time set aside for all the little things. Also the days where I'm just back from somewhere and the inbox is so full, it is ready to bite, then it gives time to get things straightened out and right, without feeling stressed because there is other work to do. Although it does mean that I'm not doing billable work that day, I find that splitting the work up like this works really well for me, and I thought I'd share - perhaps this suggestion will help someone else, and I'm always interested to hear how others fit in all the business bits and pieces around their "real" work.

Three Months In: The (Ad)Venture Continues

It's three months since I gave up the day job and so many people have asked me how it's going, that I thought I'd give a quick round up!

I am a statistics nut so it will surprise nobody that I track my time religiously (using harvest, which I'll post about some day soon). From this I can tell you that I spend about 40% of my time working for other people, and the rest doing things like writing, preparing talks, accounts, meetings, or whatever. I've also taken 14 days off, which has been absolutely fabulous after a decidedly work-heavy first half of 2010. The biggest change is that I've only worked one weekend day. One.

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Return on Investment: Example

I gave a talk at the weekend which talked in outline terms about Return on Investment or ROI. It was a keynote so I skated over the details, but I wanted to include a specific example to illustrate what I meant.

Imagine the scenario where, given 3 days to work on it, a developer can get the deployment time for their code down from 3 hours to 20 minutes. This company does, on average, 42 deployments per year (you can guess these numbers are totally imaginary).

So 3 days at 7.5 hours per day means we are investing 22.5 hours on this.

The return is the difference between the deployments, multiplied by the number of deployments that are needed. So 3 hours is 180 minutes - so we save (180 - 20) = 160 minutes with each deploy. We do that 42 times in a year so we've saved 6720 minutes (per year) which is 112 hours or 14.9 days.

Project managers might not like to lose 3 days from their schedule but how do they feel about having a spare 3 weeks each year?

LornaJane Moo Cards

Whenever I attend a conference or other geeky gathering (GeekUp for example) I'm often asked for my card ... but I don't have one. I don't have work business cards, because only sales people need those, and I don't have personal ones because I don't freelance (or not usually). I finally cracked though and ordered cards from moo.com as recommended by many many people. Here they are:

On the other side I put the angel motif made for me by Gretchen from www.girlscantwhat.com, which I love and use as my online persona in a lot of places. She didn't quite fit and I didn't want to shrink her so instead she peeps out at you:

So if you see me around, and you'd like my card, try asking me again if I have one :)