As of 2017 my vision for my app, My Day To-Do has broadened and I plan to expand it to a full fledged product (startup) rather than just a app that I built in my spare time. In this blog post, I will talk about

  1. My attempt at being more productive than I am for my one man startup
  2. Challenges inherent to time management
  3. Preparing a job description to find someone to come onboard
  4. Managing areas outside my expertise

So without further a due, let’s get to the post. Hopefully some of you reading this can learn something from my experiences.

Background

The year 2016, despite some personal challenges was actually quite good for me and while there were no monetary gains for me, I did manage to increase downloads for My Day To-Do and the number of monthly page views for my blog. My progress last year was somewhat surprising to me, why? well I was working from home all of last year and while I released a number of updates for my app, wrote several useful blog posts, made a number of strategic decisions to boost my apps downloads, etc etc, for some reason I still thought I was not working hard enough. I thought that if I were around other people or just had an opportunity to work around and talk to others, I would be a lot more productive. That leads to the first new development

A new home for My Day To-Do

As of February 2017, my application for the Catapult co-working space at my old university was accepted and therefore I have a new office to do my work. I suppose I was so eager to work away from home that I was one of the first applicants to go to the co-working space, finish the paper work, get access and sort everything out and start working there. Another relief for me is I get access to the UNSW wi-fi which has really fast UPLOAD speeds that make uploading my app updates to ItunesConnect much much much faster. For those thinking why is that a big deal? well, I live in Australia and I have an ADSL2+ connection, so hopefully you understand why upload speeds are important to me.

Moving to my new office meant that it was one thing off my list, so I could move on to some of the other things that I need to do, which posed the next challenge, TIME MANAGEMENT.

What time Management challenges?

I write a blog, I do the marketing, coding etc and from everything that I do there are no monetary gains at this stage and if I need my work to be sustainable, I need to start earning from it. I mean I love working on my app and writing my blog, the idea of saving someone some time on what wastes my time is priceless, however for that to be sustainable I need to earn enough from my app to support myself. As I have talked about in my earlier posts, there are ways to go about doing this, but what that means is that my work increases significantly. To start generating some income from my app, so far I have tried marketing by,

  1. Boosting a Facebook page post
  2. Promoting my app’s Facebook page to a large audience
  3. Promoting my app’s Facebook page to a more limited audience

Also, as of this year, I have decided to expand the reach of My Day To-Do by creating a web version for it, along with adding some new iOS10 features, IAP to the Lite app. Therefore I decided to spread out my time as follows,

  1. 3 days for working on the iOS app
  2. 1 day for building the web version
  3. 1.5 days on marketing and doing various admin activities
  4. 1 day for blogging and managing various miscellaneous stuff

That’s just a high level overview of things that I have to deal with and the challenge with that is, time management. Of course everything rarely goes according to plan and at times I do end up spending 2-3 days on the marketing side of things and personally I do not think that’s the best use of my skills, hence I think it’s best if I get some help i.e. get someone to work for (with) me and this involves preparing a job description.

Preparing the job description

Since I am working at my old university right now, I could potentially get a student marketing intern. If I am getting a student intern to work for me, I need to prepare and phrase my job description in a way that students reading it feel that they will gain a lot from the internship. Preparing a job description and thinking about getting someone onboard, had me consider a number of things,

  1. Make sure the intern has enough work to do and not sit and get bored
  2. Ways to keep the intern interested/motivated (I don’t have an proper answer for this, yet)
  3. Have stuff (storage etc) in the company name, right now everything is tied to my user accounts 

Taking the above into consideration I prepared a job description, you can have a look at it over here, in this post, I will briefly talk about the structure of that job ad.

  1. I thought it would be best to get straight to the point of what the job is, so someone reading it knows first hand what’s involved in it
  2. Then we move onto what the product is, I have tried to be brief and highlight some of the key points on My Day To-Do
  3. It’s important for them to know who they are working with and in this case the founder i.e. me and details about me, I have 2 degrees, published 3 research papers etc. As mentioned a Google search on ‘Bhuman Soni’ should give them some insight into who I am.
  4. Lastly, the deliverables. I have added this so for any final or third year university students looking at doing an internship can learn a lot from this. I thought the deliverables are brief assignment like components for which they would need to do some research which would give them an idea about how marketing works relative to this industry.

Now until I find an intern, I have to do most of the work which takes us to the next part of this post.

Managing areas outside my expertise

Coming from a strictly technical (Computer Science) background, working on a startup has me learning a lot of new things and not all of them technical. As I have written earlier, my former job had me solve a lot of new problems (to me) e.g. Figuring out how the browser login prompt works etc but as new as they were, they were still technical problems. Working on a startup has me deal with MARKETING and this is hard actually very hard, there’s just so much to read and consider. For me, on the technical side of things if there’s a problem, I can use the right method to solve it and I will get the right solution, with Marketing however there are many ways to solve a problem and while they all give different answers, there’s always more than one right answer. So how do I approach this area outside my expertise? well it’s really simple I adopt the trail and error approach, I mean there’s really no harm in give one marketing method a try.  Ohh and also, while doing all this, I try to keep a clear head and not loose focus by distractions from people around me. If someone wants to discuss about a certain president of a certain country where I do not live, I simply ignore the debate. The reason I have mentioned this is because, I have survived many many attempts to drag me into pointless discussions that go on for hours and have no resolution whatsoever. I see that as the time that my mind was consumed by a resolve-less discussion which could have been used to think about moving my startup forward.

My one goal at this stage is to make my startup successful and for that I must try as hard as I can e.g. it was important for me to get the app store description of my app translated to other languages. Now as far as Chinese is concerned, I literally just talked to strangers about it. The first traditional Chinese translation for my app store description was done by someone I started talking to at the train station. We were both trying to find a way out of the train station and once we found a way out, I asked her if she could translate my app store description for me and she said sure, why not. I didn’t for once think about what here response before asking, in either case the worst would have been a NO? and that’s fine, I will find someone else or some other means of getting my translation done. The lesson from this? realise that you have nothing to loose and there’s really no harm in asking, if the response is a rejection, so be it. You will survive and find other means to get the solution you are after. Unfortunately for me, my startup is the only place where I can apply the above logic, I have not been able to apply this to other aspects of my life!

Conclusion

All in all my vision for what was just a side project of mine has turned into a vision of making it a (financially) sustainable startup. For my vision to be a reality I am facing a number of challenges i.e. working alone on something that’s not generating income, both my blog and my app. Trying to get help and preparing an interesting enough job description to attract potential applicants and finally managing areas outside my expertise are some of the other challenges that I encounter. Lastly, despite all the challenges, I still have some hope. On the darkest of days, I look back and think about that life changing event i.e. my accident where I lost almost everything and compare it to how I am doing now, and that gives me hope to keep going.

Finally, I am working on my app full-time right now and if you find my blog posts useful and want to support me you can buy the Pro version of My Day To-Do.


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