June 11, 2018

After 1 year and 2 months I have my first paying customer!

Here is is: https://i.imgur.com/xJdDy4N.png

I have been working on a Saas for insurance agents. I build a way for them to add their team, calculate commissions and bonuses and give them reports on how they and their team are doing.

About a year ago I saved up a ton of money to quit. I have been living off my savings and minimal freelance to pay my basic bills.

I wish I could tell you that it was "all worth it" - not really. It was really freakin' difficult to get to this point and if I was doing it for the money I would have quit so long ago.

I know I could probably give 100 things that I learned but the number one thing that I had to learn that almost had me quit this idea in January is..

Just because I had discipline in my full time, does not mean I will have discipline in going full on my side project. I was waking up for months at 6:30 am and getting to work by 7:30 am. That was "easy" - now I am having difficulty getting up at 8 and starting by 9.

  • A boss that will ask you what and why

  • A schedule

  • A vision

  • Consequences of laziness

  • PTOs

  • Rewards

Those must be replaced. YOU must manager yourself and give yourself those items. I'm still having trouble finding ways to reward / "punish" myself for good/bad days of work.

Just because I did well in structure does NOT mean I would do well in non-structure.

This community is awesome and has helped me so much! If there is interest I would love to show you all how I have used Trello as a contact management system and project management system - let me know!

  1. 5

    Hey Philip - what you said really resonates with me too. As a fellow first time entrepreneur, I've found that it takes quite some time to find a routine especially when you're used to working at a job where lots of things (ie. all the things on your list) were taken care of.

    I've been actively trying out new morning routines so I can be more productive and focused during the day. I believe that by starting off the morning right, it really sets the tone for the rest of the day.

    Here are a couple things I do. Not sure if you do any already, but I recommend you give it a try.

    • get up at the same time each day without snoozing (first small win of the day)

    • make my bed (next small win of the day)

    • before checking my phone, do 7-10 minute morning meditation

    • use 5 Minute Journal to help prioritize the 3 things you want to get done

    • work in 25 minute increments using Pomodoro technique

    ...then it's GO time!

    I hope one of these things can be helpful for you. If you ever want to chat about habits and stuff, shoot me a note (jonathan@tribefive.me).



    1. 2

      Wow, we're very similar, I try to do all the things you listed outside of the 3 top things.

      I normally have 5-10 "top" things that I need to get done. What is the purpose of only 3? Maybe I'm being too detailed?

      Thanks for the kind words!

      1. 2

        I find that when there are too many things on my list, I get overwhelmed and end up bouncing around from task to task without getting anything done. 3 seems to be a magic number for me, though I'd love to get up to 5-10 each day like you.

        Since you are so tuned in how important it is to develop better habits to be more productive, check out my project, Tribe of Five (www.tribefive.me). We help entrepreneurs level up their habits by using accountability.

        Would love to have you onboard!

  2. 2

    I found that having 2 kids will get you up early every day, so you could give that a shot.

    On a serious note though, what time do you go to bed now? I'm a night owl so it's 1 or 2am for me and then I'm usually up between 8 and 8:30am but if the kids are off from school then I'll take a long morning and stay in bed until about 9am.

    It is very hard to stay focused though as a freelancer / work from home person.

    • Only check email like 3 times per day

    • Turn off Social media for a few hours at a time

    • Eat consistently and stay away from the junk food

    • Listen to music with headphones on

    Here is the most critical advice, make task lists.

    I have a OneNote document with 4 sections "Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly" - within each one of those pages I have a checkbox list of things I need to do within each of those timeframes.

    So for "Daily" I put in everything I want to accomplish in 1 Day, this is your most active tab by far. So things like, Send email to John Smith, Call Jane Doe, Design Logo, Design Homepage, do HTML for Register page, etc. I get very specific and nothing is too small to put on the list. I figure small things are quick easy wins and at the end of the day you can see that you checked off like 10-15 things - it feels good. It's proof that you actually accomplished something.

    For "Weekly", I put in less urgent things, but things that still need to get done, i.e. "Take out the Trash", Blog Posts, etc.

    For "Monthly", it's the same sort of thing, "Pay Phone Bill", "Pay Internet", "Send Invoices", etc.

    Lastly, for "Yearly" it's things like "Anniversary", "Taxes", "Business Renewal", etc.

    The other things I try to do, but not very successfully is to "Touch things Once" so if you get an email, read it and respond and be done. Don't read it, run off and do something else for 3 hours, come back re-read it and then respond.

    Hope that helps.

    1. 2

      I have experimented with 2 - 9 am, 3 - 10 am - those kinda worked... but I lost motivation in the morning much easier... felt a bit lazier. I am now trying 11 - 6:30 am. I'll let you know how that works haha

      1. 1

        1-8am seems to be pretty good for me, I do find that I sleep and wake up better if I'm totally exhausted when I go to bed. If I try to force myself to sleep when I'm not tired I'm far more groggy in the morning.

    2. 2

      This might be a separate discussion, but how do you manage yearly goals? Might not be applicable to your set up of yearly goals, but I often feel like a 'year' goal is difficult to grasp / follow up on.

      1. 1

        My yearly goals are more so yearly tasks, but I would say if you want to do yearly goals, those goals would be based on your daily/weekly/monthly goals. Those smaller goals should lead into your yearly. In tech, a year goal could change drastically if you hit a bit of luck or bit of bad luck, you just never know. @philipim

      2. 1

        I kinda have this same question. I have a vague financial goal for the end of the year, but it's changed 2-3 times already this year. I can't seem to get a valuable yearly goal that stays the same.

  3. 2

    Congrats! Also amazing hearing side projects turning into what you do for a living!

  4. 2

    It might be healthier to think of days as good/great instead of bad/good.

    Output varies from day to day. It has to. You can't have the exact some output every single day!

    1. 1

      I'm tend to be too hard on myself, good catch - thank you.

      1. 2

        A few suggestions:

        1. Put contact methods in your profile, both public and private.

        2. Create a new post on IH to ask for critiques of your landing page.

        I'll get the ball rolling with these comments about your landing page:

        a) Your subhead is missing a verb. -> Loss of trust.

        b) Your most powerful copy is in the footer! -> "powerful and comprehensive commission and management tools to bring excitement to your team and increase sales for your agency"

        c) Design: The gray background is not doing you any favors. Neither is the font for the main heading. Switch to the standard minimalist white background because it will look a lot more professional than the current version. You can google for landing page designs. Here's one that has a ton of good stuff going for it: https://count.ly If you need more inspiration: http://bestproductpages.com/ and https://blog.chartmogul.com/saas-landing-pages-2017-analysis/

        d) Top right corner should be "sign up" not "sign in".

        e) Website looks pretty nice but the pricing table looks ugly. And the button looks exactly like the header.

        f) "Agents signing up in May get 2 months free!" just sounds weird. I've never seen that on any SaaS. I have seen "use the yearly plans to get 2 months off". Your unusual concept switched my mindset from me casually being led by your copy and ideas, to being analytical and apprehensive of you. My thoughts: "Something's unusual here. What's the catch? Why the artificial urgency?"

        g) The "start free trial" button on the top of your main page should take me to a signup form, not a pricing page. You can ask me to pick a plan later, during the trial or once it expires. Minimize the barriers to entry. Back to countly.com as an example, notice how they take it one step further and put an optional email box on the front page next to the trial button. If someone types an email and goes to the signup page but doesn't create the account, I'd be willing to bet they reach out to that email address. It doesn't even validate the format! Just gently moves you to the signup page.

        h) "NEXT 6 AGENTS GET $50/MONTH FOR 2018!" Not sure what this means. Is that the final price? Is that a discount? In any case, it sounds desperate. I'd remove this unusual attempt at creating urgency.

        i) If you don't already, you should use a tool to record what your visitors are doing on your page. Watch each one for how they scroll and what they click. You'll be able to spot confusion and inconsistent story flow. Segment.com lists plenty of these tools. For example: HotJar and MouseFlow.

        1. 1

          This was so incredibly helpful.

          a. Fixed

          b. Moved a version of that into the header

          c. Remove the gray in place of a white

          d. That is actually the sign in for existing users

          e. Updated the look a bit, not a colors guy, can't spend too much time. (Was already updating to include yearly)

          f. Removed

          g. Replicated, very nice!

          h. Removed

          i. I'll be adding this is the next version

          Thank you so much, this was a great help!

          1. 1

            Glad to hear!

            I didn't explain item (d) enough. Most sites use a noticeable sign-up button in the top right and to the left of it is a much less noticeable link to log in. Most web users expect such a format. If they've signed up and are using your site, they know where to find the log-in link, so you don't want that distracting your first-time visitors. The first-time visitors need to notice the big bold sign-up button!

            i) I wouldn't put this off. All these tools are free and easy to implement. You can add Segment.com with one line of code (in WordPress, you'd have some sort of plugin to do it for you). Create accounts on MouseFlow and HotJar for free. Take the api keys and plug them into the super-simple configuration screens on Segment.com.

  5. 1

    Wow bravo so far man. As someone who has been flirting with the idea of quitting to go full time on a start-up you are certainly an inspiration to me.

    Your insights on how your discipline waned are also incredibly valuable since I am in a "grass is greener" kind of state.

    I know you aren't asking for help, I am on the founding team of a startup you might find useful. It forces accountability via a social contract to help you show up for and commit time to your business.

    Link is https://www.focusmate.com/ if you are interested.

    Would love to hear what you think about it and whether our message is clear. Thanks again for the inspiration, congrats on the first customer, and keep it up!

  6. 1

    It is so easy for me to get up at anytime when I 'have to be somewhere'. However, I mostly work from home, and when I don't have anywhere to be it's almost impossible to start the day early. Congrats on your first paying customer!

  7. 1

    Congrats for your first paying customer, and even more for being able to keep up working on your project for all this time...

    Anyway I'm not completely sold on the idea of punishing myself for poor performance...

    When you work on something you're passionate about, and are motivated, poor performing days might happen, but are not caused by lazyness.

  8. 1

    Congratulations on that first milestone. It meant the world to us as well when we got our first and only client at FakeJSON for now.

    Keep up the work!

  9. 1

    Congrats on the first revenue. I know what you mean about discipline and routine. I'm trying a bunch of things now to figure out how to get that productivity back up. DI.fm has been good for helping me focus and rescuetime has been good to keep me accountable.

    Still a struggle though.