The economy, the opportunity, the responsibility

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 27, 2008, 8:52 PM | comments: 0

As much as I think Jason Calacanis might be completely full of shit (perhaps it's his annoying Brooklyn accent), I can't deny that he says a lot of very smart things. So I subscribe to his e-mail, which annoyingly he won't allow anyone to publish, and he doesn't blog it. That's one of the dumber things he does.

But the message he sent out today really stuck with me. In a nutshell, he said things are going to get even shittier, people will spend less money, whether that's rational or not (even "rich" people), lots of businesses will fail and it's hard to say where the bottom will be. He also said that it's one of the greatest opportunities to start something new, even if you have to lose a lot of money do it, because there will be less competition. And with unemployment likely to rise, more people will be spending more time doing "leisure activities" like screwing around online.

Really thinking about what he said in that message scared the hell out of me, inspired me, frustrated me, lifted me up, and scared the hell out of me some more.

I have three ideas. Actually, one of them is a "co-idea" for a project that a lot of people already know about. The other two involve another content/community idea and an outright online app. In a world without fear, I'd be starving the next three or four months building out those ideas, damn the consequences. In reality, I don't have the balls to pursue them. Or more to the point, I can't ignore the very real fiscal responsibilities I have for the next six months. (I'd spell them out, but doing so makes Diana feel guilty as if she caused them, which is totally not the case... it's just sub-optimal timing.)

The funny thing about starting up a new business of any kind is that it takes a lot of work. Even in the Internet world, where you don't need an office or physical goods, you still need time. Time is not as free as you'd like, and it continues to be the constraint that I struggle with.

So here's what I'm going to try and do while balancing the responsibilities that I have. Project 1 should be a slam dunk to get off the ground once I finish up some of the stuff I've recently talked about. Project 2 is a lot of work, in part because it's not well defined. Project 3 could potentially be something I could crank out in a couple of weekends. Given the scope of each opportunity, I have to prioritize their potential for return on investment, the investment being my time. Project 1 will get dibs.

I have to set real goals. Project 1 has to be real by the end of the year. That's only the start though, because it'll take a great deal of promotion and work to get it off the ground. The other two it just depends based on how they are defined, but just getting them to that definition, to me, is progress. I'd like to also have the definition phase done by the end of the year.

The mental challenge for me (and God knows I can be mentally challenged!) is to not be brought down by the weather, the day job and the constant fear that I'm not banking enough for the best honeymoon ever made. Oh, and I need to plan that trip. I'm slacking.

I've been thinking a lot about this week back in 2001, which felt very similar. I was laid-off for real for the first time (the real first time was from radio, and I was living at home, so it doesn't count), and I felt pretty horrible about myself, my profession and the world at large. But when I really dial back the sense of doom back then, I realize that it was the genesis of my current earning ability and career level: It was the time just before .NET was launched. It's time to plant the seed for the next big thing in my career.


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