How to Make a Million Dollars in Software
by Al Harberg
Instead of working 10 hours a day, work 16 hours a day. Work holidays and weekends. Eliminate distractions like friends, family, eating a balanced diet, exercise, and relaxation. You'll be sick and lonely. And rich.
Twelve and a half years ago, my wife and I went full-time. We made the move from a corporation that had 42,000 employees to one that has two. We moved from a corporate complex that had 4,000 people in our building to one that has two. We were fortunate to be able to put a lot of things in perspective at the outset, and to learn a few more things along the way. Here are some of them:
- Put your business in perspective. It's only a small part of your life. When you're working on your business, you should take it seriously and work as hard as you can on it. You'll have to work long hours when you first begin, and when you make the transition from part-time to full-time. But take some time every week to remind yourself of the other, more important facets of your life. When you retire, you're not going to look back on your life and say, "If only I had worked more evenings and weekends, I could have been listed on more download sites."
- Eliminate busy work. Keeping busy is not the same as being productive. You really don't have to check the search engines every week for crack sites that offer your software. You really don't have to answer every posting on the ESC newsgroup. You don't have to check every website that your friends suggest you look at. Spend your time on the things that you consciously decide are worthwhile. Don't let other people set your priorities.
- Train your friends. Friends and relatives think that, because you work out of your home, you don't really work. They're wrong. Let them know politely that you have self-imposed goals and deadlines, and that you can't take afternoons off every other day.
- Make your office a pleasant place to work. Move out of the basement or garage. Buy a real desk and a real chair. Furnish your office with a range of television, radio, video, audio, and other electronic entertainment. Decorate to your taste, not to other peoples'.
- Find creative ways to burn calories. Arrange the objects in your life for minimum efficiency. Move snack foods some place where you'll have trouble finding them. Keep the things you need every day on another floor so you'll be forced to take breaks and get some aerobic exercise. Every time you need to walk a flight of stairs, walk it twice.
- Take control of your electro-mechanical devices. Unless you really (and I mean really) have to be available for telephone support during normal business hours (whatever that means), practice throwing your alarm clock out the window until it no longer functions.
- Tune in to your moods. When you're brain-dead, don't veg out on television. Use the time to do filing, answering routine correspondence and doing the things that have to get done, but require little brainpower. When your mind is whirring and your creative juices are flowing, focus on tasks that require creativity. Design a new program or write an article for the ASP newsletter. Since you set priorities, and since all of your deadlines are self-imposed, you can suit your tasks to your moods. Don't let other people tell you that you're working too many hours or too few hours or, more commonly, that you're working the "wrong" hours.
- Schedule and complete the tasks that are unpleasant. The only part of running a mom-n-pop corporation that I dislike is counting the beans. But there are month-end, quarter-end and year-end tasks that have to be completed. Do them on the last day of the month. Don't put them off; put these tasks behind you so you can concentrate on the important ones. Personally, I wish I could procrastinate more, but I never seem to get around to it.
- Multi-task. Your local libraries have hundreds of audio books. They run the gamut from bestsellers to classics to business-oriented treasures. You can find 6-hour audio cassette programs on negotiation skills, communication skills, planning skills, marketing techniques, and practically every facet of running a business. If you're driving and not learning, then you're throwing away part of your life. While you're visiting the libraries, ask them if they'd like to make your software available to their visitors.
- Feel good about yourself and your work. Hang out with people who are positive. It takes no more effort to be positive and upbeat than it does to be dour and down in the dumps. Run with people who have creative ideas and pick their brains. Trade ideas and feedback.
Being a software author is a wonderful career. Focus on building dynamite programs, marketing them effectively, and having fun!
About the Author: Since 1984, Al Harberg has been helping software authors bring their programs to market through his marketing firm, DP Directory.