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Talking about my websites @ The Skiff in Brighton and a reflection on working for The Man

28. July 2009 by Dave Hawes 2 Comments

It was 2 weeks ago now but I had the privilege of giving a 20 minute talk at the £5 App event in Brighton.

My slide deck of the talk will be at the bottom of this post for download if anyone is interested. The event was recorded by Ian Ozsvald and posted on his blog as well as the £5 App website.

I talked about quitting my job and hiring a small team to help develop the websites I had created into something with more quality and could be a commercial success. I wish I had had a little more time as I didn’t get do demo any of the functionality but it was great to be able to talk about them! The websites are http://www.skillbook.co.uk http://www.safetytrainingnetwork.co.uk and http://www.trainingcoursebooker.com .

On reflection there was one point which I wish I had made. I have spent most of my career working for large companies which we can call ‘The Man’ and at the talk I was congratulated for ditching ‘The Man’ and doing my own thing. However this implies that working for ‘The Man’ is a bad thing and this is where I wish I had made the following point.

In my opinion getting experience working for ‘The Man’ is a very valuable as long as you use it in the right way. There is no doubt that the companies I have worked for have exploited my skills to make them money, however I have learnt a lot about how things should be done and taken advantage of the opportunities they had to offer. I have been sent on lots of training, worked with very experience people, worked on large projects, given teams of people to run, worked with new technologies, been show technical best practice and this is only on the professional side of things. Don’t forget that you can earn a very good salary from The Man and have added benefits such as pensions and health insurance, these are all things that I have had to give up to follow my dream. My main bit of advice is to update your CV every year when working for The Man, if you find you have nothing to add to it one year then it is time to move on or up, don’t get stuck in a rut.

So here I am now after spending all the money I had and borrowing as much as I can to finance my websites. They have just started to generate a trickle of income which seems to be building week on week and I am wondering what options I have in front of me to keep my dream going, as I think I just need more time for things to pick up now. I have looked at grants but this doesn’t seem possible, I have spoken to Business Link who were as helpful as a chocolate teapot, I have spoken to the bank who will want the rest of the equity in my house and proof my website can make money, I’ve maxed out the overdraft at the bank of Mum and Dad, do I start looking for an Angel investor – quiet possibly – but do I need to give away equity at this stage? Get rid of my team? NO NO NO – I have a great team and they have to stay and work on the sites. The solution I have come up with is to go back to ‘The Man’ as a contractor. This time it is a large utility company, the pay is good and should cover the salaries of the rest of the team while the contract lasts and in a few months I am expecting the trickle of income to have swelled to a decent stream or perhaps a river, if it hasn’t then perhaps another avenue will be pursued.

My point here is that having had experience in the past working for ‘The Man’ has given me options now to find a new job for ‘The Man’ in the middle of the recession to continue financing my project. You can only get these jobs if you have the right experience so working for ‘The Man’ is not always a bad thing – just always try your hardest, don’t get too comfortable and become stuck in a rut!

£5 App #18 - David Hawes on Safety Training Network from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.


My slide deck (very basic I’m afraid!!)


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Talking about my websites @ The Skiff in Brighton and a reflection on working for The Man

United Kingdom davehawes said:

I thought I would comment about my feelings now, 6 months after writing this article. I plan to write a longer article in the coming weeks. What's new then? Well my son is 7 months old, there is still only a trickle of income from my booking sites, I've had to let my team go and the reality is my professional outlook and priorities have changed.

Building a technically great website is only a very small part of building a successful online business, the business side of things is hard to get right, very hard.

So I got my websites in a state where they can run themselves and I am going back to 'The Man' indefinately to do what I am good at and enjoy (building software) with a renewed appreciation of what everyone contributes to the business.

I think it boils down to the fact that I have now learnt to be content with my lot and am looking forward to being able to provide for my family and enjoy life. I'll probably try again one day, but not for a while!

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