Business 101: On Time Management & Productivity

Late night hobby session


I feel that there is a lot written on these two subjects. Too much in fact. While I like to believe I could write a book’s worth of information, I think that’s overkill. Instead, I decided to write for those that wish to do what I am doing and to you, this post is dedicated. What I have laid out ahead is a collection of ideas, tools and quotes that have helped me to manage my time and be productive. I hope you can pull something out that will help you on your journey. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to throw them in the comments section.

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Business 101: On Failing

Sometimes things don’t quite work out.

Back in June of 2013, I set out on a two year long journey to Panama to serve with the United States Peace Corps. Two years later I returned home, feeling like a failure for having not achieved much of anything. For almost a year after, I contemplated this fact and one day it dawned on me, there are actually two types of failure. Of course, there’s the failure I’m so very familiar with, of being lazy and not putting in my best effort. I believe that we are all accustomed to this type of failure, which I’ll refer to as lazy failure. Thinking as I write this, up until I was 21 or so, lazy failure was the only type of failure I knew. It wasn’t until I realized that this was unacceptable that I began to encounter the second type of failure, successful failures – of trying my hardest, but in the end, not succeeding. The transition was subtle and I continued to look down upon myself for failing, not realizing however, that I was having more and more successful failures.

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Business 101: Bootstrapping an Education

While serving with the Peace Corps, I decided that my next step in life would be grad school where I would either focus on engineering, design, or business. I researched schools and spent almost four months studying for the GMAT’s.

One day it dawned on me that I wasn’t quite prepared to make the $100,000 financial commitment.  I made that decision almost two years ago and I am grateful that I did.  In that time, through personal study, I acquired a foundational knowledge of all three subjects and then some. I learned to code, design and build electronics, 3D print, laser cut, build websites (this one included), photograph products, create a video, run a Kicsktarter campaign, and start an online store. Of course along the way, I failed – often and epically, but that’s a post for another day.

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Business 101: What I learned from Failing with Kickstarter

canceledAt the beginning of this journey, I had no idea what I was doing with my first Kickstarter project. I created an account, started a project, and set about filling out all the required fields with text, photos, mock-up images, a video, a proposed budget, and hit submit. In the end, I canceled the project after two weeks, having received only 15% of my desired funding of $1,500. I headed back to the drawing board, made some edits, and tried again. The second time around, I reached 100% funding in less than 24 hours and 500% overall. Here are a collection of the things I learned along the way that might help you out in your own journey. If you have any questions, please throw them in the comments section at the bottom of the page and I’ll respond when I can.

Read the Basics first

Don’t read this article alone and then decide you’re ready to jump right in. There’s lots of additional resources out there and things to consider. I suggest starting here.

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Business 101: Painless Prototyping as an Educational Opportunity

From its inception, Painless Prototyping has been one big educational experience. It all began when I decided I wanted to learn about building circuit boards. In the process, I stumbled upon a solution to an issue I had when prototyping electronics and decided to share my idea with the maker community and thus, Painless Prototyping was born.

I’ve come into this adventure with experience in web design, photography, and creating basic electrical circuits. On the other hand, I’ve had to figure out Kickstarter, advertising, social media, video making/editing and circuit board design on my own. There are countless challenges ahead but that doesn’t scare me and I’m guessing if you’re reading this, it doesn’t scare you either.

Going forward, I plan to dedicate blog posts to various topics I’ve already learned about including:

  • What I learned from Kickstarter
  • How to Build Circuit Boards
  • Website Design
  • Social Media
  • Product Photography
  • Advertising
  • Video Making/Editing

And topics I’ve yet to touch (in no particular order):

  • Customer Service
  • Warranties
  • Taxes

Fully Funded!

Thanks so much to everyone who helped out! I just ordered components and boards for hopefully one more round of testing before shipping out the first round of rewards.

Serial.println(“Hello World”)

Yesterday, while brainstorming company names, Painless Prototyping popped into my mind. The domain was available and on an impulse buy today, I purchased it. I’ve also acquired Gmail, Tindie, Instagram, and GitHub accounts with the same name. I’ve spent the afternoon setting up the website. Now to wait for the Button Board V1.0 to arrive in the mail from China to begin testing, photographing, and writing tutorials.