MicroConf 2014 just finished up, and as I’m getting ready to fly back home this morning, I am taking the advice of Rob and Mike, and recording 3 actionable takeaways that I can apply to my self-funded business, DonorElf.
The first takeaway is to teach everything I know. Nathan Barry hit on this topic the second day in his presentation. I’ve known for a long time that people who teach online have grown huge audiences and as a result, have been able to sell more of their products. And I have had a desire to start teaching more through blogs and giving presentations, but I really don’t enjoy the actual process of writing blog posts or preparing to give a presentation. Teaching has kind of been like eating brussels sprouts for me. I know it’s good for me, but I don’t it. I know teaching will be a great benefit for me, but I don’t like putting the time in to teach. One reason I don’t enjoy the process is because I’m slow at it. I’m a really fast developer and it doesn’t take me long to crank out some code. But writing a blog posts takes a long time, and I often get stuck in what I should say. Or I write an outline of what I want to say, but then it’s difficult for me to expand on the points. Anyways, I’m going to start sucking it up and eating my brussels sprouts because I know it’s good for me and in the long run I know I will start enjoying it.
The second takeaway is to find my product’s message, or unique selling proposition (USP). Jesse Mecham spoke to this in his presentation where he shared how his product, YNAB, has grown through the years. YNAB is budgeting software for individuals, and there’s a lot of competition in that marketplace. When Jesse found the message for YNAB and started teaching it, his sales started to take off. And the message was simple: give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, live on last month’s income. The message became the top priority. The software was second to the message. But as people came to understand the message, they naturally wanted to buy the software. I know there is ample opportunity for me to find DonorElf’s message.
And the third takeaway is to embrace the importance of rest. Both Sherry Walling and Mike Tabor hit on this in their presentations. I’ve been working on DonorElf for 3 1/2 years on the side of a full time job and having a wife and 2 kids. Itt can get exhausting, and I have been burnt out many times. I have known the importance of rest, but sometimes I get frustrated when I rest because that means stuff isn’t getting done with DonorElf. But Sherry mentioned that many founders have ‘collateral damage’ in their lives with strained relationships with their spouse and friends. And the last thing I want to do is be an absent spouse and father to my wife and kids. They are the reason I’m doing what I’m doing, and I have failed if I become a workaholic and not present in their lives. So I’m not going to feel bad or frustrated when I do take a timeout and rest.
This was my first year of attending MicroConf, and I would recommend it as the most important conference to attend for any self-funded company. The presentations were amazing and I came away over 30 pages of notes with great ideas on how I can improve DonorElf. But the most important takeaway I got out of MicroConf was the new relationships I built with the other attendees. It was great hearing other’s stories, and I look forward to staying in touch with them. And I’m definitely looking forward to coming back next year.