So, I’ve always been interested in actually making a living messing around with websites. I started playing WoW, which lead me to start really getting into the web, which lead me to starting to playing around with making websites. I’d be up all hours of the night making websites, scanning the forums for new Wow Druid tips…all that good stuff. I started to think, “Hey, I get a kick out of this stuff. Maybe I should see if i can actually make a living doing it.” Well, as it happens, an opportunity presented itself.
A good buddy of mine stops by one day a few months back and says, “Hey, you know that thing I’ve been working at? Well, we need help. Like now.” That “thing” he was talking about was a startup software and design company in the business of making web app’s. I thought “Hell yes!” I’m not all that bright and really not all that good at designing websites, running a business…or anything really now that I think about it…so I figured…”right place – right time” and off I went.
The whole start-up thing had been a pocket dream of mine. The kind of thing where you work your ass off, make something out of nothing, beat the odds, muscle your way into a market and, well, make it happen. I’ve never been really all that good about working for someone else (although even in a very small startup I am, in fact, working for someone else) and thought this would be a fantastic run.
As they say, be careful what you wish for. It ain’t an easy road at all (overall it’s great, really…I just feel like bitching). Very quickly a few things became readily apparent:
1) The coffee sucks. Well not the coffee itself, really. But the coffee maker is of the $9.99 variety…the kind that chugs and gasps and takes roughly 21 minutes to brew a 12 cup pot. And, as I’ve also learned, coffee is critically important. For a handful of guys we go through an astounding amount of coffee and cream. Important Lesson Number 1 - never run out of coffee.
2) There are no real hours of operation…meaning that when you are awake you are, in effect, working. I had expected this and even looked forward to it to some degree. Getting into the office at 6:30 or 7am and working to 6:30 or 7pm really is not all that bad. In fact, there is so much going on and so much to do that there are literally not enough hours in the day. It’s the IM’s, Skype calls, cell calls, Tweets and emails until11pm that start to wear. Running 4 or 5 weeks at this pace makes coffee critical (see point number 1). Important Lesson Number 2 – Sometimes it’s really important to not open your laptop at night.
3) There is no room. Extra space costs money so, well, there is not a lto of extra space. A medium sized room with a table. Chairs, a mini-fridge, the gasping coffee maker, two windows and a tiny trash can. Going “out” to lunch means one guy heading across the street to bring a bag of burgers back to eat over keyboards.
Put programmers, a part time book keeper / server tech / phone answerer / IT support person, three sales reps running in and out, the daily customer or two who wander in looking for support or to grab a cup of our crappy coffee, and the occasional odd friend in need of help with their computer /email/software/ and it gets a bit cramped.
Throw in about 11 coffee cups containing varying amounts of coffee of indeterminate age (some with that nice cream scum starting to form), 5+ laptops with cords and accompanying mouses, external drives, secondary monitors, folders, CD’s, iPods, coke cans, packs of smokes, gum, lighters, Post-it Notes, message pads, notepads, pens (95% of which have been out of ink for over a week and just keep getting passed around) and sprinkle the whole thing with a liberal smattering of jump drives containing God knows what data. It’s…well…cramped. Important Lesson Number 3 – Carve out a small space for yourself and viciously defend it.