Much time this week went into the business plan for Freistil-Consulting. When I tweeted about it, @jkleske promptly teased me: "business plan? haven't you read Rework yet? ;-)" What he meant was that, according to 37Signals' latest business book, "planning is guessing". And the numbers I use in the business plan actually are vague projections for the next three years. But first: I do have to present a business plan with a long term financial perspective to get state subsidies. And, more important: By replacing those guesses with the actual numbers, I'll get my first financial controlling instrument for the company. And boy, do I wish I had such a thing while running my previous businesses!
BTW, Johannes, I started reading "Rework" this morning. And I look forward to reading your very own weeknotes!
I'm having fun playing with all those open source solutions that enable us to run an IT infrastructure business. There's Chef for automation, GlusterFS for data replication, JailKit for securing customer access, and so much more. I really enjoy learning to use (utilize, even!) those tools for the lean operation of our IT.
Already after some hours of Chef hacking, I'm able to have a Drupal server running in under 5 minutes, from launching the EC2 instance over installing the necessary packages and configuring user access to starting all the services. Thank you, Opscode!
Technology and passion. Story of my life.
This morning, I worked on the business plan for my new business, doing a SWOT analysis. One aspect in assessing strengths and weaknesses of a new business is its location. But if you're offering your products and services over the Internet, location doesn't matter much to your clients. It may still matter to your employees in terms of moving house or commuting. That is, if you're not building the company in a distributed manner.
So just when I was pondering this aspect, I got a link via @jkleske that fitted perfectly. In his blog, Toni Schneider from Automattic (of WordPress fame) lists "5 reasons why your company should be distributed":
- Your employees will love it
- You can hire great people wherever you find them
- You will use better communication tools
- You can still be social
- Your offices will be more fun
Go read the article for his explanations, and read the comments as well.
I'm convinced that building myself a distributed company is the way to go. On the technical level, the Internet and especially Cloud Computing prove that virtual, distributed systems are superior to monolithic ones. It doesn't matter any more where a server is located if it's well connected, so you can choose simply by price and performance.
Since my company will take advantage of those principles, it's only consequent to apply them to the company itself, isn't it?
Perl online training, open source development
At the beginning of the week, I decided to offer our "Perl Meisterkurs" online seminar from now on in regular intervals. I planned three courses for April, July and October, created their registration pages, and sent informational posts to several blogs and social networks. Training is the most intensive and time-consuming work I do currently, but it helps getting in some cash that will be needed when we have to expand our IT infrastructure.
Side note: Maybe it was organizing a Perl online training that triggered some
sleeping Perl development enzymes in me. On Tuesday, I picked up my old
a Perl Module I published as free software many years ago. I fixed a few bugs
and finally implemented suggestions I got back in 2008 for improving
the documentation. Because I now use Bazaar as my version control
software, I moved the project from BerliOS to
Launchpad where I'll hopefully maintain it a
bit better now.
On Saturday, we got the finished design for our new Drupal hosting website. We're now working on the site content to get it online ASAP.
Now that first business contacts are forming, telephone communication becomes very important. I tested and chose Sipgate Team as our virtual PBX system. We got a set of phone numbers that we're able to distribute among our VOIP accounts by single user or by team. Voicemail is integrated and delivers incoming messages via email; new message notifications are sent as SMS. The system is easy to configure and has a good cost structure.
Carolin and Amalia will return home next Wednesday, so the days of my all-day quiet home office are coming to an end. It's a real challenge to balance work and family life if both happen at the same place, but to me it's a challenge worth taking on.