Small Business Spotlight of the Week: 30GO30

I have the pleasure of moving on June 1st.  I also happen to be a horrible procrastinator.  Granted, I always manage to pull things off and have them done well, but there have been a few occasions I’ve wondered why I do this to myself.  Such is the case with my packing situation. Or, rather, lack of packing situation.

Recognizing how common this kind of pattern is,  Dr. Pete of 30GO30 decided he wanted to launch the site after turning 40 and reflecting on the long list of things he just hadn’t managed to make time for.  As a Ph.D in Cognitive Psychology, he understood what it took to get people motivated.  So, he came up with a simple challenge: work on one thing 30 minutes a day, for 30 days.  The catch is, it has to be something you’ve been meaning to work on for awhile. The website and blog chronicles his own struggles, as well as provides support for those accepting the challenge.

After using the method this weekend to tackle my packing debacle, I might be a bit of a convert. I even got my room mate involved and we’re pretty pleased with the dent we made. Now we just need a strategy on how to get rid of junk that we’ve overly-sentimentalized.

Dr. Pete answered a few questions:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

To be honest, I think grandmothers might get my core concept better than the rest of us. We’ve become so enamored with technology and shortcuts that we’ve forgotten the value of plain, old-fashioned elbow grease. Some things take time and commitment, and there’s NOT an app for that. My blog is about tough love, which I think many grandmas do very well.

What are some specific challenges you faced/are facing?

My first boss built our company out of pocket, and I’ve always admired the pay-as-you-go mentality. I’m not afraid to spend money when I need to or to pay for quality, but 30GO30 was a project where I wanted to support it out of pocket and build it organically as much as possible. Naturally, that means carefully choosing what I spend real money on.

What made you use crowdSPRING?

I’ve had good experiences with using crowdsourcing for logos. I’ve done enough design work to be dangerous, and I find that logos and branding are such a personal and subjective thing. So, I love the idea of seeing a lot of options and getting to pick who best fits my own vision. I used crowdSPRING for the 30GO30 logo design last year and loved the result, so when I decided my first crack at the site design just wasn’t cutting it, I thought it was time to give cS a shot at a bigger project.

What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

I’ve been writing code since I was 9 years old, and I’ve worn virtually every hat in the web business, from design to SEO to management. I value that experience, but I also have a bad habit of trying to do everything myself. I’ve had to learn how to get out of my own way and how to delegate. I think it really sunk in when I was VP of my old company and spent an hour driving to Costco to buy toilet paper. I was driving back to the office, when it really hit me what a huge waste that was, for myself AND the company. It’s not that I was too good to do that (I never thought I was better than my employees), but I was too valuable, in real dollars.

What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?

Before the dot-com bust, someone showed up at our office to pitch an idea. Since our office looked like an abandoned factory, that was pretty rare, so we figured we’d listen. It turned out that this guy had a brilliant and original idea – online porn (this circa 2000, so hardly a revelation). We listened to the usual vague pitch, but then came the clincher. Not only would we be building and hosting the site (for “equity”, of course), but before he left he asked “Oh, and can you guys provide the pictures?”

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

I’d stop second-guessing myself so much, and just put things into motion. It’s not just a matter of “failing faster” (although I think there’s something to that philosophy). It’s that the cost of going the wrong direction, in time and money, is usually a fraction of the cost of sitting on your hands paralyzed by the options. You have to act, and you’re going to screw it up. It’s great to have vision, but there’s no room for perfectionism in the early stages of a start-up.

How do you see your company growing in the future?

It’s always tough to envision how a personal project will go commercial – for now, I’m focused on building a solid core of people who really get the 30GO30 philosophy. It’s not about extreme challenges and bragging about what I’ve done – I want people to participate, grow, and share their stories. I’ll be launching my first e-book soon – “The 30 Day Budget” – but it’s completely free. Down the road, I’d like to bring on like-minded writers, and I’m exploring tools that would help support the 30-day challenge concept.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about what you do?

To echo the title of my very first post, I am not a guru. I don’t think I was born an entrepreneur, and I don’t think I’m unique. I often see people where I was, situationally and emotionally, 10-15 years ago, and I want to show them that there’s a path to where they want to be. It’s not a secret, and it’s not in a $15,000 retreat in the mountains – they’ve just got to get started.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own venture.

“Dear sweet Jesus, don’t do it!!” Just kidding – how about “Choose the reality, not the fantasy.” Too many people become entrepreneurs for the pipe dream of it – being your own boss, living the good life, and working 4-hour weeks sipping margaritas. The reality is 50+ hour weeks, months or years with little or no income, having to do your own sales (and everything else), no benefits, and a lot of pain and doubt. I’d do it all over again, but you’ve got to do it with your eyes wide open.

30G030’s call for a web design overhaul received 35 entries and was awarded to DigitalVei.