Life's a never-ending roller coaster ride.
At the end of 2016, I left a 'normal' job to start my own consulting practice and to provide myself time to build out a product idea. And, maybe secretly, to take a break from the industry. I was a bit burnt out.
It was a combination of working in software consulting and often being one of two developers (or the only developer) on my team. I often felt I was scrambling to learn new technologies every month. On one project, my team of 3 had 2 months to produce a "production" ready platform from scratch, using a tech stack I had never used (RoR, Angular, Docker, Node/Sails.js, RDF Stores - a different kind of database). We somehow pulled it off, but I knew I never wanted to repeat that experience again. I had gotten used to 'learning fast', and I considered myself a quick learner, but it was tiring. Though it still continues in this industry.
2017 was a mixed year. I worked some, and I learned some. I took some time to learn more about starting a startup by attending MIT's Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. I had an idea brewing since 2013 or so and I wanted to see what I could do with it.
Starting a business was its own challenge, and without the right support network, it was hard. I moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family. I had been away for nearly a decade, and it was good to be home. I'm very lucky to have a family that's been supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
2018 was a strange year. Lots of false leads, lots of wasted time on opportunities that didn't work out. If I had known, I wouldn't have wasted that time and spent more time on my product. Lessons learned, you could say.
I also never thought about the cost of moving. Starting over in a new city with no professional network was challenging. It was like starting over.
This year, I learned the importance of time and outcomes. Self-employment is tricky. Sourcing work takes time, but sometimes the time cost is not worth the outcome. I also set aside time this year to learn more about the business side of things by pursuing an Executive MBA.
In 2019, I received an opportunity to join a startup and to help bring them to the next stage of development. It was challenging in many different ways. I was able to leverage my newly acquired business knowledge as well as my technical background. I enjoyed this jack-of-all-trades role.
I learned a lot last year, and I'm quite grateful for the opportunity. I also learned several key ingredients for a successful startup, and one was missing.
It's not clear yet what 2020 will bring. I do know that for the near future, I intend to do what I originally set off to do - work on my product to help writers. Writing has always been a hobby of mine. I'll try my best not to get distracted again, a hard lesson learned through the years. It's been difficult to balance a zero-revenue product vs. income when working independently. I'm still fine-tuning that balance.
But now, I care more about leadership and management. I'm interested in the business processes and understanding how that translates into development processes and ultimately work culture. I'm interested in discovering ways to make developers' lives better, but not necessarily through coding or technology, though not exclusive of those options either.
I'm not sure what kind of role that may be, so I'll end this with an ask: if you know of a role that matches that description, please comment with the job title.