Open For Business: Getting Started on the AppExchange
As alluded to in my last post of 2012, and further detailed in my previous post, this year started off with myself and Kris Moyse (@MoysieK—one of the best consultants and idea-heads around) forming the S. P. Keasey Trading Co., and as the name is intended to imply, our intention is to have some fun and break away from the traditional idea of a 'professional' business.
We're embracing the cloud so that we can be productive wherever we might be, sure we both have desks to use because having a big monitor is always nice, but if we want to work on a plane, in a cafe, at a bar or even on the bus en-route to a day of snowboarding we can. And we do.
Our motto is "Get It Done", and that encapsulates more than you might initially consider. For example, people seem to love meetings: they seem to be a great way to tie up a whole bunch of people for a few hours under the pretense that it's useful, but how much work gets done at the end of it? Chances are the outcome of a meeting is one or a couple of decisions, but using the right communication tools those choices could have been made asynchronously, while other work was still carried out.
"If it can’t fit on the back of an envelope, it’s rubbish" - Richard Branson
Richard Branson has been something of an inspiration for us, and we took a lot away from the stories and ideas he discussed at Dreamforce X as well as the articles he writes online; we have even taken his envelope idea and (debatably) developed it a little further. We have our own beer coasters which are plain on the back because everybody knows (whoever everybody is) that the best ideas are often conceived in the pub.
Why not work here?
So far in our short existence we've released two applications, built two more (soon to be released in collaboration with a partner, Train the Crowd, and have three projects being actively worked on. Over the same period we built a website powered by our Salesforce org, filled in a lot of paperwork involved with starting businesses, setting up bank accounts with merchant services and the like and still found plenty of time for networking, both online and in the real world. This has only been possible because we're leveraging the benefits of the force.com platform as fully as we can, and I as I discussed in my last post, if you're sticking to a traditional business model then you can't utilise such benefits to maximum effect.
Our 'documents' for the applications we've built consist of a handful of emails in their entirety, plus a few beer coasters. Our amazing artwork and video (another to come soon) has been created by @elroyonline, with the only meetings being two chats over beers and a quick Skype call with breakfast one morning while Kris and I were both in the same place. Get it done, don't over complicate things simply because that is what tradition has imposed.
Our application Drop My Dossier is one attempt to help others reduce their workload by removing redundant tasks. Many Salesforce.com consultants will be used to documenting the solution they intend to build, and at the behest of clients those documents will often include details of the data model to be built and some assumptions around what will work for a particular business case. Why document your assumptions when you can test them? Why document objects and fields when you can build them faster?
The concept is this: build a prototype and test assumptions, and then when you're done let the system document what you've built. Computers were created to perform repetitive tasks and can do so considerably faster than we can, so why do we insist on using them as tools in manual processes which could simple be automatic? Get it done by getting the most out of the tools you use.
2013 So Far
The ride so far has definitely been a roller coaster, with more ups and downs that we could have anticipated in such a short period, and the interesting thing is that most of the downs have come from dealing with those using slow, cumbersome and bureaucratic systems, whether they're electronic or processes put in place.
One bank in particular took four weeks, many phone calls and considerable paperwork only to turn us down for a merchant account because we are a start up. It appears they couldn't reach that conclusion quickly because the department making the decision was removed from the front line by a couple of layers, and procedures meant they needed everything before they could act upon our application. Once we were finally rejected, I tweeted about it. The tweet was subsequently picked up by Salesforce and within three days we'd been registered and setup for merchant services without us doing anything. That is the difference between those who leverage new technology and those who do not; between those who update their processes, practices and their thinking, and those who do not.
Don't Squander a Good Idea
Of those using and embracing these new platforms there are a good number of people who are considered experts in their field, and I'm sure a number of those are sitting on an idea for a killer business application that's begging to be created. Get it done. Build it. Release it. If you don't even know where to start then talk to us and we'll work together to help make it happen, because an ingenious idea left to rot is sad thing indeed.
I can confidently say that the ride is only going to get more wild from here on in, and we've definitely not hit the first loop yet but I'm looking forward with no trepidation whatsoever; it's going to be an unforgettable experience and so far I've enjoyed every moment of it. Maybe we're barking up the wrong tree, or maybe our faith in being different is well placed, what do you think?