A good day to build

Consciously or not, most of the content from entrepreneurs you’ll see is, in some form or another, polished:

  • A book co-written by a ghostwriter/editor
  • A prepared presentation delivered via keynote speech
  • Threads and posts written in retrospect

It’s been on my mind for a while now – there’s not much online about what I do, how I do it, or just how messy it can look from the inside. So, if you’ll bear with me for a moment, I’d like to tell you about Tuesday 16 November 2021 – as many of the things that are currently in-flight that I can publicly talk about.

Generally speaking I break my working life down into three spheres, helpfully abstracted as businesses:

  • Amberstone Digital
  • BankerX
  • Protocol Seven

During a typical week I’ll put some amount of time into all 3 of these. I’ll start with the smallest.

Protocol Seven

For a while now I’ve been fascinated with the creator economy, and treat it more or less like a passion project: I want to build tools and systems that help connect creators to audiences, cash, and the advice they need to go from occasional output to fully-fledged media production house.

Consequently I tinker with different things at different times here. The main thing I’m working on right now (with a co-founder) is a platform for South African game streamers, to build independently-hosted profiles which they can use to promote themselves to the community.

Related to that, I believe there’s an opportunity in this space to help link up streamers, audiences, brands and sponsorships in a sustainable way. There’s a ton of natural synergy there, and right now, I don’t think enough has been done to realize those opportunities for local streamers.

Chances are I can’t put any time to this today, but I generally take a half-day or so on weekends to either write code (profiles, discovery, statistics aggregation, reporting) or coordinate with my co-founder on technical work.

BankerX

There’s genuinely a lot going on right now – as an entity, BankerX has survived its first year, and is gearing up to scale in year 2. On my list of things today:

  • Procurement onboarding at [redacted] (so much paperwork!)
  • Checking in on operations and weekly targets at [redacted] (portfolio company) – very happy to see they’re on target
  • Technical roadmap + unblocking the development team working on new features for bankerx.co.za
  • Working on a proposal for a marketing campaign that landed in our inbox
  • Sending the latest BankBros recording + briefing to the podcast editor

Most of what I do falls under the “boring but necessary” operational header right now. Ironically, the one afternoon I took off and ended up having a mojito at Konka is the image that trends on social media 😂

Amberstone Digital

Building a high-performing technical services business takes a lot of work and some very dedicated people, and I’m incredibly grateful for the team that we have here.

The biggest thing I’m *not* doing is actually telling the story of what we do, how we do it, and why we’re good at our jobs. It’s on my list of things to fix!

Today, in no particular order, on our anchor client:

  • Client meetings to review the way we work + cover priority projects + agree on what has to happen in the next few days
  • Setting up a key review call to start planning for 2022 delivery on our largest account
  • Checking in with a team member about the way things have been going, troubleshooting a process and gathering insights for said key review call

What’s remarkable about this (to me, anyway) is that at this time last year, I was still the lead software dev on the platform. As it is, I’ve directly touched exactly 4 technical tickets this week so far – everything else has been meetings, coordination, messaging and prioritization.

On other projects:

  • Delivered training material for a session I’m conducting in December (on one of our consulting engagements)
  • Reviewed the MVP planning for 3 products we’re going to be spinning out in the next 6 months: 360report, leadbase and tablecloud
  • Set up a meeting to discuss a proposal we’re submitting on a new project – rebuilding an older platform that’s in need of maintenance
  • Reviewed the new company website draft and gathered a few more thoughts for submission to the marketing team
  • Put together some points for the internal masterclass session we’re running tomorrow: I’ll be going in-depth on Laravel Middleware.
  • Ran late for three meetings in a row!

I think 16 November 2021 is a good date to recap this stuff on, because as things stand right now, there’s no major achievements I can point to. We didn’t launch anything today, or cross any particular threshold.

There’s nothing explicit to celebrate about today, other than the fact that it was a good day to show up, work hard, and move the needle on a few different things. The major wins, launches and milestones are still ahead, but days like this are what add up to those victories, and every now and then, they’re worth commemorating.

Among them, the things I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Negotiating a renewal with our anchor client for 2022, taking us into Year 3, during which we’re on track to hit Product-Market Fit for the platform we’re building
  • Announcing new businesses via BankerX
  • Opening a public beta on our first SaaS product – 360Report
  • Opening a public beta on a profile service for South African streamers

But as of right now, it’s just another “build” day – effort goes in, tickets get closed, releases get deployed, emails get sent, meetings get scheduled, and everything keeps going.

I sometimes wonder: If people knew how much of a grind this actually was, that it wasn’t at all like the highlight reel on social media, and that the big “successful” days are actually among the rarest (honestly, in some ways, accidental), whether people would be discouraged from taking this path.

You *really* have to care about the problem you’re solving, so much so that you can show up day after day, week after week, and push boulders uphill for the chance of a big reward at some indeterminate point in the future.

I think you have to be a little bit crazy to actually *enjoy* this process, and to find fulfilment in something that most people couldn’t wrap their heads around: The unyielding desire to bring forth your vision, against the tide of every adversity – including your own limitations.

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