Entrepreneur Time

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 02/24/2009

So, it’s finally time to make my entrepreneurial move. But it’s not like I’m going to roll it out in a big sweeping way. It’s going to take me a year or more to get there, and I’ll be holding down a full-time job that I’m crazy-dedicated to in the meantime.

So, it’s going to be an adventure of small bite-size projects that accumulate up over the days, weeks and months into a massive undertaking that you can go back and follow on a step-by-step basis. I’m on Google Docs now, and I see no reason to go back, or to even use other publishing platforms like Blogger even for writing. It all goes into Google Docs now, and I will anticipate having these files with me to my death, regardless of whether and how they are published. It makes no sense to write anywhere else than here, and then it makes no sense to publish it any other way than what is easy directly out of Google Docs. So that means I can either use the native “Publish as web page” feature, or “Post to blog” sub-option. There are the issues to work out that not everything I write is for the public, and that I’m giving up the rigid reverse-chronology of blogging. Instead, each document that I’m working on will be sort of Wiki-like, in that I’ll be going back in and refining and reworking them. And they will be sort of blog-like in that I’ll probably publish to blog, forcing it into reverse chronological order from when I published it. So, it will be a series of writings created in Google Docs, but published through Blogger. This has the advantage of me holding back any documents I don’t want published, and having a series of individual “files” (albeit in the cloud) that have a strong identity in my mind. This makes them easy to find and manage over the long-term. Giving each document its identity is an important step, because it is essentially the human “file handle” I’ll be using–and with some files, the case may be for the rest of my life. In this post, I’m publicly stating my intentions to do something big. As Peter Drucker says, planning means nothing until you start putting in the hard work. I really have to put in the hard work, and in my estimation, the best method is Robert Cialdini’s principle of commitment and consistency. By publishing this in my long-existing MikeLevin blog, I have the perfect place to push out this information, which if I wish, I can always move to different domains or hosting services. It basically goes with me wherever I go. Even though it’s Blogger-based, I’m using the old FTP publishing method, which means I’m not tied to any particular Web host.

As you may notice, these documents will start out stream of consciousness, and that’s just the way it is. Over time, based on the nature of the document, I may go back to refine it, or even treat it as a mini blog, posting each new thing at the top in reverse chronology. No one said that it’s going to be easy to follow along. It’ s just “out there” to make me feel like I’m making a gesture of public commitment to instill consistency into my behavior.

An interesting thing is that when you publish with Blogger, you have to republish. But that’s fine. It’s time for me to start taking advantage of the media. The things I fought against in the past, but which now I’m going to start taking advantage of are:

  1. Multiple “files” in Google Docs. Although the file model is very much unlike blogging, take advantage of it for organizing ideas with their folder system. Also use it for granular permission control of what’s gotten published and what remains private. 

  2. Publishing from Google Docs to Blogger. Although the “re-publishing” step seems like a chore, it means that you can go in and freely edit any document whenever you want without fear of accidentally auto-publishing and spilling secrets. You are effectively always in draft-mode until you re-publish. Embrace it.I like keeping perfect reverse chronological records of my idea development, which blogging natively plays into. But I also desperately need the power of an Office Docs environment, which Google Docs provides. Office Docs win. Embrace it, and only present to the public the reverse chronology of when you decided to publish documents (they each become a blog post) and within that blog post, you can have a mini reverse chronology for documents that I format like mini-journals.

  3. Like everyone else, I’m cautious about keeping semi-private documents in the cloud. But frankly, Google has its entire reputation on the line making Google Docs secure. And nothing is more secure than your keeping your password secret anyway. It’s not like folks can’t hack into your documents at your house anyway if you have always-on broadband. And the advantages of being able to sit down anywhere to work on your docs, and to have them to your death outweighs privacy concerns.

  4. Publishing from Google Docs to Blogger is an imperfect process. Don’t worry about formatting. It’s not about putting your best foot forward formatting-wise. It’s about working at a fast pace, doing the hard work, and documenting it well enough along the way for your own purposes (not the public’s). 
  5. Like the last point, don’t fight formatting. Embrace the behavior of HTML. It’s not going away. Don’t be a perfectionist, and take advantage of what HTML “wants to do”. In particular, don’t hard-wire linebreaks with br tags. Use Format/Styles/Normal paragraph text (Ctrl+0) in the Google Docs dropdowns.

  6. Manage multiple files that you need to switch between efficiently as appropriate. I love one giant braindump file. The problem is the granularity of permissions. I could never publish it in whole, and I need to publish grouped parts. I have journals I keep for work, and journals of ideas way too rough or proprietary for publishing. Each gets a different file under the Google Docs model, and I simply “star” the active ones, so I can find and switch between them easily. This one for instance is about sharing my entrepreneurial ideas so I commit myself to following through with them. Only public stuff goes here, and it is likely to become reverse chronolgical within this document, and last until the page becomes too long to manage, or there is a natural place to “cut it” and start a new document.