Sunday, November 27, 2016
I have officially taken my first step towards having a human-readable business plan. One of my products now has the beginnings of one business plan. This is an enormous step forward for me since it is as far away from engineering work as you can get while still discussing the topic. It's kind of surprising to see how far away I was at my attempts at a business plan. I pretty much just went over my favorite features and made notes about what made them my favorite features. I also tried to imagine who might like those features. I think we'd be friends. An actual business plan has to take into account that someone with no knowledge of the industry at all might read it. I have to consider things like employees and building space. It's going to be a long journey, but so far seems like a necessary one. From what I've been able to guess so far, I'd think that all of my products are going to need one, although since it will get pretty repetitive I'll just do my favorites first.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I think that motivation is the biggest success I've gained from my new "marketing" and "sales" documents. I already knew what I was designing my products for and what I was going to do with them. But now I have a handy reference manual where I can simply point to this document instead of bothering to go into the code and try to remember all of this stuff again. Even better is that if my documents are written efficiently enough, I won't even have to be there at all. Just point someone to this neat reference manual, add a few screen shots, and they'll have all the info they need to understand what I'm doing with my products. If they have any technical questions, I can refer them to the summary materials. Although this is just a start, as you put in more work you can start to see how things fit together eventually. I think that even if nobody ever reads these documents, they will be helpful for me to have around. If I want to go over a few things real quick about my company, I can just skim though a few papers, look at the table of contents, browse the screen shots. Having all of this accomplished is a big boost to my motivation.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
As a surprisingly helpful companion project to my summary documents, I would like to talk about the success of the business documents area that I have added to my promotional materials. Although I have many areas in my computer that refer to things as "business documents", this is meant to be similar to the summary documents which give a very technical-minded overview of how the company plans to utilize each products features and translate that into financial gain. So far, each product is getting exactly two files. One that discusses the marketing approach for the product and one that discusses the actual sale of the product. The marketing document typically refers to what an investor might be interested in about the product. It's place in the market, competitive aspects, and what might generally create attention for the product. The sales document refers to how customers will actually interact with the product. Who the customers are, how they will be reached, and what this means for the company. These documents don't really belong in the promotional materials area since they won't be released to the public, but having them there seems to be helpful for workflow reasons.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Naming files is not just something that is relevant for code. I first discovered that I might have a problem when I was uploading screen shots to the web. Since I had only taken one or two screenshots for each application's respective promotional page, I had named all of the image files either "screenshot" or "display". After uploading all of the images to the service I'm using, I noticed that having all the files named the same thing could be an issue. This isn't an issue when you preserve the directory structure which labels the application at the root. I think that with a program I can think of everything as one piece of work, but my documentation, flowcharts, and other files might need to be a little more portable. If I were to display code for any reason, I might even have to make further changes, but working with my business-related documents is enough work for now. I'm not sure what process or procedure this falls under, but having a large amount of files with the exact same name on the same computer can't be a good thing. I'll have to decide how much work this is going to be, but I've already started the process of adding product IDs to some of my generic filenames.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
I think that I am approaching the conclusion of my summary documents for the moment. I still have a fair amount of work left to do and some of it covers some pretty complex topics. The majority of what I have remaining is going to be fairly redundant technically and would be a very interesting task for a volunteer, intern, or even someone that has just started working for me. I know this is a long ways away, so it's something that I will probably finish myself eventually. Right now, I think that my time would best to be spent working on other tasks. I have a good amount of my products fully documented and almost everything is at least outlined (I decided that I'd write outlines as a sort of table of contents). So far, the documentation has given my company a lot of depth that I feel very good about. As a pleasant side-effect, I have also generated some interesting art work and todo items. I think that I still might need one more layer of documentation that goes even further into detail, but I haven't decided what that's going to be yet.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Even more exciting news for my promotional area. I have added an area for whitepapers. So far I don't really have enough content to brag about, but I think that the idea is important enough to mention at this early of a stage. I was reading an article online about how white papers create important for a company so they can be taken seriously in their field. I thought that was worth trying. I generated a list of possible topics that I could write white papers on and have had some pretty interesting results so far for my topic board. The list is supposed to be things that my company is currently doing that could be considered to be new or at least not overly documented so far. This excludes all of my engineering work so far (which would be called a patent anyway), so I'm focusing mostly on business and marketing topics as they relate to my engineering work. My first white paper was titled, "Blog Marketing" and as you might imagine it is about this blog. I haven't put much time into reviewing it yet or gotten a peer to review it, so I have it in my drafts folder. I'm hoping that eventually I'll be productive enough to have stages of drafts and final versions. I know I won't need a lot of white papers to be taken seriously at first, but having a process in place is helping me to mentally prepare myself.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
As an unexpected yet interesting side-effect of my new venture into summary documentation, I have created a companion area for my promotional materials. I now have business documents that go along with my promotional web sites. I see these documents as sort of a mix between a technical justification for my product existing and an actual marketing guide that would convey strategy information. Much like my summaries, I am trying to break the section up into several parts so that each area of the product will be covered. For example, for a game I could have documents that would explain what I would want the advertising strategy to look like, what I think the pricing and customer experience might look like, and then any miscellaneous notes about things like product sales direction, possible customer programs, or any other notes I might want to mention that would help to sell the product. Obviously, there is going to be some overlap with these documents, but I think that might be necessary to reinforce the important ideas and to help create a process for going to this area to further understand differences.