How I Decided Now Was the Time to Become Self-Employed
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Startups5 Comments on How I Decided Now Was the Time to Become Self-Employed

Ball and ChainA little over a month ago, I quit my fulltime job to focus on Light Point Security. While I always envisioned eventually working full time on my own company, I did not imagine I would be doing it so soon. Even a month before I quit, I thought it could easily be a whole year before I would be ready for that. I thought it would be fun to write this article to express how/why I decided to quit now, and how my first month of self-employment has been.

Why Now?

Like I said, a month before I quit, I had no intentions of quitting any time soon. While I had dreamed of one day quitting and being my own boss, I had always planned to do it after Light Point Security was generating substantial income. So why the sudden shift and deciding to quit before we have even launched?

In late January, on a Friday evening, I had a discussion with one of my bosses. I had suffered from burnout pretty bad last summer, and took an unpaid month off to deal with it. The discussion sort of focused on seeing if it was happening again, because I didn’t seem to be very engaged anymore. Well, there was a serious miscommunication in this discussion. The boss left thinking he had given me a pep talk to get me back into it, and I left thinking I was being politely fired.

Like I said, this was on a Friday evening, so I had a whole weekend to stew on it. On Friday, I was worried. By Sunday night, after thinking of all the things I had done for the company, I was pissed! I also spent that weekend wondering what to do. Beg to keep my job? Go hunt for another? Or maybe just focus on Light Point Security fulltime?

Decision Points

I needed to decide if going fulltime on Light Point Security made sense. The root of the decision came down to this: could Light Point Security pay for me to live before I ran out of money. I calculated how much money I spent to live. This was for home mortgage, utility bills, food, and a little leisure money to keep from going insane. Lets call that total X. To decide how long I could go without working, I added up all my liquid assets. I did not count retirement accounts because I don’t believe it would make sense to pull from that. Lets call my liquid asset total Y.  So Y divided by X would tell me how long it would be before I went broke if I made no more money. My total came out to about 3.5 years.

Then the question is: am I willing to sink ALL of my savings into this. How long will I go before I decide it would be smarter to give up? I decided that I could give it 1 year. After 1 year, I would reevaluate where I was. If it looked like this was going to work, I could keep going. If I thought by that point it wouldn’t work, I would not be ruined. Because of the area I live in, I could get another job like I had before in a couple days. I would have spent less than 1/3rd of my savings. I would not be in extra debt. So it seemed financially reasonable to consider it. If it didn’t work out, I would still be fine.

If this had happened a year earlier, I would have made a different decision. A lot of startups these days are websites. Most of these sites can be set up and launched within months. So a lot of the popular advice for startups is to quit your job immediately when you start working on one. Light Point Web is a different beast. It is much larger and way more complicated than building a website. A year ago, I would have probably decided that I could not have it finished in time for it to gain traction before I ran out of money. This means it does not make sense to go all in yet. However, when I looked at my current progress, I thought it was very likely that I could have Light Point Web done soon enough…especially if I was working on it fulltime.

So the decision was made that now is my time to go fulltime. I spent the whole weekend convincing myself of this, and by Monday morning, I was confident in that decision.

The Fallout

When I went back to work on Monday, the boss wanted to have a follow up meeting. It was in this meeting that the miscommunication was cleared up, and they had no intentions of firing me, and they very much wanted me to stay. But it was too late. I walked into that meeting confident it was best for me to quit. The damage was done. So I followed through, and put in my 2 weeks.

Looking Back

So I have been self employed for just over a month now. Simply put, its great! I get to work on what I love, whenever I want. While we still have not launched yet, we are soooo close! I’m working quicker and more efficiently than ever. I feel so much healthier. As I am writing this, the rest of the world is in their cubicle, and I am sitting out on my deck enjoying the sunshine. When I think about it, I’m really not sure if I could ever go back to working for someone else. I suppose that is more motivation to make this work.

How about you? Have you taken the plunge yet? What made your decision. What is holding you back? I would love to hear from others who have gone through this.

Light Point Web 0.7 Completed
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Computer Security, Light Point Security Update, Light Point Web, Programming, Startups2 Comments on Light Point Web 0.7 Completed

Light Point Web LogoToday Light Point Security has reached another important milestone. We have just finished the 0.7 version of Light Point Web. While this is still a private beta version, and not ready for public consumption, we have taken a big step in that direction.

What’s New in Light Point Web 0.7?

Cloud Manager

The biggest improvement from 0.6 will be invisible to a user. We have added a new server-side component to manage our cloud computing infrastructure. To make a long story short, it means we can now handle an arbitrary number of simultaneous users where 0.6 could only handle one user at a time. On top of handling a possible large number of users, we had to do it with as few wasted resources as possible. Turning on a cloud computer is expensive, and stays that way until you turn it off. So our cloud manager is in charge of deciding when to turn a new cloud computer on, and more importantly, when to turn it back off. This is the last infrastructure component to complete. This is important because I can now switch away from writing completely new infrastructure components to improving and adding features to existing ones. This means improvements and new features will be happening at a faster pace from here on out.

This was an interesting part of the project, because it was the first time I have written a program whose job it is to decide when and how to spend my money. So a programming error could have a negative effect on my bank account. Kinda scary!

New Firefox Extension

The next biggest change is a complete rewrite of our Firefox extension. The Firefox extension is the component that hooks into the Firefox user interface, so we can intercept user actions, and so we can update the Firefox interface with our own information.

This change will also be mostly transparent to a user of a previous version. The previous version was based on another public Firefox extension that was doing most of the same stuff I needed to do. So it was a great starting point for a first version. However, I was never happy with its implementation. It worked by searching for actual Firefox javascript code, and overwriting it in place with code to do what it needed. This means if the Firefox code in question changed with a new version, the extension would be broken. This seemed like a maintenance nightmare in the making. So I have rewritten the code to base itself on published Firefox interfaces which will be very unlikely to ever change. This gives me more confidence that a Firefox bug-fix update will not break Light Point Web.

Friendlier Plugin Interface

The least important, but most visible change to the user will be the new plugin interface. This one is tougher to explain in generics, so I will give a few specific examples of what I mean. In previous versions, when starting Light Point Web, the Firefox window would go black, and the entire interface would be frozen until the connection was finished. This could take 10 seconds or more. During that time, nothing was displayed, and the user could not do anything. It was very disconcerting to a new user. With 0.7, a progress bar and informational messages are shown directly in the browsing window. More importantly, the rest of the Firefox interface remains usable.

As another example, if in 0.6 your connection to the server was dropped for some reason, your browsing window would simply turn black. With 0.7, a message will show directly in your browsing window which says the connection was dropped, and it gives you several options on what to do about it.

There are many more interface messages like this which allow Light Point Web to be much more fault tolerant, and user friendly.

What’s Next for Light Point Web?

First off, we will be giving some 0.7 installers to people to get more feedback, and learn what people like, what they don’t like, and what is missing.

In the meantime, our attention will be shifting to overhauling this website. We have a new theme we will be rolling out over the next week. We will be putting a lot more information on the site about what Light Point Web does and why people should buy it.

After that we will be putting in infrastructure so someone actually could buy it. We are looking at 2 services to handle this for us: Spreedly and Chargify. These services will handle user subscription management, which means its one less thing I have to worry about. I have been reading a lot about these 2, but still can’t decide on which one to go with.

Once we get these things set up, we will be able to launch officially…. and that’s when the real fun begins!