Business for Bootstrappers

Build Better Software Podcast

Integrating customer feedback — whether it’s from interviews, usability sessions, or testing — can be tricky. Not because the methods are hard… but because of people. Many people resist new things and things that challenge their existing ways of doing things. We also talked about Jobs to Be Done and how to validate product ideas — and how to find problems when you don’t have users. I talked about how

How to Sew Cotton-Flannel Face Masks

Over the past few months, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with a physical product: face masks. A couple of people have asked me for my pattern and supplies, so here you go! I’ve included dimensions for child-sized masks, too. According to a study cited by the Boston Globe, a well-fitting cotton/flannel mask can filter as well as an N95, so I’ve been making mine from a cotton/flannel combination. Sometimes

Guest Post for Girl Scouts: “I Held My First Virtual Meeting and My Daisies Earned a Petal. Here’s How We Did It.”

I wrote a guest post for Girl Scouts on hosting a virtual meeting during the Covid-19 crisis. I think we underestimate how much children pick up and how much they are capable of understanding. My co-leaders and I felt like this was an important thing to discuss with them and dovetailed nicely with the Responsible for What I Say and Do petal. The pandemic is going to be a major

Washington Post highlights Maywood Response

In early March of 2020, I started organizing my neighborhood to help prepare for Covid-19. We ended up building a group of volunteers to get groceries, medications, and other supplies for high-risk neighbors. The effort was highlighted in the Washington Post: The brigadier general in the Virginia operation is Michele Hansen who moved into Maywood two years ago and runs a geocoding software company with her husband. Her sister is a nurse

Using Customer Portfolio Analysis to Weather the Storm as a Bootstrapper

It’s been a hell of a week. I will not mince words: the news is all-consuming right now. And if your brain is like mine, when it takes a break from thinking about our public health emergency it jumps to the next big risk: the economy. And our business. And how things will go. And it’s scary to think about. We all knew the risks of working for ourselves. But

Struggling with How to Fix a Product? Start Here.

The DC Metro system is an unenviable product to have to fix. For years, the system was reliably unreliable and could be a downright unpleasant experience even when it was supposedly functioning as normal: delays, outages, overcrowding during rush hour, and a lack of air conditioning on trains during DC’s blistering hot summers were all par for the course. The Metro’s problems are so bad that there’s a Twitter account

Customer Feedback, Fast and Slow

I recently ran a user feedback survey that exposed a flaw in my thinking — and resulted in a completely unexpected product change. The survey’s intended goal was to aid in developing a deeper understanding of the various use cases customers have for Geocodio and features that might help them more efficiently complete those activities. I also put in a general feedback field for open ended thoughts on the service,

Six Investing Books I Wish I’d Read Sooner

About two years ago, I switched industries from political consulting to financial services. I had a somewhat notable lack of experience in finance — I’d never even bought a stock before — and so I embarked on a quest to learn as much as possible about the stock market. The result has been about two years of non-stop reading, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. If I were doing it all

How to Find the Problem

If there’s anything product people love, it’s problems — solving problems, finding problems, uncovering problems. We just love problems. And there are lots of great frameworks for researching customer experiences to help uncover problems. Yet, no framework can ever tell you what the problem is. So when you’re staring at a sea of Post-Its and knee deep in a spreadsheet, how do you determine where the problem is and what you should focus

The Bright Side of Being Wrong

There are three major things I’ve learned since I started doing product work four years ago: Understand the fundamental value you’re delivering to the user Focus on user problems rather than starting with ideas And the third is something I’ve only just come to understand in the last few months: 3. Assume you’re wrong. Of everything I’ve learned, this is probably the most counterintuitive, difficult, and even painful to implement.