Taking weekends off

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This weekend I did something unusual. I decided not to work on the weekend. Over the past two months, I’ve gradually been working less and less on the weekend. I use to work on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoon. In fact, for the past few weekends, I rarely worked with only a few minor tasks or urgent things to do.

On Friday afternoon, I got a call from my co-founder saying that he was tied up and could speak to me on Friday night. But I stated that it was the weekend and we could discuss it on Monday. It could wait. In addition, there was a project for a client I could have worked on and promised delivery first thing on Monday morning. Instead I communicated to them that we would deliver it on Monday. This gave us more time to regroup, recharge over the weekend and complete it.

I also received a new client enquiry at 6.46pm on Friday as I was leaving the office. Normally, I’d jump on it straight away. But in all these cases, there is a reasonable expectation from a customer that a business is closed on the weekend and will re-open on Monday.

With all these things, I realised that this was pressure that I was putting on myself.

When you are running your own business, its very tempting to work all the time. However its important to take a break and recharge. I asked a staff member if they could work on Sunday. I thought about it after I asked them. If I wasn’t going to work on the weekend then I shouldn’t get them to do it either. I would be taking their weekends away as well.

A decision not to work on the weekends

My co-founder and I had decided earlier this year that we would get our weekends back. By working on the week days, you can be more productive. This is because you know that you are limited to only those days and hours. If you know you can catchup or do more on the weekend, you can waste more time procrastinating or stretching something out. You can also start out the week feeling really tired. In the past, if I worked all weekend, then sometimes I would take Monday off, either whole day or half day to make up for it. I have that flexibility as I run my own business. But that flexibility is a double edged sword.

This weekend since I didn’t have to work, I decided not to check my emails. Ok, I admit that I took a brief glance! But then I decided that these were not that important that I had to answer them right now. In fact, if I looked at it any more, I would have probably gone ahead, created work for myself and answered them. Also, if you answer emails on the weekend, you build an expectation from the customer that you will be available on the weekend and out of hours.

Instead my weekend looked like this

With the free time, I decided to start a new blog on Saturday morning. I created a food blog called “Where’s My Sauce“. It took me about 1.5 hours to setup and publish my first post on visiting Mary’s City, which is a new burger takeaway store. I wrote about visiting there on Friday night because I wasn’t working. I was able to start a passion project. Something that I had been thinking about for weeks. I’ve always been interested in food, predominatly eating & trying new restaurants. It is a website & writing content, which are things that I get involved with normally during the week but I was doing this for fun.

I was also able to take a break and see my girlfriend, friends and family. I had dinner with my family. I went to karaoke with friends. I went to Bible Study & attended Church. I went to a Quentin Tarantino t-shirt exhibition. I had time to enjoy life. In addition, I came back on Monday refreshed and ready to work. It gave me enthusiasm to talk to people about my new food blog and the other interests I have. It gave me another perspective and dimension to my life because of the weekend activities.

Creating an optimal business environment

As an entrepreneur, you can create the kind of business you want to work in. You don’t have to work 24/7. You can choose to but thats a lifestyle choice in my opinion. If you have raised significant amounts of investment and you have a lot of external pressure, then maybe you feel obligated to work more hours to meet the expectations of a huge exit. But thats not the kind of business I want to run.

When I took time off over the weekend, I started considering how I could make money without being as involved. How I could make money in my sleep and have time to enjoy the things that I want to do. How could I make more money in less hours of the week. How I could work smarter, not harder.

For my business, Tapmint which is a consulting business, there are several paths to do so. These can include the following options:

  1. Increasing our rates
  2. Charging based on value as opposed to hourly
  3. Productized consulting
  4. Have products with recurring income, typically SAAS (software as a service business)

These options can move you off the hamster wheel of consulting. But this is a discussion for another day.

For now, I’m just looking forward to the next weekend when I’m going to a really big water slide with some friends, going to Cirque Du Soleil and to a friend’s bday :)

I’m out like the week day,

Matt Ho.

How to prepare for the iTunes Connect 2014 Christmas Holiday Shutdown

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During the Christmas Holiday Period, the iTunes Connect store shuts down. This has an impact on app developers and app marketers. Its also the time when the app store experiences peak downloads during the year. I’ve written a blog post over at the Tapmint blog (my consultancy) which explains in more detail why it closes down and how you can prepare for it. Read more here.

Best motivating speech in a movie award

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Easily one of my favourite speeches. Everything can be summed up into this: “its a game of inches”. Whether its startups, football, life – the person that’s willing to go that extra inch will succeed.

Cooking and startups

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I wanted to start with a post about topic I like, to get myself back into the habit of blogging. If you read this blog, you know that I write a lot about startups and entrepreneurship, putting my own perspective on it. So here goes….

I’ve been doing some more cooking recently since I’ve been working from home due to the weather and being under the weather myself. I found one of the hardest things to explain to people is “what is a startup” and what’s involved in building a startup. I explained it with parking, which a lot of my readers like. It resonated with a lot of people because it was something they understood and do all the time. Here’s attempt 2.

Food references

I use to do Salsa in Melbourne (shoutout to Salsa Foundation!). It was very close to my office at the York Butter Factory. One of the things that stuck with me are the analogies that the instructor used. He made a lot of references with salsa dancing and cooking. Whilst I can’t remember the exact references which were hilarious at the time, I remember why he used them.

Not this kind of salsa

Not this kind of salsa

He used to make a lot of references using sports. However, not everyone understood them. They were a lot of females in the class and they didn’t get his sports references. I’m sure some did, but there would have been a lot of guys that wouldn’t get it either. For example,  he would say “lets form a scrum”, to get everyone to huddle together closely and then he would give instructions. But not everyone understood what a scrum was! He found the cooking/food references were a lot better, because they were more widely understood.

scrum

Errr lets form a scrum!

So due to my recent cooking adventures, here is my perspective.

When cooking a dish, it requires the right ingredients. These ingredients have to be mixed in at the right time and the right temperature. It requires a lot of little adjustments based on taste, touch, smell to get the flavour right. When cooking something for the first time, even if you follow a recipe, its unlikely that you will nail it the first time.

The other day I cooked an omelette (it was like a chinese omelette that my dad makes). But it was totally out of whack. I put the egg in first, then some prawns in afterwards. I hadn’t allowed for half of it to be flipped over. After speaking to a few people about my omelette making experience, I tried again the next day. It was def better but I still hadn’t managed to flip the rest of it over – maybe only 20%. The more times I do it, the more likely I’m going to get closer to a tastier (and edible) result. Eat and repeat.

Timing is another factor to consider. Cook it too little, and its undercooked. Cook it too much and its overcooked. You also need to understand how fast some ingredients cooked compared to others. One of the problems I have right now when making several dishes, is understanding how long it takes to cook one dish compared to another, and what do to first. Its not too similar to a startup – you need to juggle customers, staff, funding, investors, technology, legal.

Here are two dishes I made with my grandma today – she’s passing down her recipes to me as she gets older.

Potato, carrot, chicken with soy sauce.

Potato, carrot, chicken with soy sauce.

 

Spinach, no popeye

Spinach, no popeye

This is one that’s in progress. It happened because I didn’t take the tofu out of the wrapping properly. Clearly tofu-cook fit needs to happen.

I call this tofu disaster

I call this “tofu disaster”

Food startups to check out

I want to mention some startups that I’m involved in that have to do with food! I wasn’t deliberately looking to get involved with food startups. It just happened because I happen to know these people.

Based on my cooking skills above including the “tofu disaster”, I’m clearly not helping them with the food side of things :) I’m helping them in various ways from technology, mobile, lean startup methodology, and marketing. I can also help them as a consumer of food :)

 1. Flogged: Eat where the food bloggers eat. Flogged helps you find a restaurant based on food blogger reviews and recommendations. Search for your favourite food blogger and see where they have eaten. Flogged stands for “food blogged”. It is available for Sydney and Melbourne. I actually came up with the name “Flogged” and its made by Raymond Ho, my brother who is a web/mobile developer. Flogged is an iOS app which you can download here.

2. YouChews: Connects local caterers with events, parties and office lunches. Youchews uses “local artisans” which encompasses food trucks, market stalls, local cafes/restaurants, street vendors. If you are sick of eating the same boring and tasteless food, then check out YouChews for your next company event. YouChews is founded by Liz Kaelin and Phillip Doran.

3. Healthy Foodie Box: A subscription commerce business where you receive a box every month with nutritious and healthy food catered for your health goals. Its currently under development and will be launching soon. HFB is founded by Ping Wang, a web developer and foodie. If you are interested, please contact me and I can put you in touch.

I’m out like my tofu making skills,

Matt Ho

Advanced App Store Optimisation Tips and Tactics

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In my last post, I gave a preview of my talk for the Advanced Online Marketing Training session. Here’s the final presentation for “Advanced App Store Optimisation Tips and Tactics”.

If you have any questions about optimising your app store marketing let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer them! Also if you are looking to develop or design an innovative app/website, reach out to us at tapmint.com.

Advanced Online Marketing Training course talk preview

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Really looking forward to speaking at this event tomorrow called “Advanced Online Marketing Training Course”. Check it out here. There’ll be 6 speakers tomorrow, who are good contacts in the Online Marketing industry which I have a lot of respect for. Many of whom I met at the Sydney SEO meetup and are experts in the industry. The course is organised by James Norquay of Prosperity Media.

I’ll be speaking on “Advanced App Store Optimisation Tips And Tactics”, one of my favourite topics. I’ve spoken about this topic before at Product Camp in 2012 and Sydney SEO meetup in 2013. The world of mobile / technology keeps changing so I had to update it for iOS7. I had actually presented previously as iOS6 was coming out, and had to update the slides for iOS6. In addition, I added some new examples and new developments as well to keep it relevant.

I’ll be covering the following areas:

  1. App icons
  2. App Store images
  3. App Store Description
  4. Reviews & Ratings
  5. App store assets
  6. Analytics
  7. Translating your app
  8. Getting PR

When I have finished the talk, I’ll post the slides in a new blog post.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the updated slides:

App Store Search Breakdown

App Store Search Breakdown

Keyword optimisation using App Annie

Keyword optimisation using App Annie

I’ll also be speaking in two weeks for Founder’s Institute (FI) Sydney on a panel for “Branding and marketing”. I’m a mentor for this semester’s FI.

I’m out like the World Cup,

Matt Ho

A visit to HackerLabs

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I visited the new HackerLabs co-working space. The space is located at 35 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills which is a 2 minute walk from Central station. Its a great location since its so close to a major train station, and there many agencies and startups in the area. John Yueh from Beaconmaker invited me and was a great host. I also had the opportunity to interview one of my friends, Taylor Luk from Issue. Check out this video I made about HackerLabs below.

HackerLabs is looking for more startups to take up residency in their co-working space. Its also very close to nearby basketball courts. There’s a rec club nearby where you can also hire tennis courts and a ping pong table too! I played ping pong with the HackerLabs crew. John has a killer ping pong game so watch out :p

I’ve also previously interviewed Taylor Luk and Jonathan Peacock (Zibbet) who also works there.

I’m out like working in an office,
Matt

Matt & Brett’s awesome adventure in the US

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Here are some video highlights of my trip to the US. I never would have got around to putting this together and as a social experiment I wanted to see what someone else would see as my highlights. So I outsourced the task on Odesk! I posted this task on Saturday and got this delivered on Tuesday night. Pretty happy with the result!

As I filmed it on my iPhone in portrait view, there would have been black bars on the side. An effect was used on the sides of the video which is described below:

“Not sure if the effect has a name, but to create it all you do is make a copy of the video, place it on the underlying track, scale that copy to fill the screen, and apply a blur until it looks nice.

Having done that the background will be exactly the same as the portrait foreground, just blurred out and scaled up. I’ve seen this technique used both for portrait phone videos and older SD footage when used in an HD format. Usually in news programs or documentaries.

I’m out like 20 second videos,

Matt Ho