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DAY TWENTY-FIVE – SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2013

Erin Hopmann

How do you feel about the project?
Overall, pretty good. I’m more and more excited about the alternative. The twists and turns that have led to where we are today are – in the scheme of things – really not that bad.

I’m encouraged by so much good going on with Dabble that has surfaced as a result of 30 Days. It’s pretty incredible. If this can’t be our full-time focus come a month from now, it’s not the end of the world… or the end of Dabble. We’re in good shape.

What does your typical day look like?
It’s changed over time, that’s for sure. In the beginning, Jess and I were doing everything. Burning the midnight oil to make sure that everything was getting done. Our original site was on WordPress, and it was like a bandaged together thing that looked pretty on the outside, but we joked that it was like Mousetrap (the game, ‘member?) if you peeked inside.

We scrambled to send teachers their class lists in downloaded CSV formats, manually took classes down from the site after they happened, emailed with students to a much greater degree (despite being so much smaller), met with people we were trying to recruit to teach, and in the meantime, tried to envision where this thing that was getting some really positive initial traction was heading. I would wake up, blink, and realize it was 3 pm.

Charting the course of Dabble is interesting, because in some ways, we’re back to the beginning. Just three of us again. (We had a social media intern that first summer. Thanks, Meghan!) We’re back to running the day-to-day. But we’re at such a different place. Then, maybe 5% of our time was spent thinking, where will we be in five years? We were in survival, operations mode. Now, we’ve automated so much, and especially given the situation we’re in now, we spend much of our time visioning, planning, and building for the future.

So I haven’t really answered the question, have I?

Currently, on a daily basis, my time is pretty fragmented. Because our team has shrunk, Jess and I have taken on more things that require a few hours a week, the things that are more of the “check it off the to-do list” variety. Sending out the newsletter, for example.

Every day, I try to chip away at the big things we’re looking to do – working on partnerships, for example. Or doing research with our users before making big decisions. I don’t always do the best job of it because of… distractions. (Glancing at my to-do list right now, for example, gets me frustrated with myself that I’m not further along on a few key things.)

Distractions have become something that I need to almost plan into my day – distractions of the “I have a business, but don’t have a head of HR or a CFO” variety. So, talking to our accountant, dealing with legal issues that come up, etc. There’s a degree of business maintenance that can just suck unexpected time.

The one constant is frequent chatting with Jess and Frank – via Hipchat or, sometimes, Google Hangouts. The open window in the background is our virtual office, and it makes working from home not quite as lonely.

DAY TWENTY-FIVE – SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2013

Jess Lybeck

How do you feel about the project?
Good. It’s coming together. We’ve crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s. Now we just need to see what happens.

The end of the project is almost here. The end of the week is almost here. No matter what I’ve accomplished, I always have a mini panic attack where I wonder “what did I do with all this time?” … this time around I can answer that question confidently. I did a shit-ton.

I made a comment to Erin today that everything we’re doing with this project has been made possible because of Frank. We couldn’t afford to keep our developer on full time. Frank stepped up from his role in customer service in a big way and has been developing all the features that we think will save the company. I can’t get over it. I’m thankful. We owe him lots of scotch (and a better salary) when we get to the other side.

What’s the plan?
Release this new feature before I get married in week. We’re running out of time to experiment with much else before the end of the 30 days. These things always take longer than you think especially with such limited resources. Releasing a new feature is sort of like whack-a-mole. You finish one thing, it pops up someplace else. So you finish that, then it pops up again in a place you never expected. Thankfully, we’ve almost whacked all the moles.

What does your typical day look like?
From 6-8am, I’m getting my day started on the right foot. Usually dog park, yoga, breakfast & coffee. I do my best not to check email or get in “work mode” before actually starting work – sometimes I fail miserably at that.

When I sit down at my desk, I make a gameplan for the day and ask myself “What are the crucial things I need to accomplish? What will move the business forward?” I write lists, break everything down into 2-hour work blocks and get going. Distractions to avoid during the day are email (I don’t consider it work) and any social media. I attempt to do those things in batches, thanks to a kick in the ass from the 4-Hour Workweek.

As for my role within Dabble, it’s changed over the years and changed pretty dramatically in the past few months. Losing half our team means that Erin & I are now the strategic heads – but also executing all marketing & business development efforts. I’m tweeting, I’m posting on Facebook, approving classes. Also, I am working with Frank to do all the user experience, design, project management and quality assurance for the development of new features. You could say we all wear a lot of hats.

Once the dust settles from this project, Erin & I will hopefully step out of the “doing” role and find a way to either increase the size of the team or automate some of the tasks we’re doing on a daily basis. It’s the only way we can grow as a team & as a product.

 

We plan on answering different questions every day. Submit a question you’d like answered by emailing 30daysofhonesty (at) dabble.co.

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Photo by Håkan Dahlström

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