Goals for 2023
This is the second of a two-part post covering my goals for 2023. See the first part to understand the vision, mission and strategy driving these goals.
I want to thank my friend Nat, and Will Larson whose annual reviews I’ve always enjoyed reading for inspiring me to write these posts.
I’ve found the process articulating my motivations and goals very useful to clarify my thoughts and create tangible next steps. I’m grateful for that in and of itself, but I also hope that by publishing this you too might find it interesting, and the additional public accountability it creates will be a positive encouragement to me.
My focus for 2023 is to bootstrap a business that I can use to build software that solves real problems (see the strategy from the previous post for more details on this). I’m going to track this via three goals:
Execute a series of successful consulting engagements, building a reputation for myself and leaving happy customers willing to provide testimonials that support a pipeline of future opportunities.
Grow my product development skill set by taking several ideas to MVP stage with customer feedback received, and launch at least one product which generates revenue and has growth potential.
Develop and maintain a broad professional network.
Based on my background and experience, I plan to target my consulting across three areas:
Leadership - building and growing operationally focused software teams following SRE/devops principles. A typical engagement may involve helping a client establish a brand new SRE/devops practice, or to strengthen and mature the existing practices used to build and operate reliable software in their team(s).
Architecture - applying deep technical expertise to the design of large software systems, particularly focusing on their reliability and operability. A typical engagement may involve design input and decision making support for key aspects of a new system, providing external review and analysis to improve an existing system, or delivering actionable, tactical next steps during or immediately after a reliability crisis.
Technology Strategy - translating high-level business needs into a technical roadmap that provides understandable explanations of the value software can deliver in that context, and the iterative series of appropriately sized projects required to realise it. A typical customer for this would be a small to medium sized business outside of the software industry with a desire to use software in a transformative way to improve their business but who does not employ the necessary in-house expertise to lead that transition.
There are three, currently extremely high level, product ideas that I’m excited to explore:
Improve co-ordination of electricity resources to accelerate the electrification of NZ’s energy demand and the transition to zero carbon grid.
NZ has huge potential to be a world-leader in decarbonising energy use through electrification, but requires a massive transition to realise the benefits. Many of the challenges to that transition involve coordination of an order of magnitude more distributed energy resources (DER) in a much more dynamic and software-oriented manner than the electricity industry is traditionally experienced with.
The concept of improving DER coordination is not novel, but our grid has unique characteristics that mean we’re likely to need to build localised solutions. There is a strong match between my experience with large, high-reliability distributed software systems, and this need. With renewed motivation in the industry for rapid progress and many conversations and consultations still in their early stages this a very compelling space to explore with the intent of developing a more detailed product opportunity to pursue.
Reduce agricultural emissions by making high performance farm management, including effortless compliance reporting, straightforward, fun and effective for busy farmers.
NZ’s commitments to reduce agricultural emissions (our largest single sector) place increased compliance and reporting burdens on busy farmers who don’t want to report the same data multiple times to different regulators and authorities. In tandem, rising business costs and constraints drive a need for continuous improvements in efficiency, performance and farm management processes in order to remain profitable. This in turn drives increases in complexity and the volume of data that farmers must work with.
Many industry organisations and associated software developers offer existing products aimed at addressing aspects of these problems, but anecdotal feedback indicates these are poorly integrated, piecemeal solutions that are often frustrating to use - a burden rather than a source of continuous improvement. It looks like there could be an opportunity for a delightful, comprehensive farm management and reporting system to disrupt the industry and help farmers run more profitable and sustainable farms while also reducing compliance costs and effort.
Lower sickness rates and improve cognitive performance by enabling every indoor space to benefit from continuous ventilation monitoring and reporting.
Indoor air quality is important in reducing disease transmission risk and promoting optimal cognitive performance, but despite the current pandemic temporarily raising its profile, a focus on indoor air quality generally remains under the radar for most people.
One factor contributing to this is the lack of widely available systems for continuously monitoring and reporting on air quality. I built https://co2mon.nz/ to help address this problem in my children’s school during 2022. I see potential to further grow this business through marketing and raising awareness of the value of ventilation monitoring in all indoor environments.
In addition to these mission aligned product ideas, I’m also interested in exploring the creation of small to medium sized SaaS applications that deliver useful value by serving the needs of a specialised or niche business or industry. Even when not directly linked to the overall mission, the development and operation of products of this type can support the strategy. Each application adds direct revenue and also contributes to achieving better economies of scale in the many backend processes and infrastructure required to deliver secure, reliable and performant software systems.
Developing my professional network
To help make this goal more actionable and measurable I will track 3 sub goals:
To build a professional relationship with at least 30 new people this year, meaning that we’ve met and had a decent conversation at least a couple of times and keep in touch at least every few months in some form.
To publish a piece of writing on this site at least once a week, and for many of those to generate interesting conversations and feedback. I’ll use this as an opportunity to explore product ideas, highlight my consulting expertise and generally contribute interesting technical content into the world.
To support the growth of my local technical community by volunteering my experience and knowledge with others through activities such as mentoring, conference talks and similar.
Over the coming weeks I’ll write more about each of these topics - you can use the box in the sidebar (or on the front page, if you’re on a phone) to be notified when I post new writing (there’s also an RSS feed here, for the geeks).
I’d love to have your feedback and engagement on these goals too - please drop me an email with your thoughts or even book a meeting - it won’t be a distraction to me, you’ll be helping me meet my goal of developing and maintaining my network :)