How often I have said so to someone… And how often I have actually realized I have not done so myself. Again, I did so when starting with entrepreneurship.

Of course, everybody says that in entrepreneurship, if people are not laughing when you tell them what you’re planning to do, you’re not aiming high enough, so I set pretty high visions for myself and started doing it as if I had 10 developers and some management instead of my own 10 fingers and my humble brain to do it.

I have been in software development as non-programmer for a long time now. Granted, I started as a programmer, but that was more years ago than I’d like to admit. Still, I never went too far from the code, even now, even at my regular job, I have to connect directly to the database most days. I like it that way, keeping me connected to the roots.

Still, I have not done web development for a long time, especially I haven’t been keeping my skills up to date with current way of building the web (although I’ve heard about it enough). Oh, I know, it’s not too difficult to start again, internet is full of tutorials and references and answered questions about exact problems I was having. So I started off pretty naively toward just building the site I had envisioned. It was interesting to learn, and I wrote pretty spaghetti code for start, although it got better and better. Still, with my inexperience in this area I got distracted away from the main purpose.

Sure, I was stripping it down to bare minimum. Minimum viable product, as they call it.

But still, how do you build a website without a working multi-language option? I have seen how bothersome it is to do it afterwards when you have loads of pages, so it was a must-have. And tracking every click. And separate development and production environments (having test separately still seemed overkill). And code versioning. And separation of backend and frontend. And decent usability. And decent design (still the most expensive part of the page, as I ordered it from a friendly designer)…

And once I got to the point where users should be able to change their data – have you thought of everything that needs to be in place for that to happen? Let me count some…

  • User registration
  • A process by which a user can claim ownership of a vendor, and get verified
  • User login
  • Lost password recovery process
  • Accepting terms and conditions of the page
  • Giving permission to contact them on their e-mail
  • Accepting cookie policy
  • Editing user profile information

And that’s without actual editing of the vendor. Of course it was during trying to figure all this out that I realized the data protection laws don’t allow for the model I was going for.

It was just too much learning all at once in so many different areas. So I realized – have big visions, but start small. Tiny, in fact.

Once I found I need to take a step back, I decided to do something small, simple and fun instead. Some days ago I had searched for a random username that wouldn’t be connected to me in any way and I realized the random string generators out there are too random. I know it can be done better – I still remember my randomly generated password from Oracle website as they have made some effort into making it less random, and they say so on their site. I also remembered the way names were generated for people in Disposessed, Ursula Le Guin’s communist scifi novel (just add two random syllables together, check that nobody by exact same name is alive at the same time, and you’re done).

Putting it all together, I created a small website with just this kind of memorable random string generator. I took it as a practice for my skills, practice for the knowledge I had gained from books and practice in actually finishing something. It’s not monetized in any way right now – if there will be any noticeable traffic, I might test what happens with ads; or maybe I’ll think of a  way to offer “enterprise version” with some added value – I hope this is the part where you’ll laugh, so I can still justify that my visions are big enough 😉

As for helping the bright-eyed small entrepreneurs, I still have something coming for them, just having a little break to think it over. I might do some other fun little projects once in a while to complete something sooner. It sure has given me much-needed energy to continue.