It seems like only yesterday that I quit my job in Atlanta, Georgia and moved back to Canada to start my custom software development company, Syllogistic Software Inc.
As it turns out, that was actually about seven years ago!
In 2008, at the 5-year mark, I did some research about how long typical startups last. I found the following heavily referenced article, claiming 55%, 60%, and 63% failure/closure rates in years 5, 6 and 7, respectively.
These numbers aren’t exact, but give a pretty good idea of how long typical businesses last. Running your own business is not easy. It requires good planning, great execution, awesome support from your friends and family, and just a little bit of luck.
I was fortunate to have all of the above, but that still doesn’t mean that it was smooth sailing the whole way. There were lots of bumps, and a few times I was ready to toss in the towel and close up shop.
I’ve put together a brief timeline of some of the major points in Syllogistic’s history:
2003-2004: One employee (me) working for one major client. Smooth sailing.
2004-2005: Added another employee and two more clients. Rougher waters. Overhead leads to lower profitability. Too much back-and-forth travel, and too many meetings.
2005-2006: Drastic measures. Terminated contract with primary client and scaled back SSI to part-time. Took a full-time MBA at Laurier. Finances become tight.
2006-2007: Re-launched with new skills and knowledge from MBA. Added employees. Finances now critically tight. A strong focus on sales (with some help) delivers new clients and revenue just in time.
2007-2008: Launched Facebook Reversi. Expanded with more employees and a new office, high above downtown Waterloo. Started EmPOWER contract. Read “The 4-hour Workweek”. Launched the Learn PHP Tutorial.
2008-2009: Realized I had come full circle, and was building myself back into the corporate job I quit in 2003. Left the office and “re-virtualized” the company. Tested running the company remotely in Texas. Developed the SSI Project Management System.
2009-2010: With good procedures firmly in place, hired another programmer to manage remotely. Launched buymystuff.com. Acted on 4HWW learnings, successfully running my company from 14,000km away in New Zealand.
2010-2011: What’s to come? Returning to Canada. Continuing to build products, focusing intently on efficiency/profits, instead of the traditional (and in my opinion, flawed) growth/revenue model.
As you can see, running a business is very evolutionary. You don’t usually end up on the same path you started on. It requires a balance of setting goals and planning, while remaining open to change and opportunities.
What will the next 7 years hold? New and exciting technological developments? I’m eager to find out! Stay tuned :)