Patrick is a developer and solopreneur running a software business with six core products with the most popular one being Simply Static – the static site generator plugin converting WordPress websites to static sites.
He’s doing this full-time, running a lifestyle business, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance while growing his business.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My day usually starts between 8:30 to 9:00 AM. I avoid disruptions during the first 2-3 hours each day – no e-mails, social media, or phone calls.
Instead, I use the first hours for deep work. This can be coding on an existing or new product, writing blog articles and tutorials, or doing screencasts.
After that, I try to spend time outside or doing something else. I go for a walk with the dog, go jogging, or grab my rollerskates. I need to have some physical activity before refocusing on work again.
I’m returning to work at 2:00 – 3:00 PM and catching up with the team. Review issues, customer support, and marketing (Twitter, my blog, podcasts, interviews..)
As the last step, I prepare for the next day by writing down tasks, prioritizing them, and wrapping everything up.
I end my day at 6:00 PM.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Consistency is key for me. Building a new product usually takes about 6-9 months, and with the limited capacity, you need to be consistent.
Once I have a new idea, I note it down and don’t touch it for several months. After a couple of months, I get back to my notes – if the idea still looks great, I start with planning:
What should the MVP look like?
What are particular problems in that niche I want to solve?
What shouldn’t be part of the product?
I join communities, try to be part of it, and learn everything I can about that topic. I’m doing that for months (usually 2-3) to learn deeply about the problems, the market, and what a typical customer looks like before writing a single line of code.
Once I collected enough information, I start building an MVP and bringing beta testers from the community into the project as soon as possible.
We start iterating on the product, and once we finish, the first official version is ready for the market.
Before launch, I spend some weeks preparing the website, the documentation, and writing the first tutorials on how that product can solve specific problems of my customers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
While AI is all the rage right now, I can see a lot of potential in the Web3 space.
The concept of storing data decentralized on a blockchain is huge, but the topic definitely has a marketing problem.
Once the community finds ways to make existing Web3 concepts available for today’s web and breaks them down into specific use cases, we will see the trend rise again.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
My morning routine.
Starting the day with something meaningful and doing everything else once you have achieved the single major milestone of the day is a superpower.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stick longer with projects and don’t give up to early.
It’s hard to convince yourself to keep working on a thing that makes little to no revenue, but things need time.
Wait at least a year before abandoning it. Maybe it’s your next big thing.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
You can scale your business without employees.
You can build a great business yourself. Extend your network with freelancers and use all the great tools to boost your productivity.
You will be surprised how far you can get as a single-person business.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Write guides and tutorials for yourself and your customers.
This helps in many ways: getting better at writing and communicating, getting more efficient with customer support, and having answers to problems you’ve already faced.
It’s also a great asset if you consider an exit in the future.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Sport helps a lot, but being in nature also works for me. The context switch is the crucial thing here.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Suppose I had to pick one particular strategy, I’d say producing content. My best decision was writing articles, making videos, and putting ideas out in the world.
In the early days, I had a developer blog and wrote down everything I learned while studying and working part-time in the development space.
I kept that habit for years and still produce weekly content.
Having the ability to write content effortlessly and knowing how to code is a reliable strategy to make a decent living online.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I started my own agency years ago as my first real try to run a business on my own, and it was a complete failure.
The problem was that I scaled too early, as everyone around me had a lot of employees, big cars, and luxury offices, and I thought that was what was needed to run a successful company.
I shut down the agency as we ran out of money and learned my lessons from it. I knew I would give entrepreneurship another try, but this time bootstrapped, lean and only scale in terms of employees if needed.
I also learned that having money in the bank before starting something on your own is the best thing you can do. Knowing that you don’t have to be profitable from day one reduces stress and allows you to explore ideas before committing to one.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Take a look into self-hosted software and build a maintenance business around that.
Let me give you a specific example: help desk software. There is Helpscout, which is good and reliable, but getting quite expensive, especially for multiple users.
There is also FreeScout, an open-source alternative that you can self-host for free (with some paid add-ons).
Offer an installation and maintenance service for FreeScout, where you offer the installation on the customer server (for a one-time fee) and a maintenance plan where you charge monthly to ensure the software is updated.
Be the middleman between your customer and the open-source community regarding feature suggestions and bugs. Learn how to create issues in GitHub and communicate the communication results to your clients.
You don’t need to be a developer to do that. No one expects you to build custom features or extend the software.
Your job is to keep it running, make updates and explain to the clients if there is a bug and what to expect (is there a patch on the way? Is there a workaround available?)
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Trello. It’s a bit clunky, but it has always worked best for me.
It’s simple and has almost no learning curve to get started. You can extend it heavily with their addons (Slack, GitHub, Helpscout, Zapier..).
I use it for my entire business and have multiple boards for different aspects of my business: one for development, one for content, and one for marketing and appointments.
I can quickly context-switch by choosing a board and have a quick overview of outstanding tasks and the overall progress, and I can quickly adjust my roadmap accordingly.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I recently bought “Lean Email” from StarterStory as I am trying to get better at email marketing.
I already loved the Lean SEO guide from StarterStory as it was an actionable guide on how to produce content that works for both: Google and the visitor.
As a solopreneur, I need something I can use almost immediately to improve my business, and I expect nothing less from Lean Email (I haven’t started it yet).
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
Podcast: The Bootstrapped Founder by Arvid Kahl
I learned a lot from Arvid in the last few years. I read his books, listened to his podcasts, and he also helped me as a consultant.
There is much to learn here for people who want to know more about bootstrapping a business from someone who has done that successfully and shares actionable advice in every episode.
Book: The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia
This book covers the story of Gumroad and how Sahil bootstrapped it up to this massive business it is today without a single employee.
I learned a lot from Sahil and adapted many of his ideas on running a successful business while having a good life.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
Nothing particular recently, sorry!
- You don’t need a team to be successful
- Document everything on your journey
- Content is the best strategy to grow your business
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.