Better late than worse

Not screwing up may the obvious solution, but hindsight is 20/20, and foresight is tinted by rose-coloured glasses—so it's not a useful solution.

A photo of Scrabble tiles on a white backdrop that read, "you said tomorrow yesterday."
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

In my first article, I said (emphasis mine):

I’ll post here twice a month; on the first of the month, I’m going to share news and updates. On the fifteenth of the month, I’ll share more in the way of resources.

You might be looking at your calendar right now, confused. It's the third of February. Which is not the first of the month.

So in my third bit of writing, I've already broken a promise. You expected to be reading this two days ago, and I didn't deliver.

There are two things that matter when you fail to meet an expectation:

  1. That it happened; and
  2. What you're doing about it.

It doesn't really matter why it happened. I mean, it does, especially if it's coming from some systemic and concerning issue that's repeatedly preventing you from keeping your promises, sure. But to your audience, to your customers, and to the humans you care about, it's secondary to those two things.

It Happened

As humans, we aim to Do Good Things for other humans that matter to us. We do this because it's the right thing to do, and in the process of doing so, we build goodwill and trust.

Another word for goodwill is reputation. Another word for trust is reliability. Both require a lot of hard work to earn, and just one broken promise to lose. So when It Happens, your reputation for reliability drops. How much depends on how bad you screwed up.

The obvious solution here is to not screw up, of course. In my case, the screw-up was not that I published this two days late; it was having too much on my plate, and not communicating about a potentially missed deadline ahead of time.

What I Did About It

When It Happens, the only real takeaway is that you accept that you've lost some of your reputation for reliability, and you do something about it.

I was witnessing things go wrong as it was happening, which always feels a bit surreal. I had a plan for what I was going to write about (What The Heck Is a Microbusiness?), an outline, but nothing especially solid. I understood where it would sit in the eventual body of knowledge that I want to build here, but I didn't commit the hours to the research and the writing.

One day before I'm supposed to hit the publish button, and I'm looking at my blank text editor. I feel embarrassed. Frustrated. Why am I doing this? Why did I add this to my laundry list of responsibilities?

Doesn't matter. I did. We have promises to keep.

I switch tabs to ChatGPT and enter the prompt:

Write a blog post describing what a microbusiness is, including the benefits and drawbacks of running a microbusiness, and how to balance working a full time job against running a microbusiness as a side business. Use the writing style from this blog post:

I read what the robot has output. It's passable, and hits the points I want to address pretty well. The writing style is... bad. But I could clean it up a little, drop it into the editor, and you'd be reading it.

On time.

And then you'd probably unsubscribe.

If you're a member, maybe you'd cancel and request a refund.

I wouldn't blame you.

Instead, you're reading this. It's a little late, but it's me, and it's vulnerable, and it's speaking to the reality of running a microbusiness — that it's not easy, and it means that sometimes you've got to sit there and do the work instead of sleeping in, and that you're often feeling overwhelmed.

But also that the work you deliver is signed by your own hand. And it's work you're proud of, that aligns with your values. That shows that you care and want to Do Good Things for the other humans that matter to you.

This article is sponsored by Per, a free iPhone app by Dropped Bits.

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January was a busy month. I wrote two things:

Both were delivered on time.

I also started some informal market research on my next app in a couple of Slack groups I participate in. This was mainly a dry run to figure out what my feature focus might be, and to learn how to use my survey service of choice, Tally. It was targeted at indie developers, and I'm trying to decide if I want to expand my scope past this niche market.

While the intention is to build in public, I'm not planning on sharing those results as they're based on a tiny sample. Maybe when I have more meaningful data.

I've also built a sign-up page for the app, but similarly, I'm not ready to share it just yet. Start by learning the tools (ConvertKit), then share it.

I still plan on writing What The Heck Is a Microbusiness?, probably in March. In the meanwhile, I'm working on another book review for mid-February.

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Jamie Larson