BinarySwitch: From Business to Blog

Welcome to the new!

BinarySwitch has recently undergone some big and exciting changes. This post discusses the history of BinarySwitch, and the new plan for the future.

A Retrospective

When I founded BinarySwitch five years ago, I had hoped for it to become a small software product company. I was happily employed at the time, and an avid software hobbyist as well. BinarySwitch was to be my outlet for my creative software endeavors, and hopefully a source of some additional revenue.

Shortly after I created the company website, my employer felt threatened and instituted a new, over-reaching intellectual capital policy; one where the software I invented during my personal time would become theirs. I refused to sign, and promptly found another line of work.

Not long after, I simultaneously received several project offerings that enabled me to make BinarySwitch my full time job. In the years since, BinarySwitch grew strong enough that it would not only support me, but it would also allow my wife to return to college full-time to pursue a degree in interior design.

Yet while the business was profitable, it was also extremely taxing to me as an individual. BinarySwitch was once an enjoyable hobby and a positive driving force in my life, but it had become a burden. Most of the time, I worked 80 hour weeks on client projects. Summers came and went while I was shackled to my laptop’s keyboard. I was like a stranger to my wife, and a poor father to my children. I no longer enjoyed what I did; I even came to resent it. Worse, I was completely uninspired by the work I was doing, which was, after all, making other people’s visions come to life. But what about my own?

Indeed, the most exciting part of software development is not in the engineering aspect, but in the creative aspect. During slower times—when work went down to a more sane 40 hours a week—I would put effort into one of the many product ideas I had come up with. Yet it always seemed that as I approached a release date, more projects would come in the door, and the old “bird in the hand beats two in the bush” mentality foiled whatever product I was working on. I was afraid to say “no” to a client, because I was afraid of losing the relationship.

During the recent economic decline, however, the projects simply stopped coming. The client who was always my largest contract offered me a job and I jumped at the chance.

That left me with a singular problem: what was I to make of BinarySwitch? The company website had been rotting out in cyberspace for almost as long as the business had been operating. The design was outdated. It anticipated the release of one product in the Autumn of 2006…and it is now 2010. The site was a veritable tombstone to my naive ambition, rather than a testament to my success.

At the same time, closing the company is not an option for me. I am not ready to call it quits. After all, BinarySwitch never served it’s original purpose—it never became the company I set out to create, mostly because I never gave it a chance.

Instead, I view the lack of project work and my newfound employment as a profound opportunity to remold BinarySwitch into something greater than it ever was before.

The Future

This restructuring begins with tearing down the illusion of BinarySwitch as a corporation. BinarySwitch is a sole proprietorship—legally speaking, it is a DBA, which carries about as much weight as a nickname. In the past, I felt that I needed to make BinarySwitch appear larger than it was, but, in retrospect, all that did was force me to enter into new client relationships dishonestly. Instead, BinarySwitch should be viewed as a brand, something easier to remember than my name. It also allows me to remain a bit more modest than signing my name to everything I produce. (No offense to Tyler Perry.)

Taking down that stodgy corporate image also meant I was free to ditch the stagnant website. I wanted to openly present myself, to enter into a two way dialog with my customers. The blog format is perfect for that, because it is all about content and conversation. This is a different, more open, more personal way of doing business, and it is something I should have done long ago.

Finally, I needed a way to make sure that I didn’t lose focus again on my main goal for BinarySwitch—to produce great little software products. That was the motivation for The Challenge, my personal goal of releasing one new product or revision every week.

To keep up with the latest BinarySwitch news, commentary, and releases, I invite you to  Subscribe to the RSS feed, become a fan of BinarySwitch on Facebook, or follow BinarySwitch using Twitter. I’d also like to encourage you to leave comments on any post to let me know how I’m doing.

So, welcome to the new BinarySwitch. I hope that you enjoy my software.