Dan Cowell Engineering Manager & Explorer
Osaka, Japan (mostly)

Getting out of your own way

Published Tuesday the 23rd of November, 2021

Aggressively cutting scope, incrementally delivering value and making appropriate tradeoffs comes as easily as breathing when you're working at a startup and burning through runway (aka, someone else's money.) It's surpising, then, that many technologists are less inclined to apply the same ruthless focus when working on personal projects in our own time.

This is the fourth incarnation of my personal website I've tried to build in the past two years. It is also the first to successfully launch.

I wanted somewhere to share my writing and photography that I controlled, which was fast and low maintenance.

Along the way I ended up building a half-baked photo management backend, a NixOS server running as a single-node Kubernetes cluster, a NextJS web app with an anemic Markdown editor and Postgres backend, and this - a simple SvelteKit website hosted in Github and deployed to Cloudflare Pages.

I learned some things along the way, but only one of those projects got me what I wanted in the first place.

Unsurprisingly, it was the smallest in scope and fastest to build.

When you have the pressure of money running out it's a lot easier to focus on delivering value. Don't forget that you have your own personal runway and you're burning through it every day.

Think about what you really want to achieve.

How do you want to make an impact?

Get out of your own way and ship.