Intro by Skip Cohen
Ever meet somebody and after just a short time it seems like you've known them for years? Well, meet Andrew Funderburg, founder of Fundy Software. We had a great phone conversation about business a couple of weeks ago. I then had some fun sharing some of his images from Japan. Most of you think of him as a software developer, but as this guest post demonstrates, he's got a whole bunch of different talents, including being a teacher, business executive, wedding photographer, street photographer and oh yeah, a writer...just to name a few!
Over and over again I hear so many of you afraid to take risks, essentially worried about failing. I'm so in tune with that lack of confidence. Remember, I'm the guy who left what many of you thought was the perfect job, president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. I left in 2009 to start my own business, the worst economic year in my life time and many of my friends and family were convinced I was nuts. The truth is, I wasn't getting any younger and I was tired of living vicariously through so many of you.
I've written before about my wife Sheila asking me, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was immediate, "Failing!" Well, here I am celebrating my fifth anniversary since starting my own company. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but the ship I'm on is MINE and I can take any course I want on this journey. My days, like Andrew describes, are often long, but they're fun and rewarding and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn!
So as you're white-knuckling through life trying to keep your sanity because you're worried about taking risks, follow Andrew's lead in this terrific guest post. Welcome a little chaos and uncertainty into your life. It'll make you stronger and remember this old proverb...
Smooth seas don't make skillful sailors!
I’m not sure why, but I’ve never really been afraid of risking everything. It’s probably not the smartest trait to have, but it does make for an interesting life. I’m not sure if it’s the deep belief that everything will work out, or if it is a deep confidence I have in the human will to succeed.
My father was a teacher and my mother was a loan officer in a bank. I grew up on a steady stream of 70s and 80s belief of “you can do whatever you set your mind to.” It wasn’t the recent, “anyone can do anything - everyone succeeds” mantra of the past decades. It was very blue collar - if you work your ass off and do your homework, you can accomplish anything.
It’s what made me decide to travel around Europe in ‘91 on a $20 a day budget. It’s what made me join the Peace Corps and live in the former Soviet Union. It’s what convinced me to move to Japan on a whim – where I ended up owning an English school and becoming the contract wedding photographer at three Iron Chef restaurants.
So when, after 13 years in Japan, I was ready to move back to the U.S., we sold everything and jumped in with both feet. I had my wife, two boys (ages six and eight) and our dog, but no job, no business, no back up plan. But, personally, I knew it was time – I was ready to move back home.
This was 2008 and unbeknownst to me, the worst job market in decades was about to fall on the U.S. and the world. The “finding a job plan” was down the toilet. A few months before I had taken $2,000 and put together a group of Photoshop Actions and Scripts to create Album Builder v1. The goal was to have a little hobby and be able to put some cash away for my children’s college fund.
Little did I know at the time, this University of Oregon literature grad, with a Masters of Business Administration and zero experience running a software company, would build an award-winning company with 13 employees – in just six short years. But in the fall of 2008, I did not know this. I was working a terrible sales job, barely making enough money per month, and scraping by with Album Builder sales.
That fall, I was sitting in a parking lot with a friend I had recently met, unable to hold back the tears, telling him that I was afraid of losing our house we had just bought. The overwhelming guilt of uprooting my wife and kids from their home in Japan and the cushy life we had created there. We were just 6-7 years from paying off our house and never really had to worry about money.
These past six years have included reading dozens of business books, countless 60-70 hour work weeks and too many sleepless nights. Instead of spoiling ourselves when small successes did come, we took every extra penny and re-invested it in the company – hiring more people, paying the people we did employ more, and just making the company better.
So, if you are asking yourself if you should quit your job and follow your dream, ask yourself these questions:
If yes, then go for it. You might fail. There are no guarantees. But if you succeed, the feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. If people tell you that you won’t succeed, they might be right. People fail everyday. But you never know if you don’t try. And I’ve always heard that it’s better to regret doing something than not doing it at all.
All images copyright Andrew Funderburg. All rights reserved.