Ben is a lifelong Nintendo fan who likes to build websites, and make video games. He buys way too much Lego.
There’s a few rules that I live by, that have helped to get me where I am. You’ve probably heard of all of them, but I thought I’d write them down and explain how they have benefitted me! 🙂
You don’t get if you don’t ask
This is probably the most important. There’s so many things that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked.
I wouldn’t have partnered with Darren to make Mimbo Pro and start Pro Theme Design.
I wouldn’t have started selling my themes on wordpress.com.
I wouldn’t have gotten a bunch of free stuff to review on my sites.
Most people will be really polite if you send them a friendly message asking for help or suggesting something. The worst that will happen is that you will be ignored, or get a polite no. Just be sure to keep your email short and polite.
Screw it. Just do it
I’ve said this to myself more than once and it’s always worked out for the best.
In 2004 I applied for a job at Miniclip.com – I was looking for work as a 3d video game artist but having no luck. So I thought screw it, let’s apply to any games company. I ended up staying at Miniclip for 10 years, being promoted to Director of Web Development. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
In 2007 I contacted Darren and asked if he wanted to collaborate on a premium theme. I now run the themes site full time.
In 2015 I was asked to be on a panel at WordCamp London. I hate public speaking but I thought it may well be the only time I do something like this. So screw it – I did it.
There’s no such thing as a stupid question
There’s absolutely no reason to be scared of looking silly if you don’t understand something. The fault lies with the person doing the explaining not being clear enough.
There’s also generally no need to ask in public. If you’re at a conference you can wait until after the talk. If you’re reading a blog post you can leave a comment, or send an email. If you’re at school you can ask after the lesson (unless it’s going to stop you from working).
Asking will show that you’re interested and that you care. It will benefit everyone.
Aim for the moon
Aim for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars
I love this one. Always aim high. Even if you don’t hit the moon, your project should end up better than it would otherwise.
I like iterative development. I rarely release things in a 100% finished state. I know that they will be improved over time. But as long as you have a clear vision of how you would like your project to go – then you should always do well in the long term.
You have to speculate to accumulate
I was raised to be very careful with money and I don’t talk about money with other people (besides my family). I don’t spend money unless I can see a genuine benefit to spending it. But you have to spend money to get good things.
I’m a fan of bootstrapping a business – it’s one of the things I love about selling themes. Besides my time the costs are minimal (hosting, maybe some software). But as the business has grown I’ve realised that spending money generally increases the value I get from something.
When I was starting out I would spend ages looking for free applications to complete tasks, or learning how to do something so that I didn’t have to hire someone. But I’ve since realised that’s counter productive.
Hire an accountant (or at least subscribe to something like FreeAgent). Buy Sketch/ some other graphics editor. Hire developers/ designers who know more than you do. Pay for good web hosting rather than the $1 a month shared host.
Sure, they cost more money, but they will save you time, and allow you to focus on the things you are best at/ enjoy the most. As long as you are careful – you really do get what you pay for.
Life is Short
Not really a rule – but a reminder. Life is finite, so make the most of it. As I’m getting older I appreciate this more and more.
We only have so much time on this planet, so make sure you do the best you can. That doesn’t mean work long hours, life shouldn’t be about work. Of course it’s necessary to earn money, but most people also waste money. As long as you’re careful and don’t buy frivolous things (do you really need that new iphone or is your current one ok?) then you can probably live quite cheaply.
So enjoy life. Try to make a difference. Live for experiences.
It should go without saying – but being nice is a good thing! Unfortunately there’s a lot of people – especially online – who are horrible. We see it all the time with people being racist, trolling, hate speech. Please don’t add to this. Take the time to understand a situation from the other persons perspective.
Say please and thank-you – ideally with a smile. I was raised to do this and often say it without thinking. I’m always surprised when people don’t. It makes a lot of difference. Especially to the waitress who’s having a bad day, or the policeman who’s cold and tired. It costs nothing, but makes the world a happier place.