Employee to Consultant to Creator

Employee to Consultant to Creator

Over the last 6 months, I've successfully made the transition from employee to Shopify consultant. I've also gleefully deleted my LinkedIn, made my first hire and resolved that I'll never take a W-2 job again. I'd like to say I'm proud of that, but I'm not. What I am incredibly proud of is my process, and the yield - that I'm about to transition from consultant to creator.

First and foremost, I view consulting as a forcing function for learning. When I get paid to do something, I do more of it. So in this case, I'm getting paid to learn about Headless eCommerce, which I find interesting because it's novel and technical (my first post here), and I'm also getting paid to code. Through that lens, I'm not just trading time for money.

I understand that consulting is not a mandatory part of the creator journey. Armed with my Stanford background, a good business idea and a pitch deck, I could have quit my old job, raised a funding round and papered over this intermediary step. Bump that. This is the software game, you don't need resources to build. If you can write the code + sell the code, you are unstoppable (Naval). If you do both independently, you are the ultimate full stack businessperson.

Some ideas demand venture funding because they are huge. Tesla? Yes. But in most cases, unlikely. When I see how VC rounds and TechCrunch headlines are irresistible to prestige guzzling MBAs, I know to run in the opposite direction. It's about to pay off, with the launch of StoreAlarm 1.0.

StoreAlarm is a Shopify App that will notify merchants if their Shopify store's orders seem abnormally low. We built it based on my experience running 8-figure brand Perfect Keto's Shopify store for 2 years, and the multiple store outages that I missed. The 'ah-ha' moment came one Saturday where our shipping provider's API fell down, and over the course of 3 hours, we only got 3 orders. Of course, I wasn't paying attention, and I got a text from a friend asking me - "Will, you looked at our store today? Something seems off." I dashed home to look into it, but by the time I had called ShipStation and implemented a fix, we missed out on $10,000+ in sales. I'd been learning to code for a year by then, and obviously an app could have sent me that text.

I tried at least 50 times to build the app myself, but I couldn't. Turns out that Shopify's app structure, authentication and session management is quite tricky. Oh well, I found a brilliant engineer/partner, and we're almost done with our MVP. It's a small app idea but by design.

When I brought my partner into the mix, I had to make sure we were on the same page, so I wrote a manifesto of sorts. Maybe someday, I'll share it. In broad strokes - we are in this game to hit singles, doubles, and then swing for some home runs. Our joint venture is called Goldilocks Ventures. Creating business that are not too big, not too small, but designed so we can do anything we want.

If you're a Shopify merchant, I'd love to chat with you about this and get your honest feedback. I know it makes the most sense for bigger stores, since we need high volumes of orders to detect anomalies. If not, thanks for reading anyway, because it was a delight to sit down and write this post. It's been a long time coming.

A special final shout out to Ryan Kulp, and this article "On becoming an owner" that influenced me more than I can describe. It's time.

See you at the top!