The Busy BIG Gig

After joining a Big Gig back in August I realised the value this peer-to-peer workshop could have. As an individual, tirelessly trying to get a business off the ground, I often became paralysed by your own perspective. I needed another viewpoint, to discuss issues I had mentally exhausted on my own.

I realised that The Big Gig could be the perfect antidote. Subsequently, when Paul Essery and Frank Nigriello invited me to run my own Big Gig I jumped at the opportunity.

For several years I’ve been working on a piece of software designed to help people focus. After 6 years of working in corporate environments, I’d become more and more aware of the compounded pressures work was having on my creativity and productivity. Constant distractions, updates and meetings meant that I often didn’t carve out any time during the day to actually focus on deep work (for more information on deep vs shallow work check out Cal Newport).

Instead, I would often find myself at 8 pm after having dinner finally scraping together a few hours to sit down and focus. As I’m sure we’re all aware, this is not a good way of working.

So, I started with my biggest enemy, email! Before my 6-year stint working in big corps, I’d worked in creative agencies where the pace was very different, now instead of creative thinking, I found myself bound to Outlook, bogged down in emails. So, I made Busy ( Busy’s is designed to help users manage their time better. They can block out time in their calendars to focus on something completely different, deep work, conferences or just time with their family.

In return, Busy will let people that email them know that they’re not available right now. This frees them to focus on the task in hand instead of jumping between shallow work and not really focusing on anything. Although it’s designed for anyone managing a busy work life, It’s proving particularly useful for people who work flexibly or part-time, as they can use Busy to set and forget their automated responses when they’re not working.

The challenge I’d been hitting with Busy was one that many early business owners have; how do I get enough time to build my business and that’s where the Big Gig played a part. I felt I now had a good product with some active and even paying customers, but in order to make the jump from my job of consulting to going full time on Busy, I needed a new approach. This is exactly what I posed to the Big Gig crowd, “How do I scale this project to a size that makes it a business?”.

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on The Big Gig I realise that it helped me in a way I wasn’t necessarily expecting. The feedback I got on the night was very useful and has opened up some strong leads for me but interestingly what the Big Gig did was make me focus. Because it was quite a large event and I knew that I would need to present Busy in a clear way, it forced me to refine my story and proposition.

I was dreading presenting my proposition as I’ve heard so many times that’s where people get it wrong. Actually, the feedback I got was that my proposition was very clear and made sense. This made me realise that in fact, the process for The Big Gig doesn’t start at 6 pm on a Wednesday but months before when you sign up to do it.

It’s the initial feedback you get from Paul when you’re reviewing the deck together, it’s the fact, that by design, you only have 10 minutes to present your problem at the beginning, it’s the intense questioning you get during the event. All of these well thought through elements add up to a cathartic process that purges out the true essence of what you need to address to move forward with your business.

This isn’t’ to say that The Big Gig is a silver bullet, I’ve heard of some incredible revolutions happening during other events, in my case it was the process that really helped me on my journey with Busy. If you’re thinking about doing one then give it your all, I guarantee that the effort put in is well worth it.

Arthur Tindsley

Creative Technology Consultant & Founder of The Busy App


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