uFincs Update #14
It's certainly been a while.
Well howdy there neighbourino! Happy New Year!
It sure has been a while since I posted here. I guess it's time to catch you up on what's been going on with the matters concerning my existence.
uFincs Update #13 was published more than 4 months ago. At this point, even I barely remember what was in it. Let's see... oh right, looks like it was about my experimentation with Capacitor for the native apps. Yeah, we'll get to the latest update on those in a bit...
But first, let me address the elephant in the room.
Where have you been for 4 months?
Long story short, towards the end of August, I ended up getting recruited for a full-time job.
Yes, I ended up putting uFincs on the back burner.
Why? I guess burnout, mostly. Turns out, being a solo founder is hard! Who could've guessed?!
Anyways, I basically just needed a break from working on uFincs. It just so happened that that break came in the form of working for someone else on something entirely different. I must say, it's been nice to have a team to talk to on a daily basis and to have a steady paycheck again — two things that were noticeably absent when working strictly on uFincs.
So why have I now returned? Well, I figure 4 months of silence is long enough as-is, so it couldn't hurt to bring in the new year with an update. That, and I've got some things to discuss.
Let's start with the good stuff: new features! Or, at least, one new feature.
Currency Symbol Preference
Yes, after oh-so-many people asked, I am finally relieving the world from being forced to use the almighty "$"! Now you can choose from €, £, or even ￥ to display across the entire app. Or, well, just about any currency in the world; it's a long list.
No, this is not "multi-currency" support; this is just allowing you to customize the (singular) currency that's displayed across the app. Multi-currency support is still not happening any time soon.
And yes, this is all I managed to accomplish for uFincs in the past 4 months. I really have been spending my time purely on New Job™ and relaxing.
OK, with the obligatory new feature announcement out of the way, I want to dive into a new year's classic: the good old retrospective.
How was 2021? Was 2021 a good year? Well, it certainly couldn't have been worse than 2020, so I guess, relatively, it was a good year!
But was it a good year for uFincs? Yes and no. If we go all the way back to the first uFincs posts (Update #1 and Update #2), we'll find my goal for the year:
The focus of 2021 will really be getting uFincs into people's hands (aka, applying the wonder that is marketing), and getting paying customers. I'm putting it on public record that my goal is to get 100 paying customers on any paid plan (monthly, annual, or lifetime) in 2021.
First of all, I did not hit that goal. At the end of the year, I've got (checks notes) 4 paying customers.
However, even though I didn't hit my paying customer goal, I still think 2021 can be considered a good year for uFincs. Why? Because it launched. Even if I had gotten zero paying customers, I'd still say this was all successful and worth it because I actually managed to put uFincs 'out there'. The fact that I acquired any paying customers is just the cherry on top of that (thanks everyone for your support!).
And it's not like business goals are the only thing I had set for myself. As far as technical/development goals were concerned, I did pretty damn well on them, delivering pretty much every feature I had planned (well, except for my precious command palette... and native apps... hmm). Which is really to say, uFincs is at the point where I'm happy with it; it can do at least everything I need it to do and then some.
So what stopped me from accomplishing more? What stopped me from hitting that glorious 100 customer goal? A few things:
The general anxiety of launching.
My general lack of expertise in the fields of marketing/sales.
My general unwillingness to market uFincs using 'conventional' methods (e.g. paid ads).
A general feeling of burnout.
This all just means that I clearly need to over-correct and set much less aggressive goals for 2022! Speaking of which...
What's Next for uFincs in 2022
Going forward, uFincs is very much going to be a "part-time" affair for me. Based on the last few months, I'd say that I'll be putting roughly 1/10th of the work in as I did in 2020/the front half of 2021.
Really, most of this comes down to uFincs not really being viable as a self-sustaining business. Could it eventually grow to be one? I can see that happening, but it's definitely one of those businesses that would grow along the SaaS ramp of death.
That means that my goals for uFincs (at least for now) have changed. Rather than trying to grow and acquire customers, my primary goal is now to minimize the overhead that I incur for uFincs.
What does that entail? Well, really it just means that I'm gonna be scaling back my development/marketing efforts for uFincs. That is, fewer new features and fewer blog posts.
Although this goal does put me in a small pickle about what to do with some of my backlogged blog posts. I've got some posts that were supposed to be key marketing pieces for uFincs, but now I'm not quite sure what to do with them now that I'm not trying to market uFincs. I could just publish them and forget about using them as marketing pieces but that just feels like a waste... Or I could just wait to publish them until after open sourcing.
Speaking of which, what do I actually intend to do with uFincs in 2022?
My main goal is to open source it.
Now, that might seem contradictory relative to the goal of "minimizing overhead" (and it probably is), but considering what uFincs is (a self-contained, privacy-focused finance app) and what I've gotten as feedback from people, open source seems to be very high up on people's wishlists.
But even beyond what other people want, it's what I want. Look, I didn't go into this business seriously thinking that I'd strike it rich (as much I might have hoped otherwise). As such, I've always planned for uFincs to go open-source eventually. Now it's just a matter of making that happen. There's some administrative and technical stuff that I need to take care of before that can happen, but I want it to be the big thing for uFincs this year.
And before anyone asks, no, the paid version of uFincs isn't going anywhere. Remember, more than anything else, I am uFincs' #1 customer, so I'm reliant on uFincs being available as a service to manage my own finances. It just so happens that others make use of the same publicly available service :) (not that I'd fault anyone for just self-hosting it instead once it goes open source)
Now, about those native mobile/desktop apps... After thinking about it a lot, I've decided not to 'officially' release them. Between all the nightmare stories I've heard about dealing with the app stores, the general extra support overhead they'd introduce, not to mention the technical overhead of publicly maintaining 4 'versions' of uFincs... frankly, I just don't want to.
However, that doesn't mean that they're not happening. I've had the code and the ability to generate the iOS/Android/Electron builds of uFincs for many months at this point (thanks Capacitor!). So I'm going to compromise on this by keeping that code in the repo when uFincs goes open source — then anyone who really wants a native build can compile it for themselves.
On the one hand, from a security/privacy perspective, this is probably about as good as it gets! (building from source, that is) On the other, however, I acknowledge that it's a pretty terrible user experience. So I'm not taking the possibility of app store builds for uFincs off the table; it'll just be one of those things I deal with in the future if I ever get super ambitious again.
No, not really. At this point, I don't want to commit to delivering any especially fancy new features or anything (which, knowing myself, means that I'm effectively committing to accomplishing nothing...). At this point, I very much want to just play it by ear. There's obviously a ton of things in my backlog with some features having been re-prioritized due to people's feedback, but I'm just gonna work on things slowly.
You know, "move slowly and build things".
2021 was an interesting year. I managed to accomplish one of my dream goals (launching a business, no matter how small). Then, in a complete twist of fate, I managed to pivot into full-time employment. Not exactly what I had in mind for finishing up 2021, but it just means that 2021 was successful in ways even I couldn't have anticipated.
Who knows what's in store for 2022. I suspect full-time employment will be taking up a large portion of my time but maybe open sourcing uFincs is what causes it to take off. Only time will tell.
Speaking of which... till next time :) And Happy New Year!