Update: Working On My Side Hustle With A Bigger Vision [$21K/Year]

Published: August 22nd, 2023
David Arroyo
Founder, DigitalCollars
$1.7K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
DigitalCollars
from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
started March 2020
$1,700
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
market size
$250B
avg revenue (monthly)
$104K
starting costs
$11.7K
gross margin
90%
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Word of mouth
business model
Consulting
best tools
Google Suite, WordPress, Canva
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
tips
16 Tips
Discover what tools David recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books David recommends to grow your business!
Want more updates on DigitalCollars? Check out these stories:

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hello, and thanks for having me again. I'm David Arroyo, the man behind DigitalCollars.

I run a digital consultancy business with a niche focus on providing software solutions to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

My mission is to bridge the technology gap in the manufacturing sector, turning manual processes into efficient digital workflows.

It’s incredible how easy it is to code nowadays with tools like ChatGPT or GitHub Copilot. It’s like having five employees way cleverer than me, giving me support 24/7.

You can check out my former post here. As of today, revenue remains stable at around $21.000 per year.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

Since we last spoke, growth has been flat. Like in every business, some customers left, others joined, but overall revenue has remained fairly stable. I’m still fascinated that, even in this era of technology, many factories still depend heavily on traditional paper-based systems, which makes them my perfect target.

Some companies, even having tens of millions of dollars in revenue, still have workers doing copy-pasting jobs from PDFs daily.

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I’m still fully employed outside of DigitalCollars, and my day job has been quite demanding in the past few months, so I couldn’t focus on growth or marketing during this last year. I’ve been mainly focused on a new UL certification, for producing air handling units in the US and Canada.

On top of that, the AI field has kept me busy with all these new releases. The tech industry is experiencing its biggest change ever in my opinion, and I want to be part of that, but it’s been very difficult to keep up with everything.

One of the last projects I’ve been working on was the development of an entire platform from scratch, to schedule the shifts for the workers. I’ve dusted off my web development skills and took some courses to learn new frameworks like Svelte.

It’s incredible how easy it is to code nowadays with tools like ChatGPT or GitHub Copilot. It’s like having five employees way cleverer than me, giving me support 24/7. In this context, it’s difficult to justify a new hire, at least for the technical part.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

The primary challenge was managing my workload, which, between my full-time day job and the commitments at DigitalCollars, became quite overwhelming. The demands were such that I had to take several weeks off from DigitalCollars after wrapping up projects with some clients.

Swapping between these two roles stretched me thin and there were moments when the pressure was almost too much. Fortunately, the workload has decreased lately, so I can focus more on what I like.

Also, to be honest, the first time that I got access to OpenAI API and saw what GPT models were able to achieve, I felt a lot of anxiety. Knowing how fast these tools can iterate, I was worried about a new wave of layoffs in the white-collar market.

I think it will arrive at some point (we’ve already seen it in the tech industry) but so far in the industrial sector it hasn’t come yet. This industry is not known to be the most innovative, which is the main reason why I decided to launch DigitalCollars in the first place.

It took some time to digest and to change my mind, to see these new AI tools as an opportunity instead of as a threat.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

In the last year, I’ve learned several lessons, which might seem obvious at first, but they are not so obvious when you’re buried in work. One of the lessons that I learned was prioritizing what you work on and who you work with.

When you start a side hustle you want to take as many opportunities as you can, and it’s easy to burn out pretty quickly. Some of my customers wanted a lot of new things for yesterday, with a lot of new features and implementations, etc.

That was not sustainable over time, so once I finished the commitments, I stopped working with them. It’s hard to give up on revenue, but my time, and especially my health, is way more valuable.

Another obvious lesson that I learned is that it’s better to ship something fast, rather than perfect. I think many people don’t do this because they are afraid of bugs, or fear that something suddenly fails. At least that was my case. In reality, there will always be bugs in the code or the apps, but it’s rarely going to break anything.

Furthermore, you can always iterate and redesign it in the future. It’s more important to have momentum rather than perfect code that nobody uses. A good example of this was a dashboard that I created for a client. Was it the best-looking chart in the world? Of course not, but at least it showed the right metrics the client wanted to track.

Lastly, I learned the hard way the importance of trusting one's instincts. I recall taking my first AI course from Udacity in 2017 and being shocked. It felt like magic to me, and we’re talking about the pre-transformer era.

The paper “Attention is all you need” was released while I was taking the course, so it was not covered. I saw the potential of this technology, but somehow, I didn’t chase it hard enough. Now I regret not having done it. I learned that, when you feel strongly about something, you should follow that instinct, learn more, and explore it further.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Although I didn’t take advantage of the first AI wave, I plan to learn more and more every day and try to apply it in the workflow of my clients. I’m talking about using ML to solve forecasting problems or creating chatbots from custom data using LangChain and OpenAI APIs, among others.

I genuinely believe we’re experiencing a new technological wave, where digital transformation is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Every industry, every business, every process will change forever, and I want to be part of this, especially in the manufacturing sector.

My vision for DigitalCollars extends beyond providing digital solutions. I aspire to establish the company as a go-to resource for manufacturers looking to apply the latest technologies to their operations. I want DigitalCollars to be synonymous with innovative, tech-driven solutions tailored for manufacturing use cases.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Last year I started listening to My First Million podcast. It’s about businesses and new trends, but at the same time, Sam and Shaan make it entertaining. It helped me in my lowest moments and opened my eyes to many things business-related. I highly recommend it.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

All I can say to them is keep going! Don't get upset if your first product doesn't make waves, or if what you've made isn't as shiny as you wanted it to be. The real game is to keep creating, keep tweaking, and keep putting your stuff out there.

Rowing your business is more about taking lots of little steps, rather than making one huge leap. Doing a little bit consistently over a long period can make a big difference. This might sound like simple advice, but trust me, it's easy to forget when you're in the middle of the crazy world of starting a business.

Where can we go to learn more?

Want to start a consulting business? Learn more ➜