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Last month, I overheard Heath telling our friend Wes about a tweet he had seen. We were coworking out of Wes’ office space in Alabama as we prepped for our Summit and I had forgotten to bring my headphones.
Heath is the person in the coworking space who loves coworking as a chance to talk to people and share ideas, while I’m sitting at the end of the table with headphones on drowning out the distractions so I can write in peace.
But since I forgot my headphones, I had no choice but to eavesdrop on Heath and Wes while they talked about Twitter.
“I don’t remember who tweeted it, but it was this new thing that lets you build an app from a spreadsheet.”
“Dude, what’s it called? We’ve been wanting to be able to build apps for our clients.”
“I don’t remember. I’ll have to find it.”
It wouldn’t be a conversation that I would remember if Wes hadn’t spun his chair around to hand me his phone a few hours later.
“Bam! I built an app,” he declared.
“That fast?!” I asked incredulously looking at the screen on his phone. There were icons and maps and different tabs. It looked like weeks of work, but here he was swiping through showing me an entire app that he built from the time it took for Heath to find the tweet to now. Which gave me an idea.
Heath was in the other room on a marathon video call with his mastermind and had a good 40 minutes left before he would be done.
“Show me how you did it,” I asked Wes.
He pulled up Glide Apps and showed me the basic steps and pointed out all their sample apps where you can see all the different functionalities the online application offered.
“This is all free?” I asked, skeptically. When Heath and I have looked into app building in the past, it was upwards of $2,000 for a plug-and-play app, not even a customized app.
“Yeah it’s free unlimited apps and then you just connect it with your Google spreadsheet and edit it all from Google.”
Every year, we’ve wanted to build an app for our Summit. It would be a way for attendees to have all the event information right at their fingertips.
I always thought the only way I could have my own app would be to spend thousands to hire someone to build it for me. That, or I could spend years learning how to code and then build it myself. Both of which were not ideal options. But this was interesting. And even though the event kicked off in under two weeks, I felt like this was a sign that we could actually make it happen.
I had 40 minutes before Heath was off his call and I figured why not give building an event app a try? Heath is always talking about this idea of runway: how much are you willing to invest in an idea before you give up?
I gave myself a runway of 40 minutes. If I couldn’t figure it out in 40 minutes, I would go back to my Trello to do list and work on the ever-growing list of things I actually needed to do before the event started.
I created an account, opened a new spreadsheet in Google, and got to work.
In 40 minutes, I had the full event schedule uploaded into the app. Every workshop, meet up, and event was listed.
It was live!
My spreadsheet had five pages: Pre-Conference, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This made for five different tabs on my app with each one displaying the full day’s schedule. Not bad for 40 minutes. Not bad at all.
Actually, it was weirdly easy…
I built a working app in under an hour.
Watching Heath download the app onto his phone was thrilling. I made that, I thought to myself as he flipped through each tab excitedly.
We marveled in the fact that it was even possible for us to make an app on our own for about three minutes before the entrepreneur-side of us came out.
This was easy. What can we do make it better?
Just the schedule was helpful for attendees, but how could we provide even more value? How could improve our existing product?
Or in business terms, this was iteration one. It was our MVP—minimum viable product. The absolute least we could do.
How could we make it bigger? Better?
So I started a new spreadsheet. I scrapped the old one entirely and had a blank page in front of me. We could put the entire schedule on just one tab instead of five. Then we could have a tab with all the FAQs we get. And the speaker bios would be nice too, so people can see the speakers’ photos and read about their sessions before they take the stage…
And within a few hours, we had iteration 2.
It was beautiful!
By the time we sent our next informational email to attendees, I added in a section about how to download the app, we had tested it on multiple devices, and it all worked without issue.
Altogether, it took a maybe two days of work to get the final version of the app live.
Now I’m biased because I’m clearly very proud of myself for doing this all on my own, but that’s seriously impressive. I can’t tell you a single thing about how apps work but here on my phone screen is the icon for a real operational app. I certainly never thought I’d say that.
You can do anything.
A few times a year, I get emails from readers that say “Can I do this?”
I’m in my seventies.
I’m still in high school.
I’m recently divorced.
I have three kids.
I’ve never run my own business before.
I have no idea how to make money while traveling. Can I do this?
It’s one of the hardest questions I’m ever asked. It’s so much deeper than just “can someone in my circumstances live full-time in an RV?” This is people asking me if I think they have what it takes to move into an RV, to find a remote job or start their first business, to travel the world without going broke or getting hurt. It’s a life transition that takes a lot of guts and courage and questioning whether or not you’re totally crazy for ever thinking it could be possible.
There so many things I’ve done that, at one point, I’ve been sure I cannot do.
I cannot build an app since I don’t know how to code.
I cannot quit my job, move into an RV, and spend a year visiting all 50 states.
I cannot film a documentary when I’ve literally never touched a camera before.
I cannot write a book teaching people how to RV—I don’t even dump my own black tank! (Thanks, Heath!)
I cannot drive our Winnebago while towing our Honda through downtown Nashville traffic.
(That last one was when traffic came to stand still so Heath decided it was a great opportunity for him to abandon the driver’s seat, run to the bathroom, and pee. Traffic instantly let up and I had to jump into the driver’s seat. This is not the first time this ever happened. 😑)
As I built my first version of this app and then as I started dreaming bigger and making the app even better, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’ve gotten in my head and psyched myself out from boldly jumping into new things.
To say “I can’t”, instead of “It would be cool if I could learn how to _______” or “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we decided to _________?” To not try at all, instead of researching and finding the tools you need that make the task possible. To assume it isn’t possible for someone like you and give up, instead of reaching out to someone who can give you a little encouragement to keep going.
I likely never would’ve built an app if I hadn’t seen my friend Wes do it. I really wouldn’t if Heath had not found a tool that made it happen. Why would I try? I knew I couldn’t do it.
Sometimes you just need a little push, a small reminder, that no matter it is you want to do—travel full-time, write a book, start a Youtube channel, create a multi-million dollar business—that it’s possible. It’s completely and totally possible—and quite possibly easier than you imagined.
Because seriously, if I can build an app, you can do anything.
PS I’m in no way affiliated with Glide Apps, but if you’ve ever wanted to build an app for your business and have 40 minutes to spare, I really did have a lot of fun building my own app! I’ve gotta add app developer to my Linkedin profile now.