Home Business Insights & Advice What developers need to know about becoming entrepreneurs

What developers need to know about becoming entrepreneurs

by John Saunders
27th Jan 20 8:22 am

Developers possess a unique set of skills that put them in a favourable position in the job market. No matter what programming language developers specialise in, there’s likely an organisation that needs it. And yet many developers are choosing to leave their safe and secure roles in development to transition into entrepreneurship. After all, developers have the ability to envision a solution to a problem and then build it from scratch. However, taking the leap from developer to entrepreneur isn’t without its qualms. To truly succeed with your own product, there are several items you should be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about entering the startup world:

Build to scale

Anytime you build a product, you should consider future growth. Many businesses fail because they didn’t design their product to accommodate for explosive (or even gradual) growth. In a haste to deploy a product and get it on the market, they may not be worried about where the company will be five years down the line, and what resources will be needed. But the truth is, building a scalable model now will save you plenty of time and destruction later down the line.

Using DevOps tools early on is a great way to ensure your code is scalable. Cloud-based applications like Kubernetes, Helm, and Docker make this possible. For example, with a container registry, your team is able to manage Docker images with pinpoint precision. You’ll also be able to build, automate, test, and deploy quicker than ever, eliminating repetitive tasks and streamlining an iterative approach to development.

Build products for other people

Programmers enjoy making things. However, you might find yourself lost in the passion of a project that has no market validation. Consider this: half of all businesses fail within five years. The inability to create value and reach a target market is the number one reason that these companies tank.

Remember, you aren’t building something for you anymore—you’re creating something that’s useful to others, solves a problem, and has a demonstrable need. There needs to be a balance between building with passion and building with purpose. Find that happy middle ground, and create something whose value is easily verifiable with data.

Coding isn’t the business

Don’t drown in the pool of coding. It’s not uncommon for developers to get lost in countless hours of perfecting a feature or function. Of course, your code should be high quality, but even the most perfect code will never find a user base if you don’t learn to focus on the business side of the business. There are so many other core areas that play a major role: getting a software license, registering your business, creating a marketing plan, and much more.

Don’t forget about design

Design plays a vital role in the user experience. To a developer, a piece of code might be beautiful, but a user doesn’t understand this. They care about the front-facing experience, and you should, too. Learn to love your customers, and keep your user interface simple and attractive. Most new users will only give you a few minutes to trial the product; if the code and/or design is too complex to navigate, they won’t stick around to breach the learning curve.

As a general rule of thumb, you should design before you code. An architect wouldn’t just start building without a blueprint. And furthermore, it’s much less expensive to trash a design than it is to have to trash code to align it with a design that came into the picture much later.

Get help

As previously mentioned, there are several facets of running a business, and as a developer, you’ll easily find yourself getting further and further away from the actual art of development. To prevent this, don’t be afraid to get help. With this in mind, consider a business co-founder. There are many reasons you can benefit from having a business cofounder.

The obvious reason is that you’ll have someone to focus on the business side while you focus on the software. But there are also less obvious reasons a business cofounder can help the startup take off. For example, a two-team startup with a technical and business cofounder is more attractive to investors, who might view your company as less of a risk. Business co-founders also help divide responsibilities, give your decision-making a boost, and provide moral support (running a business is no easy task).

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