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Throughout the years in software development services, a strong impression that I am doing something wrong was growing and grew so big it turned to become an existential problem.
The thing is… I worked with startups a lot. Same with my colleagues from other software development companies…
And when we gathered on our small industry meetings – usually small meetups with a glass of whiskey – and shared our impression of what we do, we were in a very high agreement that our clients’ ideas are too crazy, too stupid, too small or too ambitious. And we had this feeling or even strongly knew it from start.
But we all just kept doing what we did.
Well, there have been a lot of rational explanations to why we do it the way we do:
“We are too business-unaware to actually participate in the feedback”
“Client might have a special window of opportunity or arrangement that secures his exit. For example, he might be developing a Skype clone – stupid idea, right? – because a big corporation has confirmed they would acquire it”
But basically negative feedback were not shared back to the client not to ruin this sweet business of exchanging the hope of the American dream for steady cashflow for software development services.
“Developers don’t care”
Oftentimes developers are just too rushed to put the head above and think a little bit about a bigger picture. What to say – they oftentimes lack time for code review and technical debt elimination.
The culture in the company may also be just so that developers aren’t asked really and every corporate ritual just demonstrates that they shouldn’t speak about the substances they don’t really propel in.
And developers could tell a lot if they were to speak! They would very well show how complex the software development is, compared to the dreams based on weekend website success stories that we all have heard about.
Well, I’ve met too many (way more than I’d wanted) entrepreneurs whose products survived multiple teams, have been developed, re-developed, refactored by years, and not yet launched. What starts as a one month MVP becomes your nightmare.
Why your startup will fail
Judge for yourself – how many applications do you use day to day?
Couple social networks – say three; two-three collaboration apps including Email and Slack; you commute with Uber or Lyft, you might tinder for dating and OpenTable for dinner. But that’s about it. There is no a lot of more slots in your memory and busy schedule to use those dozens of applications.
On another end, armies of entrepreneurs are fighting for the chance to disrupt some industry and become an industry leader.
When you plan yet another tool for project management, shopping list etc, well you are going to fight against dozens if not hundreds of competitors, few of which will turn out to be multimillion companies.
Can your startup succeed?
Trends change. Masses are always looking for better ways of doing things, or just something fresh.
In IT, where less is more, small robust innovative companies have good chances to outfight giants with their slow release process and lack of integral responsibility for the final product’s customer experience. Judge for yourself, instant messengers have been swapping one another since ICQ launch in the nineties…
We’ve just released an android app for a client of ours. We spent 9 months designing, building and bug fixing this quite complex yet sleek app with strong server side logics. Once we launched it… Well, pretty much nothing happened. Slow publicity coverage organized by our client is a nice fact per se but did not lead to app downloads. We’ve got nearly zero downloads and no paid transactions.
Our development team is quite intrigued to see what happens next. They’ve definitely worked hard in the purpose of seeing success. And although they’ve been pushing the client against more features, they didn’t try hard enough. They are now wishing client could have launched a landing page with a couple of value prop variations under A/B testing and see the witness of product/market fit early on. And that’s a great experience to my developers – becoming that marketing-oriented – and poor experience to yet another entrepreneur who had too high expectation on how easy it is to build a business based on technology.
The only advice I can give to you as an entrepreneur – be negative in your expectations.
Building your software product seems a cool and easy thing to do, and business development should also be straightforward, right?
But just in case, be prepared to “run” this tech company for years before it earns you the first dollar, or just forget about it. If you are not ready for it, don’t start.
Certainly, if you do things the right way, your path to success is way shorter, but that’s much unlikely. It means you have great expertise in validating ideas, wire framing and user feedback, business analysis, visual design, software architecture and etc. And if so, you definitely are already successful entrepreneur and this article is from the yesterday’s day.
The main point I would like to make from this story is:
There is a huge imbalance of attention and efforts into software and into business. And no a single simple way of fixing it.