Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Independence - Ruby FTW 2014

Independence - Ruby FTW 2014

A lighthearted take on the pendulum swinging back and forth between idealistic hopes and dreams and the slightly-less-amazing events from reality when building a small business as a sole founder.

Garrett Dimon

May 12, 2014

More Decks by Garrett Dimon

Other Decks in Business


  1. “INDEPENDENCE” Making a living selling your own software. What I’ve

    learned from 6 years of building a pro fi table web application.
  2. Fear: MONEY “I’m going to be fi lthy rich.” “I’m

    guaranteed to bankrupt my family.”
  3. Reality: YES Balance optimism and caution. Build up a cushion.

    Don’t quit your job on a whim. Prepare ahead of time. Don’t rush it.
  4. c c c Hope: c c c GROWTH “I’ll just

    post to (insert popular web site here), and it will go viral.”
  5. Reality: NOPE Slow and steady linear growth is the standard.

    It sounds boring, but it’s sustainable and reliable. (It’s also much more likely than viral growth.)
  6. Example: CONSTANT CONTACT How to Negotiate the Long Slow SaaS

    Ramp of Death http://businessofsoftware.org/2013/02/gail-goodman-constant-contact-how-to-negotiate-the-long-slow-saas-ramp-of-death/
  7. Reality: NOPE Unless you’re fi ling directly competitive patents, you’re

    probably OK. If you work for a particularly vindictive boss or company, this may be worth thinking about. Otherwise, your current company probably doesn’t care what you do at all.
  8. c c c Hope: c c c FUN! “I’m going

    to write software all day!”
  9. Reality: KIND OF Fraud. Spam fi lters. Spam accounts. Hackers.

    Chargebacks. Server upgrades. Security updates. Support. Marketing. Taxes. Legal. Testing.
  10. c c c Hope: c c c NO MARKETING NECESSARY

    “Great products don’t need marketing.”
  11. - Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.”

    Robert Stephens, Founder of Geek Squad “
  12. Reality: REMARKABLE IS TOUGH It’s virtually impossible to be “remarkable”

    when you launch. It’s a poisonous expectation to place on you and your team.
  13. Reality: MARKETING CAN HELP The idea that your idea and

    execution have to be amazing enough that you don’t need marketing is poisonous. Marketing, when applied wisely, can make a di ff erence.
  14. Example: EVERYWHERE Apple. Samsung. Windows. Amazon. Google. The de fi

    nition of “remarkable” is both subjective and constantly evolving, but these companies are remarkable and spend a lot on advertising.
  15. c c c Hope: c c c NO BOSS “I

    won’t have to take orders from anyone.”
  16. Reality: MORE BOSSES Instead of reporting to 1 or 2

    bosses, you report to hundreds or thousands of customers with frequently divergent needs and priorities.
  17. c c c Hope: c c c NO CONSTRAINTS “I

    can invest time on fun things instead of rushing half-baked ideas assigned to me by pointy-haired bosses and clients.”
  18. Reality: MORE CONSTRAINTS Bills. Employees. Revenue. Accessibility. Security. Front-end. Back-end.

    Server. Marketing. Once you view everything holistically, you recognize the importance of tradeo ff s.
  19. c c c Hope: c c c TEAM “I can

    do this all by myself.”
  20. Reality: YES Pros and cons to both co-founders and going

    solo. There isn’t a right or wrong. Only what’s best for you in the here and now. Don’t be overcon fi dent about going solo, but don’t let the lack of a co-founder stand in the way.
  21. A) Email Integration B) Attachments C) Search D) API E)

    Milestones F) OpenID G) Text Formatting None of them
  22. Example: BUG TRACKING 45 options listed on Wikipedia. Many of

    which are open source and/or free. Probably just as many that aren’t listed. Do your own thing, and don’t worry about “competition.”
  23. Example: ACCOUNTING Quickbooks vs. Less Accounting. Quickbooks is a borderline

    industry standard. Yet Less Accounting is still a pro fi table and healthy company.
  24. Reality: AGILITY Have you ever watched a team of 20+

    try to get something done? You’re faster than they are.
  25. Example: EVERY SUCCESSFUL TEAM EVER Google. Facebook. Apple. Twitter. They

    didn’t start with 20 people. Everything was a side project at one point.
  26. Reality: MIXED There are very legitimate health reasons not to

    start a business. Hypothetical reasons, however, are not among them.
  27. Example: MY FOOT Lost about 6 of the last 12

    months to being in bed, on pain killers, or in the hospital. Being self- employed actually made the situation tolerable. Recurring revenue ensured no negative a ff ect on our income.
  28. c c c Hope: c c c FREEDOM “No meetings

    or interruptions, and I’ll work from the beach all of the time!”
  29. Non-example: CONNECTIVITY Hosted software needs to be available 24x7. (More

    or less.) If you like to get o ff the grid, ignore what I said about co-founders. You’ll want one.
  30. Reality: YOU NEVER WILL The only way to learn is

    by doing. Running an app is nothing like running one for a corporation. You have to become a generalist, and most corporate jobs just don’t enable that.