Moving from Programmer to Entrepreneur

Ian Landsman’s 10 tips for moving from programmer to entrepreneur 

As always, I comment  (note – you should read the original too – there’s a lot more there)

  • Code is 5%agree
  • Design is everythingdisagree.  Design is important, but for many types of customers, it isn’t critical.
  • Think Long Termagree – it’s easy to let yourself avoid uncomfortable non-technical tasks.  Don’t let them slide!
  • Understand the end useragree
  • Love your customersgenerally agree -  don’t forget, you can always fire them if they are , or become unloveable.   Better to fire them and suffer for a while than keep them and suffer forever
  • Design for ease of useagree.  100%
  • Bounce ideas off of uninvolved friendsgenerally agree – it can be very easy to “drink the koolaid” and think you’re smarter than you are.  HOWEVER – “game changing” ideas are usually thought of as quite stupid or bizarre and unserious, until you make millions with them.
  • Pull code outagree
  • Patience is a virtue agree – although I might have said – be realistic with what you can accomplish.
  • Learn how to be an Entrepreneuragree – it’s a much different kind of work, and it’s easy to fall into old habits.  Read blogs about entrepreneurship and books and such – very valuable!

Other tips:

  • You have to put time into networking, and all those icky, seemingly wasteful direct human interactions.   Like debugging, you just have to do it, even though it is frustrating.
  • Save money on infrastructure – as a technical person, you often have a tremendous store of knowledge about how to do more with less.   Open source software, low cost hosting, demos and betas and so forth – you can easily get 80% of a full “commercial” environment for $0
  • Save money in general – programming is often lucrative.  Entrepreneurship is not always such.  Try very, very hard to manage your expenses.
  • Refer your competitors – in the process of going out on your own, you’ll meet a lot of other consultant/entrepreneurs.  If you find an opportunity that’s not a good fit for you, but a good fit for them, pass it along.  They will return the favor.
  • Don’t be ashamed to subcontract – when you’re in-between gigs, or you’re having trouble meeting cash-flow – do anything you can to keep money coming in.
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