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Issue 5.4


Path to Success

Starting a new software business

Issue: 5.4 (May/June 2007)
Author: David Mancuso
Author Bio: Dave is the CTO of a K-12 school district and is involved with several software ventures, notably the new REALbasic training site, http://www.rbbootcamp.com/
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 18,182
Starting Page Number: 30
Article Number: 5412
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Excerpt of article text...

A number of us in the REALbasic world are corporate programmers; that is, programmers for our organization. A number of us program for fun or to learn. Others program to make that application that the world needs. Usually at some point, this third group thinks about starting a business. At this point, you're deciding to wear two hats, developer and CEO. I believe that we're actually all in the same boat, however. No matter where you work, or who you work for, you're a "company" contracted to provide a service, and it benefits us all to think of ourselves as such.

For instance, I've worked in a number of independent ventures, from multimedia startups to training companies, and currently my primary job is to manage technology services for a school district. One company I worked in was a brand new startup, but another was a new, self-sustaining division I created inside an existing company. I built my current technology services department from scratch twelve years ago into a seven person department today. I believe that the principles in this article apply to anyone's career or startup business. I spend as much time defining a vision, setting and managing expectations, and providing value for my current employer as I did for any startup companies I worked with. In fact, thinking of yourself as a business for hire gives you a better perspective on starting a business even if you're a corporate employee. The key is deciding what you're in the business of providing and understanding why you're doing it. Planning and passion are the key, and you can't really run a successful business or career without it.

Scratching an Itch

No matter what you're doing, you're providing a service or a product (or both -- I'll use the term product or app to refer to both ideas in this article). It sounds basic, but it's amazing how many people never think about it. What is your primary mission? Are you developing an application or are you providing a range of programming services? Write it down. It's the beginning of your business plan, and you'll need to write it out to really see your business as a cohesive whole. Your product description doesn't need to be a mission statement (although it can be), but it needs to capture why you're doing it. Most successful developers are scratching an itch, making something that they truly believe in their gut is something they want for themselves if not the world. In order to please the world, you have to please yourself first. Dig deep and find out what it is. Right now, I'm beginning to develop an application based on David Allen's Getting Things Done bestseller. It's an application that I think a lot of people could get excited about, but the most enthusiastic user of my application will be me. Your product should be something that you are compelled to do. Capture in your plan the reason that you're compelled to do this thing, make this product, provide this service. It really helps center you and strengthen your resolve to forge forward.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.