I started into coding and then jumped into business and this is the most common path most of the makers/founders happens to start with. As a developer, running a business was totally a new world for me. I realized that running a business and writing code are totally different things. They are like a parallel universe and we have to take care of both. I have tried to write some of the points that can be helpful for you as a software developer.
Functional code is better than elegant code
As a developer, writing elegant code with all the best practices might be your fantasy. But when you are running a business, users don't care about how well the code is written and which tech stack you are working with. What will matter to them is - if you are able to solve their problem.
Spending time on writing elegant code will make you slow and hinder your growth. When you are in the early stages of your business, you need to ship things quickly, validate your ideas and features.
After once you find your product-market fit you can always refactor your code and make things scalable. But in the early days, it's important to make and break things. One of the best things, when things go broke, is you have the chance to communicate with customers and turn them into loyal ones.
Make one thing and do that extremely well
Rather than making more and more features in the start, it's better to focus on one core thing and make it better than anybody else. If you notice, most of the successful founders started with just one simple thing rather than having a complex product.
Even star athletes in Olympic don't participate in every event. They specialize in one thing. If you do all the things at once, you will be mediocre at all of them. Being mediocre can be the worst enemy for your business.
Don't look at competitors
One of the things I have started to practice is not to look at the competitors at all. When starting out with an Idea, looking at competitor will restrict you from trying out with your own approach. Once you see what other's are doing, it becomes hard for you to think out of the box. You only look at what others have done and try to replicate it. The thing you should focus on is - are you able to solve the problem effectively.
Often times the market is big enough to have more than one companies co-exists. It will not matter to you until a competitor is taking away your customers. After coming in the growth stage, looking at the competitors can be worthy.
Build a brand, not only features
The first question that you might have is - what the hell branding actually means. Well, Branding is what your customers think about you. Also, what you want the customers to think about you.
Focusing on branding from the start has its own benefits that show results over time. In the long run, you can't win on features, you can only win on by brand. It's important to build a brand and associate your company with it. Today, competing on features won't help you win. Everyone is lean, has access to remote servers, remote workers making it hard to differentiate on features.
Sleep, Exercise, and healthy food
Health is the most precious thing and still takes the back seat for most of the developers and founders.
Developing a feature or working on article whole night won't make your business a success. Running a startup is a long term process and takes time to show results. When things go down and don't work as they should, proper sleep, exercise, and healthy habits help you stay calm and tackle the problem as a founder.
One of the best things to follow is Big Five by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Sleeping, eating, exercising, learning and creating. It's the best things you can have, irrespective of what your profession is.
The Big Five: sleeping, eating, exercising, learning, and creating.— James Clear (@JamesClear) February 21, 2018
Sleep - 8-9 hours/night
Eat - whole, unprocessed foods
Exercise - lifting weights or playing a sport
Learn - read or practice a skill
Create - I write, but it could be anything: painting, coding, etc
Being patient is a compound effect
In this fast pacing world, where everything now just works at a tap, we have become more impatient than ever. Often times while running a saas business, things will take time to show results.
If it's a perfect case, it will take a year or two to find the product market fit and reach $1M annual revenue.
But often things don't go in a way they are meant to be. For example - Popular email marketing company, MailChimp was a side project for 6 years. Todoist was a side-project for 4 years. Basecamp took 2 years to even pay themselves salaries. It takes time to grow a company. You need to constantly ship, ask for feedback, iterate on ideas to grow and start earning revenue.
MailChimp was a side-project for 6 years.— Justin Jackson (@mijustin) December 1, 2018
Todoist was a side-project for 4 years.
Basecamp took 2 years before it was paying their salaries.
Maybe the rest of us shouldn't be in such a hurry.
It's better to be patient and focus on solving the customer's problem and making them happy. Being patient and working focused will do wonders, trust me.