Before you start to read, I have some things to say. I am not a millionaire yet. I like coding and studying investments. And lately, I've been reading a lot about Business and how to create a product in order to generate passive income that will help me achieve financial independence faster.
I have been following some people from Indie Hackers and what I really like about this community is that you begin to notice you don't need to create the next revolutionary startup (unless you want it) to be in business. There's a lot of people who solved a problem they faced for months or years until they saw there was an opportunity to start a small business and make some money.
Eventually, your business can get big or not. And that's okay if that's okay with you. You don't need to be the next Google, the next Uber in order to be successful, and you don't even need investors. Startup life is something that you really should get to know well before jumping in because it can be stressful.
I was reading Stephanie Hurlburt blog another day and I found this great article about software development and Business where she says:
I know many developers who are essentially making products and giving them away for just a salary or throwing them out because they don't truly understand their worth. Next time you work on a project, really think about what your work is worth and get creative about how to get at that.
This reminds me that, as a developer, I have a feeling that almost everybody I know don't believe they can run a business, so they don't even try. Of course, for us, marketing and dealing with clients isn't something that we would usually bet our money on. Sales and software development are totally different things, and it's hard to sell something to a client that wants something you know it's impossible to do build as a developer.
But that's worth trying. Do the math: let's say your product generates a recurring monthly revenue of $ 1,000. Multiply that for 12 months (1 year) and for 60 months (5 years). That's a nice amount of extra money, right? That money could be put into investments. When you get the taste of making more passive income I don't think you're gonna settle for less.
Think about being financially independent. Don't get me wrong, I know that will not be easy. But wouldn't that be great if you had to work only on what you love and not because you have to pay your bills? Wouldn't that be great if you had the time (the most expensive thing in this world) to live your life the way you want it? That's the spirit. Set your goals and don't settle for less, my friend.
Let me know how many of you already have a business and how many of you are interested in having one. Cheers!
Top comments (69)
Ha, exactly what I thought. Marketing. Maybe this here, participating in such a discussion, is a kind of marketing, since people may recognize you and checkout your stuff. I dunno.. it's hard to tell.
Of course, there are publishers or other partners that might help, but ideally one is building an audience without a revenue share - since this is the usual way of working with those partners.
One of the most important things to remember is that ideas are a dime a dozen, but execution is what separates dreamers from doers. About 16 years ago I had a idea that was essentially a combination of twitter and quora. I didn't execute.
It's been said over again but find a problem, validate that others have the same problem, solve it and then plan and execute. It sounds easy, is an order of magnitude harder, totally doable and forever rewarding. Entrepreneurship is not for the undecided, but so very rewarding!
Also as important is timing. Even had you executed, there could have been a myriad of reasons why it wasn't the right time for the product. And let's not forget about luck!
Yeah!!! Thanks for sharing, Andrew. Ideas are only ideas, nothing more if you don't put them in action. Good luck on your projects, the best!
Good read Steff! I have been following IndieHackers for about a year now and post over there frequently. It is a great community that really supports everyone in it. It is also a great place to know that you are not alone in this adventure. It is an adventure and it is hard, but it is not impossible.
I recently started my own idea. A book about how to go about learning AWS by using it. It focuses on learning by doing. Focus on the problem at hand, build solutions, and learn the services as you go. So far it is off to a great start and I am excited to be taking that first step towards my overall goal.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter Steff. I would be happy to help you out on your adventure as well in anyway I can.
Ahhh good to find another indie hacker! :D
I will, it would be great to have someone with experience to get in touch! I saw an article about how having experience with AWS could increase your salary by $30,000 a year, I think you found a great niche to explore. Good luck on your projects, the best!
I have another perspective to offer.
I grew up as the son of an entrepreneur. If anything it tempered me against being one. The benefits are great if you ever get to them, but the 100-hr work weeks when things go right and the stress / sleepless nights when things go wrong... not so great! Definitely count the cost. I consciously make the trade-off of being a worker bee (in places I enjoy working) so that I can work 40 hrs and then actually be at home when I am at home.
Not to say that I "would never", but I am wary of reaching for that proverbial brass ring. Not for fear of failure (although that certainly plays a part), but for fear of what "success" would require of my life and those in it.
This is totally understandable, not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur, it depends on each one. I agree with you about the part of being at home and not having a life. Actually, I'm not one of those who thinks you should work 501919931 hours a week so you can be successful. And I do not want it for me either! And it is possible to achieve your financial independence without having your own company, it all depends on you. You've discovered what you like and are living your life, right? And this is what matters. Cheers!
There are hints of truth in this post but I think it should really get people more upset about our economic system rather than inspired to try and be that lucky percent of people who become millionaires.
It's true for example that practically no one gets rich off of renting their labor. You get rich from owning things. If you're lucky, that thing you own is the product of your own labor which generates an income. But the fact is that the vast majority of those who are wealthy are there because they profit off the labor of others.
It's why I cringe whenever I read a "how to get rich" article or whenever a friend gives me their multi-level marketing pitch. Being rich is defined in the fact that others are poor. Wealth is measured by the way it's distributed in society. It's like that great Jean-Jacques Rousseau quote:
“Do you not know that a multitude of your brethren die or suffer from need of what you have in excess and that you needed express and unanimous consent of the human race to appropriate to yourself anything from common subsistence that exceeded your own?… It is contrary to the law of nature that a handful of men be glutted with superfluities while the starving multitude lacks necessities.”
You can be extremely negative on everything. But the truth is that to have great effects as you have limited own capacity, the leverage is by acting on others.
So yes some people have more than other, they are more beautiful, they are capable to earn more money than others or they are interested to not spend they whole life working and try to find ways to have more time for themselve.
Maybe they'll have other people working for them, and in exchange for providing them a work they'll be able to leverage and get what these people produce in exchange for a salary. Or just in exchange of money. This is actually a smart way to proceed.
Yes these peoples exist, and it is difficult to see that as something "bad". People that say it is bad and are trying to convince others to not do it have actually their own agenda and are trying to impose their view on others. This isn't one bit better ethically. They leverage other people for their own interest, what ever their interest is.
Many even go to the next step to use that as a way to gather more power for themselve. On the surface they promote ethical and moral things but that's just a way for them to grab power and control others. Typical of many religious people and politicians.
I don't think raising class consciousness is a power grab, it's really just to help people understand the state of the world, economy and division of labor. If that understanding leads people to want to unionize or join a worker cooperative, that would be a power grab, but from the bosses to the workers which I'm 100% ok with.
I was only responding to the "become a millionaire" part of the original post, I pretty much agree with everything else. I think people should pursue a life that makes them happy, have more free time for leisure, put their labor in something they actually find fulfilling and meaningful. I just think that should be true of all workers and not just the lucky ones who "succeed" in a small business.
Hi, Sebastian and Nicolas!
I used to think this way, Sebastian. But the world does not work like that. So I just focus on having enough money for me to do what I like, giving me freedom, safety. Also I can help more people, start my social projects, etc.
Talk about social inequalities is something that I won't discuss here, but if you want to, feel free to send me a message! There is a book that changed my way of seeing some of these things that you talked about "Rich dad, poor dad", especially when he talks about taxes.
"Rich Dad, Poor Dad" is just another "how to get rich" book by a guy who got rich off of selling what you can learn in an introductory course of economics. It talks about the most basic concepts of wealth accumulation that were known since the enlightenment and the founding of capitalism. Who would have thought that owning assets is better than wage labor? In other words, the working class get screwed while the capitalist class (the people who own property/means of production) laugh all the way to the bank. It's literally what happened in 2008 and why 5 people own more wealth than the bottom 50% of the world's population combined.
I don't know, I kind of regret commenting at all. I realize a dev forum isn't the place to talk about wealth inequality, but it was just the title that set me off. Our economic system simply sucks and the whole mindset of "someday, I can be a millionaire too!" is exactly what keeps it in place.
Sebastian, don't feel bad about commenting. I think you raise some excellent points, and the post was largely driven by the subject of wealth. Personally, I am not upset at economic inequities for the most part. The thing that really upsets me is that some people literally do not have enough to survive, while I have an excess, almost entirely through luck of the draw. I cannot do anything about the draw, but I can use some of my excess to help. It's quite similar to the Lending Privilege talk that Ben linked, but on a more fundamental level.
And I have to agree on that book, which I read a long time ago. It's designed to get you excited about making money, at least enough to buy more of that guy's products, without actually telling you anything useful.
Sebastian, I understand your concerns, but you have to also know the propaganda on both sides.
We all know that the invisible hand is not as nice as some want us to think, that despite everything we tell us economic liberalism is not only used for the benefit of humanity.
When I look at my country, it is said to be driven by liberalists and capitalists. And yet there free education, there healhcare for everybody and the state help you pay your rent if you are poor on top of giving you a minimal ammount of money if you have no job. In that last case, if you are not too stupid, you can live in a small town with cheap rents and have a decent life. If actually you know how to cook (so food is cheap) and also the basics of economics you can even live quite well. If that's not enough even if it is forbidden will have a work on the side, undeclared to help a bit. For a few hours works they finally have the same has people working full time.
In my country, most people have a long life, decent security, a roof for themselve and lot of food. Most of them can get the new TV/phone whentever when they want. They may not be able to get the most expensive, but they can have it. For that to work, they have to typically work about 35-40 hours a week, with about 5-7 weeks of vacations, their weekends and basically between 23 years old to 65 years old. Before they study or do nothing and after they retire and can do what they want.
Last weekend I discussed with a friend of mine, a romanian girl and I asked how it was when she was young, living in a communist country.
She explained that you had allowance and tickets for everything Flour, oil, bread and so on. You had an orange for christmas but only if you got lucky to be well placed in the queue. When she saw a girl at school that have some meat in its food, she knew the parent were likely well regarded by the party.
if you wanted anything actually you had to wake up earlier to wait in line for anything you may need. So she did that before going to school. She remember one time, waiting in line before the oppening of the shop. her father came to take place in the queue where she was as of course a child alone would be denied access. This is when her father was beatten by the people in the queue for not waiting like the others.
Another time she saw an old woman beaten because she tried to keep an oignon for herself. An oignon that the woman herself made grow...
To survive, the familly was indeed making alcohol. For some reason this was not forbidden or at least tolerated. So the grand mother was making alcohol and was selling to others to get the bit of extra and missing thing to get a not too terrible life.
In the mean time the country said for itself that everybody within had a fantastic life, with a great communism system and showed that their were so productive with their system that they could export lot of wheat. They prevented their own people to have access to it, but sold it cheap to capitalist country to show how successfull their system was.
It is a bit like the 5 people are richer than half the worldwide population.
How so? Do they live longer than the cummulated life than 3.5 billions peoples ? Do they eat more than 3.5 billions people ? Do even they have more real estate ? More childrens? Bigger familly? Maybe they have more power... We could try it 5 guy in a war or martial art against a mob of 3.5 billion people. I wonder who would win ?
No they have from some computation by some organization a bigger number on a computer, that number called money in a way that most of the 3.5 billion poor people do not have. For that to work, we ensure that most of the things the 3.5 billions have is worth nothing and evaluated in some currency that is heavily devaluated toward others. What ever they may have, it doesn't count.
How much do you think the ONG valuated the hundred cows the massai guy own ? How much do you think the ONG evaluate the smartphones of the poors ? In France 1 cow worth is about 1000€. So the masaii own 100K€. Do you really think they counted it that way? No the masaii guy hasn't 100K€ in the bank so it is counted for 0. In china, people spend as much for their smartphone as in france, that it about 200-300€. There 700 millions owners, just in china. Theses guys, just with their smartphone that's at least 140 billions euros.
Also typically, theses study forget obvious stuff. Most young people start with nothing and accumulate over time even if that not much. On top of evaluating everything these guy accumulate for nothing, they forget that almost half of the worldwide population is very young...
Basically if you just count the cost of the clothes these poor people are actually wearing, how much it would cost them to buy in US or France, you'd already find the assertion to be flawed.
Finally is it really the goal of most people to have a bigger number on a computer ? Yeah it was really the goal of the communist country to export more wheat to proove that its model was working. They had something to proove. And they didn't care what second it meant for their population to suffer. Because their model was completely flawed.
But the massaii, he value much more 100 cows than 100K€. And most so called poor people their value their life, their child, their freetime and so own much more than a bit of money at the bank. This is actually true for most people.
If so few people are rich, it is also because being rich isn't that interresting. If anyway you still have to work, or to work more, having more money give you much less than what you think. And if we are just counting people that don't work and are free to use their time how they feel as the real wealthiness, the so called poor people have much more real weathliness than the few rich people.
Hey Steff, Great article. Thanks for that.
There's one thing I'd like to add. Many people, not only developers, think that running a business has to be something big you can only achieve with a group of people. In my opinion that's not true at all!
As you mentioned, you can start small with an app you wrote completely by yourself and try to sell it. Or you can build a game for Steam, write an eBook or make online course.
For example, I released a game on Steam and created online courses for Udemy. You can do that on your own (although I had a publisher for the game - but that's another story...). The thing I'm struggling with now is marketing. This is way harder than "just" developing a product.
Patrick, that sounds awesome. Good job and thanks for sharing! That's exactly the spirit, my side project right now can be done only by myself and my boyfriend, for example.
Marketing is indeed the weakness for developers :(. I found some articles that can help, I shared in another comment here, take a look, that might help. I think that like coding, it's something that we will exceed in practice. Good luck and the best!
Hey Steff, just had a look at your shared resources. Looks great! Thank you very much! I think you're right. We just have to keep practicing the marketing aspects and eventually, we'll see the results. :)
Yeah, glad I could help somehow! See you :)
Great post! When I was in college in the early '90's I wrote a windows screen saver and started selling it in-line for $10 as shareware (you don't hear that word anymore). I also made a few utilities and an astronomy application for DOS. At the time the Internet was a much smaller place, and one had to be crafty about finding buyers. Anyway, wirh 3 or 4 products I started to sell several licenses per day. Within a year my income was several times higher than what I could have had if I was already graduated and had a full time developer's job. It all happened while I was in college, dedicating maybe 2 or 3 hours a day to it.
Starting a business as a software maker has humble beginnings, and it is powered by a raging fire of passion for a craft. Today the possibilities are endless.
Wow, Lorenzo, you got it really soon! That is really inspirational, thanks for sharing!
Indeed. I tried during 12 months and failed. If you want to know what (and how) I actually tried to do: medium.com/@adrienjoly/12-months-t... (7mn read)
Hi, Adrien, good read! Hope you find your way (we all are). The best, thanks for sharing!
Thx for the article, i‘m exactly in the situation right now. i finally want to bring my idea to life.
i‘m not only scared of marketing but more on legal stuff.
without legal you cannot even start in my opinion and it costs a lot.
What are your thoughts on this?
If legal is a concern, why don't have an hour with a lawyer in order to clarify your worries?
I would go that way. Simple, fast, and hopefully not expensive. :)
I've in mind the following things:
I doubt this is done in one our.
Or is this something you usually ignore for the beginning?
OK, I agree. Didn't know you have so much questions....:)
Most of them seems related to trademarks, intellectual property, etc. I would go with some internet searches(google patents, USPTO search, the patent office in your country, etc) - you can have a good start point there and they are usually open for searches. Then, if something looks weird(e.g: someone is already using a trademark you would like to use), I would go for a layer or more specialized help.
Hi, Sandor! I agree with Vinicius, maybe your product requires more, have you tried to talk to any lawyer/consultant? It's better not to take the risk. The best!
i assume all points I raised have to be taken in consideration for any side project, besides of patents, no?
Just using google and doing c&p cannot be the answer to this when someone don’t want to be sentenced I guess.
Another type of business I think people massively underestimate is consulting. I've made over $1k/mo for the past year doing this on the side of part time jobs and while it may not be easy getting initial connections, it's given me so much leverage in being able to negotiate raises, switch jobs, etc. Definitely recommend this as an alternative for people not wanting to invest time into creating a product-oriented business (though it is less scalable).
My personal challenge for the rest of 2017 then 2018 is to get into product-oriented side hustle 😄 What's yours?
Hmm yeah, I plan to do this further, for me that is going to take me some time because I don't have all the experience yet. What I am doing now is doing some networking and giving free coaching on Rails Girls and PyLadies communities, so I can build an audience. I already have a goal with this :)
Good luck, Evan, thanks for coming here! My goal right now is to start to sell my product, which is gonna be a big challenge for me, but I expect to learn a lot and expect to have more marketing tips to share!
Nice, yeah building the network really has to come first with the consulting route. Best of luck!
I agree with Evan. Consulting on the side can teach you about how to run a business and give you experience with client management. If you really want to really jump in, you can also work as an incorporated entity while a contractor (provided your client allows that). That forces you to learn really quickly.
It's a good topic for people in our field to consider. Thanks for raising it, Steff!
Thanks for the post.
I've been running my own business at first on the side and now full time. Here are my tips for starting a business as a side project:
Pick a big market with lots of money. That should be your first concern. Many people pick a product first, then try to find a market. That's the wrong order!
Find an expensive problem they have and try to solve it. Lots of research before you build!
Solve it by hand first. Work directly with customers. This gives you a chance to learn before you commit. Learning is the name of the game: optimize for learning, not for cost or scalability. Also, make sure you like the people. You're going to be serving them for years.
Make money as soon as possible. Do presales, Kickstarter, etc before you build anything. People giving you money is the best sign you're onto something.
Don't quit your day job until you have to.
An audience is good but it doesn't have to be your own. You can borrow audiences. The biggest asset is your network, so start meeting people now. Relationships cost almost $0.
Hi, Eric, I follow your work and it means a lot to me your comment here, so thank you! :) This could have its own post or e-book, have you thought about it? :P
Glad you liked and thanks for sharing your experience!
I don't know if I want to be yet another internet business guy.
I totally feel you here. As someone coming from a business background into the world of development, I wanted to be able to execute on any idea that may come to mind. Unfortunately, this also means I have a backlog of ideas and plenty of new ideas coming up while I still polish my skills on a daily basis. 😅
Ahhh that's totally normal :D
You already have a good background, what matters is doing a little every day, right? Good luck on your projects! :)
Thank you! Good luck to you too. Hit me up if you ever need feedback on a project :)
I'm a coder 4 life and always have great ideas ;-)
But I also have problems doing proper marketing. I've seen a presentation on marketing for developers recently. The slides are available here: bit.ly/marketing4devs (not my own!)
Thank you for sharing, I am going to take a look!
don't forget you become what you practice, you practice marketing than you're less focused on becoming better at programming.
My approach would always be to get in a team that can deliver the outcome that shares in the profits with the team members based on how valuable they are to the team and mission.
Some of my references are:
While people like Dan Martel and John Sonmez make for great mentors in order to follow both profit and career.
I have a invention however it is in a very competitive market. I contracted an Mechanical engineer who assessed it. Getting capital for R&D and patent search can be hard as I really don't understand how much to ask the investor and the percentage of ownership as well long term likely hood due to the fact further research needs to be done on patents to see if it will be an adaption of the idea to sell to the already established business. For the moment, I'm sticking to learning coding, something I like, in the hope of a job to help put toward my idea.
So what I'm getting at like you, Steff, is keep going. There are a lot times when I feel really down and feel like it's never going to happen, then I just put my mind into learning segments of information and forget about how big the challenge may be. Good practice not good luck. Wish you well
Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. I believe that you are learning a lot on this journey and this will help you later, so don't give up. Always remember why you started. Have you tried to find a partner or a community near you to share ideas? Take a look at Indie Hackers, it's a very warm and creative place. Hope you can get come back here to share your product soon :)
Wish you the best too, see you!