The software industry has a warped view of reality.
If you launch a software product, the majority expectation of you is to build something huge, a market leader, to take over, to change the game, kill it, crush it.
I’ll acknowledge this industry can have a high profit margin and a couple guys in a garage do have a small chance at eventual change (if the stars align).
My problem is our industry is drunk with the posturing of young, early/mid 20-year-olds. Their chosen path of funding and going big overshadows the many people not taking that path or who have a different vision of success. Their path is neither wrong nor right, it’s just a path that hopefully leads to their version of success, and thus happiness.
Those of us not begging for our next round of funding are thought of as “not taking it seriously enough.” They tell us our growth rates should be 10x per year or we’re “dying.” With these theoretical expectations, our company has been “dying” for 7 years, yet we’re still here, profitable and moving forward.
Truthfully, LessAccounting grows around 15% per year. Outside of this warped software industry, the reality is most “real businesses” could not handle growth of more than 10% per year. To these businesses, growing slowly is a smashing success and they’re satisfied with just staying in business and paying bills by keeping their customers happy. I think their version of success aligns with mine.
When I find a non-software company who has a strong point of view, and focuses on craft and not global dominance, I research the company and its founders. I study their style/swag/voice/vision and usually think, “If LessEverything was a _____ company, I’d want it to be like this company.” More often than not, the companies I admire are not building big brands. I do not feel emotionally connected to companies like Starbucks, Levi’s, Chevy, Nike, Kraft, Ikea and Harley Davidson. I’m attracted to companies that focus on detail and craftsmanship, that build things that many consumers don’t always understand, and have no mass-market appeal.
Realize when you build software you can walk one of many paths. Do not feel forced to emulate the outliers like Apple, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Your version of success might mean never announcing a round of funding on TechCrunch, or being in the next class of a startup accelerator. But if you build something useful, something you’re proud of, and you earn a living from it, you are a smashing success in my book.
If you wanted it to build a product you’d find a way to get time to work on it. If you really wanted to start that new hobby you’d sacrifice something to find the time and money to do it.
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