What should be the focus of a NEW software development company?

If you want to start a software development company in 2019, then you should focus on doing better than the competition if there is any competition in the selected niche.

Now, “doing better” is too subjective and different from case-to-case basis so how to nail it?

Simple. Create a niche or sub-niche where YOU are the ONE, not a leader, but the ONE! It has to be too narrow for the biggies and also irrelevant for the small firms.

If you can find a niche service or solution need and can offer reasonably good service or product/solution in that specific area, you are likely to make the business profitable (examples: some companies provide services in Salesforce and LifeRay for 35-40$/hour from Ahmedabad, India).

Being (and remaining) a technology-driven company is one choice many service companies make.

It works when you have a kick-a$s team (means hefty pay + great market demand + continuous motivation from the leadership…easier said than done…), but it is not always possible in practice.

So what do you do?

Find out the best mediocrity that works for your clients and offer them at moderate rates!

As counter-productive as this might sound, this has worked for many so-called BIG companies also in Ahmedabad. (I can name names in-person with examples!)

Be the best at what you do if you can, if you cannot then find out a fitment that works.

Create a mediocre company, and you will still end up making INR 5 to 8 lakhs per month if that makes any rational sense to you or serve any of your dreams. Making 25-30k$ per month turnover which is not that difficult with a mediocre team!

Now, let me be clear: the above answer applies to the people who “asked” this question … I did not have the liberty to ask such a question to anyone when I started. I had to fail faster than the most, pay the price concerning financial losses, increased blood pressure, and mental stress and figure things out.

Start a Product Company

It was suggested that starting a product company is much better than starting a services company. Yes, it is a dream of most founders, yet only a few can make such a dream come true.

The problem is: many startup founders try to find the problem and they find one, mostly the one that does not require any solution because the market does not give a sh*t about it being solved or not.

The problem is: many startup founders try to find the problem and they find one, mostly the one that does not require any solution because the market does not give a sh*t about it being solved or not.

Creating a product and making it successful is a super-stressful ballgame with tremendous rewards if the product commercially succeeds.

It’s not the cup of many founder’s teas for a simple reason: most of them lack perseverance that creating a remarkable product demands for various reasons: short of funds, peer pressure, not enough clarity, family/spouse expectations and alike… a few can make it and a VERY few can enjoy the fruits of it when they are healthy because creating a product is like chasing an unknown unknown and no one knows how much time it’d take … means we don’t feel we know what we are doing until the product has got its fitment in the market!

And founders like to feel in control so that it becomes a stressful situation.

I did products (and services) and made both profitable ✅

In two decades of my journey, I ran services, I did products and after selling two sub-companies for a not-so-bad profit, I can say that if one has guts (and resources and the ability to manage various kinds of stresses and severe uncertainty and willingness to drive a two-wheeler when your peers were driving a car…), by all means, go for creating a product that solves a real problem and do not think much about starting a consultancy/services firm.

Services company is not too bad 🤓

But if you are convinced that presently you do not have what it takes for creating a product, then a lot of businesses need companies that provide good software development services.

To build a good software development services company, choose to focus more on solving a real problem rather than focusing on technologies if you offer your services to B2C.

If you want to create a B2B services company, find out what the receiving end of “B” wants in terms of services and build a team/expertise in that area.

Initially, offer them much lower rates and excellent service and then provide the even better-unparalleled services for a premium. Now, this is easier said than done, and most people are not able to switch this swiftly so be as careful here as you can or not having enough profits will frustrate you.

Don’t believe in my advice! 🤫

Making a business successful is not as easy as asking an expert and believing that something will work out just because an expert thinks so. It is figuring out what works and what doesn’t in your unique context because each context is unique and each one of you too!

Please take my point of view with a pinch of salt but the bottom line is: be it a product or a service, make the experience worthwhile for the paying pocket and you can do a profitable business sooner than later.

Thoughts, questions, insights, and arguments are welcome. Feel free to write to me.

The Metadata

In one of the communities of tech entrepreneurs, yesterday, this question was asked. Lately, I have stopped giving so-called expert advise (‘fundas’) to others as I have started to notice that people relate in one of the two ways when they listen to them:

  • a. Many people think that the expert’s situation was different from them or he could get lucky;
  • b. Many people listen to the advice but often find it difficult to own it and thus cannot put in practice;

Somehow, I’ve found that generic expert advises are not that useful unless very explicitly asked to solve a business problem for a fee but yesterday, perhaps I had the 5th or 6th glass of Merlot red wine, so I ventured into answering, and I’m happy to note that it resonated with some of the community members.

Embrace Uncertainty

Here’s how traditional businesses were carried out for generations:

  • The manufacturers wanted to be certain about the orders their distributors will place in the coming year so they will impose strong terms;
  • The distributors wanted to be certain about the assured sales so they will ask their dealers to give the huge deposit;
  • The dealers wanted to be certain about the advance payments that will get from the customers;
  • It was the customer who could not remain certain whether she will get the appropriate product until the product is installed … it is an uncertainty that they can’t do much about.

But now the time has changed. The hyper-connected world has given the never-before power in customer’s hands.

It is possible to do a research not only the product you want to buy but everyone involved in the supply chain along with their business practices, their successes, and failures without leaving your bedroom!

Today is the age of hyper-connectivity and traditional ways based on certainty are becoming least effective day by day.

That is the reason, rather than MBAs, MBA Dropouts are able to generate profitable businesses! (Ok, it’s just a figure of speech but the point is made.)

The design of the hyper-connected world works like this: The customer enjoys the most power … and can enjoy as much certainty as he can, not anyone else no matter if they are the dealer, distributor or the manufacturer. 

Manufacturing in this hyper-connected world is not difficult, it has become different and a lot of other aspects have come into the picture. The News of bad quality results travels faster than ever. So does the news of successes and happiness that the products or the experiences would have provided!

Today, it is not about whether you have a choice to have certainty in business. It is about the kind of uncertainty you choose to indulge in.

The whole supply chain could work effectively if it is part of an ecosystem that is relevant to the target market it serves or intends to serve … not otherwise.

How to know if you are part of an ecosystem that is relevant to the target market?

By testing each and every experiences and gathering quantifiable data … and base your decision on data and nothing but data.

The emotions of everyone involved in the whole supply chain, as it turns out, is a data point that can be quantified and transformed into creating a win-win scenario.

Openness, not the stubbornness, is celebrated by the hyper-connected economy and openness means the willingness to embrace uncertainty for the greater good.

Solutions mode

The hourly-mode is what your outsourcing provider in India (or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Ukraine) operates from to bill 12 hours a day copy/pasting the code from StackOverflow for your dream app.

The solutions-mode is what a mindful programmer operates from when he synchronizes your scattered thoughts and comes up with app functions that bring paying users and thus profits to your app/software in an hour or two.

The hourly-mode is measured by inputs: long hours worked, more graphics designed, more documents created, more lines of code written, long client calls attended … if the app fails, fails but the work carried out would always be there to justify the failure.

The solutions-mode is measured by the output: the app’s success in the market. No matter how great the quality of your code was, it is of no use if the app did not bring measurable success.

The solutions-mode does not give unnecessary importance to unimportant things. ~ Find out more

For the solutions-mode to work, the programmer has to “get” the greater application of his software engineering efforts in the market. Unfortunately, most universities don’t teach that as a part of the engineering curriculum.

A lot of people and companies shy away from the solutions-mode because of its inherent risk. The solutions-mode might not bring you enough money to pay your bills if you are not able to find the (relevant) solutions.

The hourly-mode is easy … you just show up, do mediocre work within a framework and cannot fail although the whole project or the product of the project might.

The solutions-mode is scary … where just showing up is not enough … there has to be a real value in what you produce or you are no longer required.

The hourly-mode has a structure, a framework to shift you away from the fault line if the possibility of fault arises.

The hourly mode has a structure to blame.

The solutions-mode, on the other hand, does not come with a structure or a framework.

If the fault arises, it is up to you how you solve it!

Of course, some frameworks may help in the solution identification and delivery process but there is no one to blame if the structure or the framework fails.

And that’s the beauty of it.

The hourly-mode brings the benefits to you when your client is unaware or to be precise, less-aware than what he should. For example, I have observed some companies continue the hourly-mode for as long as 10 years until they realize that hourly mode was the most ineffective way to maintain their 44 different lines of products with their outsourcing provider…

And when they realize, they look for a programmer, or a company, who is willing to work with the solutions-mode but they find it difficult to locate such a programmer or a company for a simple reason: It does not seem to have competition in this hyper-competitive market because people are busy working with the hourly-mode approach.

It is really up to you which mode to operate from. Know that each mode comes with its own set of consequences.

So, chose your work-mode and choose your consequences.

PS: Some people work on a fixed price fixed scope project in hourly mode … nothing is more pathetic than that for both the parties involved.

PPS: While this post has relevance in software engineering, the behavioral part of it applies to non-software work as well.

Be fearful when others are greedy

I read a post today on Ideapod.

The post was about What Top 8 investors say about Bitcoin.

Since when Bitcoin came, it has never resonated with me.

(I am not saying it is bad or anything, I am saying it has never resonated with me.)

But this post is not about whether the Bitcoin is good or bad.

No.

This is an investment quote which got my attention.

The quote goes like this: “Be fearful when others are greedy.”

This quote came as a “wise” investment advise but it resonated with me from the overall life perspective.

And here is my take on it.

  1. Look at your close circle of 5 people.
  2. Note down about 5 actions of theirs that you remember without any efforts.
  3. You will have a list of 25 actions.
  4. Now classify those actions as “Greedy” vs. “Normal” actions.
  5. If you have got 3 or less greedy actions then Bravo! You don’t need to read further.
  6. But if you have got more than 3 greedy actions then drill further.
  7. Are those actions coming from a single person? Or different persons?

If those actions are coming from different persons it’s okay. Be alert but it’s not much of a problem.

But of those actions are coming from 1-2 persons then be conscious.

Your close circle has got a “bug” that needs to be fixed.

It is the time to feel the fear.

Fear.

Yes, feel the fear!

But take the necessary actions.

As Susan Jeffers famously says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

A simple quote in an investment advice can teach this.

Notes:

  1. Link to the Ideapod article: https://goo.gl/xjue8E
  2. Susan Jeffers’ book: https://goo.gl/V3rkAM
  3. It is okay to feel the fear – but still do the right thing!
  4. I have zero investment in Bitcoins. Okay, people may call me “unwise” but I am proud of that unwiseness!

Michami Dukkadam

Religions and I share a special relationship: I do not believe in any but I respect all of them.

But one thing I deliberately do: I observe the principles offered by different religions, see how they can help the humanity and continue my journey of becoming an aware human.

But this does not stop the religious messages and wishes I receive and it is obvious also as everyone is different.

Today, I received such a wish when I was beginning my day – from a Jain friend whom I respect for his remarkable dedication to work and ethics as a person.

He sent me a message – Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ along with a couple of lines that said that he is seeking forgiveness!

I read the message consciously and felt good about it. Soon, I thought I should know more about what Michhami Dukkadam really means. Hence I did a quick research (pardon my unawareness – I have received this message every year but I never really knew what it really means).

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ is widely used in the Jain religion on the last day (Samvatsari or Kshamavani) of Paryushana, the most important annual holy event of the Jain calendar.As a matter of ritual, Jains greet their friends and relatives on this last day with Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ, seeking their forgiveness. No private quarrel or dispute should be carried beyond this time. The importance of forgiveness in the utmost in Jainism.

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ means this: “May All The Evil That Has Been Done Be Fruitless.” 

Here is how I perceive it:

  1. When someone asks you to forgive, regardless if s/he has committed any wrongdoings or not, you get a specific chemical reaction in your body.
  2. You suddenly feel that the amount of selfishness you carry as a human starts to decrease. When selfishness decreases, you start to feel relaxed.
  3. If you don’t overwrite your state of being with new (and often selfish) experiences again, you remain in a great state of joy, an abundance of happiness and cheer.

I wish all of you who are reading this, get to experience that.

So here is my Michami Dukkadam to all of you …

For any reasons, or unreasonably;
By doing something or by not doing ‘some’ thing;
directly or indirectly;

If I have hurt you, emotionally, mentally, physically (I guess not) or otherwise, then please forgive this Nobody. 🙏

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ! 🙏🙏

~UV (20170825)