This is a short post because it is brutally honest. Years ago, a friend asked me to share some thoughts about what it takes to grow a successful software company — not just founding it.
The following flowed out of me in a few minutes without any self-censorship:
- Don’t believe your own hype.
- It takes a long time; there is not an overnight success. Specifically, I’m talking about a decade or more to build something substantial.
- There is a survivorship bias in the stories out there (especially within mass media).
- Be passionate about the market you are serving first and foremost (too many people are caught up with their technology toys and/or whiz-bang when customers just want solutions).
- Focus is a must and it must be reflected by your actions. It is a marathon or, perhaps, more like a century race. Many times it seems like “pivoting” gets tossed around when people are actually just not focused nor committed to doing the hard work.
- Pull the best team members, contractors, advisors, investors, and so forth you can from all around the world. Don’t be afraid to go broad in search of the best talent and partners.
- Building a product company is different than building a custom dev shop. It is easy to dismiss those who are building product companies (SaaS) in the early years simply because the financials are much smaller in the first few years.
In a nutshell, it is a lot of hard work, you’ll wonder if it was worthwhile, but I think it is for those who have the grit to stay at it.
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