I’m back in New York City where the temperature is higher then in Atlanta. It feels like it is going to be a long, hot summer in the city. Anyway…
My return flight gave me time to reflect on the ICCA National Conference I attended over the weekend. I realized how important professional development in the area of business is for a computer geek like me.
When I started my company I believed I knew enough to run a successful company. After all, I have been in the industry for 20 years and I know software development. I’ve been told repeatedly by my peers that I’m in the top percentage of software developers, and I feel I have some unique qualities that allow me to exceed client expectations.
This was the confidence I needed to get my company going. I thought, “I know and understand software development and therefore the clients will come.” However, I missed some very important points such as having a focus, knowing how to sell and market, and how to grow a business.
Events, like the one this past weekend, prove to be invaluable to me. Like many other computer geeks I spent the majority of my career learning technology while ignoring the business side of the industry, but understanding the business side is so important especially to a computer geek wishing to go independent, whether you are building a consulting practice or going to be an ISV.
To be successful in the software industry requires more skills than slinging high quality code. An ISV can produce the best application in the world but that application will not make a dime if it is not marketed correctly. A consultant may know how to solve the most complex problems in a given industry but that individual will never find the right gigs without knowing how to sell his or her services or how to find and engage the right clients.
Point is a computer geek owning a business must understand the principals of running a business and how to succeed in that business. This is equally as important if not more important as the quality of the work produced.
I made a conscious decision last year to study more on business related topics. My book case, which was once full of technology books, is now packed with books covering marketing, accounting, selling, and other small business topics. I have replaced attending technology events like TechEd and PDC with business related events like the ICCA National Conference.
I still have much more to learn. Heck, it took me 20 years to get where I am at with regard to software development and it will probably take me another 20 years to reach that same level of confidence in business.
If you are considering breaking away from the traditional software development job to pursue independence, I highly recommend reading the following business books:
The E-Myth Revisited
Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
And many of the books written by Alan Weiss including Getting Started in Consulting, Second Edition.
I also recommend joining a trade organization like ICCA and ASP.
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