I m a developer, I am not a business man

You are either designing software as a service for the fun of it or for business purposes.


I am yet to meet online or in real life developers who do it just for the fun of it. In this post, I will be sharing what some developers who are in it for the business often ignore and how it is limiting their success.

I am a developer, I am not a business man

Have you ever heard that before? Do you sometimes think that way?

If you are working in a company as an employee, that’s okay. However, if you are building a business of your own, you have to move beyond competency with code writing or better still co-found with a team.

One of the first questions I saw when I first joined Quora is; what is the perfect start-up team?

The best answer, which has up to 605 vote as at the time I was writing has this to say;

My view is the Platonic startup has a founding team of a developer, a designer and a distributor.
The perfect startup has all three founders:

  • someone who understands how to build technologies and systems to solve problems;
  • someone who understands the human factors behind those problems, why they exist, what it takes to fix them and how to shape the experience;
  • someone who understands how to reach, talk to and sell to the people whose problems are being solved – and keep finding more of them

Do you have all three skills? I bet you don’t. If you do, congratulation. Go ahead and build a good business. Otherwise, read on.

Taking a look at the pattern at several start-ups that are succeeding, it is a proven fact that, for a developer to build a startup that will succeed as a business, it is vital to have other vital skills in addition to the ability to write codes or design.

You may decide to go it alone if you have the set of skills required to START. You can develop and improve on them as time goes on.

Those very vital skills you should not start without

Written and verbal communication skill. During Garage 48 held earlier this year in Lagos, The team that came first callcamp, had an eloquent presenter as their lead and spokes person. They had a good product idea, but were not the best in feature. They were able to pitch well. For anyone working in a startup venture, this skill is a must. If you are starting the company alone be sure you have it, or at least have a partner who has it.

Marketing skills. How well can you research an idea before you start writing the code for it? Will a company like Nigerian brewery sponsor children events? Should they? (or look for another example) You may not need to go study marketing for four years in a university, but you should understand the basics and apply them.

Networking and social skills. This skill can never be underestimated. The reach and quality of your network can determine how rich you will be eventuality. This does not mean knowing how to use Facebook and increasing number of friend. What it the quality and value of the connection you are making.

Business management skill. How do you relate with and manage customers? Customers’ relation.  Managing feedbacks from customers and knowing what feedback is valuable and which is not.

Thinking and reasoning ability. This skill is in much need today as the world is becoming more and more complex. As you develop this skill, you will know what battle to fight and what battle to ignore. Some businesses are not worth venturing into, while some have huge potentials. You may not be able to tell which will work 100% from the scratch, but if you launch after a few thought and research, use the feedbacks and make it better.

Case study

BufferApp is a startup I have had time to monitor their way of doing business for a while now. One of the Founder Joel Gascoigne has been involved in several start-ups. He had to learn through it. What are some of the trait that I have found with Joel and Leo (co-founder with Joel)

Joel is a graduate, recent graduate by the way. Leo, by my last check recently concluded his exams and told me in a tweet that he had a 2.1. What does Leo do in the business? He takes care of some marketing communication. If you use any twitter tool besides twitter.com, there is a probability that you may have read his post. He engages in blogging on the bufferApp blog and as guest on other focused blogs too.

They both made a good pair. Joel is also good with writing. He keeps a personal blog, he is also a reader. When Leo is in school in the morning, Joel takes care of the BufferApp Twitter account. In addition to the individual account that they both have, they also have a corporate twitter account for bufferapp.

Before they went on to decide what product to develop, I am sure they did some market research. If you check the way their product is differentiated from the other twitter clients you will know what I am talking about.

In a couple of months, the product gained traction.

What stage are you with your tech startups? You can make good use of this little tip ad get better at your business. Please do not move around with the impression that you are simply a developer. You are much more than that if you are in it for the business.

In future posts, I will be sharing more tips and information on using online and offline techniques to enhance you startup business. If you have anything you want me to write about on how to use the social web to promote your idea or collaborate. Let me know.

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