If I had to pinpoint the #1 reason Indie Hackers worked better than so many of my previous startup attempts, it's this:
I intentionally chose an idea that didn't require much code in the beginning. That's it.
I couldn't shoot myself in the foot by coding too much, because there literally wasn't enough stuff to code. I was forced to do important business tasks, because there was nothing else to do.
Being able to code as a founder is powerful. Simultaneously it is a pitfall. There is a great risk that you focus too much on your code, and you forget other important things.
Like acutely selling or market your product.
I second this, because I am in this phase...
Neither is correct. Everything requires a significant effort and experience to do well. There is no debate.
Can totally agree with this. Over the past 5 years of running our SaaS, I can tell you that coding comprises of about only 10% to 15% of my time. The rest is documentation, writing help articles (and updating old, outdated articles), training users, doing the books and monthly tax preparations, booking demo sessions, running demo sessions, documenting operating procedures in our internal wiki, drafting partner agreement plans and liaising with legal teams, updating pricing databases to match current market fluctuations, reconciling payment gateway transactions, responding to support tickets, updating 2 blogs (marketing and technical), posting relevant articles on social media, filtering through customer feature requests on our roadmap, doing code reviews, documenting new feature additions and workaround... etc. ... And this is all with a high level of automation already set up for most of our workflows.
Omg. Doesn't sound like lots of fun 😕
I wouldn't say that it is all "not fun" - I actually enjoy doing some of those other things, but I think it is important to highlight to anyone who is thinking of building a startup that it isn't all about waking up in the morning, writing amazing, beautiful code for a couple of hours, then retiring to the nearest coffee shop to sip lattes and have eclectic chats with artists & writers while watching your bank account increase, then go to bed and repeat.
There are just so many other aspects to actually building a business that a lot of newbies don't realise, and when faced with that reality, usually can mean the difference between success and failure to grow.
Funny enough, the most successful self-made business people we talk about every day are programmers, not marketers, business developers, graphic designers or MBA analysts. Why is that?
A business is a system within larger systems called the economy, society, cultures, the legal framework, the digital world etc. Most programmers are excellent at analyzing systems, seeing patterns and building better systems.
I think a programmer who takes time to study business will be even better at it than a business person who has never built a software. What do SEO experts, growth gurus and other marketers talk about all day? Systems, patterns and algorithms. However, some programmers try to build a business without studying and mastering the business side.
Yep – one of the biggest issues I see is that many Indie Hackers are developers in bigger companies and we all overvalue our input and importance of work.
There's a presumption that if you simply build an app and do a launch on Product Hunt then people will come. Instead, the bulk of the valuable work in a startup lies in perfecting your product positioning and understanding a market (and your users) thoroughly.
That's all stuff that doesn't come naturally to developers who are used to seeing a predictable, measurable and demonstrable output in their work.
an it is true. Sorry to say but "anyone" can code after some studying + practice, but doing all those business tasks requires not only the training but a lot of experience in different contexts.
Depends what you mean by "code" and how much of "some studying + practice" is involved in the process.
No, I would say that "anyone" can't code just like that, same as "anyone" wouldn't know how to promote business, do ads, design ui, write texts and articles for landing page and blog, do a social media interactions, etc.
yeah, after 24h I can say that was too radical. Not everyone can be a coder (otherwise there wouldn't be any unemployment!)
biz is harder than engineering. it's a larger, multi-variate problem and it requires a lot of human-to-human interaction... which is harder than just writing lines.
... so, yeah. 100%.
I agree. Coding is easier to learn - you get instant feedback, most of the time you know if you're going in the right direction. You have great control over your environment. Business deals with real world and people, so it's enormously more complex and unpredictable - you can do everything right and still fail.
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I don't think he's whining, he's clearly doing a ton of work.