I am living a life (or at least part of a life) as a software executive. I’ve learned a lot in this part time role. And perhaps I can share a few helpful lessons from my experience. Would love to hear from others trying to create something new. Are you?
If you’ve read my larger story, you know that I’m living out a portfolio career. And trying to replace a corporate VP salary with a non-traditional job. It’s a challenging project but one that I have embraced. Because I love what I do.
Part of this effort has involved the development of a new software product for those in job search or those who think they might be soon. So, as a result, I am now officially a software executive. Leader of a team of two.
We are in a controlled beta now having recently finished a few private betas (top secret stuff). It’s been two years to get to this point and more money and personal sacrifice than I care to divulge. But every dollar that went out the door was to invest in something I really cared about.
This is my passion project. And I’m excited to see where it goes.
But not every day is wine and roses. Sometimes it is downright frustrating. So I was really encouraged to get an email newsletter (not my normal reaction to an email newsletter) from Mike McDerment, Founder and CEO of FreshBooks. You can read the whole newsletter here, but below is a passage that spoke to me in a big way:
“It took over 16 months to bring a product to market. When we launched no one cared and 24 months after starting we had only 10 paying customers and revenues of $99 per month. We moved into my parents’ basement for 3.5 years. But despite all the evidence pointing to our failure, we carried on. Why? We loved our customers, our company and working together, and we’d discovered a passion to serve others.”
Of course later in the newsletter Mike shares the good news about FreshBooks:
Since those humble beginnings, over 5 million people have used FreshBooks to send and receive, print or pay invoices. Today FreshBooks has paying customers in over 120 countries. We are a rapidly growing 90 person company.
Awesome. I really enjoyed his message and the hope it offers for passionate creators of software (0r any new product that aims to help people). Especially for me since this is my first time around the block as a “software executive”.
Thanks Mike. The timing of your newsletter was perfect.
But real quick – here are my three humble learnings about creating the product and the systems to support it:
The process is highly iterative
Every time I thought I had reached a milestone, the stone itself was turned over exposing a whole new way to do something. And its hard not to turn over the stones if you can make something better.
It takes at least twice as long to get anything done in the software world
My one year project became two. And that was just to get the beta out into the market. It works, is stable and we are now charging for it, but I never thought it would take so long.
Developers think differently than I do
They move at a different pace, are highly visual and require a spoon fed set of instructions for functionality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure part of the issue is my lack of experience in working with developers. But it became clear to me that I had to change to succeed. They weren’t going to change.
What have you learned? And what could you teach me about the next steps?