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Head vs Heart - advice needed!


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#1 dilby

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:42 AM

Hi all -

 

I'm in the stage of making a big decision regarding my work, and considering I work alone I'd really value some input from other people. I know no one can give me definitive answers etc, but I'd really appreciate some feedback!

 

I'll try to make it short...

 

A few years ago I built a project for a friend which was a recruitment web app. Their plan was to re-sell it to companies which they ended up doing through an agency they connected with. I took a healthy cut each time someone signs up, and over the years we've got some big household names on board.

 

As we've got these big brands on board I wanted to grow the product and really start selling it, however I'm starting to get cold feet.

 

On one hand, people may think I'm crazy not taking advantage of something I have huge brands' names to when loads of people starting SAAS businesses would do anything for that. But the other day I was doing some filming for a group of SAAS directors and they were outlining the day-to-day stuff they deal with, from funding, selling, pitching etc and it really seemed a nightmare. At the moment we don't really need to 'sell the app' as the agency we work with does this for us; so it's really a good balance of not much effort for a good return. However when I work it out, once I go and start selling and sell direct to businesses (we've looked at selling through agencies but that's a closed door for reasons too complicated to outline here) then there's just so much more effort. And also, I'm sure the app would need a lot more care by this point, which would require more people and ultimately more funding. (There's also a few other companies starting to do what we do who have huge teams and investment).

 

And finally, my bread and butter is as a digital strategist for brands, and that is something I love to do. I talked with these saas founders and really thought that wasn't something I wanted to do with my life, even if it made me a lot of money.

 

Can anyone else relate to this. Every time i want to go with my heart I just feel a bit stupid as if I'm giving up on a great opportunity. Thanks so much - appreciate the community support!



#2 Jack

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 01:28 PM

I personally don't think it's worth getting involved in something if your hearts not in it. Building a successful SAAS company is a lot of work, you'll need a lot of drive and love for your product. If you start losing interest it will reflect in the software and company. I've seen plenty of apps that have momentum for a couple years, either die, or just stop improving. I think a lot of that is the developer not really being interested in what they built, it was just some new income initially.

 

I really like the work ethic and ideas of DHH from Basecamp, I find his advice is always spot on. He built a product without the normal start-up culture and funding, and 10 years later loves working on it still. I don't think I'd ever invest in building something significant if I wasn't obsessed with what I was building.

 

I would recommend reading through this - https://gettingreal....als.com/toc.php. I love this book, and it only takes about 20 mins to read, but it's packed full of good advice for working on software products.

 

Regarding your competition, they're probably not as much of a threat as you think depending on what their goal is. It's perfectly fine for multiple apps with the same idea to coexist. A lot of apps nowadays will just pile on features, but the best software IMO has focus not features - https://gettingreal...._Build_Less.php. I believe the secret sauce for apps like Basecamp and Asana, is that they do a handful of things really well, and people appreciate the simplicity. The fact you've already been able to onboard customers is proof that something is working, so it could prove to be unwise to follow what the competition is doing, rather than focusing on your own goals.



#3 BrowserBugs

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 03:38 PM

I can relate mate, long story short I'm a lone wolf who teamed up with two others quite a few years back for a project, the exception is the business is PaaS. So the idea was I build, they sell and manage the stuff I don't want to do. My passion is making a polished product, I love stripping back and reworking ideas to make things all the better, they however are profit and timeline driven.

 

That said I've toyed with quitting, normally via a shouting match with partners about features they want to boost revenue; they think without them 'driving new sell-able features' we'll flounder, and yet we continue to grow via advertisers loving our platform and self serving rather than having to chase business, in theory they should be happy but until we're using £50 notes to wipe our backsides they will constantly complain.

 

In your position you need to ask why you would be expected to sell as the very thought of "funding, selling, pitching etc" makes me shudder too. If the app will require more care then sure, that can fall onto your role if you like developing, and if you're making money then funding should not be a problem, but if they want you to sell and give the app more care then sounds like they want to get rich off your back, alarm bells time.

 

The most important thing to remember is you only get one life; if it's making your life miserable then quit mate, if you can continue in a role you like then continue, never let money decide.

 

Jack hits the nail on the head about focus not features - might shove that down my partners throat ;)



#4 dilby

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 03:51 PM

Thanks both for the replies, it's really helpful. I probably didn't make myself clear before; the product really at a stage where I could sell, as behind the scenes it's a little ropey as I've been the only developer that's ever needed to see it (no documentation either etc). Although I could fix all that, it would still take time. And although we have some big names to it, they are all through the one company so I reckon buyers would want to see some diversity of income stream. And finally, the product isn't mine! I've offered to come on board and develop it more and sell it myself and the agreement is I get a bigger cut. But in terms of selling it, at best I'd get a small cut, but again it would require more work to get it to that stage. 

 

I understand there's other ways to scale a business up other than funding, but as far as I can see it all requires more responsibility, and more of doing the admin stuff I become a designer not to do, and less of the things I really want to be doing.

 

I like the sentiment of only getting one life - and I just don't want to be doing that with it. I guess what I'm struggling with is am i throwing away a golden opportunity I'll kick myself for later.. I struggle with FOMO anyway. But in reality to make it that golden opportunity would require me giving up the things I love to do and money isn't everything.



#5 Jennifer@Webriq

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 07:57 AM

Hi! I personally cannot relate much because I am more of sales and marketing rather than a developer. However, I was able to get the gist of your dilemma. In my opinion, it is better to follow what your heart wants rather than always following the most obvious and typical choice. I mean, it is a gamble, but later on, you will surely start questioning yourself with 'what if's?'. 

 

Sure, it may be a big mistake, but what if it's not? You might regret. We will never know unless we experience it. If things won't go according to plan, then learn from your mistakes, but I am positive that the impact of it will not be something that you can't handle because in the first place you did or made a choice that made you happy.

 

Also, in order to buffer the impact in case, this choice is not overall correct, plan your move and make sure to cover all bases and look into possible loopholes before making a move.

 

I hope I was able to help you :D - Jennifer


Edited by Jennifer@Webriq, 20 September 2017 - 07:59 AM.


#6 dilby

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 08:27 AM

Hi! I personally cannot relate much because I am more of sales and marketing rather than a developer. However, I was able to get the gist of your dilemma. In my opinion, it is better to follow what your heart wants rather than always following the most obvious and typical choice. I mean, it is a gamble, but later on, you will surely start questioning yourself with 'what if's?'. 

 

Sure, it may be a big mistake, but what if it's not? You might regret. We will never know unless we experience it. If things won't go according to plan, then learn from your mistakes, but I am positive that the impact of it will not be something that you can't handle because in the first place you did or made a choice that made you happy.

 

Also, in order to buffer the impact in case, this choice is not overall correct, plan your move and make sure to cover all bases and look into possible loopholes before making a move.

 

I hope I was able to help you :D - Jennifer

 

Thanks so much Jennifer, that really is helpful! ☺️



#7 BlueDreamer

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 11:16 AM

I'd say it's worth considering giving this a shot, even if it fails at least you tried.

 

Life is full of choices and risks. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't, other times they fail but open new doors and opportunities. Imagine if the great explorers, scientists and inventors hadn't stuck their neck on the line, where would we be?

 

Far too many people get to later stages in their lives and think "if only..."!






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