Skedsheet Blog

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Top 10 things I’ve learned about the software business

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  1. The product we had a year ago sucks. Every upgrade we do seems so small that it’s surprising that they add up. But when I look at our software from a year ago, I’m shocked by how much all of those little changes make a difference.
  2. Everyone learns in a different way. I used to think that everyone learns like I do –by trying and making mistakes. Occasionally I break things, but it’s never a huge deal. I thought our customers would work the same way, but it turns out that some people actually do read the manual, some need videos, some need lots of hand-holding, and some are just like me.
  3. Advertising burns $ fast. Advertising just costs way too much. It seems easier to make a better product that people can talk about and share. I’m always torn about print and web ads – you want make sure that people hear about you. But boy, it’s the most expensive mouth to feed in the company.
  4. Trade shows work. There’s no substitute to shaking someone’s hand and being able to recognize them in a crowd. And as we show off new software, there’s no better way to get instant feedback – both listening to what our customers say and watching what they do on your computer.
  5. Industry experts usually aren’t. I realized that many of the self-professed experts and gurus in an industry are actually the ones who are better speakers than doers. I still have lots of faith in my own personal set of experts and gurus, but I don’t have any proof that they really know what they’re talking about.
  6. There’s no feature that’s a silver bullet. Early on, we kept thinking that “if we just add that one button, that’s when the big bucks will start rolling in.” And, it turned out there were some features that were incredibly valuable to our customers. But none of them opened the floodgates. Each one just knocked one more objection off of the list.
  7. Being a nice guy pays off. Despite the company philosophy of brutal honesty, we’re all fundamentally nice people… meaning we all truly care about the success of our customers. Sometimes it’s obnoxious, because we probably over-agonize about trying to make things great, but it seems like in the long run it’s a much better approach than being a sleazy used-car salesman.
  8. Balancing work and family is incredibly hard. I love my work. I love my family. I want to spend 100% of my time doing both, with some time for skiing, too. I guess this one is hard to complain about because I also feel incredibly lucky that I get to spend 200% of my time doing things I love.
  9. It doesn’t get easier. When we were getting started, I thought that the business would get easier – and in some ways it has, but there’s always a new challenge. First it was – can we make a product? Then, can we make a product that someone will buy? Next, can we grow? Can we make another product? It’s never over.
  10. This beats any other gig. I can’t imagine being in another business.  Software is great in terms of having low overhead, solving real problems for customers, and there are great folks to work with.  Our job scheduling software is the first product I’ve ever worked on that gives way more value than we charge for.

Written by Harry Hollander

March 4, 2009 at 7:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] it took me more than a year to figure it out, I soon learned the real challenge is not how to get people to buy software, but how to do it at a […]

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