Developers love making things. However, more often than not, they get caught in a trap of building things nobody uses here in Zimbabwe.
There is a critical difference between making products you care about, and products only you care about. For developers, this difference can be difficult to identify and understand.
If you’ve ever built a cool app that nobody cared about. This post is for you.
Web, app and software developers have an entrepreneurial spirit. Like entrepreneurs, they share the passion and ability to make things. However the similarities pretty much end there.
There are valuable lessons developers should take from entrepreneurs when they become more serious about building useful software.
Stop Thinking It’s All About You.
Let’s add domain knowledge like market research, cost benefit analysis, product-market fit and market position as a few items on the “to do” list for future research.
There are basically two schools of thoughts when it comes to making things.
Make things for yourself and hope to get lucky, or make things for other people, and hope to get lucky.
Most developers will identify with the former. All engineers I know build passion projects to showcase their talents and learn new things. The value of their product is to showcase their skills and execution for employment or personal glory.
This kind of thinking has a fatal trap: You built something that only has a value to you. Building things for yourself is a logical step for engineers. But it’s this kind of thinking that engineers must break out of to become better product developers.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs will identify with the second school of thought. Because a big part of an entrepreneurs job is to find opportunities to solve other people’s problems.
The first change any developer must make is to adopt a larger, more market oriented thinking. To start thinking about the whys and hows someone other than yourself would use your product.
But Don’t Think It’s All About Other People.
Do not mistake thinking about a market as a mandate to cater to that market. Your product and your company will need a vision.
Your vision is your reason for building what you’re building. You must be willing to state it loudly and proudly into a market place. Your vision is your opinion about how something should be, your product is the solution to be that difference.
If you find yourself struggling to say something meaningful, it’s a signal your product hasn’t developed it’s identity yet. Do not be afraid to state your opinion and how your product serves its mission.
Your customers aren’t going to fully describe their problems and possible solutions to you. You cannot rely solely on focus groups and customer demands.
Having a core set of beliefs will help make it clear which requests and ideas to say yes or no to developing.
Stay tuned for more updates on how to become an Entrepreneur when you are a developer.