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Making Web Products is Tough

Despite putting the last two years into building products and clientele, I am still living in a cold basement of a house that I don’t own. I am not giving up, though. Here, I will document the main struggles I’ve had in each step of building products on the web.

Planning

Nothing goes as planned. You can have a well thought-out and orchestrated plan, but it won’t happen that way unless you are copy-catting other people or have built something really similar in the past. All of the products I am building are breaking new ground, so I can never estimate the time I’m going to need. We all have ideas, but I am convinced that the people who are successful are the ones that are able to build and get their products and ideas out the door. I am constantly working on my process and performance to be stronger and turn ideas into real, tangible products more efficiently.

Technology

You have to choose the framework and language you are going to build on. While building, what if you want to try something new, or different? Well, each change along the way takes more time. The software engineer part of me wants to rebuild everything in fifteen technologies and ways, but the businessman says to never change anything. So, I’m left in a weird position where sometimes I follow the software engineer inside me and improve myself, but then it take a lot longer and am happier with things. Sometimes I plow through it business-style and am unhappy with the underlying technology.

Partners

One of my companies has a board of five people and it gets to be political, where the others don’t have any politics to deal with. Politics can be fine sometimes because it is good to discuss and approve things, but I prefer the latter. Keeping the amount of partners minimal is a good idea to make sure the communication and direction is clear and focused.

Resources

You need finances to buy time. Because I run my consulting company to pay the bills, I don’t always have free time to build the products I want to build. When I do make enough money to buy my time to build products, I often need help to pay people the rest of my money. I am pretty much always, “broke”, even though I make a good amount of money consulting. This has been a far better environment for building products than being a full time employee ever was because I got burnt out, but it still will continue to be a major challenge until one of these products becomes successful.

Moving On

I am continuing to change and become far better at building products, but this journey is proving to be long and arduous. To be a good employee or consultant (something I’m good at) is a completely different skill than being able to pull product ideas from thin air and turn them into working reality. I tip my hat to Shaun Inman and the others who have been successful at doing this.

Published 14 Jan 2010
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