* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Share your success stories

Dear all,
First time poster but long term lurker here!  I love reading the posts on this forum and devouring all of your precious experience and advice.  I'm primarily a developer and thought all it would take was a great idea and the time and effort to write it.  After that, I could book my holidays and fly off into the sunset.  Now I know it takes a bit more than that.
I'm hoping to release a product next month and even after chopping my feature list down to the bare minimum I am somehow exhausted by the ton of work I have left to do.  So, for motivational purposes, how about you share your success stories here?  Tell us how long you have been at this, how many products you are selling, how you're doing now in general, and, (if not too confidential) what are your plans for the future?
DanDan Send private email
Friday, March 15, 2013
 
 
Probably I'm not that good at writing motivations texts, so I'll just share my experience...

10 years in business. Selling 3 products. I like it and it's still a fun thing to do! Communicating with people all around the world is  great - that's why I still do all the customer support and forum talking myself. Knowing that your software is useful for people is a great thing too.

You'll never reach a point when your feature list is empty. Don't bother with it. Make sure your software is suitable for most common use cases and release it. I have hundreds of features in the list and I'm OK with it. That's the answer to your question regarding future plans.

Good luck with your project :)
Kuzmitskiy Dmitry Send private email
Friday, March 15, 2013
 
 
I first started getting serious about building my own business around 2008. I tried and eventually threw away a few dumb ideas, and after I got some practice trying to build a product and get paying customers for it, I got a little bit more savvy about picking ideas. January 2011 was when I started on my current business idea, Snip. It's web-based software for hair salons. (Website: http://www.sniphq.com/)

My "success" so far has been modest. I worked on the product for about 10 months based on the input of several "advisors" I found, which were basically stylists and salon owners who I cold-called. I explained to them that I was building a new product and needed their expert advice. Out of the 10 or so advisors I had, only one turned out to be a candidate for a customer, and I let that salon use the product for free in exchange for their help and guinea-pig-ness.

I didn't get my first paying customer until May 2012. So it was a well over a year before I got my first real paying customer. Somewhat interestingly, I got my second paying customer also in May 2012. It seems that once you get the first, the second one is much easier, and so on.

My sales work consisted of driving down main roads in a nearby city and stopping at every salon I saw, and trying to get in front of the salon owner. After I got my first and second paying customer, I took a break from sales for several months to catch the product up to my new customers' needs, since one of those two salons was by far the biggest one yet.

I always knew that "manual" sales work was not going to be scalable for a one-man shop, but I didn't know what an alternative might be. As I started learning more about marketing, I got a better grasp on possible alternatives, and in fall 2012 I made a conscious decision not to try to do anymore manual sales, but to focus on online marketing. I've had some tiny, tiny successes so far. I've had a couple people sign up on my website out of nowhere, although they didn't become customers. That happened for the first time on Thanksgiving 2012, and I think two times since. I see my task now as getting that to happen regularly, and to get a good chunk of signer-uppers to become paying customers. It's going to be a long road!

Hopefully you found my story somewhat encouraging. My advice would be to buckle down for a long road, but instill in yourself a confidence that you will eventually make it if you just don't give up. (Read about the Stockdale Paradox on Wikipedia.) I think the single most important trait you can have is persistence. I would recommend reading Think and Grow Rich to help cultivate some persistence and desire for your goal.

Also, here are some of the most important books that have helped me with my business, in rough order of importance:
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality by Bob Walsh
Built to Last by Jim Collins
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty by Harvey Mackay
Internet Marketing by Matt Bailey
The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
Jason Swett Send private email
Saturday, March 16, 2013
 
 
@Jason
Good to read your story. You've chosen a really interesting market, especially if you take the wider view, i.e. service-providers who work via appointments, not just hairdressers.

Once you get the basic infrastructure working well, you can easily expand to numerous other types of client. It is something I'm interested in, once I'm in a position to launch my latest project.

I would say that your website could benefit from a few nice stock hairdressing-related photos. Also, some screenshots of the product in action. Bootstrap is awesome, but it needs to be a starting point, not the finished thing. No doubt, this is on your "to do" list, but I think that it would help with organic (i.e. via Google) sign-ups.

I wish you luck with your future endeavours.
Scorpio Send private email
Saturday, March 16, 2013
 
 
Thanks. Yes, my website certainly does need some attention, and like you guessed, it's on my to-do list. :)
Jason Swett Send private email
Saturday, March 16, 2013
 
 

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