* 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

Having hard time looking for a job. Micro-ISV not helping.

Ever since I graduated from college last year, I’ve only worked at once place for 4 months. I quit since it was not really related to programming, but more of a system analyst type of job.

I quit that job and started my own Micro-ISV company. I’ve created over 20 different software and they are highly rated and reviewed upon. That’s what I’ve been doing the last year and a half.  I’ve only started selling 3 months ago and my I’ve been earning like $600 - $800 a month.

The thing is, I would like to look for a job now. To generate more income per month and keep the company running on the side. I have been looking for one but it’s going very badly.

Recruiting Agent look at my skills and be like “Wow, you’ve accomplished a lot.” But I never get hired. Their clients complain I don’t have enough experience and worst of all, they are not counting my company as a commercial/professional experience. It also sucks when they ask me what I’m currently making. I mean of course I am not making 60k a year, I’ve just started selling, and these things take a long time to grow.

Even though I may be perfectly suitable for a job and even though it seems easy, they’re implying that I don’t even meet the 1+ year experience of C#.

My ideal position would C# .Net Developer.

Have you guys ever had these kind of problems?
What do you think I can do to impress more clients and assure them that I do have the skills?
Should I look into Freelance work?
Any help or tips is greatly appreciated.
John Senar Send private email
Friday, November 22, 2013
 
 
Create yet another invoicing software and make it open source. Dedicate at least one entire page of your CV to it (hire someone to write it as a sales pitch).
Dmitri Popov Send private email
Saturday, November 23, 2013
 
 
Perennial problem...

Unfortunately most vacancies these days seem to be web based and, unless your experience includes that, you're kind of stuck.

I have more than 20 years in the software business (mostly unmanaged code, but with 5+ years C#/.NET) and am struggling to find a permanent job (fed up with contracting/travel).

Have redesigned my website using MVC but can't get it hosted with my current provider(1&1) yet so can't  make it available for prospective hirers'...

What most recruiters, and hirers, don't seem to get is that, once you have got the hang of one development language, the same principles apply to the rest:

MVC - a couple of weeks to learn
ASP - piss easy
Web Services - even easier
JavaScript/AJAX - a bit more difficult, but not that hard

Essentially, though, recruiters and businesses are looking for an instant fit-in for the business they are in. Some are willing to cross-train, but most are not.

Ewan
Ewan McNab Send private email
Saturday, November 23, 2013
 
 
You could apply to a job you know you can manage, and lie on your resume to make it look like you've got enough experience. That's what I did.

Eventually, you won't need to lie anymore, and you can take the false experience out of your CV. That's what I did :p

In Finland, companies actually strongly prefer direct, full-time employees to contractors. It's kind of strange, considering all the costs involved in employing someone here. I guess they're mostly just looking for a long-time commitment.

Also, if freelancing is a potential, good source of income, then yes, you should probably look into it.
Bonita Applebum Send private email
Saturday, November 23, 2013
 
 
John. You don't need a job, you can make one yourself. At the risk of sounding boastful, is what I did, and I now make nearly $1m per year from my "Micro ISV".

What you need to do is suck it up and live off your measly salary for now. Don't panic or compare yourself to others. Don't think that working for Apple, Google or Microsoft is the holy grail. Consider yourself lucky... you have been choseno pursue a much more exciting and rewarding path... one of an entrepeneur!

You can make a successful software outfit, but you've got to work on something bigger. Stop writing little apps and start working on a bigger project, that will create alot of value.
jamieb22 Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
Please also put it into perspective.. you only started 3 months ago, and are already ready to give up. That's crazy.. you haven't even given it a proper go yet!  If you want to make it as a sucessful entrepeneur, you'll need to be alot tougher than that. It can take many years of hard work to build a truly successful software product.
jamieb22 Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
+1 to what jamieb22 said about giving up too early.
Gautam Jain Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
jamieb22,

This may sound cheesy but what you've said and the way you've said has truly inspired me even more. I do agree with you completely. I know my self that this is the path I should be taking.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that I'm living with my parents. I'm 23 and I find it embarrassing that I'm still living with my parents. I simply don't make enough yet to be able to afford my own place. Which is why I wanted to try and find a job for a little awhile or find ways to earn guaranteed money.
John Senar Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
John. Glad to help. Embarrassment is part of the deal. Try not to worry about what your peers are thinking. Focus your energies on finding a good niche and building a solid business to serve it.
jamieb22 Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
Good advice here.

Just graduated. Started a company. 3 months in and you're making $600 a month selling your own software? Holy freakin' shit! You are doing freakin' awesome! And you want to give up? What is wrong with you?
Scott Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
Ok, now I got to the "living with parents" issue, and maybe this influences dating or whatever as well. And maybe people are saying "When are you going to get a real job?"

You. Have. A. Real. Job.

If you were writing apps for 5 years with ZERO sales, then I'd say consider giving up.

Given you are making significant income after 3 months, this means you have the magic touch it takes to create software that sells.

Keep writing software, listening to customers and the market, and putting them out there. What happens in 2 years when you are making $2400 a month? Or 10 years when you are making $2.4 million a month? Well that's better than being 50, laid off from work, no insurance, unable to find a job with obsolete tech skills, so you become a greeter at WalMart.
Scott Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
I'm not doing THAT good. I've started my company last year. My products were free for a year. Only 3 months ago I've started selling.

So I've spend 1 year 3 months on it.

First month it was $600 - $800 ish. I've also spent a month not focusing on the company and instead learning ASP MVC (intense training). The mistake was not paying attention to the company because it dropped the few traffic I had.

This month, I'm looking at about $300 but MAINLY due to extremely low traffic.

I am proud of the product I've built, they are comparing well with products that's been out in the market for over 6 years. The problem is, my niche is WAY too competitive. There are thousands of other company like mine. However, I'm really confident in my product. I just need to try much harder on marketing and getting traffic. So, I am defiantly not giving up.

This is the company if anyone wants to check it out: http://pipnee.com/P4D05384A

I guess I do need to suck it up and deal with the pressure regarding living with my parents.

One thing that bothers me is, since they don't count your own company as personal experience, what if in 10 years, I decide to get a job. Won't that mean I'll still have only 1 year of "Professional" experience, which would mean getting a job would be just as hard?
John Senar Send private email
Sunday, November 24, 2013
 
 
I laugh because I also wrote a PC cleaner app when I was your age (and that was about sixteen years ago). I must admit, it didn't look nearly as good as yours. Clearly, you have a good eye ;-)

Hmm.. looks to me that your chosen niche may be the problem. If you need help finding another one, PM me and I'll be happy to provide guidance.

Regarding your concern over getting a job in ten years, its a risk you take being an entrepreneur. Best advice is - learn to get comfortable with uncertainty.

Corporates types are only fooling themselves anyway. We all live in an uncertain world.. you might as well face that now and learn to  deal with it.
jamieb22 Send private email
Monday, November 25, 2013
 
 
Having your company can absolutely be counted as experience. List it the same as you would any previous work experience. You're getting paid for you in dollars and experience. If you treat it as a job others will treat it as a job.

That said, if you've only been selling for three months and have made money selling for those three months why stop. Doesn't matter if you've worked on it for a year and gave it away for free because you had already guaranteed you would not make any money from it. But now that you are selling and its earning money, why not try to expand that.

Is living with your parents so horrible and such a social stigma that you'd want to give up operating your own business to get out of there. Think about where you want to be in the future and where you're at now.

Personally I'd loved to have had the opportunity to stay home and try to build my own business for a while at your age. From my perspective it seems incredibly supportive of your parents to let you stay there while you try and build your business.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, November 25, 2013
 
 
The fact is - companies today are hyper, hyper sensitive about "making a mistake".  And fear of personal accountability in hiring the "wrong" person is at a peak.  Also, companies are in cherry picking mode - some will go through dozens of candidates for a position and find something the matter with every single one.

Anything about your background that breaks a prevailing pattern will be scrutinized and more often than not used as a clear cut signal to reject you immediately as a candidate, or to not take your candidacy seriously.

And lastly, social proof - having competition for your services - plays a huge role. Hiring parties act like the pretty 18 year old bitch whom everyone wants to take to the prom. If you aren't cute enough for anyone else you must be ugly.

To someone in a medium or large business, a lot of stereotyping takes place. Micro-ISV implies hobby work, unemployed, doing something to stay busy, "loser" whom nobody else would hire, and unvetted, unqualified work of dubious quality.

Yeah, that sounds harsh, but the big company  types you may be dealing with have likely never ever ever done anything on their own and they see you not falling in line - ergo something is wrong with you and there is a whiff of not fitting in.

The owning your own business, therefore being of an independent mind thing and therefore not being a good "fit" is also a big factor.

The truth is, anyone who is hired is always a risk. But I'm describing the marketing problem that any self employed person has in reentering the normal workforce.

I see self employment as a distinct Y branch in one's life. You take that branch and you can't readily re-join the main branch at a later time. You selected a different path and now you have to live with it.
Profit and Loss Send private email
Monday, November 25, 2013
 
 
By the way, your site is incredibly impressive. But good luck drilling through the layers of bullshit and information hiding that employers will use to misinform you about their real agenda.
Profit and Loss Send private email
Monday, November 25, 2013
 
 
Maybe you should move to a place where the demand is higher?

At where I live, all good developers are employed and rarely switch jobs. We've been having hard time finding skilled Java devs, for instance. Companies big and small hire students with zero industry experience who can only work part-time due to their studies.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
 
 
Hi,

You have try in same field where you have expertise.
Suraj Kumar Send private email
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
 
 
I am with the guys who said you have a job and are doing awesome.  And living with your parents at 23 is not that uncommon these days.  At least you're not one of these guys who smokes pot and plays video games in their basement all day and ridicules those fools who are stupid enough to work for a living...

SO -- what Jamie said.  You're on your way and if you're already making $600 - 900 a month after just a few months surely that will grow.

Now, if you do decide that you really do want to be an employee, for whatever reasons you have, then I am with the person who said to LIE.  Nothing material, mind you -- your goal is to HELP them see the REAL you....  Don't get yourself in a situation where you've said you know how to do something you can't yet do.  But YOU  Know that your programming experience actually is experience, so give your company a name and say you've worked "for" that company.

Why do people ask what your current salary is?  So they know what you expect?  Because if someone else paid you more it makes you more valuable in their mind?  I'm not certain but it's the type of thing I wouldn't think twice about fudging.  Really, it's up to them to decide what they're willing to pay and you to decide if you accept that.

Just don't lie about anything material like where you got your degree or what you know how to do.  But some things are elasitc -- 3 months of experience in one person could be worth more than 3 years in another...

Good luck!
Emily Jones Send private email
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
 
 
I think you should stick to being an entrepreneur and give it atleast 3-4 more years. I concur with jamieb22, I have went through similar ordeal. Things get worse before they vastly improve.

From your company name it seems you are of Indian origin. If that's true assumption, then you don't need to be shy about living with parents. Culturally that's what we do, we live with parents even when they get too old. I have enough money to retire and my parents live in my house. This is why they raised us (as per Indian culture) . I don't find anything embarrassing at all(but then I live in India). You may live in Hawaii, but you don't have to shun our culture.

I see a real potential in you, suck it up and give it more time. Continue doing what you are doing with full dedication, you will find more niches and more software ideas as you go along.

As for employ-ability, I wouldn't worry about that all that much. As I run my own company, if I have to hire, I will definitely consider micro-ISV as an experience. I will value that more then  general sweat-shop like jobs.
PM-SilverCrux Send private email
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
 
 
To be honest at 23 I wouldn't worry too much about living at home with your parents as long as you're all happy with it.

I live in the SE England. It's completely normal here for people to still be living at home at that age and quite a bit older. The house prices make anything else pretty impractical in many cases.

When you're 33 and looking back at this time would you rather remember:

a) You moved out to your own place & got a job & could go out and party more & have girlfriends / boyfriends round all the time.

b) You built a company and now have financial freedom & the ability to live wherever you want.

I can't say how likely b) is but 23 with no commitments is a good time to gamble on such things.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
 
 
Problem about an on-going "micro-isv" experience is that it makes it clear for them that you are not in it for the long run:

If you are successful, they know you will ditch them as soon as your m-isv income becomes good enough.

If you are not successful, that's not much of a recommendation, is it?

Another issue is that they don't know if you can work on other people's code. In a M-ISV, you get to code exactly the way you want. You rarely have to debug code that isn't yours, formatting rules are whatever you say they are, etc.

Working with other folks on a 20 years old code base isn't quite the same thing.

M-ISV is great in terms of experience, but if you take the POV of a software company looking for long term employees, it's bound to trigger a few red flags.

As far as going forward with your Micro-ISV, I agree with everyone else here, you are doing famously well and you would be silly to stop now. Your website looks great and your early sales are quite good.

For comparison, have a look at http://www.bingocardcreator.com/stats/sales-by-month.

Never mind the dive at the end of the graph, it is essentially due to the fact that the creator has moved on to (much) bigger and better things.

Work on the marketing, drive traffic and improve your conversions. If you are already in the $600/month range, it shouldn't take very long for you to beat any salary offer you could get at your age.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
 
 
> For comparison, have a look at
> http://www.bingocardcreator.com/stats/sales-by-month.

> Never mind the dive at the end of the graph, it is essentially
> due to the fact that the creator has moved on to (much) bigger
> and better things.

I hadn't looked at Patrick's stats in a long time, and this is kind of interesting. If you go to his profitability charts -

http://www.bingocardcreator.com/expenses/profitability-pie-chart

- and click through the 2012 and 2013 links, it looks like his sales are down but profits are up. Apparently he stopped running AdWords, hiring freelancers, and has generally trimmed his overhead. Also, it switching to Stripe seems to have cut a lot f his payment processing costs.

====

@John (back on topic): 23 is a great age to be living rent free and building a business. That said, there's no harm in having a fallback plan. Try attending local user group meetings and developing connections. That would be your best way to get around HR drones if the time came to search for a job.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
 
 
First of all, I would like to thank everyone here for the helpful advice and motivation.

I've talked to Jamie22 on Skype, and after the conversation, decided that I should definitely find another niche to work on as a side. I'll keep this niche but not fully focused. This is because, this niche is WAY TOO overcrowded. My sales has been very low lately and whatever  methods I try for advertisement, it does not work out too well.

I am excited about a new niche but having the hardest time coming up with an idea.

Parents: My dad is a very successful man. He does not say anything and he also lets me stay in their house but I can feel it, that he thinks I'm wasting my time and I should be looking for a job and etc. That is the main reason I wanted to move out, without that pressure, I can focus with a cleaner mind.
John Senar Send private email
Thursday, November 28, 2013
 
 
John.. I have a potential nice for you. Contact me and I'll provide you with a good idea.
jamieb22 Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
Nevermind. I contacted John. I didn't want to put the idea down in a public form, in case, by some miracle, he decided to pursue it.
jamieb22 Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
"Parents: My dad is a very successful man. He does not say anything and he also lets me stay in their house but I can feel it, that he thinks I'm wasting my time and I should be looking for a job and etc. That is the main reason I wanted to move out, without that pressure, I can focus with a cleaner mind. "

Maybe you should talk it over with him. To people who aren't familiar with the software industry, working on a M-ISV can mean "OMG next Facebook" or "excuse to spend more time on the computer and play World of Warcraft" and not much in between.

It is a real job, but until you have made some decent cash, many people are going to assume you're just fooling around to avoid "getting a real job".

For some reason, there is this widespread belief that the right thing to do is to surrender all autonomy, put most of your time and skills at the service of some guy you have never met (and will probably never meet) and collect a check at the end of the month.

Doesn't have to be like that and it's perfectly all right to carve your own way.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
+1 Sylvain

Someone reminded my of this last night....

http://beautifulrailwaybridgeofthesilverytay.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/they-live-billboard.jpg

... from the movie They Live. A cheesy movie but with a lot to say.

On this subject, have you read this article from Andy? It's quite relevant...

http://successfulsoftware.net/2013/11/06/lifestyle-programming/

... although possibly not good evidence if your dad is a company man.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
+1 for what @jamieb22  have said. And you the OP seem to have a not-bad starting point...
Edwin Yip Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 

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