* 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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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

girlfriends nags me to leave my microISV and get a real job

I earn a decent amount of money from my microISV and I know a stable income is much better than a larger unstable income.

I've saved more money working at my microISV in a matter of years than a career of two decades working for other people. Why? Because although my income is a bit smaller, it is totally stable. Nobody can sack me. Nobody can screw me over small wages. I have a steady steam of orders.

Nobody can make me work 60 hours weeks and then sack me when the big money rolls in and they don't need an "expensive" software developer anymore for a little bit of maintenance. Nobody can sack me for short term goals i.e. save my salary at the expense of long-term money.

Worse than that now her family have nagged me to get a "real job".

So I applied to a large, famous tech company. I got no response. So I applied again for a different job there. Eventually I got an email saying although my background is impressive, other people are more suited.

So I rejigged my resume, stating I am the founder of my company (not just a software developer) and emphasized more of my spare time achievements.

Now I have an interview at a famous tech company, but in the back of my mind I am wondering if they are just interviewing me for an excuse to make me go away for good i.e. I applied quite a few times before to the same regional office and only got silence or a rejection without interview before.
AnonForNow Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
I'm confused...

Are you making enough to sustain yourself or are you living, in part, off your girlfriend?  If you're self sufficient and have been for some time, why are she and her family obsessing over you getting a "real" job?

Assuming you're making a decent amount of money, have you tried explaining to them the benefits of working for yourself?  Knowing only what you said, their attitude seems really disrespectful to you, and indifferent to what you want to get out of life.  Where I come from, owning your own business, even something small, is typically viewed as superior to being an employee pretty much anywhere.

Of course I recall the first several years that I had my own business my mom was constantly suggesting "jobs" for me.  For a while she kept suggesting I become a sales clerk at an electronics store.  SERIOIUSLY?  Now, 15-20 years later I hear her brag about my business to friends. 

I think she wanted security for me, and that may be your girlfriend and her parent's issue too.  But they are mistaken to think a job = security.  Especially today.

I don't know what country you're in, but most places, companies lay off people all the time.  People think they are secure, but they are not.  And the older you get, the scarier it is.  I know a couple people in their early 50's who were excellent at their jobs but things happen - change in management/ownership, and suddenly they got laid off regardless -- all they know is being someone's employee, but companies don't want to hire people over 40-45.  If you can't do something on your own, and you get laid off later in life - you're screwed.
Emily Jones Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
PS. Your girlfriend may be a wonderful person outside of this nagging, but she's pissing me off.  Unless she's supporting you, she should be supportive OF you.  She's basically saying that YOUR goals and values are not important.  She would rather be in a relationship with someone who does what SHE want, than someone who feels happy, secure, and satisfied in what they're doing.
Emily Jones Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
Emily, in answer to your question, my girlfriend is not supporting me financially. I pay my own way. In a way my software is successful, and although it has a lowish price tag, is used by almost a Who's Who list of famous companies, banks, government departments and insurance companies.

However I live in an expensive city with expensive property prices and more money will always  make things easier. If I had more savings then things would be much better.

You are quite right, company jobs aren't secure nowadays. If I want to work hard, then it is better I do it for myself and not for a company that won't think twice about sucking all they can out of me and then firing me.

The best thing is just to wait things out and let me accumulate more money doing what I do best.
AnonForNow Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
Have you thought of doing additional software products?  Do you have time to do that and maintain the one you sell now?  That would help you diversify in case the market for your current software changes for the worse.  Of course it might be a lot of extra work.

I live in an expensive area with high taxes too and it's crazy - I make more money than I ever dreamed when I was younger, yet I feel I am just getting by.  Maybe your GF is afraid for the future.  But like we both said, a "job" is not a guarantee of anything.

If I could have my way, and I may yet get my way, I would move out of this expensive area.  I can do my work from anywhere.  But then I don't LIKE living where I live (husband does though) and would be happier in a more remote area where the cost of living is half as much and taxes are much lower, but my software sells over the internet the same as it does now.

You and your GF may prefer to live in the expensive city though, in which case your choices may be 1) Make more money.  2) Tell the GF this is how it is, accept it or not, but "back off, woman!!!!" ;-)
Emily Jones Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
Here is a general rule for life: don't listen to what your girlfriend or wife tell you to do unless you asked for their opinion.

She wants to change you and once she does, she won't like the new you.
Bring back anon Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2014
 
 
Harsh: Maybe don't get a new job, get a new girlfriend.

YMMV, IMHO, etc, but I suspect this might end badly, whether you agree to her terms or not. Beginning of the end.
Scorpio Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
> get a new girlfriend

+1.  She ain't worth it.  Sad, but true.  Best you find that out now, before you tie the knot.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
> now her family have nagged me to get a "real job"

And that's part of the problem.  You won't be marrying just her, but her family.  Do you want that sort of nagging from >1 person all your life?
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
+1 New girlfriend time, I would never put up with this!
WoodUK Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
Leave your girl friend. I mean, do you want to be unhappy for the rest of your life just so your GF can say that you have a "normal" job?
Jeremy Morassi Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
Rent a small office somewhere and send yourself a monthly or biweekly pay check. Now you have a 'real' job.

A lot of people simply don't understand doing any sort of computer work from home or on your own. The prevailing thought is if you work for a company, and the larger the better you'll always be making more money than on your own.

Are you 'too' flexible in the hours you work? Where it seems to her and her family you always have free time? Then set a schedule and say I'm unavailable during these times.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
> I've saved more money working at my microISV in a matter of
> years than a career of two decades working for other people.

I'm looking at this purely from a numbers point of view.

Are bringing home more with you ISV than you used to working for someone else?  Or were you previously getting laid off regularly, so on average you're doing better with the ISV?
Doug Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
With the family nagging and in on it and the desire that you work for a corporation and not yourself, it sounds like the girlfriend is Chinese from a metropolitan area like Hong Kong. Be aware that in this culture, when you get married you'll be expected to support the entire family with the designer labels of their choice, and first class airfare and accommodations when they visit. Also, her mother will be living with you in your house for the rest of your life. You're expected to be at your corporate job 16 hrs a day, including weekends, so you don't bother them too much.

If this is appealing to you, no problem. If it sounds like a route to suicide or an early grave, consider a new girlfriend.

Her family in on this is a really bad situation.
Scott Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
Whenever a candidate position pops up, tell your gf that that's a really great opportunity u can't miss: the company is full of lovely and friendly girls with huge b**bs and great a**es. Ah... and that 50% of them are orphans!
Franco Graziosi Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
We were talking the other day about candidates who have 'failed at starting a small business' on their resume (usually worded in some positive way).

To me, that's awesome, I would totally hire someone like that (assuming the business was realistic and the reason it failed was reasonable).

But to a lot of people, it's a little sad, they look at it (small business participation) as a red flag.
GregT Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
But they are mistaken to think a job = security. "

Emily nailed it right there.

I second what others are saying regarding changing girlfriends rather than your chosen career.

Seriously, if you're not married and don't have kids, and you can make money online? Then why on Earth continue living in an expensive part of the planet?

Where I live the payments on my Ford Ranger truck and Kawasaki dirt bike are higher than my mortgage - and I live on the outskirts of the capital in a house that in the UK would be considered a samll mansion.

You don't need a job, you don't need more money - you need to move away.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
A lot of the time, naggers don't realise they are doing it. Sometimes they just think it's funny or it's banter, etc.

If you're making the money, then that's the bottom line.

If you become a corporate drone she may just start nagging you about working too late or why you're not asking your boss for more money, etc.

Some people will never be happy.

It's possible that she is thinking that you don't earn enough money to afford to start a family. You need to consider there might be other dimensions to this problem.

If you think you're making good money, then maybe take a few interviews and find out what sort of money is on the table if you join a big corp. Then you can make a truly informed decision.

If you want to continue with the misv then you may have to continue without the support of your other half; that's a tough route.
koan Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
>>>It's possible that she is thinking that you don't earn enough money to afford to start a family. You need to consider there might be other dimensions to this problem.<<<

That's my thought - she may look at the situation and think there is no desire on your part to make any more and that while you are "getting by" now, what will happen if you get married and start a family?  Want to buy a decent home? etc.

While the nagging is not attractive, as a woman, I will say, she *may* have legitimate concerns.  She may be trying to figure out what things will look like in 20 years if she's still living in an expensive area with a guy who's content to coast. 

What I would be very careful of is her trying to change you for illegitimate reasons - like she's just resentful that you  have so much free time, or she wants you to be more ambitious than you are.  As stated before - that will not end well.  If you give in she won't respect you and there will life long "scope creep" on the improvements she decides you need.

The parents piling on is troublesome.  If you are thinking marriage she needs to be on YOUR side, not running to mommy and daddy for back up every time she wants to manipulate you to get her way.

She may have legitimate concerns but she also needs to take into consideration YOUR desires for what you want out of life.  What loving woman would WANT her guy to get a "job" and be stuck somewhere all day working for someone else if it's not really necessary?

I close with the lyrics to a great country song that may apply to your situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSz7uz1AWnc
Emily Jones Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
> What loving woman would WANT her guy to get a "job" and be stuck somewhere all day working for someone else if it's not really necessary?

Sounds nice, but doesn't match reality.

OP: ditch the gf. Even if she's thinking about family, she can work too. Equality.
Bring back anon Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2014
 
 
This may or may not apply to the OP's situation, but let me offer a different perspective nevertheless:

Many microISVs, even if they _seem_ to be _working_ for eight hours or less per day,  just cannot stop _thinking_ about their venture: that feature, that unreproducible bug, that troublesome customer, that big order that has been in the "about to be placed" state for three months already, the next email campaign, and so on. Whereas many corporate developers are not passionate about their work and think about it strictly from 9 to 5. They just switch back to life upon leaving the office.

So, OP, when you are apparently (to your gf) not working and she begins talking to you, are you actually listening, or just nodding and mumbling something between "Yes", "No" and "Really?", because you are busy planning a new feature launch, reasoning about the possible causes of that bug, or putting together an email to that customer?

Again, this may or may not apply to you specifically, but maybe what she actually needs is more of your time and attention?
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
 
 
It's kind of normal. In her head she sees your marriage, kids, her housewifing and etc. All that is impossible without sufficient and stable income, and your microISV business is something that she can not touch or see and that's why she is afraid. Women are material, you know :) Try to explain to her how you are going to support your family while doing this and what backup options you have if something goes wrong. If that does not suit her, it's better to split.
Dmitri Popov Send private email
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
 
 
"even if they _seem_ to be _working_ for eight hours or less per day,  just cannot stop _thinking_ about their venture"

This is extremely true.  I spend quite a bit of time doing things like laying on the floor listening to music for hours, going for all day hikes, and taking 3 hr long baths in my vertical (japanese style wooden) bathtub, where I keep a writing surface and paper for notes. 100% of this time is work as far as I am concerned because that's exactly what I am doing.

Now other people who are not inventors and entrepreneurs might be doing these same things and be thinking about football or what shoes they want to buy. Those people are not doing work.

Among commoners who can't do things for themselves, it is very widespread the belief that only things like hard physical labor and mindless tedium are "real work".
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
 
 
@TrippinOnIt, totally agree. Rent an office and treat it like your work and you will be amazed how things can change. 

@Doug has a point. If your income is less, how can you be saving more?

Your GF is probably just sick of you being around all the time.  How can she fraternise with the tradesmen Otherwise ;-) The fact that you "save" more could be because you don't go out as much and she does not like it.  Maybe you have changed and she cannot handle it.

Seriously though, this could end badly.  Unless GF is "the one", you should look to move on with her.  Even if you think she is "the one", then she should be more supportive and you need to have a frank talk about it.  You should also tell he that he family is making thing worse.

Everyone in our position has had family and friends tell us we are wasting our time, but I can guarantee when you start making a lot of money that will change. Suddenly they will be saying that they always knew you would make it.
Richard J Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
I also agree with @emily and others that job <> security. In fact building a business is a much better if you can do it. BUT you must strive to make the business bigger so it can withstand some shocks.

I said before that renting an (small crappy) office is a good start.  It makes you focus and start treating your work as a real business.  Get a good laptop so you can work from home in the evenings and weekends (and you will).

Then try to increase income to allow you to pay for another person so you can concentrate on sales while they do product / support.  In a downturn, at least you can "downsize" and survive, but you need to lift your safety net.

I started this way and now we have 14 staff (8 dev team, 3 admin / sales, 3 support / services).  Unfortunately we are going through a tough time and we may need to cut back. But we banked money and can survive for a while before making the hard decisions.  Tough times will happen, so start planning for it.
Richard J Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
+1 to Richard J for good advice.
Scorpio Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
Concur with Scorpio Richard J is smart and insightful and all he says here is true.

The office thing is a good idea. When I started out things took a long time. Then I rebuilt my (detached large) garage into an office space, one without non-work distractions like TV, VCR, bookcase, and refrigerator. I got a lot more done in the garage, and then when I finally had to hire someone I had a space that wasn't the house for them to work in and show up at.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
I think if people watched us lifting heavy rocks in the field they would all agree that we are working hard and nobody would complain that we should get jobs.  Even if we were doing it for minimum wage.  People see us sitting around thinking and occasionally typing on the computer, and they just think we are not doing anything.  Watching programmers work, it never looks like they are working.

I see no reason to leave her if that is the only problem.  Her reaction is very normal.

Software is the best business in the world.  There is a lot of money in Software.  Figure out how to make more of it.  And she will change her tune about getting a job.
C. Stark Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
Some of the other people here have a point: she probably doesn't understand. So, you should give her a chance to understand.

Software is 80% abstract thinking, 20% physical work (see Scott.)

Ask her if she understands what it's like to be in the zone. And ask her if she understands the pure addiction to the high one gets from working on their own software architectures and designs. If not, explain it to her. Gently remind her.

But don't give in. At all. You have the best job in the world, my friend.
Bring back anon Send private email
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 
 
The bottom line is: she's just a girlfriend right now -- not even a fiancee -- and she's already nagging you.  How big of a red flag do you want?
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
To be successful as a mISV requires quite a lot of luck and a ton of hard work. If you are having some success,I wouldn't give that up easily.

But I also wouldn't pay too much attention to personal relationship advice from strangers based on minimal information. Especially if they are programmers. ;0)
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
Oh look there's that bigotry again, that developers are all some sort of mentally retarded people with savant like abilities in a narrow field.

I wonder where these people actually are, I've never run into them in the real world workplace where work is done.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
Might as well continue though with other stereotypes.

Never take fashion advice from a straight man.

Never let a girl help with your math homework.

Never let a black person alone with your daughter.

Never let a woman do a man's job.

All exactly the same thing as the comments made about programmers.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
Scott, I really couldn't care less what you think.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
Yikes. Asking a "Business of Software" forum for relationship advice. I'm afraid you're gonna get what you paid for, "AnonForNow".

Seriously, why are you talking to us? We can't read your girlfriend's mind. Talk to her. If that doesn't work, seek professional counseling.
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
Hi Andy, that statement is very consistent with the mental state of bigots, so there is nothing surprising in it. Continue with your message of stereotypes and hate, and little insight into it.
Scott Send private email
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
 
This is fast-becoming the most Off Topic thread in quite a while.
Scorpio Send private email
Friday, October 31, 2014
 
 
Relationship problems, most noticeably friends and family not realizing or truly understanding that you ARE working, is the most on-topic thing I've seen here all week...




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Friday, October 31, 2014
 
 
> In her head she sees your marriage, kids, her housewifing and etc

That's the problem.  She's just a girlfriend, not a fiancee.  She's thinking waaaaay too far ahead.
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, October 31, 2014
 
 

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