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Ask HN: How do non tech (business) folks get rich these days?
23 points by coldheartd on Mar 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments
I am wondering about this question lately. I have been in the tech for a decade now. I like writing code, designing solutions. But,slowly I am losing interest in coding. There is also tremendous increase in CS graduates, bootcamp grads, data science grads etc. You have to compete with 30 to 50 people everytime you look for a new job. Competition is good but I feel like it's too much hassle when compared to getting rewards

I am wondering what kind of business skills a person should achieve? Sales, product management, Finance, marketing?

Would a MBA degree help in acquiring these skills? What about MBA from top schools if are early 30s? Does evening MBA from Wharton/UCLA count?

Any suggestions?

Not sure how to say this without sounding harsh, but if you've been in tech for over a decade and you're still competing with bootcamp grads, you're doing something pretty wrong.

Bootcamp grads can cobble together a basic project, usually having seen only a very high level view of 2-3 programming languages (javascript, python, ruby, etc). The bootcamp doesn't give meaningful experience on software architecture, fundamental topics in CS, deep knowledge of languages and techniques, or even softer things like project management.

I would expect a 10 year professional, on the other hand, to have a very solid understanding of a few languages and technologies, knowledge of advanced technical topics, experience shipping real world projects, managing junior developers, etc.

So you are either severely underselling yourself, or you don't have 10 years of experience but rather 10x 1 year of experience.

I agree with you on this, but let's not forget that companies are still hiring from this diluted larger pool, and most companies (apparently) don't know why they would benefit from more senior people. So in effect, senior people are competing directly with bootcamp grads, who may be very well able to accomplish the first-order tasks that are set before them. You and I may know how grotesque this can turn out after a couple years, but it's hard to convince a hiring manager of your longer-term value when they're asking you to whiteboard FizzBuzz.

> most companies (apparently) don't know why they would benefit from more senior people

Citation needed? At most of my jobs, it was preferred to hire an experienced dev over a junior one. Time is money, competition does not sleep - if you waste time training juniors, your competition will be adding features (or whatever) faster than you.

Thanks. Bootcamp was just an example on how market is getting flooded. I work for a top tech company and I do have significant experience with big data and analytics; but everytime I look for a new job, it takes long to find the position and compensation that I like. I have PM experience as well and right now I am leading team of six developers. It's just that I am not filthy rich yet and idk if being in a tech role that is going to happen.

> It's just that I am not filthy rich yet and idk if being in a tech role that is going to happen.

Perhaps the issue with not being "filthy rich" is you are looking for a salaried position when you should be looking for an ownership stake/founder role.

I'm at a top-2 business school right now. The wealthiest guest speakers we have are private equity partners and others in the investment professions. My classmates leaving school joining or resuming those professions stand to make a lot of money in base salary. Then top it off with bonus and "carry" in the next 5-10 years, and you're talking big bucks. Even those going into consulting for a top-3 firm, if you make partner in 7 years, will have an incredible salary.

But financial wealth isn't about your salary - I.e. Via your nonscalable labor. It's about putting the money to work once you get it. Finance excels at this for two reasons: leverage and equity. Similar to startups actually...buy one could argue without all the risk.

There is survivorship bias in the stories we hear to be sure. But if you truly only care about wealth, your best bet is to somehow make your way into finance.

What does "carry" mean in this context?

Basically a percentage of the profits from sales.

More exactly, "carry" is the negotiated profit from a deal above a certain "hurdle." For instance, in the traditional 2 and 20 Model in Private equity, general partners get an annual fee of 2% of assets under management. But the 20 is the real moneymaker...they get 20 percent of any profits from the overall gain in the fund. If the fund makes, say, an annualized 15 percent, and the min return to investors I. 8%, the investor gets 20% of the 7% (15-8) profit. And over a 5-7 year fund life, that's a compound number. It leads to immense upside.

That is insane!


This about all of the tech recruiters that contact you for employment. Now imagine yourself being one of them. That's what entry level sales is like. You are dialing for dollars all day, every day. You might get a better sales gig if you stick with sales long enough to kind of get it. If you don't like competition and hassle, sales is probably not for you.

If you can afford to pay for an MBA out of pocket, maybe it'd be a good investment. If you need to borrow a ton of money, your going to have a bad time after graduation. Trying to pay back a lot of money after graduation sucks, especially at a time where you're trying to experiment and take risk.

You might fair better if you can get into a top 10 MBA program, but you should think about exactly what you're going to get out of an MBA program. Think about this. Don't focus on what you're going to learn in an MBA program. Focus on the employers that actively recruit from a school you're considering. If that list of employers and the positions the recruit for looks appealing to you, only apply to schools that have an impressive number of companies who recruit for jobs you'd want. Then work your butt off to get into one of those schools, and develop the profile needed to be one of the people those companies recruit. Any other path is far too unpredictable to make any solid bets around.

Source: I was a tech recruiter, and got an MBA (not in that order).

do you want to get rich or do you want to switch jobs? What's your question exactly?

I want to get rich. But, my point was being in a tech role does not seem the way as everyone else is also doing the same thing.

Software jobs are probably the best in terms of employment, second only to a handful of other professions.

I don't really feel like there are a lot of software developers (not too many, anyway), but even if they were it takes a long time to get experienced, so new entries shouldn't really be competitors of yours if you've been doing it for 10 years.

There are better programmers than me around, but after having worked in the field for 10 years I'm about 1000 times more likely to complete a project successfully compared to a less-experienced developer, and most important give good advice to the client.

Maybe you weren't able to be successful, but I wouldn't blame it on too much competition. It might be that you aren't really passionate and should just try to explore something else.

I do fine in tech in sv but all the sales people I know make about 3 to 4 times my salary with commissions.

This is exactly why I plan on moving into a sales engineering role (or some other biz dev role that requires engineering experience) in the next few years. Ridiculous compensation multiplier with soft skills instead of the tech skills treadmill for a traditional engineering position.

You don't have to be an incredible developer to extract value.

From what I've observed, sales engineer is a support role for the salesman and it's the salesman who's getting most of the commission.

You know several sales people making $500k/year? I knew the best ones made bank but I didn't know that most of them did so well.

Try $750k plus on reoccurring commissions from sales past. $2M for landing a large contract.

Do you have a throwaway email address or can you name a few companies that would be good targets for sales?

I currently work as a software engineer but intend to move into sales in 2-3 years.

What is your definition of rich?

About 10 million in assets with 2 million liquid cash.

Have you considered real estate investing? Sure you'll get there slowly but 10m might be a realistic goal over say 30 yrs.

One thing I like about it myself as I am looking into it is you tie up the wealth and you are therefore less likely to up your lifestyle as you get wealthier. On the other hand a well paid job may encourage one to spend more. Let alone tax considerations. Not sure about USA but in Australia the tax system is ludicrously in favour of investing and particularly in real estate.

Assuming you aren't trolling, you're talking about a millionaire, then.

I don't know if a lot of programmers become millionaires from freelancing (or worse yet, employed by somebody).

No, I am not. I also consider myself successful for my age. Are there hundreds of outliers, probably yes. But, my question is - how business folks become successful and wealthy?

They solve other people's problems. They make something people want. They have leveraged value. Get an MBA, make friends, expand your network. Be the best and help others.

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