This is, imo, the biggest hurdle for engineers who want to become entrepreneurs. I've seen so many HN posts about people trying to crowd source startup problems, trying to automate away this piece and just get down to coding. I too struggled with this for the longest time. I felt like a solution looking for a problem. Just give me a problem, any problem, and I'll build the best damn app and be on my way!
But that's not how it works. If you want to stop being an engineer, you need to stop acting like one. Engineers have their problems roughly scoped and entered in a JIRA board. Entrepreneurs have to go find problems to solve. You want to go be an entrepreneur? Go learn to talk to people. Go learn to listen to others, empathize, and to convince people to believe in you. You will be a company of one - so go build out your personal sales & marketing departments.
Nope. Never said anything about "not building." Only you have stated that.
This circles back to my original question/statement; "I wonder why building a business and building a piece of software are so different"
> Building a business can be [fun]
Absolutely! Remove the words "a business" and restate that as:
"Building can be [fun]"
Now you can insert almost anything...
"Building a bike can be fun"
"Building a business can be fun"
"Building a product can be fun"
"Building software can be fun"
"Building a computer can be fun"
> Who wants to work in a business where the core product is boring
Remove the words "wants to" in that sentence and you could apply that statement to most of the Software Engineers who work for others. SE's typically work around this limitation by justifying it with the technology they are working on instead.
"I'm learning React!"
"I get to use Ruby on Rails everyday!"
"I get to learn more about using all the AWS services!"
None of that matters.
The only thing that matters is "building." Building is fun!
Why can't building a business be just as fun as building software? ...and we're right back to my original question :-)
Engineers don't like sales and marketing generally. That's why they're engineers. And unlike as you state, building in general is not necessarily fun, only specific things being built are fun, those that align with the interests of the builder. If you told me to build a house, I wouldn't necessarily consider that fun, so your initial premise is flawed. A business in this case also falls into the "not fun" category, again, in general to engineers.
Whenever I come across these, it's in the territory of not worth my free time. But for the more complex projects they want a whole team, and I've found it's difficult as a solo person to sale that.
The problem I had. Is that a majority of what I came across was mobile and web orientated. As a back-end dev, it's not something I can help with. Especially when for the pitch deck metrics/numbers and a pretty demo are the big selling points.
Things you need (in my opinion) for an even semi-successful SaaS platform: Good UI with an easy to understand idea that provides an immediately obvious value, all while being easy to monetize sustainably. Coupled that with being able to actually find + reach customers.
> But let’s reiterate the big advantage you get from considering building a product in an industry outside of yours (software development): It’s just now you’re going to be operating in an industry which has software problems and isn’t particularly optimized to solve them.
Be careful about this. There is money to be made in those industries, and they might not have as much competition as software for software companies do.
But do you really want to be in those industries? Would you enjoy going to industry-specific conferences and mingling with those folks? If your business gets even a modicum of success, you will be working on it for several years to come.
Market/founder fit is something that isn't talked enough: who you choose to serve matters. What good is your business if you feel trapped inside it?
So the next time you set out to build a business, do yourself a favor and think about this from the beginning.
Relevant thread: https://capiche.com/q/looking-back-would-you-have-done-anyth...
"Create a solution to somebody else’s problem, where that problem sits at the intersection of being genuinely interesting / meaningful to you and being something that you are reasonably capable of addressing."
I also want to second his book recommendation [The Mom Test](https://www.amazon.com/Mom-Test-customers-business-everyone/...). It's really short and will save you a lot of time building things nobody will pay for.
You may go down a path of a "big problem" that requires tons
and tons of effort and overhead, only to find the market is too small, companies rather just do it "the old way", or they simply don't want to pay enough money.
Do your research.
It's an interesting and well written article. Thanks.
In school, we are trained to solve a problem very well. But the problems are given by teachers. There is no one to train you finding a valuable since kindergarten. That's why it's so hard to find it as an adult.