You’ve probably realized by now that software development and entrepreneurship are two very different things. Software development is a tiny subset of the skills an entrepreneur needs to launch and operate a successful software or web startup.
If you’ve been writing code for years you’ve likely formed opinions that don’t quite hold true in the world of entrepreneurship. This lesson covers a handful of realizations that you will come to at some point during your transition from developer to entrepreneur.
Realization #1: Being a Good Technician is Not Enough
Realization #2: Market Comes First, Marketing Second, Aesthetic Third, and Functionality a Distant Fourth
Realization #3: Things Will Never Be As Clear As You Want Them to Be
Realization #4: You Have to Measure & Tweak
Realization #5: You Will Never Be Done
I was utterly floored when I read this new IEEE article by Tom DeMarco (pdf). See if you can tell why.
…I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that software engineering is an idea whose time has come and gone.
Software development is and always will be somewhat experimental. The actual software construction isn’t necessarily experimental, but its conception is. And this is where our focus ought to be. It’s where our focus always ought to have been.
Tom DeMarco is one of the most deeply respected authority figures in the software industry, having coauthored the brilliant and seminal Peopleware as well as many other near-classic software project management books like Waltzing With Bears. For a guy of Tom’s caliber, experience, and influence to come out and just flat out say that Software Engineering is Dead …
That’s kind of a big deal. It’s scary.
And yet, it’s also a release. It’s as if a crushing weight has been lifted from my chest. I can publicly acknowledge what I’ve slowly, gradually realized over the last 5 to 10 years of my career as a software developer: what we do is craftsmanship, not engineering. And I can say this proudly, unashamedly, with nary a shred of self-doubt.
- Plaxo With Simply Hired
- Twitter With Blog or LinkedIn URL
- MyWorkster With Indeed
- Are you willing and able to bear great financial risk?
- Are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle for potentially many years?
- Is your significant other on board?
- Do you like all aspects of running a business?
- Are you comfortable making decisions on the fly with no playbook?
- What’s your track record of executing your ideas?
- How persuasive and well-spoken are you?
- Do you have a concept you’re passionate about?
- Are you a self-starter?
- Do you have a business partner?
Tech layoffs may have hit 300,000 since the financial crisis began, but there are at least 395,629 job openings in information technology, enough to re-employ all of those now out of work. Job search engine Indeed this morning launched a new Industry Trends page filled with stats on job openings in the U.S. across major industries. Although there are more job openings in IT than in any other industry except healthcare (which has 581,625 job listings).
What attributes can contribute to a highly successful software developer versus the ordinary run-of-the-mill kind? I don’t believe the attributes listed here are the end-all, be-all list, nor do I believe you have to be born with them. Nearly all things in life can be learned, and these attributes are no exception.
Love of Learning
For some good links on how to determine your rates check out these links.
- A Guide To Information Technology Consulting Rates
- Independent Consulting and Back Office Services
- Consulting Rate Worksheet
Here is how I came up with my rate
Choose a target billable rate – for this demo we will say it is $65 an hour (going rate in the Chicago land area).
Determine your current hourly rate. This is your salary divided by 2080, total number of ‘work’ hours in a year. Now you have a baseline for what you make now, including benefits.
Now that we have our rate, we need to determine how much all our expenses are going to cost and subtract them out.
- 401k matching – lets say your company will match up to 3k a year (and you get the full matching). At 3k a year, this is worth $1.44 an hour off your billable rate.
- Health insurance (cost if you had to buy it own your own) – lets say you need to cover you and your family, this could cost you about 5-6k a year. At 6k a year, this is $2.88 an hour off your billable rate.
- FICA (Social security and Medical tax) – As a employee, your company will pay 7.65% for you, while you pay the other 7.65%. So, at 7.65%, this is $4.97 an hour off your billable rate.
- Vacation/Sick/Holiday time – I assume that I am going to take 3 weeks vacation, 2 weeks holiday time, and 1 week sick time.
Time to figure out your ‘actual’ rate after expenses
65 – 1.44 (401k matching) – 2.88 (Insurance Cost) – 4.97 (FICA) = $55.71
So, that $65 number is really more like $55. So, if your salary rate is not at least $10 an hour less then the ‘actual’ consulting rate, I would say that it is not worth the effort. For me, I don’t have to worry about insurance (on wife’s plan) and my company does not have any matching, so the only subtraction I have is the FICA expense.
So my actual rate calculation is really
65 – 4.97 = 60.03
Via Derik Whittaker
- Convergence of Desktop, Web and Mobile Clients
- The Immersive, Cinematic Application: Improving the User Experience
- Making Development Less Difficult, or Interceding with the Browser Gods
- Are Web Browsers Ready for the Next Generation of Internet Applications?
- Web Browsers of Tomorrow
Our Experts, We spoke with…
- David Wadhwani, vice president, RIA platform, platform business unit at Adobe
- David Temkin, CTO at Laszlo Systems
- David Intersimone, CodeGear (previously Borland), vice president of developer relations and chief evangelist
- Tim Bray, director of Web technologies, Sun Microsystems
- Bob Brewin, a Sun Distinguished Engineer and chief technology officer for software
- Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla‘s VP of engineering
- Scott Guthrie, general manager, .Net development platform, Microsoft
- Brian Goldfarb, group product manager, UX platform and tools strategy, Microsoft
- Dean Hachamovich, general manager of Internet Explorer, Microsoft
- Jean-François Abramatic, chief product officer at ILOG, who also served as chairman of the W3C (currently he’s on the W3C Advisory Board) and as a director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
- Jochen Krause, CEO of Innoopract (the company behind Eclipse RAP)
- Alex Russell, project lead for the open-source Dojo Toolkit