The Develpreneur site focuses on building better developers. It may seem obvious that the name comes from a mashup of developer and entrepreneur. Thus, it is logical to ask how that mashup is related to building better developers. Before we go very far, I think it is essential to address that question.
The Power Of Entrepreneurship
The label “entrepreneur” is almost a meaningless buzzword in the modern world. It is thrown around a lot like a path to a life of ease. The TV shows like “Shark Tank” highlight entrepreneurs of all sizes and bookshelves are full of stories of those that “made it.” The success of silicon valley companies has fed this concept as well. There are countless stories of college students that suddenly became million or billionaires.
I think the process and results are often a red herring in discovering the power of entrepreneurship. The label or business definition of these people is not their strength. Instead, it is the inner drive that leads them to entrepreneurial pursuits in the first place.
An entrepreneur looks at the world and sees ways to make it better. This may be on a personal level through things like an iPod or at an enterprise level through overnight package delivery. The solution may be a new product, service, or even process. That is what entrepreneurs feed on. Put simply; they feed off of improving things in small or large ways. They genuinely see problems and struggles as opportunities.
This drive to make things better is critical to being a good developer in my experience. Although this is not a trait that is just tied to successful software developers, it is a crucial piece of advancing in an industry that changes daily. That drive to be better may even be a chicken and egg aspect of the better developers I have met. It could be that their nature always to learn and improve is what led them to an IT career in the first place.
Feed The Beast
When you look at the time required to keep up to date in the IT world, it can be overwhelming. That is before you consider a need to keep ahead of the game to advance in your career. I think this is where entrepreneurs do well in the IT world. They can turn those tasks of keeping current into services, products and consulting streams of revenue. I always view it as “you might as well get paid if you are spending that much time on something.”
That practical side of funding your learning and career advancement may be the other part of the chicken-egg problem mentioned earlier. That steady call to side hustle with your new skills is an excellent way to build an entrepreneur.
Solving Real Problems
The most important trait of the best developers is their ability to tie technology to business. This appears counter-intuitive as so many people see IT staff as lacking business knowledge. However, look at the high paid and senior IT consultants. All of them have that all-important business knowledge in their background. That experience and expertise are often touted more than their technical skills.
That is the reality of working with software. The applications built are only as useful as the problems they solve. I feel like a broken record, but I have seen this play out for myself and many others throughout my career. The hottest technology is not going to determine success or failure. Its utility is the primary contributor in that area.
For example, the Apple Newton was roughly a first-generation iPad. The technology was “cool.” However, it was roughly a “flop” because there was not enough utility for the device. Think about it. The features that are so commonly used in modern tablets (email and browsing the web, mostly browsing the web) did not apply in the early nineties. Email and the internet existed, but not in the accessible way it does today. The hot technology of a small device needed to wait for the marriage with another hot technology: Wi-fi.