That was one of the best lessons I've learned in recent years, something I like to call the Field of Dreams mentality. That if you build it, they will come. They being the critical mass, the teeming hoard, ready to blast your servers to hell. And it being anything your fingers could program, possibly something you thought of with a friend, and most likely involving social, mobile, geolocation or all of the above.
Some years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about building something for an audience. The conversation went something like:
"We should build something..."
"I don't know, something that will get a lot of users."
I have a feeling that is how 90% of apps or websites are born. We decided to build a social polling application. The idea was that you could create polls, share them with friends and get others to vote on them. We thought if we included some juicy graphics, some sweet jQuery, fast server response times and Facebook Connect, then we would just need to sit back and wait for the benjamins to roll in.
How wrong we were. It took some years, and working at a startup for me to understand the effort and the roles it takes to build a successful business.
Developers often balk at marketing, or sometimes sales, suggesting that these people are not doing any 'hard' work. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you still think 'bizdev' is just someone who wastes your time with stupid 'features', then you might suffer from the Field of Dreams mentality.
This isn't just me, others feel this way too. Patrick McKenzie suggests coding is only 10% of your business and the rest is "dealing with pre-sales inquiries, marketing, SEO, marketing, customer support, marketing, website copywriting, marketing, etc."
So before you spend a ton of time on that next project, ask yourself why you are doing it. If it's just for fun, to learn something new, go right ahead. But if you are telling yourself you are on to the next big thing, think again. Maybe you will luck out and become the next Instagram, or the next Pinterest. But maybe you could've won that huge mega millions jackpot too.
Dev/Code/Hack is a technology and business blog by me, Par Trivedi. I'm a software engineer and I've been writing code and managing teams for over a decade. This blog serves as a way to share thoughts and ideas about the tech/startup community, and also to educate newcomers to software development.