Working with entrepreneurs is the both the most challenging and most rewarding type of work we do.
We understand the entrepreneur because we were founded by entrepreneurs and maintain that entrepreneurial spirit in the way we work today.
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of this country and drive innovation forward more than anyone, so whenever an entrepreneur considers us to help launch their idea, we are flattered.
And yet, some of the qualities that make entrepreneurs so successful and fun to work with also making working with them challenging.
This is the number one thing that stands out when thinking about entrepreneurs.
Across the board, entrepreneurs are passionate about their idea, and if they’re not, the idea is certainly going to fail.
That passion can drive a project along.
The motivation is infectious and can drive along a project that is threatening to stall.
It can also lead to some contentious moments.
See, entrepreneurs can move mountains with their passion and compromise doesn’t always sit well with that passion to get things done the way they want it.
Put sometimes, their vision doesn’t align with the reality of building software.
For example, an entrepreneur may want push notifications in the app their building – and want to see it immediately, but focusing on building push notifications at the start of the project is much more difficult than building it toward the end when a lot of the dust has settled.
But trying to tell an entrepreneur that it’s better to wait is like trying to give a cat a bath sometimes.
In fact, sometimes, it’s more efficient to kind of give the entrepreneur what they’re looking for and come back to it later and finish it.
In the case of push notifications, we might be able to fake it to show the entrepreneur how it will work.
This may mean using a dev certificate or a certificate from another project to temporarily demonstrate push notifications in the app.
We’ll still have to go back later and do the work to get our own production certificate for the app, but, a lot of times, the client just wants to see it.
That said, you have to make it clear to the entrepreneur that you “Wizard of Oz”-ed the feature just so they could see how it would function.
Don’t let them think the feature is complete because when you have to go back and actually build it out the right way, they will be upset because they thought the feature was complete.
Emotion and passion are pretty similar, but they affect the relationship in slightly different ways.
They emotionally aspect is great when things are going well.
For the entrepreneur, each new feature release can recharge their battery as they start to see their idea come to life.
At the same time, emotion can threaten to derail a project.
Sometimes the client will see their idea start coming to life, and they don’t like it – or some funding doesn’t come through.
No matter the project, there will be low points.
When low points get emotional, the project can suffer.
Budget is almost always tough on projects where the client is an entrepreneur who is trying launch their big idea – usually on a shoestring.
When you combine budget with some of the other aspects, such as emotion and perfection, you can become a trigger point.
What’s important in this aspect is the idea of limitations.
Entrepreneurs can’t blow their whole budget on technology.
In fact, however much is spent on technology needs to be spent on marketing.
This means you need a “go live” point.
This is the point where you’re going to agree that it’s time to go to market – otherwise, you can blow your entire budget on technology and not have anything left for marketing.
This goes hand-in-hand with budget, passion and emotion.
More so than any other type of client, entrepreneurs want perfection.
They’re so close to the project, they tend to almost become the project.
They start to see project defects as self-defects and anything that is not perfect becomes an indictment on them, personally.
It’s so important to understand that perfection kills – especially when you have a limited budget.
Stuff can be tweak or fixed later.
Functional is sufficient more times than not, especially when you’re trying to prove a concept.
Entrepreneurs are often looking for investment.
That money changes a lot and lets you fine tune things much further.
But if you never launch, you’ll never get that investment money, and it won’t matter if you get to perfection or not.
Something is always better than nothing.
Working with entrepreneurs is amazing, but there are key things to keep in mind on both sides of the relationship.
If you’re the developers, you have to keep these things in mind and be willing to work at a discount and hitch your wagon to the project.
If the idea is great and the client is great, these can be the most fulfilling and rewarding projects to work on because you get to grow with the client and share in their successes.
But getting to that success point will take a lot of work, guidance and patience.
If you’re an entrepreneur, try to always think “What is the minimal product I need to prove that my idea will be huge?”
That way you won’t get hung up on perfection.
You need investors to be able to see the potential of your idea.
Also keep in mind that marketing is critical.
The idea that “If you build it, they will come” is a fallacy.
This will help you get to investment as well because investors want to see usage and potential.
Potential you can demonstrate without marketing.
Usage, not so much.