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The 14 mistakes that will kill your independent development shop

Steven A. Lowe | Oct. 15, 2014
Deciding to go it alone as an independent software developer is a liberating experience. The thrill of being your own boss cannot be denied -- neither can the fact that being your own boss means building a business. It's no longer simply about the code. Everything is your responsibility, from paperwork to partnerships, and with this increasing burden come greater pitfalls that can sink your business.

Look first at where most of your nonproductive time goes, and automate that. "Automation" in this sense includes all options, from fully automatic software systems that do everything for you while you sleep, to virtual assistants to personal assistants to outsourcing specialists and any combination of the above.

Indie dev mistake No. 13: Dropping the ball when it comes to support

Poor support is a major reason why clients change service providers. The less support needed, the better, but being known for excellent support is pure gold — not just because it maintains customer relationships after sales and delivery, but because outstanding support turns your customers into evangelists.

This doesn't only mean fixing problems in the middle of the night. It means helping clients understand every facet of your solution, teaching them how to perform tasks and fixes themselves, and providing all of the information they need to remain confident they made the right choice for their business' future.

Because that's what you build for your clients: their future. You may not have to live in it for long, but they do. Support their decision and vision, and reinforce and reassure them. There is no such thing as "not my problem."

Indie dev mistake No. 14: Becoming a bottleneck to your own success

When you go it alone, every decision is important, and because it's your business, you're on the hook to make every one of them. As your company grows, the decisions mount — which projects to pursue, how to juggle workloads, where to investigate new leads — and they can quickly dam up and destroy the company.

With clear guidelines, responsibilities, and processes, delegation can be your most valuable tool, and one that can be comfortable even for the most control-freakish of development shop owners. Know when and how to delegate effectively — or die.


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