Wow, Andrew, thanks for sharing this. What a great article. Funny thing is, this is EXACTLY my story. The legos, the early “web design” projects, getting into PHP, creating servers, breaking things in production, to supporting my family by being a programmer.
I think a key piece to this is finding that first partner of yours. Someone that sees the value of having their own custom application to fulfill their ideas, but also looks as the whole thing as a means to their end (ie: not really caring about the implementation, just making sure you get it done). If you can find someone like this then it gives you a stage to perform on. The fact that they are not a coder themselves allows you to learn on your own without getting caught in the weeds and details (even big ones), and just get to the good part. Of course, the big part to us is just seeing our creations come to life and the business-partners are just a means to our end :)
I believe that, in today’s world, a large majority of aspiring and driven programmers like us want to launch their own SaaS apps. This is great if you can pull it off, but by taking a large part of that load and putting it onto someone that can do better — and allowing yourself to do what you need to do and LEARN — is the way to go. I’m just another cog in the wheel but if I had to give advice to anyone in this situation that is reading it would be: go find that person. Meetups, local business networking events, there are no shortage of folks out there.
I’ll have to check out Pagoda and see what more damage I can do! Cheers!