What we’ve learned from 10 years of being in the software development business

Pavlo Bashmakov
Jul 2, 2015 · 5 min read

Whether to work for others or not work it was the question for three graduate students and they decided in favor of going out on their own. In nine months, they made their first $1,000 and started their own software development studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. I was one of those grad students.

For the last ten years we’ve been in the business of developing web apps, and then mobile apps, and after that wearable apps. We’ve worked with European and American clients. Along the way we’ve learned something about how to do business, manage people, marketing, work with clients and so on.

NOTE: This list is not about engineering but building a company so it easily could be applied to any business.

The Team

Firing people sucks so it’s better to invest more time in hiring the right one.

Keep your eye on interactions, collaborations, overall process and results. Don’t forget about soft skills for the engineering team.

People play well in diverse groups when they complement each other with different personalities and skill sets. Learn more about PAEI and management styles.

It is just great when they are smarter than you — ideally they have to be so. And be sure that first-draft players hire other first-draft players for your team. Starting with second or third stringers may lose you the game. Many companies try to reduce costs this way but in the end it may have the opposite effect.

One of the main reasons for people to work for you, other than money, is to learn. The more experience they have, the greater their input can be. Having a mentor system can be a great motivator.

Business-model

A lot of innovations and disruptions happen with just a shift in the business model. There are always many models to work with your clients and earn money from what you are doing.

To have outstanding people you always have to compete in a global market and so have to pay correspondingly.

This being the case, it would be a bad idea to pay a competitive salary to software developers and then build a product for a limited local market that doesn’t scale. The company might hit the wall and people would consider working for Google or Facebook instead.

Make sure the growth of your expenses is linear while the growth of your outcome is exponential.

Nothing lasts forever and your brand new business will be a different one in five or ten years. Maybe you’d like to build a spaceship next.

With speed you have a more complex system and less time to react. So be patient and don’t compromise your hiring process or the quality of the product that you deliver to your customers. If you have a great, professional team it would simplify this process a lot.

Leadership

Promote people who care the most and take more responsibility.

You can’t do and be everything, so be ready to give up responsibility and control to others on the team (but always find the right people first).

Being on the same page with everyone on your team increases overall efficiency and creates an essential anchor for making decisions for each member of the team.

Build trust with your team, partners and clients.

Your people have really great ideas and lots of experience. That’s why you work with them, so listen more than talk.

In horizontal structures there are fewer barriers, and more collaboration and communication happening.

Especially those made up of people. Once it is built, it should only be changed wisely, but that shouldn’t stop you from changing it.

Don’t break it. Also, make your changes iterative with the right incentives for everyone.

Communication/Marketing/PR

People are more emotional than rational and with a good story you can deliver both — emotions and rationality.

Invest effort in every contact point that you have with the audience: the website, email footer, your presentations, agreement templates, etc. Every single detail contributes to the first impression and your story.

Writing helps to sharpen your mind and to structure your thoughts. Also it adds great visibility to your business and brand and helps to generate leads.

It helps in finding and validating new ideas for the business. The more ideas are bumping up against each other, the more cumulative value will be created.

It is essential to give back to the community and people. That’s how everything moves forward.

Doubt & Procrastination

Don’t worry about this. It is totally OK. And don’t be afraid to make a mistake because that’s the only way to learn something new.

Then measure, learn and start all over again.

The more you try, more chances to succeed you’ll have.

Learning & Innovations

Forty-two percent of college graduates never read another book after college. You better be in the other 58%.

An innovative business model, a new approach to doing an old thing or a decision to stop doing something at all — these are examples of changes that could be made to improve business results. They could come from anyone but in fact few people are bold enough to introduce and implement such changes. So look carefully for innovators within your team and support them.

Clients

Strive to be the best.

Your works define you and your business. Your clients define your work, so control whom you are working with.

Structure/Legal/Finances

Incorporation, legal papers, board of directors, shareholders etc

Learn what P&L and burn rate are and make a projection for at least the next 6–18 months to budget your time.

@StanfyMobile — agile software development studio of native apps. We help others evaluate technology, develop and deploy software systems that are designed to work in a mobile and wearable world. Drop us a line if you need technical or design help with your new and awesome technology product or startup.

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Thanks Andrew Garkavyi for review and additions to the original text of the post.

Inside Stanfy

Insights and behind-the-scenes stories from Stanfy team

Inside Stanfy

Insights and behind-the-scenes stories from Stanfy team

Pavlo Bashmakov

Written by

Founder at Stanfy, software development studio. Researching autonomy, self-driving cars and robotics.

Inside Stanfy

Insights and behind-the-scenes stories from Stanfy team