The other day, I was presenting some of my hard work to a group of stakeholders in a meeting at work. I went through the screens, showing all of the fruits of my months of labor.
And then it happened.
The question that every programmer loves.
“Why doesn’t it do this?”
My goodness - the first feedback I got was an implication that my work isn’t good enough. No “that’s awesome” - no “wow thanks for your long hours of work, the overtime you put in, how you sacrificed personal plans.” It was “I see this work you’ve done, and clearly it’s not good enough. Simple programmer man, dance for me!” They said this as they laid back in their chairs, eating chicken legs like Fat Bastard.
Ok, so maybe I over exaggerate.
I’m sure there was no offense meant by the comment. People are people - but I immediately felt on defense. I felt like my work was being attacked. No one in that room could even get close to doing what I do, yet that work was under attack as not good enough. Or, that’s how I felt. I was overly defensive and a bit angry.
Later on, looking back at events like this (which have happened many times), I started to get an idea why a lot of the really smart programmers I know aren’t entrepreneurs.
As a programmer, you’re not allowed to fail. Failure is a bug. Bugs are not allowed in software. Software is either 1 or 0. It works or it doesn’t. No one is satisfied if say… 90% of the blog posts you post using Wordpress work. The other 10% just go away. That’s a bug and not allowed. However, that’s not the same with business. There are wins and losses. Entrepreneurs know that some ideas will succeed, while most fail. That’s just part of the game. That’s at huge odds to what programmers do.
As an entrepreneur, you dip into sales. Some of the most successful salespeople I know hear hundreds of NOs before they hear the single yes. That yes is what drives them. That’s their personality - hunt for that yes. Same thing happens with entrepreneurship - you sell the idea, you sell the process, you sell for investors. A lot may say no. But you’re aiming for that first (and potentially only?) YES.
Programmers are not good at sales. Most are not good at sales. Of course that’s a generality, but I think its mainly true. Programmers create something - and the real truth is they made a functional something out of absolutely nothing - ingrains a belief that this product or service should sell itself. How amazing - this literally did not exist before, now it does, so why does it even need to be sold? There should be no convincing necessary, this is a feat of creation! That’s the general idea I think programmers have - if they really look inward.
The two reasons you don’t see more programmers or creators as entrepreneurs are simple: Programmers hate failure & programmers can’t sell. There’s nothing wrong with this - it’s just my take on why it happens.