I’ve been meaning to write for a while about how finding a non-technical cofounder really made my side-business take off – I just read a great article from John Wheeler on Don’t Scale entitled Stop Looking For A Cofounder and it spurred me into action.
I’ve built a fair few applications and services on-the-side whilst being employed full time as a programmer, the idea was to build something up to the point where it could become my full-time job. I built web apps that solved a problem and/or made things easier for people, products that had a purpose and a market – they were pretty solid offerings that looked good and did the job they were supposed to do. None of them every got anywhere and that was totally down to the fact that I tried to do everything myself.
I spent time learning about marketing and sales, about copywritintg, CTAs, funnels, segmentation, warm prospects, pricing and everything else, I read a lot of Seth Godin, Jason Fried and Richard Branson. I know how to market a product and I know how to sell a product but as it turned out I wasn’t actually good enough at doing either.
I think it is fair to say that it is common for programmers and other die-hard techies to think that their work is the hardest part of a business, after all they are actually making the thing. That’s the hard bit, right? Taking the idea and making it into something that works. The softer skills like marketing and selling are often seen as being easy to pick up, after all, it’s mostly just writing and talking to people. Should be easy.
In John’s article he said, “Today’s full-stack engineers have replaced yesterday’s sysadmins, DBAs, and webdevs altogether. Now they’re homing in on sales and marketing.” Homing in they may be but I think many will be surprised at how difficult sales and marketing are, it’s a completely different skillset.
I teamed up with Geoff to start Audiology Engine and have had way more success and profit in one year than I did in many years when trying to do everything myself – the guy is a marketing and selling machine, I have learnt a ton from him, our skillsets complement each other perfectly.
The point of all this? You don’t need a cofounder but teaming up with someone who has a different skillset to yourself makes a lot of sense to me. Learning new skills like marketing is great but don’t underestimate how difficult the non-technical roles are.
50% of a bunch of sales is a lot more than 100% of no sales.