Running a business vs. building a business to sell

Saturday morning I sat down and wrote a rambling user story with a bunch of aside comments for QA Site / Fluffy. The I spend the rest of the weekend studying the literature of Agile/Scrum/XP and user stories.

But in between, I called my first draft user story iteration 1, and did a little personal retrospective. I realized that I want to:

  • define a process
  • to build tools
  • to improve the proccess
  • of software development, testing, and project management
  • so I can develop better tools
  • to build software
  • so I can build software
  • so that I can start a business
  • selling software
  • so that I can work from anywhere in the world
  • developing software
  • and running a business
  • helping other people develop software
  • so I can get rich
  • and not have to work
  • so I can develop software
  • in whatever process I want to
  • wherever I want to

Then I realized that there are two points i missed.

The first is that I don’t want to just produce tools. There are lots of tools, and even if I can make better ones, I’m not directly creating any of them. I want to create something. Not something that can be used to create something.

The second is more important. I want to do all this so that I don’t have to work. I think. I’ve just worked myself into a corner that would leave me unfulfilled at a ripe old age when I could finally hope to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The truth is that most people at that ripe old age wish they could still be working — doing something meaningful and productive.

And then also I realized that my objection to working all this time is that I’m not creating, which is what I’d rather be doing. Of course I’d rather be doing it less, but when I sail away over the horizon, I hope to be able on most days (when the weather permits) to be working on something.

Granted, I want to take a break to land that Marlin, go for a swim, and climb the volcano to toss a virgin or two in, but I want to be productive too. And I think I’ll be more productive than ever doing the other stuff I want to do as well.

Anyway, I guess that puts me more in the David Heinemier Hansson camp than the Paul Graham camp.

And I think the old fashioned way is not only the “honest” way to do it, but it’s more fulfilling. And you’ll create a better product if you’re doing what you want. Because a million monkey’s might be able to type a lot more than you’d ever get done, but they’ll never produce a Shakespeare. If you don’t have a masterpiece in you, then by all means, go for the quick money.

But you’re probably better off (statistically) going back to college and hoping to make the NBA draft.

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