Build software like an entrepreneur

Some people start a company on a whim. Others think about it for years before deciding to jump. But all of them start the same way: by writing a business plan.

It might be the back of a napkin, an intricate Excel or a Business Model Canvas. The goal is to predict what your venture-to-be will look like in a few years and see if it’s a feasible idea.

We all know business plans are wrong by definition. We undestand that Year 3 will not resemble our spreadsheet. No matter how many scenarios we write down, we accept that none of them will come true.

The aim of the business plan is to think about the strategic components of our company. Who will our customers be? What sales channels can we try out? What will our cost structure look like?

We write the plan to invite feedback.

An entrepreneur that sticks religiously to the business plan is bad at her job. The good ones celebrate pivots and surf on the changes. They learn about their product and adapt.

So why would you ignore that Lean mindset when building software?

Treat your software plans the way you would a business plan:

  • You know less about your product than 3 months from now. Embrace learning.
  • You won’t wait until Year 3 to get your first customer, so why wait months to get feedback from your first user?
  • Hiring 100 people on day 1 is usually a bad idea. Start out with a small software team.
  • Just like you invite feedback from mentors and experts, you should discuss the viability of your software plans with senior developers.
  • Celebrate when the plan changes. Pivot to a great product instead of sticking to an obsolete plan.

Building custom software is not easy, but as an entrepreneur, you already have the Lean mindset. Use that to your advantage and build awesome products.