Business Owners and Technologists – What’s The Difference

personal November 22nd, 2013

Recently I got to thinking about this question.

Recently I got to thinking about this question. Whilst I’m a better than average software developer, as a business person I’m rather average.

For years I dreamed of being a business man, free of the “daily grind”, the “9 to 5″, the “everyday”. Over and over and over again I tried, achieving differing degrees of success. Ultimately however, one constant remained.

I wasn’t actually focused on becoming a businessman; rather, on being a craftsman, a technologist, a technical specialist. I wanted to be a businessman, but was focused elsewhere. And the distinction was crucial. A business person creates, builds, and sells business which deliver a service or product, which people are willing to pay for. A craftsman or technical specialist seeks to grow ever better at their chosen craft, specifically the skills of which it’s comprised.

These people can be one and the same. But the one I gave priority to, wasn’t the one I claimed to seek. So my focus was ever given to improving my technical skills (software architecture), not to building businesses which delivered returns. And though I wanted to create and run a business, in reality, what I was doing was creating a job. Furthermore this was a job which I couldn’t easily retire from. There was one other, essential, difference. In a standard 9-5 job, you play a part of the whole.

In the situation I’d created, I was, as my dad often remarked, the chief cook & bottle washer. I was it, everything, the jack of all trades. Arguably not the goal which I’d set out to achieve. However, situations can present both positive & negative. What can be learned from this situation? I believe so much. Here’s two definite takeaways:

  1. To have had the experience and to see things first hand. Secondly, there’s nothing to be unashamed of in giving things a go. On a practical perspective, I learned to much more accurately assess whether a situation was of benefit or not; whether I was taking on too much or not.
  2. Whereas before I was very fuzzy at properly estimating and assessing a situation, now it comes almost as a matter of course. It’s much simpler to know how much a project will take, the sacrifices required, the component parts of which it’s made, and so forth.

So whilst I felt rather despondent for a time, it’s really been an enjoyable end result. I’ll take on other projects in the future, but with a much greater ability to assess them practically and holistically.


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