Solo Developers Aren't Just Programmers

If you are a indie programmer, you are a businessman. Earlier you realize it, it is better.

Back When I started in software field, in early 90’s as an employee, it was enough to master a programming language - in my case it was C and Visual Basic. You needed to know these languages really well and I did. In fact, I would program for others, for free, just to learn various aspects of the language. Once I wrote a program to control arms & legs of a robot, just to learn serial programming in C; another time I created dlls in VisualBasic that could be used in PowerBuilder to send emails.

But then I became solo and quickly I realised that solo developers don’t enjoy the luxury of that silo-expertise.

As a solo developer, you are required to master a whole gamut of software tools. Its difficult, but not impossible. Mostly we know the challenge and ‘know’ we can handle it. After all, all of these are still software.

What came as a surprise to me and am sure to others in this flock is that suddenly you need to master so many other non-software skills.

You are expected to have good, if not excellent, communication skills - and many fellow programmers will admit it’s a nightmare; and you need a knack to close a sale, which includes among many others strong negotiation skill.

Being in India, I am aware that some, if not most, of these tasks can be outsourced. But even that requires these non-software skills like contract negotiation and cash-flow management!

So what I’m saying is, when you transition from an employee-programmer to a solo developer, you are no more a programmer. You are a businessman. Earlier, you realize it, it is better.

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