Want to start a programming business

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Qi
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12 Sep 2010, 4:00 pm

I want to start on iPhone/iPad app development. It's a unique opportunity for someone like me, who works best on his own. I have basic programming skills. I have all the necessary tools. I've downloaded an entire Stanford course.

It's just that something is scaring me. It just seems like a suspiciously perfect opportunity. It just can't be as simple as me learning and starting to make a living. I'm not as naive as I used to be, and I don't want to get my hopes up. I don't to waste my energy wandering around in an uncharted territory. It may either be that I'm just afraid of the unknown, or that I believe this is all just another big delusion of mine.

I'm also scared because this is the only opportunity I see ahead of me. If it fails, I'll end up feeling hopeless. I think I'd rather live thinking that I could succeed in achieving my goal whenever I want, than try, fail and have nothing left to hope for.

I've seen this scene a hundred times before, but maybe it will be different this time? Statistically, it's very unlikely, and just knowing that kills my motivation, and hence I'm unable to focus with that thought lingering in my head. No focus = no go.

There's no way for me to know for sure unless I try, but maybe some of you could offer me perspective, advice and whatnot.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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12 Sep 2010, 4:44 pm

Qi wrote:
. . . I'm also scared because this is the only opportunity I see ahead of me. If it fails, I'll end up feeling hopeless. I think I'd rather live thinking that I could succeed in achieving my goal whenever I want, than try, fail and have nothing left to hope for. . .

I felt the same way about poker. Of course it's not. I'm now having high hopes about my SAT tutoring business. Another thing that might happen is that you hit a homerun and aren't paid fully for it. Well, that's okay, I'd rather hit a home run and not be paid fully than not hit it at all. (about the poker, I broke even)



thegreatpretender
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12 Sep 2010, 5:23 pm

For what it is worth, here is my advice: just go ahead and start building an app for fun, not profit. Once you gain confident in your technical abilities, start working on a more "serious" app, and make sure you work out how it is planning to make money in the long run. Typical questions to ask yourself: what problem is your app solving? If none, look for another idea. Work out how it is going to look like before you type your first line of code. Think about the ideal user experience, people do not like to think too much, especially for an app. The interface needs to make sense to your users, not yourself. If your app is creating value for some group of people, can you make sure that the value increases with the number of participants (network effects)? This helps defend the product against competitors in the long run.

[quote="Qi"I'm also scared because this is the only opportunity I see ahead of me. If it fails, I'll end up feeling hopeless.[/quote]

As it often turns out, you will probably do a lot of different things in your life. Don't procrastinate. If you have a good idea, just go ahead. If it fails, you will be better equipped for the next one.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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13 Sep 2010, 12:58 pm

thegreatpretender wrote:
For what it is worth, here is my advice: just go ahead and start building an app for fun, not profit. Once you gain confident in your technical abilities, start working on a more "serious" app, and make sure you work out how it is planning to make money in the long run. . .

I'd say both. Picking "the best business opportunity," that's a perfectionist trap. Just pick a good business opportunity, but also one that interests you personally and roll with it. As an analogy, a guy doing medical research mid-century later wrote that it was like picking up gems from the ground. But if he had focused on picking up "the best," that would have also been a perfectionist trap. Instead, just pick up one that catches your eye, almost in a casual manner, and then move on to the next one.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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13 Sep 2010, 1:18 pm

And, very importantly, you also want to ping-pong it back and forth, and get feedback in that kind of reciprocal process. And in this kind of feedback process, a clear-cut mistake can actually be a good thing.

And then there's the important question of how complex to make it. Let's say you're making a game vaguely in the sense of 'Frogger' where you tilt the phone to move the 'Frog.' You might find your game too complex for most iPhone users, or too simple. (I know with my own writing, I often go too complex, and people would prefer something more straightforward.)



Asp-Z
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13 Sep 2010, 2:02 pm

Don't make the mistake of thinking that app development is a door to infinite wealth. It's not. There are many success stories, but there are many failures, just like any business.

That said, if you can make good apps and you spend enough on advertising, you can probably make a decent living, and if you invest profit back into the business and advertise even more, you could possibly get your app in the top 100 - and that will make you rich.

My advice will be to try. There is no reason not to. There's always a chance you'll fail, but the difference between successful entrepreneurs and the failures is simply that the successful ones tried harder and persevered when they failed.

Good luck! :)



atindo
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13 Sep 2010, 5:53 pm

I think its already been said, but just do something in your spare time and get it to the point where you can submit it to the app store and have it accepted. Then you can get a sense of the scope required to actually build an app to completion - it's not as easy as you may think. Then you can see interest in that app and if doing it full time would be viable.