Engineering vs. Business

I started off in my work life as an engineer. I have been coding for 15 years, but never before did I have to deal with marketing, planning, content – the business side of things. Starting my own business has forced me to do all that – learning it along the way. Here’s a few things I’ve found that I see differently from the engineering side vs. the business side.

Code vs. Content

Engineers like to think that code is what makes and breaks a product or service – code is what sells it. Building kids apps, I realize that code doesn’t sell. We give away the lite version of the apps – which showcase all the coded features, but have much less content. The paid app has 10 times more content – which makes it worth it for the users to buy. The content does not have value in of itself – just see all the flashcard apps on the market with hardly any sales. But, content is what sells the app. In geeky terms, code is neccesary, but not sufficient to make a product.

Pay now vs. Pay later

When I worked for larger teams of engineers, it was all about the framework. Our thinking was that if we get the framework right, everything else will be much easier. To sell the idea to the business, we would naively ask the business folks if they would rather pay-now (give us time to get the framework right now) or pay-later (redo the code to fix the framework later). As one business person told me –

Business will always choose to pay later.

As an engineer, I was rather disappointed in business people’s short term outlook. Now that I am building apps, the last thing I want to do is build a framework. Sure, code gets duplicated because we don’t have a framework. But, then, who knows if a game will be successful. I can’t afford to spend the time and resources to build a framework now. If the product is successful, there will be time enough to re-code it later.

Value vs. Tricks

A business person once boasted to me how he tricked a restaurant owner into giving him a free meal. He called it an example of building relationships. Odd sort of relationship, I thought. Rather one way, if you ask me. Hardly genuine. The weird thing was how he was immensely proud of his trickery. Are business people taught that they are better if they can trick other people?

I have to admit, this is one side of business I still don’t understand, and never want to emulate. I would rather my products provide value, than trickery. After all, code doesn’t lie.


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