Being great at building software doesn’t make you great at building a software company. It sounds silly now, but when I started Haught Codeworks, I thought if I could put together a great engineering team then building the business would take care of itself.
Apparently, I’m not the only one with this impression. You commonly hear that business owners need to work on the business, not in the business. I loved building software so much that I just wanted to stick with that.
The problem is that your business won’t reach its potential if you only work in the business.
My biggest regret with running Haught Codeworks is how I’ve failed to bring awareness to who we are and what we do as a company. I could go into the many reasons why I never put much energy into that, but that would be enough content that it would deserve its own post.
Since the beginning, clients found Haught Codeworks purely through word-of-mouth. I never did any marketing or promotion. I had a wide network in the software industry so we got enough business through referrals to make promotion unnecessary. But there was a downside to this approach that I wasn’t aware of. People knew about me but didn’t know about Haught Codeworks.
Moment of Truth
This came to light a couple years ago when one of my apprentices, Louisa Barrett, was at a software conference and someone asked her where she worked. She answered that she was an apprentice at Haught Codeworks. No one recognized the name. She clarified, “I work for Marty” and they replied, “Ah, great you work for Marty!”
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Many of our team members have had similar experiences. When Louisa told me about her experience, it took me off guard. How much potential business have I missed over those years?
It wasn’t simply about name recognition for the company, but a deeper awareness of what we do and how we do it. I’m known by many for the events I organize. I have been a relentless community builder for the past 11 years. I’ve also been building a small, niche software consultancy with expertise in lean software development.
How many out there know that I’ve honed a very efficient and effective way to build rapid prototypes that evolve into production-grade applications? How many know that my team has successfully worked remote 100% of the time for over 10 years? How many know that I’ve run a software apprenticeship program for the past 4 years? How many businesses could we have helped had I spread awareness of Haught Codeworks?
I’ve been building software for 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of different ways to build better teams and products. Though I’ve blogged about these topics sporadically over the past decade, I haven’t turned a lot of my attention to sharing what I know. Our newsletter represents my commitment to change that, to give back to the greater software community.
Not only do I hope you will join me on this adventure, but I hope you keep me honest about sticking with it. It’s so easy to let the pressure of product deadlines and new potential projects overtake our daily lives.
I’ve had so many great conversations in person at software conferences over the last 12 years. I ask that you continue to give me feedback and help me improve how we build great software products and teams.
I also ask that you help share this newsletter with anyone you think might find it beneficial. Thanks, and I look forward to popping up in your inbox more often!