I’m just gonna [insert lame excuse to postpone here]

Wingsuit flyer taking off from a cliff
Wingsuit flyer taking off from a cliff
Wingsuit flyer taking off — https://wallpaperset.com/wingsuit-wallpaper

Are We Ready? Will It Fly?

Questions along these lines are not just relevant; they are vital — as much in the SaaS products space as in wingsuit flying.

But while they prevent us from taking the leap before we can deliver, they can also seriously hamstring our confidence.

While I have yet to toss myself off a cliff wearing a flying squirrel suit, I can confidently say I have some first-hand, hard-earned experience when it comes to launching products.

Experiences that have rendered me cautious and, according to my wife, way too perfectionistic for my own good.

Perfectionism vs. Good Enough

I have spent my entire 2020 building and perfecting Flowmine, my latest contribution to the highly competitive and crowded market niche that is all-in-one solutions for small businesses. …

Or how to use parameterized translations inside parameterized translations

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Iza Gawrych on Unsplash

“What? Isn’t the application available in Swedish?”

I was talking to my accountant on the phone, but I could literally hear him cringe none the less.

Earlier that week, I had shown it to my stepfather and gotten the same reaction from him. And come to think of, didn’t my buddy Mike make a remark about this as well?

So far, my application had been English only. With a global aim, it felt natural. And these days, most people are comfortable enough with the English language, so there shouldn’t really be necessary to translate it, right?

Think again.

Of course, it depends on what kind of application you are offering. But if you are targeting a traditional market segment as I do, you better face the music. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kyson Dana on Unsplash

Every once in a while I stumble upon some piece of code that makes my WTF-o-meter go straight through the roof.

After a quick review I go, “this would be so much cleaner and faster if I used the this-or-that pattern instead. No wonder this code has become a performance bottleneck; who wrote this piece of crap?”

And, of course, the individual responsible for that abomination of code is usually myself.

So, in the spirit of the Boy Scout Rule, I start to refactor the code.

Only to later discover that what led me down this less elegant path in the first place was a shortcoming in some 3rd party library or a restriction in the production environment. …

Image for post
Image for post
Wooden LEGOs, borrowed from https://se.pinterest.com/cidditoys/

If you are a developer, chances are that you see meetings as a necessary evil. Your daily tasks are generally about writing code, or participating in peer-to-peer discussions that result in you writing code. And that’s what you like to do.

When you start working on something more serious, you typically need at least half an hour to dig into the problem, and even more to get in the zone. And it’s not unusual that you need several days to get done with a task.

This way of working is called the Maker’s Schedule, and the smallest block of time is half a day. In your world, an empty calendar equals the chance of really getting things done. …

Image for post
Image for post

“What do you do for a living?”

For many years, my answer to that question was that “I am a developer.” Later, this evolved into “I am a solution architect” and “I am an application development strategist.”

On a side note, I must — very shamefully — admit that these little title upgrades made the ancient, primitive, status-hungry part of my brain very happy. Whenever I received or gave myself a promotion, the needle on my status-o-meter went up, and I felt special. …

Image for post
Image for post
What gets measured gets… well, invoiced.

Some ten years ago, I worked as a freelance web developer. Or — to put it as I preferred to define myself at the time — I made a living by running a small web agency.

Regardless of the label, I did web development, design, and some strategic consulting. And I had a product: my own content management system (CMS) called, *drumroll*, Sitereactor.

The bulk of my revenue came from collaborations with real agencies. Thanks to them, I got to be involved in projects I probably never would have landed on my own. …

Image for post
Image for post

Back in 2005, Derek Sivers coined the concept that ideas are just multipliers of execution.

He meant that ideas in themselves are utterly useless unless acted upon; they are just amplifiers waiting for a signal to boost.

And that signal consists of execution.

Which means that a great idea with bad execution probably won’t take you very far — like in “don’t quit your day job” — while a so-so-idea with great execution very well can become a sustainable business.

Let’s Do A Remix of This Idea

Fast-forward a decade into present day’s fascinating developer community, and let’s see what happens if we apply this theory to another concept. …

Image for post
Image for post

When I first started out as a freelance developer, I just wanted to build cool stuff with shiny new technology. Which back then, in 1999, meant web development.

I had worked as an employed consultant for a couple of years, and having grown tired of being the designated Delphi-guy, I decided to go solo.

The timing for starting a freelance business seemed perfect. The dot-com era was just about to peak out, and there where an abundance of exciting projects to choose from.

Mistake #1 — Postponing invoicing

Life was good. I had a decent financial buffer in place. …

Image for post
Image for post

I’ll mention Lancelog, my newly released SaaS, for a colleague at work. Since we’re both developers, the conversation naturally slid into the technical territory.

“What’s your stack?” he asked curiously. “Well,” I answered, “it’s Angular and .NET.”

Having been through this little song and dance a gazillion times before during the last couple of years, I knew what to come.

“Ah, cool,” he said. “Are you still on Angular 5.0 or have you migrated to 6.0 yet? And did you hear that .NET Core 3 is coming?”

“Hmm, I’m still using AngularJS,” I said, “and .NET 4.7 for the backend.”

His facial expression quickly went from interested to condescending. And with a visible effort, back to neutral.

“But those are like five years old. Aren’t you concerned about performance? And isn’t AngularJS to be deprecated in a couple of years?” …

Personal side projects have been a part of my life ever since I got my first developer job. Most of them have been about discovery; an opportunity to fiddle with the latest new-shiny-thing on the developer horizon.

Other projects have been more serious, with a long-term commitment and a vague goal of financial independence. And one of them actually made it all the way to being a real product. Yes, with actual paying customers. Good times.

The least common denominator? Passion. A passion for the technologies involved, the mere craft of writing code, and the challenges of problem-solving.

Personal projects as a career strategy

Most employers tend to steer clear of bleeding edge technology, so personal side projects are often the only option for developers to play with new and exciting stuff. At least on their terms, not being restricted by budgets, deadlines, legacy dependencies and other common corporate constraints. …


Fredrik Holm

Entrepreneur, developer, family man. Building SaaS products and consulting in development strategy, solution architecture and process optimizations.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store