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3 competitive advantages of developer-run businesses

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Older baseball players typically have plenty of power and discipline but are slow runners with lower batting averages. It’s kind of obvious: as we get older, we get bigger and more patient, but we also get slower. This characteristic even has a name, described as (you guessed it): old player skills.

Bill James, a famous baseball historian, studied these players and found that younger players that start with these skills fade away faster than than their peers. The players that have long careers are often those that have speed when they’re young and are able to adapt as the gifts of youth fade.

What does this have to do with small, self-funded, developer-run businesses like us?

When you’re like us, there are things you can do that larger, older businesses can’t. The opposite is true as well. With Scout, a big lesson we’ve learned is that we need to take advantage of the things that come easy for us now:

Psychic Support

One of the most efficient ways for small companies to grow is by retaining customers longer. A key aspect of this is support and you have an almost unfair advantage here:

  • You built the application.
  • You can easily understand the raw log files.
  • You have access to exception data.

A dedicated support staff – no matter how knowledgeable and nice – can’t compete with what you bring to the table. Encourage your customers to contact you. Show off. You’re able to answer questions and solve problems faster than 90% of the businesses your customers work with.

Matrix-like Access to Visitor Behavior & Performance

I can share an SQL query, log snippet, performance profile, or visitor analytics report with Andre and he gets it. I don’t have to put it in a presentation or PDF. If it’s not exactly what he needs, he knows how to modify it.

Raw data that a product manager or marketing director couldn’t interpret at first glance is instantly visible to developer-run businesses. You have an amazing ability to have a complete picture of how your customers use the application. The better you understand how your customers use your product the more efficient you’ll be.

World’s Fastest Feedback Loop

As I already mentioned, you have quick access to a level of visitor behavior data that a product manager will never have. Obviously, you wrote your application as well. This means you can quickly make the types of small adjustments that can small ball your way to big growth. Make small adjustments and track. Repeat. Even a small, venture-funded startup has some layers of approval before deployments. You just have common sense.

Summary

Like a young baseball player taking advantage of his speed, take advantage of the skills you have now that won’t be there in your older, slower, future.

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