"Business" Posts


Instrument Your Business

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Instrument your business. It's like instrumenting your code, but profitable.

If you're a developer or a sysadmin, periodic optimization is a fact of life. As more people use your code, you'll see performance issues. Unoptimized use cases bubble up. Systems get strained by continued or heavy use.

On the technical front, there are a lots of instrumentation tools available. We've used ruby-prof, Request Log Analyzer, Scout (of course), MySQL Tuner, httperf, and Rack::Debug. Not to mention low-level tools like top, vmstat, iostat, etc.

The point is this: anything that gets used a lot can be optimized. To optimize you need visibility. To get visibility, you need tools.

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3 competitive advantages of developer-run businesses

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

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?

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Running a freemium web app? Here's a big reason we're growing.

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Before Scout, my experience developing software was primarily consulting. Success was measured by delivering software on time and on budget.

With Scout, a subscription-based service, my focus isn’t on scheduling. We are self-funded and we didn’t have the luxury of a venture-backed startup. We’re focused on figuring out which pieces of development work can increase revenue the most. What follows is how we’re approaching it.

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Part II: We Just Undid Three Months of Dev work. Here's What We Learned.

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Two weeks ago I covered some of the business lessons learned from a large (~3 months) investment in new features, and the hard decision to roll them back. I discussed how you will underestimate the ongoing cost of complexity in your product, and how cool new capabilities don’t sell themselves.

Continuing this week—more insights gained from undoing development work.

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We Just Undid Three Months of Dev work. Here's What We Learned.

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

We’ve been deleting a lot of code from Scout. We’re ripping out major infrastructure, and in doing so, pulling the plug on functionality which, just six months ago, we believed would be crucial to our business. Most importantly, we’re simplifying the most complex, error-prone, and poorly-performing parts of the application. At the same time, our revenue and sales pipeline is growing at a faster rate.

How did this happen? How did we get to a place where we can remove code and functionality and see our business will grow because of it?

As they say, “mistakes were made.” You don’t get the satisfaction of throwing out a bunch of cruft and performance-degrading features without having gone through the pain of:

  1. Building those features in the first place.
  2. Fighting the performance problems for a few months before you realize its all untenable and come up with alternatives.

So yes, mistakes were made. But also, lessons were learned.

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