I'm about to graduate from a 9 week coding bootcamp. Should I start my company or go work and continue learning?

I feel the time is right to launch the music startup I have been thinking about for the last year. I'm torn between jumping into it and going to work at another company to really sharpen up my development skills. I'm coming out of the program as a still fresh, very jr dev. No savings, but ready to start a company otherwise. What do you recommend?


Is it strictly a case of one or the other? Why couldn't you find part or full-time employment in an area that will develop your skill and dedicate the rest of your time to applying what you learn to building your startup slowly? Going full-tilt may be exciting but without savings, it can be difficult and stressful. At some point your startup's needs may surpass your ability and then you may find yourself in a position of giving away equity to get to the next level or even having to call it quits for lack of resources.

A third option could be finding work in an environment (like ours) where you can both hone your relevant skills, working on diverse web projects, *and* get full no support building your personal project, which I'm assuming is web development-heavy. We get that people have bigger aspirations than their regular day job. We should talk!

Answered 10 years ago

There's no right answer to your question, fortunately or unfortunately: what's important is for you to fully weight the pros and cons of the two options in front of you and to remember that whatever decision you take now, you can always change your mind.

If you get a job and hate it, you can always quit.
If you start your company and it doesn't work out, you can always get a job.

The biggest mistake in this situation is to believe your decision is final.

Make a list of the pros and cons of each options. Do the math: how long can you survive without a job? Is this long enough to build your product and find clients? How much can a job pay (part-time / full-time) and how much will you be saving?

Once you've made this list, put it in a drawer while you take a day to think about what you really want: what makes your really happy? Where do you want to be in 5 years time? What makes you excited to wake up in the morning before your alarm rings?

You can now bring the two documents one next to the other and make a logical decision. Once this is done, give it a day or two to sit over your decision: how does it feel? What do your guts tell you? When you think about your decision, does it feel right? Do you feel excitement and enthusiasm?

If you wish to explore these questions with me, book a call. I've coached a lot of entrepreneurs and have seen many start-ups fail. I've also coached a lot of people through building a successful career. Either way, what matters to me is that you're happy when you wake up in the morning and satisfied with your day when you go to sleep because that is the single biggest factor to be successful in what you do.

Answered 10 years ago

You can do both. I learned to program WHILE starting my first company. It was great, provided a needed output of the things I learned and made me a better student/developer for it.

Everyone talks about starting a company, and going all in (I use to be that guy) but when I took an honest look at my career path, many of the "projects" that became companies were started while I was doing something else. Clarity was built nights / weekends while I "vested in peace" after my company was acquired.

Spheric Technologies was started while I was working for a big company as a consultant.

Flowtown was part time for the first few months as I didn't know if I wanted to do that full-time, or move to China.

There's 16 hours (maybe more depending on your age) to create .. a job only takes 8. You have 8 more.

MANY companies have started this way ... either as a service company doing consulting, and a product was spun out (27 Signals, Freshbooks, Hootsuite, Shopify, etc) or done nights and weekends while working at a startup.

So yeah, you can do both if you have the energy and work habits.


Answered 10 years ago

Do both. with a full time position you will have others around you and learn from that environment and with your own project you will be spending a great deal of time reading and trying. So you will be working twice the amount of time and if nothing else you have sped up your dev skills.

Answered 10 years ago

You really need to learn more about dev in my opinion... but in saying this you can should do both.. work for someone and work on your project after hours.. since you don't have savings get some money in the bank before you go trying to start a business. Without experience and money there is a fairly small chance of success... working for others also gives you some perspective of best practices for development. I would strongly suggest getting a job and working part time... if it starts to get traction then go full time.

Answered 10 years ago

This isn't an easy question to answer the way you have posed it. There are many elements that go into starting a company, and you haven't sharedwhat the company would do. Is it going to have a product, or is it a way to sell your coding skills. Also, knowing revenue and profit potential of a business vs. starting salary for coders with similar skills would help you weigh the economics of both. In either case, good luck, and if you would like to brainstorm this question, please schedule a call.

Answered 10 years ago

As a designer turned Marketing Agency Principal, I'd recommend going out and actively looking for job opportunities where you will learn the additional skills you require. Once you get past your first few hires, your job becomes a whole new gig. You will need to know how lots of different things work. For instance, I was lucky to have worked in the printing industry, traditional software dev industry, a design agency and a marketing agency. I got to see first hand how all of these businesses work, which has made it much easier to oversee a company that works in all of these fields. 75% of the things your business will do is already figured out and this can prevent you from having to reinvent 500 wheels . The other 25% is the part where your innovate and do something new.

Of course, there is no predefined path you should take and I always encourage entrepreneurs to follow their gut, but if you are going to get some work experience, be very strategic about it and what you are going to learn, especially If it is very specialized, such as the music biz . It definitely beats to its own drum. (Sorry, had to)

Answered 10 years ago

Most of the programming bootcamps are primarily designed to create junior developers, not startup founders. That said, if you take a programming bootcamp, it will probably help you to deal with technical challenges.

The reality is that building a company is way more than knowing how to code, and you'll have to invest time to face other non-technical challenges.

If you are interested in having a more strategic vision on the product of your company, I would encourage you to consider the option of learning Product Management as well. I am the CEO of Product School, a 6-week part-time Product Management course in San Francisco:

Answered 10 years ago

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