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Software dev w/no domain experience... what to do?

Guidance

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I discovered this forum and read Unscripted like most people. I read about creating value and using domain experience to build something that others need.

Here is my question: I am a Software Developer, which means I’m in the software development industry. Anything that can be automated in this field is already automated because, well, everyone in this field can build products due to their programming skills. This means that trying to build something in this domain is useless, because open-source and far more powerful solutions already exist.

So, I can’t build anything in my field due to lack of opportunities and I can’t build anything in another industry because I don’t have the domain experience/knowledge of that industry.

What would you suggest I do here?
 

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What would you suggest I do here?
Change your mindset.

If every entrepreneur thought that way the world would be full of one solution products.

Myspace was founded in 2003.
Facebook in 2004

Myspace was incredibly popular at the time. Now people say Mywhat?

How many CRM programs are out there? How many accounting programs are out there? How many website design solutions are out there?

There was a time when if you were developing a website you would use one of these:

  • Notepad
  • Frontpage
  • Dreamweaver
The world moves on. Spaces change, people innovate.

I used to get paid to put customers websites in the top 10 positions on AltaVista. It was THE biggest search engine in the world back then. It was established in 1995 a whole 3 year lead on Google (1998). There were around 10 main search engines and directories back then and Google wasn't even a twinkle.

There is plenty of room for innovation and competition. Just find a niche that is not being served as well as it could be. Serve that one niche. If it is small enough then it should be easy to serve them better than companies trying to serve multiple niches with a one solution product. They are trying to be all things to all men. You just need to be everything to a few (in comparison).
 

Bekit

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I discovered this forum and read Unscripted like most people. I read about creating value and using domain experience to build something that others need.

Here is my question: I am a Software Developer, which means I’m in the software development industry. Anything that can be automated in this field is already automated because, well, everyone in this field can build products due to their programming skills. This means that trying to build something in this domain is useless, because open-source and far more powerful solutions already exist.

So, I can’t build anything in my field due to lack of opportunities and I can’t build anything in another industry because I don’t have the domain experience/knowledge of that industry.

What would you suggest I do here?
I don't understand.

You can build software.

Is every piece of software already built that will ever need to be built for the rest of the history of the world?

Is everything on earth already fully automated to the extent that it ever will be possible to do?

Your thinking is dead wrong: "I can’t build anything in another industry because I don’t have the domain experience/knowledge of that industry."

I am a copywriter. I don't write copy for copywriters, I write copy for all kinds of industries that need my services. I've written for dentists, roofers, plumbers, chiropractors, HVAC companies... and those were the easy ones. Once I had a client whose business was acoustic microscopy and non-destructive testing to analyze MEMS, wafers, microchips, and other tiny objects for cracks, delaminations, and other defects. (It was a doozy.)

How do I come up to speed? I research.

How can you come up to speed in another industry? You research.

Try this method:
NOTABLE! - The "Inside Out" Technique - Getting Started!
 
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Guidance

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I understand and agree with what both of you wrote above. I have previously gone around looking for niches where I can build something. In fact, after reading your replies, I felt motivated enough to do the same thing again and pick and industry. Then I realized I am back at the same point:

I can’t market to big companies and SMB area is filled to the top with options. For example, look at the accounting industry. If I were to build accounting software, I don’t have access to sell to big companies. For small and medium size companies, quickbooks, xero and other options already exist, all of which sell at prices far too low for me to be able to compete with a valid/reasonable return.
 

srodrigo

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Hey, another software dev here.

Man, this is the most exciting era to be a software developer. The technology is better than ever (although there are still many things to improve!) and you can just focus on building things and solving problems, instead of building tech.

I understand why you don't have domain expertise in any particular field. That's normal (unless you spend your whole career on the same field, which doesn't sound cool to me). But, as other have said, you can learn anything and get the expertise. My recommendation is: pick something that has problems/needs to be solved, and something that you are excited about.

A few ideas:
* AI/Machine learning (arguable, the single most exciting and growing thing in our profession - the possibilities are just infinite)
* Crypto-currencies (people might disagree, they might just blow up soon, but they are still hot)
* Any personal interests beyond technology (e.g. if you like drawing, there are probably needs to solve on that field).

I understand that sometimes it's not easy to come up with something good to spend out time on (I feel the same many times actually), but I believe that's because we don't look close enough at the huge amount of problems that we can solve. The only difficulty I can really see is, if you want to start on your own without any partners, your choices are narrower (but still quite big).
 

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Go easy..... this person needs help and is asking for help so try to be nice. I know we pounce a lot of time :)
I shall bite my tongue and save my words for someone who is more willing to shed their blinkered state. :innocent: :halo:
 

Andy Black

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I think you’re going about this wrong.

Who are you going to help?

What are you going to help them with?

How will you do it?

Stop Building Stuff
 

Bekit

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In fact, after reading your replies, I felt motivated enough to do the same thing again and pick and industry.
@Guidance I'm so glad to hear that you felt motivated to try again!

I'm hearing a lot of "I can't," and I think that is part of the problem.
I can’t build anything in my field
I can’t build anything in another industry
I can’t market to big companies
What if you approached this with the idea that "this is figure-out-able, and it's only a matter of time before I hit on the winning idea"?

Try this...
  • Listen for needs. They will start popping out at you
  • Imagine that you're marketing to people, not to "big companies" or "SME's" or "companies in X domain." Within all those companies are people. And people are the ones who experience frustrations, pains, problems, obstacles, and roadblocks that they'd gladly pay to solve.
  • Start by looking on Quora and Reddit for people who are making statements like "I have more work to do than I have time in the day to do it." Then look into their work and see if it's something at you could automate. There are a ton of people whose work gets done primarily on the computer, but who have no clue how to build something that automates the process. Look deeper: is this a one-off issue, or are multiple people complaining about it? If it's just a problem that one person is complaining about, and it comes down to their poor time management skills, that's one thing, but if it's something that thousands of people legitimately have difficulty with, then there's an awesome product for you to create.
Two examples to get your creative juices flowing:
  1. I just received an email this morning from an author / thought leader who runs a successful business from home. She has thousands of followers. Her email subject line was "What DIDN'T work for me in 2018," and she had a few bullet points of what she'll be changing in 2019. One of her bullets was this:

    "Unlimited Instagram access. My community is so engaging on IG it's tempting to share ALL THE THINGS. I love giving tips and ideas to my friends online! But it's SO easy to get sucked into the IG world, sharing too much, getting distracted from my tasks, and "waking up" at 10 AM wondering what happened to the last two hours. Not kidding. I have spent 2 hours on IG in one morning before. *cringe* Screen Time on the iPhone has really helped with this, planning out my IG content, and now I'll be deleting the app (and others) every day for a certain timeframe."

    Go back and read that last sentence.

    EVERY DAY she's going to delete instagram and then (presumably) reinstall it. Every day. And she's doing this with other apps, too. That is so inefficient! And she's a productivity whiz!

    So this got me thinking... Surely there's a better way than that. Is there no such thing as "One app to rule them all" where you can just set-it-and-forget-it to suppress those apps from your phone during certain hours, where you can't access them at all, and they'll come back at the time of day you've set to allow yourself to do that activity??? Shocking. But this is a problem that TONS of people probably have, and they'd reap immense benefits in terms of restored productivity. It would be like freedom.io, except for your phone, and it would make the entire app as inaccessible to you as if you uninstalled it.

    Somebody with your skills could build something like that.

  2. In one of my previous jobs, I had to meet a certain quota of writing per day. I was paid on commission for my writing based on word count. However, I also had to do a huge series of required tasks that I didn't get paid a commission for, which added up to a good chunk of my day that I would have loved to get back. They were all tiny little "click here, click there, log this, copy and paste that, submit this to so-and-so, check this off" type of things that were part of our internal procedures. But let's say I wrote 5 blog posts - every blog post came with about 20 extra minutes of this mundane busywork. 20 minutes x 5 blog posts = 100 minutes of wasted time that I didn't get commission on (I was paid minimum wage when I wasn't writing). I am SURE that if people in my department were software engineers, they would NEVER have put up with that. The whole thing would have been automated down to a blink of an eye. So if somebody like you could uncover the experiences that people like me are having, you'd get to build something cool, I'd be making more money, and my company would be happier because I'd be more efficient. In those 100 minutes, I could have written a 6th blog post.

These needs are there. They are everywhere. You just haven't uncovered them. And that goes back to research. You haven't done enough research if you stopped at quickbooks and xero and threw up your hands and said, "See, it's impossible."

Keep going. Be persistent. This is solvable. Remove "I can't" from your vocabulary. Replace it with "I haven't figured it out YET."

I discovered this forum and read Unscripted like most people.
By the way, you should post in the thread GOLD! - I've Read UNSCRIPTED! that you've read the book so that you can get the badge under your name.
 

Jello

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Great answer @Bekit

So this got me thinking... Surely there's a better way than that. Is there no such thing as "One app to rule them all" where you can just set-it-and-forget-it to suppress those apps from your phone during certain hours, where you can't access them at all, and they'll come back at the time of day you've set to allow yourself to do that activity??? Shocking. But this is a problem that TONS of people probably have, and they'd reap immense benefits in terms of restored productivity. It would be like freedom.io, except for your phone, and it would make the entire app as inaccessible to you as if you uninstalled it.
If a app like this doesn't exist already or if it exists but doesn't do what it has to do properly i think you're on something big here.

Maybe it exists already but isn't market well?


[*]In one of my previous jobs, I had to meet a certain quota of writing per day. I was paid on commission for my writing based on word count. However, I also had to do a huge series of required tasks that I didn't get paid a commission for, which added up to a good chunk of my day that I would have loved to get back. They were all tiny little "click here, click there, log this, copy and paste that, submit this to so-and-so, check this off" type of things that were part of our internal procedures. But let's say I wrote 5 blog posts - every blog post came with about 20 extra minutes of this mundane busywork. 20 minutes x 5 blog posts = 100 minutes of wasted time that I didn't get commission on (I was paid minimum wage when I wasn't writing). I am SURE that if people in my department were software engineers, they would NEVER have put up with that. The whole thing would have been automated down to a blink of an eye. So if somebody like you could uncover the experiences that people like me are having, you'd get to build something cool, I'd be making more money, and my company would be happier because I'd be more efficient. In those 100 minutes, I could have written a 6th blog post.
[/LIST]
Some sort of CMS comes to mind accustomed to a certain job / industry.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Life itself is domain experience. You're failing to peek outside your bubble.

For example, this forum is hosted on forum software that sucks. There aren't better alternatives.

There ya go, opportunity right there.

You have the most formidable, Fastlane skill one can ask for...

You can build houses. And people always need houses.
 

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ZCP

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@Guidance change your mindset. change your language.

rewrite your OP w/ positive language ..... give it a shot ...... look for opportunities ...... open, encouraging....
 

Jello

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For example, this forum is hosted on forum software that sucks. There aren't better alternatives.
May I add that the app tapatalk also sucks and needs a lot of improvement.

For all I know it's the only app out there which one can use to read forums. But it sucks.
It needs improvement and a lot of forums aren't even integrated.

Remember Myspace and Facebook?
 
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Guidance

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Life itself is domain experience. You're failing to peek outside your bubble.

For example, this forum is hosted on forum software that sucks. There aren't better alternatives.

There ya go, opportunity right there.

You have the most formidable, Fastlane skill one can ask for...

You can build houses. And people always need houses.
I was looking at this area after your comment and found Discourse and Flarum as "next-generation" forums. What are your thoughts on that?
 

AlexFS

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Lately I was thinking in trying Upwork. If you are a software engineer, there should be some tasks you could complete and get paid for it. This way you start to learn to work with clients, a skill you need regardless. You start seeing all the various patterns of tasks people have problems in, maybe you will spot a pattern. Or you build more confidence in yourself as well as communication skills and experience. Would never hurt. Maybe you will get to work with someone who already developing a small software based business and you will get a chance to see how it all works on the inside. Of course the other part is actually sitting down and doing all of these.
 
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Guidance

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Lately I was thinking in trying Upwork. If you are a software engineer, there should be some tasks you could complete and get paid for it. This way you start to learn to work with clients, a skill you need regardless. You start seeing all the various patterns of tasks people have problems in, maybe you will spot a pattern. Or you build more confidence in yourself as well as communication skills and experience. Would never hurt. Maybe you will get to work with someone who already developing a small software based business and you will get a chance to see how it all works on the inside. Of course the other part is actually sitting down and doing all of these.
I have tried looking at the available tasks, but it's mostly people who want you to build a complex application without expecting anything more than $10 in compensation.
 

Mainstream7

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You might take an internship at a company, see how you can optimize their workflow. Then build software to optimize it.
 

srodrigo

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I have tried looking at the available tasks, but it's mostly people who want you to build a complex application without expecting anything more than $10 in compensation.
Maybe some people had good experiences on sites like Upwork, but I agree with this. For a copywriter, maybe Upwork is good. But when a client wants an application for the same price they would have a copy, there is a problem. I wouldn't waste my time there, unless it's just to gather statistics about what people demand in terms of projects and tech.
 

GIlman

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You have one hugely valuable skill set in understanding technology, and being able to program and create new things.

From your post, it sounds like your experience is predominately in programming. What other areas of life do you have experience.

A characteristic that I have often seen in successful entrepreneurs, is a large number of different interests that they have.

One of the most powerful skills is being able to take two unrelated fields, learn from each, compare them, and find solutions to problems based on your unique perspective.

The more experience you gain, the more opportunity you will expose your self to find problems, which are just opportunities in disguise.

So, learn to golf, take up cycling, skuba dive, sky dive, join a gym, get your pilots license, take dance lessons, rock climb, take some online classes, volunteer for some group. But go deep into something. really learn the ins and outs.

Besides simply gaining knowledge, in the process of learning new things you will also meet new people, often with very different backgrounds.

One of my businesses began through a friendship, who put me in contact with his brother, working in a field that I had absolutely zero knowledge about. We have built a multi-million dollar company working together.

Let people know what you do, describe your self as a programmer and entrepreneur. Tell them you build businesses and products. How will they know what you want to do if you don’t tell them.

Also, talk to people constantly. If you were on the bus, airplane, sitting at McDonald’s waiting for your food, wherever you are. Try to engage with random people and find out about their personal story, what they do, etc. You’ll make friends and gain new perspectives. If your introverted it will help break you out of your shell, which is super valuable to do.

Maybe find a person who could use your skills and services, that also happens to be a successful business person, and do some free work for them. Offer to help them in their own business, and in return, you will get a fantastic mentor ship experience that may change your life.

The most important thing is to keep moving and keep learning. Talk to people about what you do, share your dreams, and just keep plugging away.
 
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Andy Black

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^^^ All of this.

I especially like this part. I do this too. I also read a businessman's top tips and one of them was to "talk to everyone".
talk to people constantly. If you were on the bus, airplane, sitting at McDonald’s waiting for your food, wherever you are. Try to engage with random people and find out about their personal story, what they do, etc. You’ll make friends and gain new perspectives. If your introverted it will help break you out of your shell, which is super valuable to do.
 

splok

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Anything that can be automated in this field is already automated
trying to build something in this domain is useless
I can’t build anything in my field due to lack of opportunities
I can’t build anything in another industry
I can’t market to big companies and SMB area is filled to the top
I don’t have access to sell to big companies
other options already exist
found Discourse and Flarum as "next-generation" forums

Why did you ask for advice? You're doing nothing but searching for reasons that everything is impossible. You've gotten great advice here. You've even had someone specifically point at a software need they actively have.

I'm sort of at a loss trying to imagine what you hoped would happen. Were you hoping someone would just offer you infinite money out of the blue to solve a problem for them?

For small and medium size companies, quickbooks, xero and other options already exist, all of which sell at prices far too low for me to be able to compete with a valid/reasonable return.
intuit.JPG

Obviously there's not enough money in it for a reasonable return...

What would you suggest I do here?
You've got to start focusing on what's possible instead of what's impossible. Until then, nothing else matters.
 

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Guidance

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You've even had someone specifically point at a software need they actively have.
There are a number of forum softwares that claim to be “next-generation”. That’s why I asked him why he didn’t look at that.

As soon as I saw his post, I thought I had finally found something where I could apply my skills. In fact, I have experience working with different forum softwares. It all looked good, until I found some of the newer forum softwares (e.g. Discourse). Not only are they a bit more modern, but they are feature-filled and have great reviews (4.5+/5). I would love to know how to compete it with that, because I found that to be hugely discouraging.
 

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