I'm Tired of Wanting to be an Entrepreneur. I'd Rather be a Problem Solver.

July 6, 2024


Entrepreneurship is something that I've always craved as part of my identity. I think there are a couple reasons for this.

  1. I hate being told what to do. Or more specifically, I just want to do what I want to do. Autonomy is something that I've always valued.
  2. The idea of having complete control over your earning capability is intoxicating. Want to make more money? Just make the right choices to level up your business.

For years, I have said that the big thing was coming. I started three different blogs, I created a t-shirt company, I wrote a book, and most recently I published an app. And guess how they did? Well, I'll give you a hint. I'm still working at my day job. There's nothing wrong with that at all, as a matter of fact, I really enjoy my day job. But, outside of sleep, nothing gets as much of my time as my day job, and I spend it building value for other people. That's not exactly what I'd consider entrepreneurial.

So what happened with each of these? Well, it was a blend of things for each one, but it could pretty much be boiled down to one, succinct point:

I Don't Market Well or Frequently Enough

I don't put enough effort into marketing. Jeff Bezos once said "Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service". And I believed that the price I'd be paying was low. I was going to create such remarkable products, that marketing would be pretty low effort. But let's take a look at my two recent ventures:

  • Conquer CSS is merely the distillation of the fundamentals of CSS into a beginner friendly book. I wanted to help backend devs enjoy CSS. However, most of the info in this book can be found for free online, and for the most part, I gave away far more free copies than anything else. I still think it's a good book, but it's unremarkable.
  • ArcadeCal is a calendar and scheduling platform that makes it easier to schedule game time with your friends. I built this to solve my own problem, and I thought it was going to a great app that would sell well. Turns out, gamers would rather just text their friends (which is BS btw, you guys won't find a mutual time easily if there's more than 3 of you). ArcadeCal was seemingly unremarkable.

Even my next app is going to be pretty boring, all things told. It's called Kinetick, and it's a client dashboard builder that allows account management teams at agencies to more effectively communicate with and manage their clients. It's a pretty basic CRUD app, and I know that marketing it is going to be a doozy. So I'm just not going to.

You Can Market FOSS Software but you don't HAVE to

I'm tired of solving a problem in my way, and then starting the arduous task of marketing it. Because truth be told, I suck at that shit. I'm not going to spend the time to go make Tik Toks, optimize my sales copy, write targeted content pieces, or find influencers in my niche. I'll try really hard for a few weeks, and then give up, because it's not what I want to do (refer back to my list of reasons I wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place). I love the business side of entrepreneurship, but in my heart, I'm an engineer. I don't want to be Jobs and Woz. I want to write a bunch of code that solves a problem.

So I'm going with the FOSS model for the foreseeable future. If you're not familiar, it means free and open source. It's the total opposite of the idea of modern SaaS (software-as-a-service), where you build a product that probably should just be sold to a customer one time, and then charge them every month for it until their atoms return to the universe through decomposition. The solutions I come up with to my problems are going to be free. Anyone can have them. Free software like Blender, Godot Engine, and Neovim have changed my life for the better, and I want to do that for someone else. If Kinetick makes some Account Manager's life much easier, then I will have a reason to smile.

I'm sick of coming up with an idea for a cool project and then instantly shooting it down in my head because I'm worried it's not going to make money. If all my projects are FOSS, it won't matter. And this is absolutely not me saying that you can't make money with FOSS. You can. I just don't want to prioritize that anymore. I want to make all the cool stuff I come up with, and if people like it, then more power to them. Hell, maybe they won't like it at all. Maybe they'll submit a PR to fix it and make it something they could like. Even better.

But Ryan, What if you Were one Idea Away from your Big Idea

So what if I was? It'll be free, and plenty of people will enjoy it. That's great. Besides, I refuse to wrap GPT and come up with some stupid chatbot that is going to "totally change the way you butter your bread bro, I promise", so I doubt I was one idea away from my big break anyways.

I'm so tired of giving a shit about marketing that I'm not even going to share this article. I don't care if you read it. I wrote it because I wanted to, and that's what I'm going to keep doing, just like I always wanted.