A couple ofpeople have noted that in my responses – titled "It's the Tech Guy Obviously!" and "What about the Business Guy?" respectively – to Ann Bernard's initial post "The Tech Guy vs The Biz Dev Guy" that I've been hard on the BizDev Guy. As in incredibly hard, ripping him to shreds, openly mocking him, and just short of bringing up elderberries. I'm sorry gentlemen, but it's time to take a look at ourselves…
What does the Tech Guy lack?
First – and to be painfully honest – we often lack anything resembling business sense. We see those business/sales guys as the Dark Side and mock them when they're not around. After all… we all know that "business" is the easy part, right? I mean come on, if an English major* can master it, how hard can it be?
* With all due respect to English majors, you're just my example. 😉
That's how I can tell the entrepreneurs from the developers. The entrepreneurs know the difficulties in pitching potential customers, having to pay the bills, having to meet payroll, and generally deal with a problem that can't be beaten with Unit Tests.
Second, we often don't have marketing skills. Lots of developers are content to hide away in a warm, dark cave with a continuous supply of caffeine, tasty treats, and the occasional bathroom break. I have a number of close friends who have told me this exactly. Of course, those people will never start building a product… they'll just hack away in their caves occasionally being recruited by someone else and working on bigger and more interesting things.
Third – and I touched on this in my initial response – developers tend to think in terms of Projects not Products. What's the difference? Well, a Product is something that gets sold to Customers who want to use it because it meets their needs or solves a pain for them. A Project is something that takes up some of your time, might be fun to work on, and satisfies a need for the developer. See the difference?
A Project is focused on the needs and interests of the developer. As soon as it starts to seem like work, it will be set aside and forgotten or sent to where open source projects go to die. A Product is focused outwardly and can't be put aside when it's not fun. In fact, that's the time when it needs the most attention.
Finally, lots of us are infected with "Shiny Thing Syndrome". We always want to be working on the latest and greatest projects with the coolest and newest tools. We don't like the idea of doing "tech support". We don't like the idea of having to delve into old code – even our own! – and figuring out that one nasty bug. Most of us want to write the code, get it working, and pass it off to the next guy to never think of it again. There are a few exceptions. I know a few brilliant developers who are always tweaking their code to make it better, faster, and leaner, but they are the extreme exception. Most of us don't have the time, patience, or will to do that.
So overall… Does the BizDev Guy or the Tech Guy have it easier?
To get things rolling, no one is more qualified than the Tech Guy. He can take a concept and turn it into a tangible Project/prototype to see if it can fly.
To take things to the next level and turn it into a Product and see if it will fly, you need the BizDev Guy.
If you find someone with an understanding and functional ability in both… watch out. 😉