Success, and Farming vs. Mining

Wil Shipley talks about the farming vs. mining approach as a metaphor for running a software business, but he also talks a bit about the value of ‘having an idea’.

What’s upsetting is the number of people who have come to me with the idea of becoming miners: “I know nothing about software, but I can see there’s gold in them thar’ hills, and so I want to start up a company and make my million dollars! I’ve got an idea and everything, just tell me what magic incantation you did to get rich and I’ll be on my way.”

This doesn’t work. Your idea sucks. No, I’m not calling you stupid — my idea sucks, too. All ideas suck, because they are just ideas. They’re worth nothing.

My success is because I worked to make the idea real. A lot. All my life. Starting when I was 12, I learned to program, and I’ve programmed every spare moment since. I didn’t become a millionaire until I’d worked at it for eighteen years. There was no genius idea I had. I just kept working, hating what I did before, and working some more to make it better.

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