First, I’m an actual partner, meaning I own a large part of the company. That comes with a lot more responsibility. I have to fill out a lot more paperwork and just in general do a lot of non-engineering tasks. Expense reports, reading contracts, making bids, and so on. Of course, the fact that there only four of us influences this too.
There’s a lot more multitasking involved. For example, I’ve already written up a spec for a potential client, hammered out a rough schedule for another client, reviewed a couple of contracts from potential clients, and brainstormed ideas for our own product. Oh, and somewhere in there I did some actual coding on a contract that we already have. Hopefully this is making me more “well-rounded” as opposed to “crazy”.
I have to say, the contracts are the most disturbing part of the whole process. I can deal with generating product ideas, writing specs, architecting a feature, coding it, and debugging it. Contracts are a whole ‘nother story. They aren’t written in code or English, the only written languages I happen to understand. Contracts are written by lawyers with the express intent of trying to pull a fast one on you. The contract is a legal attempt to put all the responsibility on you while removing all responsibility from the client. But that’s not clearly stated, its written in legalese so you have to spend $400 paying another lawyer to tell you how screwed you really are. A good measure of screwedness appears to be how hard the lawyer is laughing when he hands the contract back to you.
I’d go into specifics, but a lot of contracts say we’re not allowed to mention the client’s name without their express written consent. I understand that the clients are trying to protect their name, but come on. I just did a bunch of work and I’d like to be able to tell people about it. I’ll admit that telling people “I can’t tell you who I’m working for” sounds all cool and mysterious, but it doesn’t really seem to bring in more contracts.
The other scary part is the money doesn’t come in regularly. Well, since we’re working several contracts right now, it kind of does, but nothing is guaranteed. I don’t draw a salary; I just get money when the company actually makes money. The flip side is I’m not limited in how much money I can make. And that’s kind of cool.
One of the things I am enjoying is ability to freely think of product ideas. What’s so “free” about it is that I own any idea that I come up with. Yep. I’m not sure how many people would want a hamster powered beanie, but that’s my idea, and I get to keep it. Seriously though, knowing that I get to keep any idea I generate is a pretty liberating feeling. It also makes the whole brainstorming process a lot more fun. I’m not trying to come up with an idea to make some large corporation another $100 million, I’m trying to come up with an idea that I’d like to work on and that I’m interested in.
And that’s my goal: work on something that interests me.