The title says it all but here's some explanation of what I want to know: Let's suppose a programmer has around 5 years of experience in multiple, mainstream languages. Also suppose that the programmer has worked in different positions from junior developer to senior s/w engineer to a team lead. How would he know this is the time to stop working for others and start his/her own business. How important the technical skills and requirements are in addition to of-course financial requirements.

The second part of question is, if he decides to role own company, how he should take a start?

Ok, here's some more info: I am single, have no expenses other than my own mobile bills and university dues. Also there's no house rent for me since we have a joint family system (this is not only common but also appreciable in my culture and community).

I noted that most people have supposed that I want to build a new product or web site. While I appreciate getting your ideas on this, can you people also throw some light on another aspect? What if I would like to build a new, small software shop (or software house as we call it here)?

  • 5
    i think another SE site would be more apropriate for this question: answers.onstartups.com
    – vartec
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 14:36
  • 5
    Appropriate also maybe? As a programmer, this is an awesome question.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 16:13
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    Yes I think its very relevant, many programmers are in this situation.
    – Darknight
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 17:31
  • I wouldn't quit your daily job until you have steady income coming in. Most start ups fail, so always have a backup plan. Commented Jul 3, 2011 at 20:06
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    I'd strongly suggest reading <amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/0887307280> to anyone who is considering venturing out. One of the main takeaways in that book is that you shouldn't start it because you are a great developer and want to write code. If you do that, you are just trading one job for a different one which is much less stable. Start a business if you are ready to invest your time into managing and growing it (marketing, sales, supply chains...) and let other people code.
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 18:28

9 Answers 9


Here it is how it goes in simple words.

  1. You put some money aside while working for a company
  2. You quit you daily job and start freelancing
  3. You transit form freelancing to business by either:

    a. Hiring other people that you will share your workload, which makes you a services shop.

    b. Come up with a cool idea and build a product that sells.

    c. Or Both.

Cannot get simpler than that :)


This is how I did it:

  • Quit your daily job
  • Start your venture

I was lucky enough to be successful early, but I meet many people that weren't. You want to avoid that.

This is how I would do it today:

  • Eliminate all luxuries and not required stuff in your life (magazine subscription, big and high consuming car, ...)
  • Determine your minimum viable income (should be lowered a lot by previous step)
  • Save enough to have 12 times your monthly minimum viable income
  • Quit your daily job
  • Start
  • 9
    +1 Pierre you are my hero! this has haunts me everyday, from a technical perspective I'm confident that I can now build almost anything I can dream up. BUT I don't have two things (1) The Idea (2) The courage to just quit!!!
    – Darknight
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 10:23
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    @Darknight: you can get ideas by just thinking, I'm sure of that. You are probably too strict with yourself. Simple ideas are usually the better. About courage, it's typical in IT industry. That's why impulsive persons are more prone to entrepreneurship because they think less before acting ;) You need to understand the fear process, they are plenty books on the subject. It will helps for your martial art stuff as well. Want some references?
    – user2567
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 10:31
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    They also say that those individuals who weren't super successful and popular in communities at school or at university but who were rather on the side of social life and missed credits tend to start their own business later. Perhaps because they've used to being against the world.
    – user8685
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 11:50
  • @Developer Art: yes lack of self esteem, another very common trait you find in entrepreneurs.
    – user2567
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 12:00
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    Luckily, I only have a motor bike, no car. I read only online, free magazines and having girl friends is not considered something good in Pakistan. :D
    – Yasir
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 15:44

I think you just need two things:



and the


to just do it.

As for timing, don't quit until you have the money to quit.


Simple :) Just do your own business beside your regular job. When you can live of your own business, than the time is right. Nothing less, and nothing more.

  • 1
    Ah, sounds simple but when you're in the sort of job that risks snuffing your attempts at starting a business it can be quite difficult :)
    – James P.
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 20:02
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    :) Well I tried the other way, quit job and than strugle to live with your skills :) It is way to hard. I did it, but would not recommend... Too many times I needed some extra cash. Maybe there is a middle way: do a half-time regular job and do your business in free time. Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 20:06
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    Your reply is actually the most sensible one. You just have to make sure your boss isn't the possessive type that tries to convince you to do some work at home ;) . There are other possibilities depending on the region. I know one guy who under certain conditions can remain on unemployment aid for a few months to get a his postcard business going. Whatever the situation I'm guessing that what is important is to have a stable/minimum income.
    – James P.
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 20:18
  • Well that was my point exactly. You gotta be sure that you can actually live from your income. But I do not mean confident, rather absolutely sure about it. And the easiest way to test your earning abilities is to actually get some work done beside your regular job. Thanks for understanding ;) Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 20:22
  • I get you. I've actually gotten started on oDesk so this topic is particular interest. One of the obstacles you might encounter when having a regular job is having less energy after hours (I had this while doing night school too). For that I only know of one solution and that's working 2-3x a week in a gym.
    – James P.
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 20:30

How would he know this is the time to stop working for others and start his/her own business.

When you have The Top Idea in Your Mind. When you have a concept of something you know you want to do, understand why you wish do it, know why it will be successful and that you can pull it off. Not before you have a clear vision of what you intend to do. In fact that burning idea is what should trigger your enterprise.

The second part of question is, if he decides to role own company, how he should take a start?

The most important message has been given to you by Pierre. I'll second that. Quit your daily job when it comes to starting the active work on your venture.

Idea elaboration, analysis, research, experimentation, even UI mockups, you can do it besides your daily job, you will have about 2-3 hours each evening. It's hard but with strong determination you can stretch your muscles and keep going during the initial "preparation" phase.

The real issue is, when the concept is ready and you need to start coding, it's very hard to do it as a second activity. There is a lot of work to be done and it's very demotivating that you can only advance in small steps, being forced to interrupt your coding sessions because of going to bed.

I used to live like this for about two years coding various stuff. I used to come home at about 6-7 p.m., have a short dinner and start coding until my eyes closed. It exhausted me. Hint: avoid supper or eat little and no meat/fish otherwise it will make you sleepy.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get laid off (the company outsourced the dev department). I saw in it an opportunity and decided not to go fulltime for the time being. I've been developing my little project since January and the progress I've made has been astonishing. I never knew I could progress that far in that short time just coding alone. I seriously doubt I would have been able to be there with evening work even in a couple of years.

I however enjoy being able to just live home without having any noticeable expenses or bills to pay. If you don't have that opportunity you must save money to stretch over at least a year.

And finally, don't be discouraged by the thoughts that all niches have been taken and you won't squeeze in. Avoid rational thinking. Don't let a Vulcan in your head talk logic, just believe in your cause and go for it.


In my opinion, there are a few factors here. First off, I wouldn't branch off on my own unless I had a pretty solid idea that I was 80% sure somebody or some aspect of business would want to buy. Writing software is the easy part. Coming up with stand alone ideas is a tough one.

Also, responsibilities. If you're a single guy with just rent to pay and a cell phone bill, you can be a little more careless. But if you have 8 kids with very little savings then maybe you should have a bit more of a financial buffer for when the times get hard...beacause the times will get hard.


Implicit in the question is the assumption that you should at some point create your own business. Running your own business, either as a freelancer/contractor or with your own products, has a completely different risk/reward structure to working as an employee. There's no shame in saying that you like programming and not the business stuff.

At the simplest level you're going to have to deal with bidding for work, invoicing and the legal requirements of running a company. Are you prepared to do that as well as doing your normal day job?

On the financial side, there are a number of other aspects worth considering. You may not get paid every month. People pay late, or possibly not at all. Many people prefer a steady income and can't deal with the uncertainty, even knowing that, on average, you could well be better off.

Finally, you really are in charge of your own career development when you go it alone. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Are you prepared to learn (and possibly fail) or pay to go on a training course (losing billable hours)?

I'd say that if you're aware of all the above and know what you're letting yourself in for (or at least are prepared to risk a very hard few months if you're wrong!), then now is as good a time as any.

As for skills, I am sure you're fine on the technical side. I've known people go self-employed with less experience than you. Expect to find the sales/marketing/finance/compliance stuff harder. If you're looking to found a company rather than just freelance, I'd wait until you've found some good co-founders. You're going to be as good as married to them so you want to make sure that you pick the right ones!

(For what it's worth, I've just gone freelance and am setting up a company for my iOS development activities. I'm not sure I'd have been comfortable doing either until about now, and I'm in my late thirties.)


I believe the "perfect" time to start your business depends a lot on your circumstances.

As many mentioned, the economic part plays a big role. Do you have enough saved? Do you have a significant other that can take on the bills?

Another interesting part that I've learned is that there is nothing new under the sun... someone, somewhere already made something similar to what you have in mind (at least 99% of the time). However, this should not discourage you. If you can make a better, more compelling offering, you'll be fine :) There is always space for one more (that's good).

Personally, something that I think is important is having the right partnerships. Knowing people is half the battle, be it a fellow programer, designer, or someone who knows the industry you're trying to build a solution for inside and out (this is the most valuabe thing).

I'm two months away from quitting my day job and going full time on my dreams. I have 3 1/2 years of experience under my belt and I've never felt more sure of what I want to do. Something that helped me a lot was going to one of the Startup Weekend http://startupweekend.org/ events held in my city, so enlightening and eye opening, thoroughly recommend going to one (or at least similar startup events in your city)

good luck!


You know you are ready when you feel like there's more you need to do with your life. If you have the gut feeling that you can accomplish more, and you would like to push yourself then you are ready to start your own business. If you're content in working for someone else then there is no rush to do anything on your own. You have to have the desire if you want to run a successful business because it won't just fall in your lap.

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