Developers going indie

Over the last few years, I’ve read about a number of developers that have “gone indie” in that they left their jobs and are now independent developers. Maybe make it sound glamorous that they no longer have a boss. While this technically may be true, they still have to answer to someone, be it their clients or their customers. There is nothing inherently wrong with being independent, but thinking that doing this will make all of someone’s work problems go away is misleading.

People that are self employed swap one set of problems (e.g. working for a large company) with another. Being self employed means doing accounting, marketing, sales, support, etc. (or hiring someone for these positions and having to be a people manager). In addition, income is not guaranteed which could lead to stress and many people have a hard time separating work from home and thus put in more hours at their “job”. I’m not saying that working for someone else is better or that being self employed is better (I’ve done both), it is just different.

I personally had a good run being self employed (granted my independent software business was only about 20% of my income with the rest coming from contracting), but at this stage in my life, working for someone else brings stability and has actually reduced my stress over my job (I have other stresses, but work isn’t one of them). When I was self employed, I used to put in 70+ hours per week between my software and contracting. This was not sustainable for me.

I wish developers going indie the best of luck, but just because I work for someone else (a large company in my case), I’m not a sellout and have no regrets.

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