Million dollar products

Kyle Neath isn't a fan of Unicorn culture in tech-land. He would like to see more people aim to create what he qualifies as family businesses, and aim for smaller (more niche) customer bases, provide better service, build companies that are good to employees, and grow more slowly.

People don’t start hacking on projects anymore, they become CEOs and start looking for funding. If it doesn’t capture the entire market, what’s the point of showing up?

This shift in mindset has made Silicon Valley feel like some kind of Wall Street 2.0 Incubator. We’ve attracted the worst kinds of people to our industry, grown our companies recklessly fast, insulted our customers with security breaches & poor quality, exploited our employees, and signed away most of our winnings to professional executives and venture capitalists. We stopped building products that allow people to do more. Now we build products that make people use more.

In most software businesses, revenue is looked at as a metric of unlimited potential. With unlimited potential comes unlimited opportunity costs. Almost every decision feels like it weighs against future maximum revenue. But what if you purposefully put a target on the amount of money you want to make to one million dollars a year? Instead of worrying about opportunity costs at every turn – taking funding, hiring that sketchy VP of Sales, partnering with that company you hate — you can focus your effort elsewhere: employees, customers, and product.

If you want to make a million dollars a year, you don’t need millions (or hundreds of millions) of customers. 12,000 paying customers at $7 per month can do it. That’s not an insurmountable amount of people.

You don’t have to cross cultural boundaries to get 12,000 customers, which means you aren’t trying to force one design pattern for everyone in the world. You don’t have to worry about internationalization, localization, or learning how business is done in Japan. You can stick to what you know, and do it really well.

WordPress businesses are well positioned to be this kind of company. And his take on what makes success resonated with me, personally, and maybe you too.

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