When I first got my hands on the book and read the title “Eric Sink On the Business Of Software”, I thought -
1) Great! a book about the business of software
2) Eric Sink who?
Eric Sink is the founder of SourceGear, a company that sells version
control software. He is more from the Microsoft world, and is a regular
contributor to MSDN. I am glad to have now heard of Eric and to have
read his book.
This book stays true to its title and does talk in detail about the “Business Of Software”. It is divided into four parts 1) Entreprenuership 2) People 3) Marketing 4) Sales.
Each topic is handled very well by the author. Books by academics can get boring at times as they can’t provide real life experiences to make it a good read and more relevant.What I liked best about this book was that Eric talks from personal experiences and does not just reiterate theories that you would read in business books. If he has a suggestion, he also explains why and gives a reference example from SourceGear.
One of the most important points in the book comes from chapter 9 titled “Geeks Rule And MBAs drool”. He begins with “Geek founders often think they need a ‘businessperson’ to run the company so they can focus on technology. Most of he time, this is a bad idea.”. The chapter isn’t the best in the book, as it then rambles on till it concludes with “If you really need a partner, don’t find an MBA; find another geek like yourself”
I would have to say that although I don’t think very highly of MBA degrees, I also have toyed with the idea of involving a “businessperson” to drive the management side of things at Rightrix Solutions. It hasn’t worked out as yet, but I do need to reconsider. Why I think it’s an important point is because I have met many techies who don’t get into business primarily because they fear that their ignorance of the business side will lead to failure.
The language of the book is conversational and it feels like reading a blog. Eric suggests things but does not sound preachy. Like in Chapter 9, he does drift and ramble at times, but that doesn’t hurt the book much.
Some things that would have made the book more relevant to me :- The book is focused on the small ISV business, and does not talk about issues faced in a services based software business, software media business, etc. The book is also very affluent country centric. Many major issues that software businesses in the developing world face everyday like lack of infrastructure, entrepreneur unfriendly administration, corruption, etc. have not been touched on. However you can’t blame Eric for not covering these aspects, as he would not have experienced them. But then maybe that’s not such a bad thing as it opens up the possibility of me writing the extension to this book!
Overall, I think this book is a must read for any small software business owner or any techie aspiring to be one.