How Software Developers Work

Software developers as entrepreneurs

After gaining some skill and experience as a software developer there are ample opportunities for moving into entrepreneurship. Many software developers have taken the leap into becoming entrepreneurs and have started and built successful software businesses.

Business Models for Software Developer Entrepreneurs

There are several business models that software developers can pursue as when starting their own business. Here are a few examples:

  • Dev agency: A software development agency provides custom software solutions to clients, normally on a project basis. These agencies often have teams of developers with diverse skill sets and can work on a wide variety of projects. Developers who have experience working with clients and managing projects may find success in establishing their own development agency.
  • Consultancy: Developers with extensive experience and specialized knowledge can offer their expertise as consultants, helping companies solve complex problems or implement new technologies. Consultancies can range from one-person operations to larger firms with consulting teams consisting of software developers, project managers, and other roles. Consultancies normally offer ongoing services to clients.
  • SaaS product: Software developers can choose to create a new product and build a startup company around that product. SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies provide their software products on a subscription basis, meaning, they get paid for it every month / every year. High growth SaaS startups aim to get large numbers of users by disrupting existing industries or solving specific problems with new technologies. Developers with a strong vision and a willingness to take risks may find success in the SaaS startup world.
  • App: Another potentially lucrative path a software developer can consider is building a mobile app company. Mobile apps have grown exponentially in popularity with the widespread use of smartphones, creating a booming market for software developers. Developers choosing this path normally have a good understanding of mobile platforms like iOS and Android, and a good grasp of UX/UI design principles for mobile.
  • Niche product: Some developers may opt to create a specialized software product for a small number of users. The product could cater to an existing client base or a specific industry or specific customer segment. By focusing on a particular niche, these entrepreneurs can develop expertise and target their efforts more effectively. With this approach it is even possible to build a reasonable income with just a handful of clients.

Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship in Software Development

As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, there are both risks and rewards associated with starting a software development business.


  • Financial risk: Starting a business requires capital investment, and there’s no guarantee of success. Entrepreneurs must be prepared to face financial challenges, particularly in the early stages of their venture.
  • Time and effort: Building a successful business requires a significant amount of time and effort, often resulting in long hours and personal sacrifices.
  • Market competition: The software development industry is highly competitive, and entrepreneurs must find ways to differentiate their products or services to stand out among the competition.
  • Scaling and growth: As a business grows, entrepreneurs may face challenges in scaling their operations, hiring the right talent, and managing a larger team.


  • Creative freedom: Entrepreneurship allows software developers to have creative control over their projects, setting their own goals and determining the direction of their business.
  • Financial rewards: While there are financial risks involved in entrepreneurship, successful ventures can lead to significant financial gains.
  • Personal satisfaction: Building a business from the ground up can be incredibly rewarding, giving entrepreneurs a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work.
  • Flexibility: Entrepreneurship offers flexibility in terms of work hours and location, which can be particularly appealing to developers who enjoy working on their terms.

From Full-Time Employment or Freelancing to Entrepreneurship

A typical path that I’ve seen many software developers follow is to start from full-time employment as a developer and then become self-employed as a freelance software developer and then eventually to start a software company. In this way, full-time employment and freelancing can serve as stepping stones to entrepreneurship. Developers who have worked full-time may have gained valuable experience in project management, team collaboration, and working with diverse technologies. They may also have built a professional network that can be leveraged when starting a business. Then as freelance developers, they have likely experienced a degree of independence and autonomy in their work. They may have developed a diverse portfolio and established relationships with clients, which can be useful when building a business.

Regardless of the path taken, developers who have gained experience and knowledge through full-time employment or freelancing are well-positioned to take the leap into entrepreneurship.