When following your passion means forming your own business
Sometimes a life changing event causes someone to alter the direction of their career and start their own business. That is what this chapter is about. A computer scientist was inspired by events in her personal life to branch out on her own and create a company. She had an idea for applications development on mobile devices; no one else had created the software she had in mind. She recognized a market niche for her apps and pursued it with single minded determination, learning along the way what it means to create and run a software and services company. Her audience is primarily the public education system and students with disabilities. Therefore the profile includes relevant information on learning theories and introducing technology and services into the classroom.
This chapter is a natural candidate for the last profile in this book. After all the organizations and groups we have discussed, it is important to include entrepreneurship as a viable option for computer scientists. There is a stronger business orientation in this profile than in any other. It takes drive and determination to start a business, but with proper planning it can be done.
Technically we focus on mobile devices. This is another rapidly exploding area of computing. Useful computing skills include courses from the full range of a CS or IS curriculum. In particular, being able to learn new languages quickly, write tight efficient code, and adhere to coding standards created by others is critical. Multimedia coursework is very important for developing engaging applications on portable devices, as are principles of User Interface design.
Other skills you need address the business side of entrepreneurship. The more coursework you can take spanning everything from sales and marketing to accounting, the better. It also helps if you have experience making formal presentations – any opportunity you can find to make a presentation, take it. Even if you eventually delegate some of these activities to other professionals, you will need a solid understanding of the role they play in your business. You will be in charge; you will need to be able to converse on the full range of technical and non technical aspects of your business. You do not want to fall prey to a classic problem: a great technology idea fails because of insufficient understanding of business fundamentals.
Some computer scientists know early on they want to be an entrepreneur. Others discover it later in their career. Whether you want to form your own company with many employees or you want to work solo as a consultant, or something in between, this chapter will give you a flavor of what the experience is like.