Thoughts on running a software company

I was pleased to read From vision to execution by Ismael Ghalimi.  I’ve spoken to Ismael a few times and I know how much of his life he has put into Intalio.

In this post he comes across as an exhausted inventor who has finally seen his new gadget rolling off the production line.  It is hard work launching an enterprise software company.  I know because I have tried it.  Many of Ismael’s comments could apply to Blue Prism equally.  The issue of market timing resonated in particular.

Does this mean that there is a degree of serendipity about the chance of success?

I wouldn’t pretend for one moment that Blue Prism has yet reached “success” whatever that is (and it means different things to different people).  Like Ismael, I am very encouraged by progress, especially in the last 6 months, albeit the first version of Automate was released in 2004, some 3.5 years ago and, let’s just say that meeting our revenue forecasts was much harder than anyone expected.

It can be lonely at times as a Managing Director (try not to weep).  When I used to work in a bank as a middle manager I had any number of peers I could relate to, and discuss ideas and issues with.  Since that is no longer a route open to me, I try to find peers outside the company.  As a result I know quite a few people who either run (or used to run) enterprise software companies.

This got me thinking.  What are the key characteristics that determine a successful MD or CEO?  Obvious requirements that might spring to mind might include:

  • A keen aptitude for marketing
  • Technical vision
  • Ability to inspire people
  • Financial astuteness
  • Ability to sell
  • A propensity for making customers happy
  • The gift of the gab

Looking across the successful people I know, the most important characteristics are none of the above.  They are energy and determination.  Fortunately, both characteristics that Ismael has in Spades.

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