Many years ago, when I was freelance developer, I became interested in building a product. As I investigated what that would take, I discovered that the success of the product would hinge on my ability to market it. I was a great developer, but I had no marketing experience.
I emailed in this question to, “Startups For the Rest of Us”:
Do I have to learn marketing? Or can I just find an excellent marketer and partner with them to launch a product?
My rationale was that it’s more impactful to be a specialist than to try and master another field. Rob Walling and Mike Taber, both experienced software entrepreneurs, responded that I needed to learn marketing.
I remember Rob saying that he felt pretty strongly that you had to develop some level of marketing acumen to be successful. In the years since, Rob has gone on to launch and sell Drip and develop a startup accelerator, Tiny Seed.
He’s someone I admire, someone who knows what he’s talking about. But he was also wrong.
Since I submitted that question, I’ve met several people who were strong developers and partnered with people who were great marketers to quickly grow and sell their startup. And I’ve met many more good developers that couldn’t figure out the marketing side of digital products and never attained anything substantial.
One of the challenges we all face is what ideas we should accept and what ideas we should challenge. If you don’t learn from others’ experience, then you’ll have to develop your own experience- which is a slow and painful option. But if you accept the perspectives of others, you will also be limited by them. Their perspective, strengths, and weaknesses bound yours.
For any decision that matters, when it comes to the advice of others, you should question it and test it. You’re different and your environment is different. Small hurdles for others may be impossible walls to you. What are iron shackles to someone else may just be paper chains around your wrists.