Now That It’s Winter, Developers Should Develop Some Thick Skins

How timely! I had been working on the last entry for nearly a week, and was giving the 8th or 9th proofing when Manton Reece tweeted, “Finding the comments on CandyBar upgrade pricing kind of interesting.“.

That’s happened quite a bit lately, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist and entries I’ve began have been bogged down in my proofing stage. At least I was able to finish and publish the entry when those comments began. I guess I’ll have to do less polishing and just more shoot from the hip, dangerous though that may be for a corporation; and likely to result in a retraction or two in the future.

But it’s precisely those retractions and changes in policies and reactions to public opinion that developers should learn to handle. Most just don’t like having to say no. Well, most people don’t like to say no. But it’s important to know to say no, as you don’t have time to do everything you want, and you have to learn to prioritize based on what’s important to you.

Here are a few of those interesting comments left for that article:

I bought CandyBar 1 & 2. I won’t be paying Panic for 3, they priced it outside of my impulse range by trying to make it into more than it needed to be. I’m sure it was a lot of work, but that upgrade price is just too much for some icon swapping.
– Aurich

Another $5 product priced at $25.

Sounds like a job for serial box!
– Greasy Breakfast

There’s always LiteIcon. Not nearly as pretty and doesn’t do the dock trick — but it’s free.
– Insomnic

And that’s the point: if you want more functionality, expect to have to pay more for it. If you don’t want to pay for it, settle for less or do without. You’re not obligated to work overtime on your day off so your company can make more money off you, nor are companies obligated to lower their prices just so you can afford to buy their products.

Why are some people so against paying for something that had a lot of work put into it?
Because it doesn’t DO very much! If I put a lot of work into taking a dump are you going to pay me for it? What if I were to wrap it in shiny plastic? Would you pay me then? CandyBar is about 99% interface and 1% function. The point is that what this program actually does is largely unspectacular and is available for free by other means regardless of how much work was put into it to make it look nice.
– Fiendish

Schools used to teach that things could be separated into wants and needs, but back then parents used to take responsibility for their kids’ education. A Lexus is no more effective, yet is far more expensive, than a Kia for driving from one place to another. A Ferrari even more so. Not everyone wants or can afford the more expensive vehicles, yet they sell very well. A man has to pick the standard of living he’s content with.

If you’re running a business, the most important thing has to be the money (or some reasonable substitute). Some people like to espouse terms like ethics and morality and customer service, but those aren’t requirements for running a business. Those are principles by which you make decisions for how to run a business. And making decisions with those principles can make for a healthier business in the long run. But they aren’t necessary for a business. An unprincipled business that is profitable will outlast a principled business that isn’t.

People are afraid of money. People don’t want to be greedy, or worse, don’t want to be seen as greedy. Most people have a dysfunctional gauge for money which varies wildly depending on its context and is completely disproportionate to its true purpose. Money is just a product, made by man, used to trade goods and services. It is a way to shift one asset you have to another. Like your health and time or a house or car, money is just another resource that you can manipulate and assign a value to. Money doesn’t exist or accomplish anything on its own.

From a moralistic point of view, money lacks any. It is neither good nor bad. Even the saying “Money is the root of all evil” is a misreading of text from the Bible, which doesn’t condemn money. The actual text is, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…,” and you don’t have to have a dollar to your name to covet. You don’t need a dime. In fact, a great many people in the world who criticize those who work hard to achieve financial success are also out there buying lottery tickets every week. Is money attained hastily in a desperate attempt to improve your life better than money gained after working a lifetime, or inherited?

You should think of your role in business as a farmer, looking for a harvestable crop. Disregard what you’ve heard about money not growing on trees. Everything grows. It’s a universal truth. You just need to recognize what the tree is for a business: its relationship with its customer. Now you can’t just have any customer and expect to harvest cash from him. Just like expecting walnuts from an apple tree, there are customers that don’t produce money for you because they aren’t the right tree for your business. And even the right tree requires the right soil conditions, the right amount of sunlight and the right amount of water. If you don’t have the right environment for the tree, pick another tree or you’ll waste a lot of your time and effort and trees.

But some trees are unhealthy. Some trees won’t bear fruit no matter how well you nourish them. Letting yourself be cheated of your hard work is just as bad for business as cheating your customers. There has to be a balance which is healthy for both parties in the relationship.

Now there may be a lot of customers who cannot afford your product, who will have to go without, or resort to unethical behavior to obtain it. But the same is true for your business, it cannot afford to buy everything to maximize its efficiency. You have to compensate and adapt and act based on your abilities.

But if you can’t refuse to take work which isn’t profitable your business won’t be profitable. And if your business can’t be profitable it can’t survive (unless its main purpose is to be a tax write-off!).

Uproot the wrong trees so they can be replanted in the proper environment, and plant the right trees. You’ll be able to take better care of them, and the remaining trees will be better off as well.

So this winter, do the right thing by your business and your customers: learn to turn away customers which are unhealthy for your business so you can take better care of the ones who aren’t.

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