Guest blog: A love letter to Business of Software

A guest blog from Patrick Foley who produced last week's entertaining, 'All hail the Wannapreneur!' video. Patrick is an ISV Architect Evangelist at Microsoft and co-founder of the Startup Success Podcast.

We would be very interested in hearing from you if you wanted to write a post about how you can get the most from the Business of Software conference, what you got out of a previous event, or what you are hoping to get out of this year's event. They don't have to be love letters but this is hugely appreciated.

Patrick writes:

Thanks for sharing that silliness, Mark. One of my favorite parts of the conference last year was the fun we had while learning. Watch Patrick McKenzie’s winning Lightning Talk for an example. He conveyed an extremely useful point, but he managed to do it while being uproariously funny.

The earnest point behind my xtranormal silliness was inspired by Giacomo “Peldi” Guilizzoni’s amazing talk. About 16 minutes in (watch it now!), Peldi shows how his overnight success didn’t really happen overnight. He spent years learning and preparing (and getting his finances in order) before launching Balsamiq. That message resonated with me, because I would love to launch my own software business someday, too. Yes, that makes me a “wannapraneur,” but I’m enjoying my time working for a great company while learning about the business of software.

Jason Cohen would probably caution against that approach. Last year, Jason spoke about advice and the nature of learning itself – amidst the sea of knowledge and wisdom available, you have to make decisions and you have to act. You have to figure out what business concepts are meaningful to you, but the only way to really learn that is to do something and see if it works or not.

As you can see, you can get a taste of the Business of Software conference by watching the videos from previous years. If you didn’t attend last year, take an hour a day for the next week or so and watch a video a day. You’ll learn a ton. Heck, I learned things from Dharmesh’s talk that I didn’t even know were knowable! There’s a reason Dharmesh’s company, HubSpot, is so successful. You can learn from his success.

What you won’t get from the videos is the spirit of the conference. It builds on itself, so that it’s more of a conversation than a series of presentations. You don’t just get to hear these brilliant people speak; you also get to chat with them at lunch and between sessions. Because ALL of the speakers are keynoters, they want to hear what each other has to say. The speakers are some of the most passionate attendees of the conference. Because there’s just one track, each speaker references and builds upon talks that came before, and certain themes emerge.  One theme last year was measurement. Another was storiesDan Bricklin had so many stories (with great pictures!) that he gave a bonus session during a break. Derek Sivers even scrapped his prepared talk in favor of simply telling his own illuminating story. Who knows what themes will emerge this year …

The quality of the attendees is as important as the quality of the speakers. There are plenty of good technology conferences, but it’s a hard to find a conference where everyone attending is working to create successful software businesses (as opposed to just writing cool software). You’ll chat with people having the kind of extraordinary successes you aspire to and the struggles you know all too well. You’ll be inspired, and you just might provide key inspiration to another entrepreneur as well.

Business of Software might be THE conference for serious entrepreneurs, but it’s not just for startups.

The principles of great software businesses apply equally to a one-person company like Patrick McKenzie’s as to a company like Microsoft – the execution is just different. So whether you are listening to Mixergy or being interviewed for it; whether you work for a tiny startup or a huge corporation; whether you are a wannapreneur, entrepreneur, devoted employee, or investor – you should change your schedule if necessary and find the funds to go to Business of Software. Register now, because the remaining seats will be gone before you know it. I hope to see you there!

Patrick Foley, ISV Architect Evangelist at Microsoft and co-founder of the Startup Success Podcast.

Business of Software, Boston, MA, October 24-26th 2011 For people growing sustainable, profitable, software businesses.