Make Money Fast!
Kevin Barnes explaining the consequences of “great” coders1 getting paid far too little:
In the end, this means that really great coders will keep getting paid less than they are worth and average ones will keep getting paid more, so the economic benefits of great skill will go primarily to the companies with the best employees and not to the employees themselves.
I have news for anyone outraged or disappointed by this true statement: all
great employees are paid far less than the value they generate, even employees like salespeople that are paid proportionally.
Let me put it in this painfully direct manner: who lives better, the slave in the field, the slave in the house, or the master who owns the plantation?
Purely and simply, the money is in owning your own business. Every time. Without exception.2
The point is that if you are any good at what you do, and
if you want to earn more money, then you need to found a business. It can be a start up, a consulting business, or even a night club
That’s how you’ll get paid what you’re worth.
I’m not even close to being the first to point this out. ‘Props’ to Paul Graham4
for suggesting that starting companies is the best way for twenty-somethings to get paid something close to what they’re worth.Update
: A few people have pointed out that running a business is a skill that is orthogonal to coding. True. And a few people have pointed out that running a business is risky. Also true, and related: running a business without a modicum of business talent is akin to programming without being able to code fizzbuzz.5
That does not change the basic fact that if you wish to be paid more money, you must successfully run your own business.
Look, I’m not saying anything in life has a guarantee. If I said “A Porsche is faster than a Chevrolet,” you can point out that most people either cannot afford a Porsche or reasonably choose not to purchase one. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Porsche is still faster.
So if you have good reasons for not starting a business, fine. But that does not change the fact that the people who run businesses make more money than the people who work for the people who run businesses.
- Let’s not argue about whether the bike shed ought to be green. If you think that coding is not a valuable skill, that the value is in communication, or architecture, or eliciting requirements, or some other characteristic of great software developers, feel free to apply some white out to your display and write the appropriate word in. Great developers, however you measure great, are underpaid. By the way, I have no evidence that great coders cannot communicate, do not design great architectures, or are unskilled at divining good requirements. So there.
- The one exception I can think of raising would be Michael Milken, who earned more than half a billion dollars as an employee of Drexel Burnham Lambert. But a cursory examination of his circumstances reveals that he was running his own business under the Drexel banner.
- Or possibly not a night club. See the comments.
- Paul’s book, Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age is another must-read.
- Actually, getting and keeping a programming job without being able to program is significantly easier than running a business without any talent for it.