Maxprog just turned 16 years old last monday. Believe me or not, it has been a quite pleasant journey. That's very likely because I do what I always wanted.
I am a self-taught vocational software developer, I started programming when I was around twelve. In my place computers were like UFOs so no one could help you or even understand you. I have always been fascinated by algoritms (and spinning things), I started very early and never stopped however, being fascinated by something and creating a company are two different things that require very different skill sets.
Indeed, in order to be successful creating a company you have to learn about business, you have to create real products, market them, handle payments and after-sales support. Later you may need to hire people, outsource stuff, learn basic accounting etc. Finally you have to fight against your competitors, maintain a good visibility on the internet and take the right decisions in order to continue in business.
Most people would never risk themselves and would prefer working for others on stuff they don't like that much. I understand them. It is also clear that very few people are born with the right set of skills. Maybe it is the reason why most startup companies are created by venturesome friends/colleagues on a common idea. Each partner brings its skills to the venture. They have to complete themselves. For example we have Apple, Steve Wozniak was an engineer and Steve Jobs a marketer. They were friends, they had a product, they created a company and they started to sell it. The founders of a business may later add more partners/shareholders to the company. Business world is a very hostil place where you need to grow fast. You need partners either for their skills or their money.
But what if you are gifted and you have all the necessary skills? And what if money nor business growth are your priorities? Well, you simply do things by yourself in a more natural manner, at a much slower pace, right? You first create a product during your spare time without living your actual job, then you try to sell it. If you are successful and sales are good enough then you can leave your job, create your company and continue with your development. That's exactly how it happened to me and Maxprog, sort of a casual out-coming.
You have to work hard, yes, but it doesn't look that hard when it is what you always wanted to do. The secret is constancy, perseverance and patience. Giving up is not an option. 16 years after that successful start, the company continues operating with only 8 products. We have sold dozens of thousands licenses in 170 countries.
I agree that it is important to be on the right spot, at the right time with the right product. It is very likely what happened to me and Maxprog but after all that time what I appreciate the most is being the owner of my time.