Dear new developer,

I remember reading this article a few years ago and being struck by the wisdom contained therein. Code and development is crucial to building many businesses, but as developers we often get wrapped up in the code to the exclusion of other things.

I have definitely discounted the value of other aspects of a business (marketing, sales, accounting) in the past. That is a mistake, as there are many many things that need to happen to deliver value to a customer.

Doing a schlep is a great way to inexpensively deliver value to customers. It doesn’t scale, but it is far quicker to change a manual process than to change code.

From the essay:

No, you can’t start a startup by just writing code. I remember going through this realization myself. There was a point in 1995 when I was still trying to convince myself I could start a company by just writing code. But I soon learned from experience that schleps are not merely inevitable, but pretty much what business consists of. A company is defined by the schleps it will undertake. And schleps should be dealt with the same way you’d deal with a cold swimming pool: just jump in. Which is not to say you should seek out unpleasant work per se, but that you should never shrink from it if it’s on the path to something great.

The whole post, titled Schlep Blindness, is worth a read.