Started a Web/App Design business a few months ago, but don't feel I have the skills

At this point, I’ve made a few websites with react and webpack. I host them on EC2 virtual machines with AWS. I also have made an ios social media that’s kind of like twitter on a map.

I started off making these projects because I felt unqualified for all the jobs that I was looking at. I definitely feel more qualified now, but I hate working for other people.

My main thing is that I don’t know what I can offer people that a website like wordpress can’t. I can do graphic design also, like making logos and other graphics for the website, and I’m trying to learn SEO at the moment, but I still can’t even find my business website in google’s search results. Well sometimes I can. If I search my businesses name, or I search “app design” my_city then I can, but the quotes must be there.

I feel like I’m almost competent. I don’t really know what I’m doing on AWS though and how to best manage that.I also feel like I suck at SEO, and that my programming in general takes me way to much time. I ask a lot of questions on stack overflow because there’s some things that just no tutorials online can teach me.

Should I give up at this point, try to work for someone for a year or so, and then come back to this? At this point should I just commit to the business?

Hey, thought I’d share some thought & feedback and my personal experiences.

I started off making these projects because I felt unqualified for all the jobs that I was looking at.

Practice and working on your craft is always a good thing. It builds experience and confidence to tackle future jobs/projects.

I definitely feel more qualified now, but I hate working for other people.

If you’re running a business, you will have to work for MULTIPLE “bosses”. There’s no way around that. I would say, it’s probably even worse vs. working for a company. At least with a day job, you’d only have to deal with your immediate boss and maybe a few co-workers. But if you’re running a business, each client/customer is basically your boss! Don’t forget that. And you have to please all of them… So if you hate working for other people, then what now ???

That’s normal. Running a business is hard. It’s not easy, otherwise everybody will probably be doing it. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent at bookstores, buying books and searching on AltaVista or Excite (Google wasn’t invented yet, and definitely there was no such thing as StackOverflow back then.) trying to find solutions to programming problems.

December 1997 – I started a web design/development business (and still currently doing the same thing today). And I remember during my early startup, I sometimes feel like an imposter… talking confident on the phone with a prospective client, or with a current client discussing a new project. Then I’ll hang up the phone and I’m like in panic-mode because I have no idea if I can deliver what the customer/client wanted. Sometimes I have no fucking idea where to even start.

But then I’d just attack the problem step by step, piecemeal, experiment, try things out, until I get an idea on how to deliver a solution to my client’s problem.

So yes, it takes some some chutzpah/balls to do this, saying YES to projects you vaguely have any idea, or not even having an idea on where to start. And you just work hard to find a way around it… The first time you do this, it will be extremely hard and stressful. But the more you deliver, the more “wins” you earn under your belt, each future client request becomes a bit easier and you’ll become more and more confident. You’ll even get to the point telling the client, No, we’ll do it this way instead because this is better because of X, Y, Z reasons. And they’ll say “Okay, go for it.”

So yes, learning curve will be extremely hard in the beginning. You’ll be stressed, full of self-doubt, and just unsure of everything. It’s part of the process. It’s called “learning from experience.”

Look, WP is just a CMS. If your client requires something else other than a CMS, or a simple brochure-website, say a custom workflow/programming, or something that uses their own existing database, or something that mimics their existing business practices but done online, etc. then WP is useless. This is where your skill as a developer come into play to deliver custom solutions for your clients. – and this is where big buck$$$ start to come into play. And when you deliver a great working solution to a client, you can count on them calling you again for future projects.

And this is the point where you really have to decide for yourself. I can’t tell you what is the correct answer for you. You’d have to weigh pros/cons of each path and how it affects your priorities and circumstances, your personality, your financial situation, etc. It’s basically a Risk vs. Reward question and each person will be different on how much risks they’ll be willing to take, or how much reward they really want.

For me personally, I’m glad I took this route. There WILL be times when it’s not easy, where finances will be up in the air and unstable, the future worrisome, etc. (example: 2008 recession, clients downsizing, loss of clients, etc) but weighing all the good and bad, financial rewards (during good times) over the years, freedom, intangible/priceless benefits, yeah I’ll do the same thing again.

Hope this helps and gives you some perspective, and good luck!


Coding and development solves problems and if you feel wordpress already solves the “graphic design” problem my first question is, have you ever used wordpress and gotten frustrated over the limitations? If so, welcome to the world of most developers who know what they’re doing.

Starting a business is a grueling endeavor however. It’s something that most people won’t risk and if you are asking if you want to give up then perhaps it’s not for you.

In regards to development in general, my own 2 cents is that you want to code what wordpress cannot which is incredibly fast, javascript and mobile friendly pwa-esque app/sites.

Generally one would first, learn javascript. Second, learn react and/or angular. Third try to work on PWA. Fourth, resolve to abandon “this is bad” and “this is inefficient” in your daily vernacular and instead go with “what will work” and “what am i sacrificing in the short term that can be fixed in the long term”. In other words, use bootstrap, templates, jquery and whatever you need to get the job done quickly. While never forgetting the fundamentals.

I think the future in business is in AI and Machine learning. However for a long time to come, Full stack development will continue to be a hot market.

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