Clients have no use for code

Sent by Jonathan Stark on September 30th, 2016

One of the folks in my coaching community shared a common frustration the other day:

“It’s difficult to find a thing to do as a consulting offering that involves writing code and also getting paid for it.”

As I often tell folks, coding is one of the least valuable things an experienced developer can offer to a client.

This usually ticks developers off.

If you pride yourself on being a good developer, it feels wrong, unfair, or both. Writing code is something you’ve been doing for a long time. It’s something that you pour your heart and soul into. It’s an activity from which you derive a genuine sense of mastery.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t owe you a high paying salary for engaging in your favorite activity.

Let’s step back and change the activity from “writing code” to something you probably don’t care about:

“It’s difficult to find a thing to do as a consulting offering that involves drawing calligraphy and also getting paid for it.”

Would I pay $200 per hour for calligraphy? Of course not. Why? Because calligraphy has close to zero value for me.

The fact that I don’t value calligraphy probably seems horribly unfair to a calligrapher who has devoted their life to the practice and has achieved a level of mastery.

Now let’s turn it back around to developers:

Would a client pay $200 per hour for code? Of course not. Why? Because code has close to zero value for clients. Clients have no use for code.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait... WAT? Clients pay me for code all time!”

Clients aren’t paying for your code. They aren’t even paying for the resulting software that the code comprises.

They are paying for the business outcome that they believe the software will achieve.

The distinction I’m trying to make here is that there is no intrinsic value in a line of code, a line of calligraphy, or a line of coke.

The value is in what the client believes the line will do to improve their condition.

Sell the OUTCOME of your activity, not the OUTPUT of your activity.

Yours,

—J

P.S. Need help defining the outcomes you provide? I offer a limited number of 1-on-1 coaching calls each month -> https://expensiveproblem.com/call


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