Build Versus Buy

A lot of people think, “oh, I can just build that. I don’t need to pay someone else an ongoing fee.”

But that’s the wrong thinking for two reasons. It’s not like I need a dining table to put food on and I can either build it or buy it. That’s a one time purchase. SaaS is more like providing food for yourself (and maybe family): do I build gardens, orchards, and ranches to maintain year round in order to put food on that dining table? Secondly, building it yourself takes your eye off the ball. That thing you build becomes your focus instead of your core competency.

Some companies can seemingly do this effectively (e.g., Amazon) but they started small, focused, and resolute. Very few of us have that tenacity. Plus they’ve got plenty of challenges.

Going back to the food analogy, I would need to invest in land, electricity, pumps, water supply, fertilizers, tooling, tractors, etc. That’s a huge investment. The same thing is true for SaaS. If I build software, I am responsible for maintaining that for years to come as code will break when my vendors update their software, get acquired, or deprecate their software.

But neither is always outsourcing to a SaaS provider. But at least that allows you to focus on your needs and what they can provide instead of building the entire family farm.

Tell you what, when you’re small, outsource and find someone who does it better than you. After you’ve become big and have a few engineers sitting around (that’s a joke), then pursue building your own.

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