I saw another post today from a non-technology founder recounting how they had taken their idea to an outsourcing partner, spent a lot of money, and got nothing in return.

You may be wondering how this can happen, because even though oftentimes we might not buy the most sensible things, it’s unusual to spend money and get absolutely nothing in return.

An analogy that can help when thinking about building software is it’s kind of like making a sculpture from a block of marble. You go to a quarry, pay for a block of marble, bring it back home to the studio and start work.

Now, I’ve actually never tried to carve a sculpture from a block of marble, but I suspect most of you haven’t either – but I think this analogy will work.

You take your hammer and chisel, and you have a plan, but each move you make with that hammer, it’s a very definitive move. You’re either going to end up with the vision in your head, or not, and there’s a chance that every move you make, the whole thing could collapse in on itself and you end up with a pile of worthless rubble.

If that wasn’t hard enough, the problem with building software isn’t like this because the no matter how well you try to express your vision at the start, 80% of what you build will be feeling your way through the problem.

You’ll start with your marble, have an idea, work towards that idea, risk creating a pile of rubble with every move, and even if you do end up with something that looks like you wanted at the start, there’s a better than even chances that you actually wanted something different than what you thought you wanted.