Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in software development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Stephen Ierodiaconou, Founder of LlamaWorks, located in Pisa, Italy.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I’m a freelance software developer helping individual clients and startup businesses build their products. I work solo or within a collective of professionals called LlamaWorks, who each bring complementary skills to the table. Together we help take a client’s project from an idea to a complete software product. We work with customers looking to outsource product development and specialise in SaaS. As a developer, I program primarily with Ruby and JavaScript.

Tell us about yourself

I’ve always had a passion for making things. I studied engineering, then started working in tech startups and got hooked on building awesome products.

Eventually, I started freelancing as a Ruby developer and working from home. I started helping clients at an early stage in their product development and wanted to offer more than just writing code. So I brought trusted friends in UX and UI design, project management, and development into the fold.

My biggest motivation is helping a client take a potentially amazing idea from a seed in their mind to a profitable working software business that is loved by their users!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We have helped out a few companies that have gone on to become successful, and I’m proud to have been part of that. I’m also happy that my current and past clients would and do keep coming back to me. That’s lovely validation of all the effort we have put in.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

As a fully remote person who sometimes manages teams of people in other time zones, it’s tough to set clear boundaries around work and personal life to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Also, as a freelance developer or consultant, you are not only responsible for the technical aspects of your work but also for marketing, sales, and client management. That’s a lot of hats to wear!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Building trust with your clients is essential for long-term success. Prioritise trust-building from the outset of a project and invest in your client’s success. Deliver high-quality work and exceed expectations. Building trust takes time and effort, but once you have established yourself as a reliable service provider, you’ll be able to increase your rates, subcontract out work and, importantly, be able to lock in lucrative support contracts. But building trust with your clients is not only good for business - it’s also personally rewarding, and you might even make a few friends along the way!
  2. Write a comprehensive contract for each client that details the work you will deliver. Avoid working under extremely vague terms. Be clear and verbose about what is possible and what’s not from the start. It’s better for you and the client, and you will come across reassuringly mature and professional to boot.
  3. Managing cash flow is extremely important when you subcontract others. Remember, your client may need to delay payments to you at times, but you will still need to pay your sub-contracted colleagues!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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