After you have answered the 'Why am I going in to business' questions, consulted the lawyer, appointed the accountant and all the other pre-implementation i dotting and t crossing, you're going to realise you need money. Lots of it. Quickly. That means customers and/or a financier.
Startups are tricky - having no track record, bank managers look to statistics to see who to lend money to. They have lots of experience, and will look at how much collateral you have, levels of debt, what your business plan says, who your target market is, what your budgets will be, and to a degree, how quickly you can start repaying them.
It is possible to create a business, without recourse to a bank (loans and overdraght and revolving credit and wot not)
It's in some ways harder - raising the capital yourself, and will require a good marketing apparatus. Also if you go this route - you will also need an even better sales apparatus. Look up Direct Response Advertising, and look toward talking to a wordsmith, or other sales consultant. If you're new to business, you may have to learn the hard way, the difference between branding, and selling. Are telemarketing campaigns legal, fax, flyers, etc in your area. No one will buy from you if they don't know you exist.
That said, those 'services' the banks offer are candy with a horrible side effect - they expect you to pay for the money you spend, and they can at their whim choose to make life difficult.
So, talk to people that are self employed - regadless of the field they are in. You will get a better perspective about business, in general. Those you talk to in your own industry have their own interests to protect, and may not give a balanced view of how to create a business, and the pitfalls.
Also, look up a man called Jim Camp. He writes a book on negotiation - called 'Start with no'
Most importantly - don't rush this decision, and good luck.
First; thanks for your response. I realised after I replied that it wasn't where I wanted it.
Right. For the record, yes, I expressed opions. Without wanting to have this devolve in to an 'I'm right you're wrong' match, everything I said comes directly from my own experience.
I wont ask you to enumerate which points are most disagreeable (well actually in an offline conversation I would - because you have piqued my interest)
Is my comment subjective? Yes.
Is it absolutely correct in this (or any other) situation? Probably not.
Does it express a point of view that speaks to the realities of business? I hope so.
Maybe I can provide some context, though.
My comments were to do with the naievity one has when starting a business.
Specifically I address the fact that businesses need money to pay for every thing they consume. Including the owners time, rewarding the owner for what will be a long, slow, hard grind.
I'm guessing that I will have to go with anecdotes from here on in. Hopefully it'll provide some insight to someone. Making the time spent writing the next few sentences worthwhile. If not, oh well.
I know that when I first started my company, that there was a period where knowing how and when to close a deal - was a mystery. You can't tell me that a person not armed with some sales knowledge is going to survive very long, without some help from somewhere.
No sales means no income. Banks don't extend credit indefinitely. The sooner everyone going in to business understands these realities, then the quicker they can get to setting their sales strategies in motion.
I was once told 'losing a lot of battles does not teach you how to win' so it is with sales. Get some coaching from someone that can sell.
The quicker new business owners can say 'Look I really know my trade; but what is really going to pay the bills are sales' the sooner it will be so.
The OP asked how potential customers were going to become aware of him. Reading between the lines, he needs to focus more on getting the thing he doesn't have right now - customers. How do you generate those? If you answered 'marketing campaign' - think again. It's a sales campaign you need, which creates leads, which you then convert to customers.
Spending 25k on radio advertising on a marketing campaign that makes no effort to convert listeners attention to sales is silly, and dangerous to a start-up. I know. I have done that too. It hurts when it fails. Moreso, when you later learn that you can make sales over the radio - but they'd rather sell 'branding' - a full 12 moth term, with no clearly defined outcomes except that your name will apparently filter in to the consiousness of your target audience - and the radio stations pocket is significantly fattened.
Newspaper ads - can work. Most people, including the people that work for the newspapers designing pretty adverts, can't write one with the sure and certain knowledge that a particular ad will drive sales. A good way to lose ~$800 per month.
These days, when I do advertising, it is in the form of split tests. Send out advertising copy, create a hook by which you can track the results. Thr best performing forms the basis of the next generation. Keep crafting until the response rate improves. I have read the books written by the Direct Response Advertising greats of yester-year. From the likes of Claude Hopkins, and others from that era. And slightly more contemporary authors as well, but they have recycled most of their content - so you might as well go to the horses mouths. They are extremely valueable reading.
In my country, the Yellow Pages are an investment where even my customers tell me it is difficult to make get a break-even on - many are jettisoning that cost. Stung by that one, too, and never will be again. We have a Barter organisation, that places your ad in to their directory - funny how for their services though, they required real world dollars. Chamber of Commerce? in this country, my best description is that it is a rort, obviously, I will not be signing up to it, again.
The list goes on. The business world is often not nice. It is true that you can have a good time, meet good people, form strong relationships with customers and vendors alike. For my part I would never go back to working for a salary. But there are facts that cannot be avoided. Want to stay in business? Learn to sell.
Lessons, lessons, lessons - these are some of the things that I was quite unprepared for. For the first year it felt like every turn was like riding a horse and being struck consistently by low hanging branches. They hurt, and they teach.
Don't like my opinion(s)? Fine - get another one. It is for this reason I advocate talking to every business owner you can. Find out what they think. Sure it is subjective. Sure you'll disagree with possibly a wide swathe of the things they have to say - but every single one of them faces the same challenges that you do/will as another business owner. You might even create some business for yourself.
As I said - take your time before going in to business, and I wish you the best.
Contrary to the seemingly negative comments - I applaud others that to go in to business, I just don't think they should be taken as prey by - well, anyone.
I noticed that there no posts on this section so I decided to create one.
Anyway, what do you guys think about PTC (Paid-to-click) or PPC(whatever) sites? Is it true that they pay people to click ads? And how do the owners make income on these sites? If I for one, as an advertiser would know that my ad will just be clicked by people, I definitely would not choose to apply for an advertisement on that site, right? All POV are welcome.
I've been programming professionally for 5 years, and all the companies that I've worked for in the past have had all the development tools in place before I arrived. I'm currently starting a new job, and the company wants me to develop some in house software for their use. My question is, how do I go about choosing the correct environment(VS2008, VS2008 Pro, VS2010?). Do we need MSDN licenses? What about SDK's? I know these seem like pretty basic questions, but all of the other companies I've worked for the IT department handled these issues, and I had no control over them. This is a small company, and their first attempt at software development, I don't want them to have to buy unnecessary tools, and I don't want to be halfway through a project before I realize I've missed a huge component.
This is a small company, and their first attempt at software development, I don't want them to have to buy unnecessary tools, and I don't want to be halfway through a project before I realize I've missed a huge component.
Microsoft has something called as BizSpark[^] to help startup businesses flourish. They offer Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN subscription under this plan at a MUCH subsidised rate. VS Ultimate with an MSDN subscription will give you nearly everything that you may need.
Of course there are terms and conditions, fees, etc., but you could apply for one of these subscriptions through the link I provided, and they'll help you out with the rest.
If they are possibly looking to make some software to sell, then I would say to try to get into the BizSpark program, which is free and that gives full MSDN licenses. But the company must be making less than 1 million a year. Unfortunately Microsoft closed their Empower Program that allowed you to get 5 MSDN subscriptions for $400. It seems that the BizSpark or just purchasing a subscription might be the best thing.
The nice thing about the subscription now is that you will also get a license for TFS and TFS2010 is alot easier to setup. This means that a bug tracking and version control system could be setup easily for them as well by you making you look even more like a hero.
Since the software is to be used "in house", you have to make sure that it can run on their computers/network. First, find out the operating systems (no .NET 4 on Windows 2000) and hardware used, the limitations of the network etc. Find out how the systems your software has to exchange data with work (lots of COM, PInvoke, C++ header files, simple file exchanges,...?). Then you will see which technologies should be used, whether to use .NET with or without COM interfaces, or rather prefer archaic C++, etc. And then you can decide which development environment to use. By the way, there are also the "Express" versions of Visual Studio.
nice question, choosing right technology is all depend on your project and requirements. sometimes client prefer the language. if your project will be deployed on multiple platform then choosing dotnet is not good option. there are monoproject which is totally free and opensource. you can go for that , all the dot net features are available with it and its also growing well.
Running your own business is alot more than just coding. And I would have to say that coding is the easiest part of the business. You have websites, SEO, marketing, payments, possibly employees, etc that all have nothing or little to do with your core business.
I suggest that you find a small thing that you are passionate about or something that you have a need for a solution. You can then write the solution and then try to market it. It might work, and it might not. But this way you can give it a try even with the experience that you have now. My biggest selling iPhone app took me 3 hours to write and submit to the app store. This shows that the coding is not the main thing. A friend of mine actually contracted people to do the coding for him and then he sold the apps and started making enough to quit his manager job.
Give it a shot and start looking at what you are interested in. there is also a website for the business of running a software business here. Business of Software[^]
The thing to avoid is to blaze ahead with a great product, since
as a technical type youll likely make something that you
wish you had, rather than something that the average Joe wishes they
had, and you will go out of business with lack of sales since the
number of people who want the neat thing you wish you had (and
are willing to pay for it since they need it and cant make it
themselves) is actually very low.
Figure out who you want your customer to be
Ask yourself to list what pains the customer is in without your product.
Make sure you are answering a "top 3 pains of the customer" issue
if your product does not answer a top three pains issue
for the prospective customer your product is likely not
Figure out bottoms up how you will get it to market, NOT top down like
"the market is X big and I can capture Y percent of X",
Top down never works. If you have a bottoms up plan of
"tuesday I will give a copy to X, and upload it to Y, then etc etc"
then you have a chance.
make a working prototype
start a C corp, make sure it owns the program, copyrights, patents, etc
show your prototype to a VC if you need lots of money - they will take 20% of your shares
no matter how little or much money they give you so try to get as far ahead as possible on your own
hire a bunch of outsourced programmers to do the grunt work, you manage them and write only key code yourself, unless your project is very small
sell your corporate shares and retire young.
Since you don't have a mentor coach, but feel you need one, have you tried bringing this up your manager? Are you trying to gain experience and mentor-ship coding or running a business? If it is just coding, you can try joining some open source projects.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"
— Hunter S. Thompson