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How are the web dev’ers doing in the small business world?

greenlandgreenland subscriber Posts: 1
edited March 2007 in Selecting a Business
Hi all, I` new here and I`ve really been pondering taking a jump as a freelancer. I`m really glad I came across this site! I`ve wanted my own business for years, but since I have a decent job right now, I`ve just been waiting until my job goes south, and then making the entrepreuner jump out of nessecity.I`ve managed to grow some very good skills in the web dev area, and thats what I`d like to do when I go it alone. It`s just that some of my side projects have not been that profitable or managable for that matter on a part time scale. I`ve also read a few posts here that makes me feel that web dev isn`t such a great area to make a business out of. Which puts me partially back at the drawing board.My experience in web dev goes beyond pretty. While creating the pretty part is the most fun, I`ve been working the past several years adapting quickly changing business needs into a web based automation and and managment type "software" I suppose. Lost of calendering, scheduling, workload management and wild reporting - along with the usual server side resource management, disaster control, etc. So I have a great understanding of the business layer, and losts of experience with the database and backend, along with snappy photoshop skills. I`ve gone well beyond the shopping cart.I have a couple of projects in the works as "resume builders", but they are mamoth in size, and one I think I`ve even missed the boat on because when I started it there was room for "another", but now that niche seems a bit saturated. I`ve also watched ideas I`ve had that I thought where stupid become successful for others. I`d like to build on the experience I have, and be on the front lines for the "next generation" of the internet, but I`m just not sure if I can compete. I`ve been living and breathing this stuff for years, but I guess everyone else has as well.I`ve had other ideas as well, but none of them look to profitable when I dig deeper into them. Is it natural to go with what you know, or is better to just watch markets and jump at something even if you have no clue at first?I guess I need to make a decision soon, whether I have a good job at the moment or not. I`m getting older, and most of the oppourtunity (especially in web dev) is reserved for the younger crowd.


  • greenlandgreenland subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for the replies! This gives me alot to think about. All in all I probably only have 20% of the experience needed to be successful as a web dev on my own. I will be reading much more here, and try and follow others that are working toward something similar.
    I`ve also learned quite a bit about reading between the lines and "deciphering" what a customer wants. Right now I work as a one man team, where managment says: "this is whats comming down, and we need to integrate this into our process and work flow". Then I give recommendations, come up with a plan and implement. I even have to argue from time to time when my management think they know what they want. Hopefully I can turn this into sales skills.
    One thing I learned from other busines owners, and what nhgnikole is getting at, is to specialize, have a niche, go tall and narrow. But from my experience creating web based solutions, I can`t imagine specializing in any one thing. The way my job goes, someone comes to me with a problem, and I need to supply a solution. Granted I work in a specific area, but I went out on my own, I would think I would have to be open to many different areas of business since it`s a solution to a problem I`d be selling. Sure I`d have to learn enough about the customers business to provide a solution on a case by case basis, but I couldn`t be an expert in each business.
    In my case and web dev I would think generalizing is good. I don`t need to be an expert in plumbing to create for example: an automated appointment dispatch gizmo, or I don`t have to be a lawyer to create a document storage system for lawyers. I`d just have to learn enough to understand their workflow.
    Maybe I`m wrong. I also don`t intend on having any employees. I`m looking more freelance as opposed to full blown business.
  • DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Hi Greenland,
    I agree with what Nikole and Craig said.  The problem you`ll probably run into with just selling your time (which is what you would be doing as a freelancer with no plan to hire employees) is that you run out of time, and so that limits how far you can go.  You`ll find that the business-running tasks such as finding clients and billing them and advertising your services take up a lot more time than you`d like (I speak partly from my experience and partly from what I`ve read in entrepreneuer books).  It`s easy to get burned out with that business model.
    The book I read and really liked that addressed this was "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber.  (Updated version is "The E-Myth Revisited.")  It talks about how entrepreneuers get burned out and how to structure your business to avoid this.  Its model doesn`t require you to hire employees, but it will help you set up your business so that expanding in that way is easier if you decide to do so.
    One way you might be able to do freelancing without getting burned out is to form relationships with larger website development firms who would hire you as-needed (or ongoing) as a contractor rather than an employee.  That gives you more control over your workload and working conditions and takes some of the burden of dealing with clients off your shoulders.
  • greenlandgreenland subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks everyone! The way I`m seeing it now is that when running a business, ideally, you won`t actually be doing the work or service that the business provides, rather your employees will do the work. Running a business means the sales, marketing, legal, etc... So you really don`t need to be an expert or nesseccarily have experience in the field/business you intend to take up, and from what it sounds like, actually having experience in that field could be a large stumbling block and provide a greater chance for the "business" to fail by spreading oneself to thin and other points that where mentioned.
    So all in all, I should stay out of web dev as far as starting a business is concerned. In many ways that seems confusing, but in other ways, I guess there is no area I cannot look to when thinking of starting a business!greenland2007-3-20 10:38:51
  • BJMcCrayBJMcCray subscriber Posts: 0
    Greenland, since you want to serve a general range of businesses, one way to make a niche for yourself may be geography. For example, an online friend of mine chose to turn her back on the nearby metro area to focus instead on the rural businesses and outlying areas. She was met with open arms by business owners long ignored by metro-based firms. You can read her story at her blog.Becky McCray
  • greenlandgreenland subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks CraigL, Those are some great thoughts and examples. I`ve already failed on a project I`ve been working on because it is too much for one person, but I`m affriad to enlist help, or don`t know to properly do so, because I`m affraid of someone stealing my idea and all my hard work. Along the same lines, I have almost 2 albums worth of songs and music very few people have heard because they aren`t set in stone, so they`re not copyrighted, so I`m affraid to let people listen. I guess I`m paranoid.
    I think I`m going to learn alot here
    And thank you BJMcCray, That was a good read and so true. that is another area I feel lost in - finding a target mkarket/niche. 
     I think it`s time to take a different approach to the thought of a business if I`m every going to have one. I think for myself and many others, we possess many valuable skills and experience, but we don`t know all the different ways they can be applied to different places outside of where we learned those skills. If that makes any sense.
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