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Going it alone

 
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Has anybody here tried starting a business or working outside of the corporate structure?
I love programming, but I hate the stress and politics of the corporate world. If I have to work for one more bonehead Project Manager I'm going to scream.
I'd love to go out on my own and build some kind of software product, maybe launch a Web site or start some kind of small company involving Web services.
If you have done some kind of independent Java work, what was it? How did it work out? How were you able to get the idea?
I know that there are a lot of book authors on this site. That must be cool to spend your time learning new technologies and then writing about them. What are the pros and cons? Would you recommend dropping out of the corporate world to do that?
Is there some kind of online group of entrepreneurial Java geeks that I could get hooked up with to get ideas?
 
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Originally posted by Rick Portugal:
Has anybody here tried starting a business or working outside of the corporate structure?
...
If you have done some kind of independent Java work, what was it? How did it work out? How were you able to get the idea?


I did some contract Java work. They wanted to hire a college student for $15/hr. I approached them and convinced them that hiring professionals would yield a better ROI than college kids. They agreed and hired me. I worked as a 1099.

Originally posted by Rick Portugal:

I know that there are a lot of book authors on this site. That must be cool to spend your time learning new technologies and then writing about them. What are the pros and cons? Would you recommend dropping out of the corporate world to do that?


I strongly discourage it. Most technical books barely break $10k in royalties. I dont know any author who has said, on a per hour basis this was a profitable idea. Write a book bcause you enjoy it, never for the money.

Originally posted by Rick Portugal:

Is there some kind of online group of entrepreneurial Java geeks that I could get hooked up with to get ideas?


I don't know about online, but offline there are plenty. Try JUGs, entrapeneurial groups at colleges, professional networking events, etc.
--Mark
 
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Hi,
I am not fully out. But if you know your industry thoroughly inside out, then you may have some lucks. Often people bank on technologies, I advice on business. By business, I meant how the company operated. Where is funding source, marketing, idea fostering incubator, product forming, product difusion, distribution chanels, sales, maintainance, etc. Each of the phase is an entity to itself.
Product itself deserves a special look as case in point tax software, every year tax codes change. Consumer have to buy a new software, good. Did anyone compare the amount refund receiving from the software and the amount refund receiving if your tax has been prepared by a good tax specialist?
Competition is extremely tough because we have to compete with the whole world. Make sure you have backup plan or take time to plan out your new endeavor thoroughly before decide to take a leap.
BTW even when the company train you on the user side before you could design/develop the automation bit, you only learn what they tell you to perform your job nothing more. When you are on your own, you need user side knowledge even more than you ever though of.
Regards,
MCao
 
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Just because you're a contractor doesn't mean you're not involved in the corporate politics of your customers.
In fact, you're even more involved but because your involvement is on an inactive level only (you have no power in the company) you're a lot more vulnerable.
I worked as a contractor (employed by a specialty company) for 5 years, and lost every job I had through them via internal politics within our customers.
Either someone wants to look good by decreasing the number of contractors ("preventing knowledge from leaving the company"), someone cuts the budget of your project to a level where jobs have to be cut (and contractors are both the most expensive people on staff and the easiest to let go), someone wants to bring in his own friend but needs to make room for him (so he gives you a poor performance review and uses that as a reason to terminate you), etc. etc. etc.
 
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Contractors also need a head contractor to lead and the rest better toe the line or else.
Business contractors tend to organise themselves better into rank and order. Technical contractors usually find it easier to look elsewhere if the going gets really tough.Technical contractors also need to find the right business skills. So Rick your idea to going it alone can also work side by side as long as there's no conflict of interests.
An organised group of contractors tend to work better and for a longer term.
[ January 12, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
 
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Hi there Rick
I feel the same way you do about the corporate world. I also love the challenges that programming provides, but all things considered I'm prepared relegate it to hobby status and look to potentially greener pastures.
whether you're a permanent staffer or a contractor, rates of pay aint what they used to be, and its a lot harder to find/switch jobs because of economic conditions, outsourcing (or "smart-sourcing" as I've heard it called by certain company execs) etc. I know a lot of people share the "do what you love" sentiment, but personally my "love" has limits.
So I'm currently investigating starting my own business. I know its supposed to be more risky than being an employee, but is it really that much more risky given the recent dot-bomb and its consequences for risk-averse employees. I've come to learn though that even if my business is in computing, most of my time will probably be spent managing and selling the business, rather than doing hands-on programming work. In other words I think its really difficult being a business owner and hands on technical specialist.
I'm currently looking at Franchising as a way of going into business for myself. The franchise - WSI Internet- may interest you. As for me, I think I'm gonna go for fast food. At least I'll get free lunch.
Good Luck
Rory
 
Rick Portugal
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Rory,
Thanks for your reply. I looked into WSI and I am not impressed. You pay through the nose to buy into the franchise, and I don't see how the service they provide is worth the money.
They have developers in India that crank out Web sites. It's your job to go out and meet with customers and sell them. Once you make a sale, the developers put the site together at a low cost. The advantage is that they work cheaply and build a lot of sites so there is economy of scale.
But I can get into that business without WSI. I can either develop the sites myself, or if I want to offshore the work I can contact Indian firms directly with no franchise fee.
I can see how that would be a lucrative business, but you don't need to be very technical to sell companies Web sites. The skill you need for that is really sales.
 
Rory French
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Rick
I think yours is a great idea i.e. develop internet sites yourself, and if you're too busy or simply could't be bothered, source the work out to indian firms. I still maintain that you can't avoid having to practice sales when its your own business.
Rory
 
Rick Portugal
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Rory,
I think that's a good idea for somebody, but not for me. I am more of a Software Engineer than a Web designer. I have built Web sites before, but I don't know a lot about making and optimizing graphics. (My Web sites end up looking like this one!) As Kevin says, a lot of people have that skill so the competition is stiff.
I have read a lot about starting a business. There is endless information about things like creating business plans, but there seems to be nowhere to go if you lack an idea for a business. Writing software is what I'm good at, and it seems to be a skill that the world needs. So I aught to be able to figure out a way to do it on my own, without all the politics and BS.
 
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Rick, Rory, et al -
One venture you can persue is in the wireless application sector. Wireless devices (cell phones, PDS's, etc.) are still in their infancy, and a lot of people have already seen the potential a good application can make. I would assume both of you already understand J2SE, and J2ME is not all that different - nor are CLDC and MIDP concepts. One way to get started in the field is to take a look at http://www.handango.com for a list of apps/games people have already written for wireless platforms, and get an idea of how much they are asking for their applications. From what I see, the only cons to it is that devices are not all the same hardware-wise (memory, screen dimensions, and whatnot) and most manufacturers (Siemans, Nokia, et al) require you to certify through them before they will allow the app to be sold.
Like I said, its an industry that is still in its infancy, but is starting to build-up steam., and may be something worthwhile to invest your time in.
 
Matt Cao
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Originally posted by Rick Portugal:

I have read a lot about starting a business. There is endless information about things like creating business plans, but there seems to be nowhere to go if you lack an idea for a business. Writing software is what I'm good at, and it seems to be a skill that the world needs. So I aught to be able to figure out a way to do it on my own, without all the politics and BS.


Hi,
Between A, B, and C technologies there are A', B'. A, B, and C are those people who invented Windows, Internet, WWW, and so. A' and B' are those who repackaged A and B. The competitive edges for those "primes people" are business side iron out. Where are you in the spectrum?
Bill Gate, a genious in A and smart enough to have friends or associates with people that have master in business side all accomplished in very early stage of life. It is no wonder why he is what he is today.
I will not say you have no chance, but know your environment will help out a lot.
Regards,
MCao
[ January 13, 2004: Message edited by: Matt Cao ]
 
Oh, sure, you could do that. Or you could eat some pie. While reading this tiny ad:
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