Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Starting your own IT business? A few lessons to be learned.


The thing is I decided to start My own business ( but it isn't much to look at, still working on it), producing software and websites of course. After some three weeks of muddling through the polish law system I finally managed to start it officially :)

After a few months I have some things I want to talk about that may help you in your endeavor.
Aside from all problems, the first assignment (, a small co repetition system was quite an interesting task. Not only learning (the hard way) that absolutely everything must be perfect up to 1 pixel, but also learned how to employ people. You always have to be in control, if you outsource some project, every few days look at the results, the time/hour costs.

Lesson one:
Always have a written contract with the functionality annexed to it.

Even if someone won't pay you, you still have a chance of getting back the costs.
It's an industry standard so you won't have any problem finding templates on the web.

Lesson two:
Include the first changes (except obvious bugs) in the price, for next changes bill your client separately.

As a young business you lack credibility. The clients are unsure if you won't run and leave them with the problems on the website. If you decide to include project maintenance over an year or so in the project you might get bigger projects.

Lesson three:
If you work with someone, keep track of the work being done.

If you leave everything to your employee/subcontractor there is a big possibility that the client won't get what he/she ordered or anything at all. Every few days have your employees (programmers) show you whet is accomplished and what is still on the to do list. Tell them what has the highest priority for the client. I personally use Redmine to track progress, keep in touch with clients (although there are better tools for that out there), bug tracking and calculate bills (from spent time).

If you're looking for something more sophisticated, actually JIRA has some event where they give you a starter package for 10 users for $10 so its really cheap (for some charity I think).

Lesson three:
Don't ask people to work for you, let them ask, just be in the right place.

Over time I've worked with many of my colleagues that were working with me for some time. Really bib disappointment, pretty much nothing was done right. I've learned to let people look form me, not the other way. Some of the best employees were hired from some small cities university IT forum. The main thought here is - look for people in niches not on or something like that. You wont get someone that is very much skilled but they sure are motivated and in my opinion that's the key to success.

I only hope that the lessons I had to learn the hard way will be of some use to you, my Dear Readers :)

See you soon.

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