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    3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 24, 2008 11:29 AM by MnlyTechnlgy

    Advice on Starting Web Development Business

    mango18 Wayfarer
      I'm an aspiring Web Developer thinking of starting my own web development business. I plan to develop and host websites on my own server. I plan to run it out of my own house. Along with web development and hosting, I plan to offer email, database management systems, server side programming (like ASP.NET), and maybe run my server as a DNS as well.

      If there is anyone out there who has had experience in this line of business, I would surely appreciate some advice. Specifically, I'm wondering what the typical initial expenses are based on what I described above (not just for the hardware and software, but for getting a business like this off the ground all together).
        • Re: Advice on Starting Web Development Business
          snipperred Scout
          Good question, I'm certainly no IT specialist!

          However I think your market would dictate the costs. Over the last couple years I had been toying around with some ideas based on operational realities we had in our business- a healthcare group using a remote EMR w/ approx 45 computers and a Dell Server. We did not jump on anything new directly outside of what we were doing but I will say some of this was due in part to the research involved in answering your questions for ourselves and lack of solicitation of someone offering us ready options and pricing we wanted to hear. I worked pretty closely with an IT consultant discussing some of these projects for a while- if she had or knew of someone locally that would have been doing what you are planning on doing could have been essentially a plug-in requiring a proposal and a thumbs up- do you follow me here? If you are ready to invest in the hardware/ software ( removing the investment off another company's shoulders ) and have the know how to deliver satisfying results ( deliverables/ reliability/ service ) then the costs of getting your business off the ground could essentially be pass through from a client over your extended risk. The extension preventing us from making the go ahead decision on some of these ideas had to do with the commitment to do it ourselves considering we could do it less expensively for ourselves. However, if you assume the investment costs up front and offer exit if the company is unsatisfied then they might be willing to move forward with some needs. You can also split your utility across several or more clients yadayada-

          So

          • we had a RAID platform for triple redundant backup that was innefective. We ended up purchasing a fourth blade to manually back up our "backup".

          • we wanted to go to VOIP by integrating our own additional T-1 or going cable with a couple of dedicated blades which would offer further redundancy in our internet connections and bandwidth capacity for our expanding usage. Most of the VOIP options worth considering for serious business applications imply purchase of 30K box which was ridiculous in our opinion. We'd heard of some people putting together their own for far less- an ambitious and difficult project to take on considering the necessary research and potential risk in reliability.

          • our EMR had initially implied some great patient relationship tools such as online patient access to charts and scheduling boards etc. We had been using e-mail through the parent EMR vendor's server assuming it was secure for patient information and had a variety of forms such as new patient applications on our website that were underutilized and undersupported by the EMR provider. When we learned the data was being sent without encryption, we deactivitated these features in order to comply with integrity to HIPAA and found ourselves considering paying for a third party database/ secure transaction host- in medicine, patient relationship features will be a key distinguisher/ hot app in determing healthcare providers of choice; especially with the dynamics of reimbursement forcing practices to be selective to either lower quality reimbursement markets or higher paying "cream of the crop" markets- we'd need a boutique/ concierge application supporting outstanding customer relationship tools and so on. Most EMR providers are still drooling over the extensive market of practices still yet to convert to paperless.

          ...and many other ideas along these lines. you sound like you could be positioning yourself as a needed solution for some companies. The start up costs could be projected based on what you are willing to do and who is willing to "go in" on it with you for their own benefit. You might mitigate a lot of the start up costs by approaching your concept in this way. Once you've done your homework, you could save some other companies time and money in doing this for themselves and motivate them to go ahead sooner rather than later.

          Not necessarily the advice I think you were looking for...but perhaps some ideas you might not have thought about. Let me know if you found useful.
          • Re: Advice on Starting Web Development Business
            A_Ellicott Adventurer
            Sorry I can't help you with any of your technical questions.

            I don't mean to discourage you but I would be very reluctant to have my website hosted out of somone's house, especially if I was heavily into e-commerce and depended on my site for a large share of my business.

            Something to consider.
            • Re: Advice on Starting Web Development Business
              MnlyTechnlgy Adventurer
              mango18: Congrats on wanting to start your own web development business. We are also web developers and have owned/operated our own business since 2005. The first thing that sends up a red flag is hosting on a server out of your own home. This may be a difficult sell in a couple of ways. Businesses who need hosting want to know that it is a) secure and b) professionally driven and monitored. Unless you plan on keeping an IT person 24/7 with alarms and such at your home, you may have a difficult time selling this aspect of the business. That said, the other part can certainly be done from home. We did it up until July 2007, however keep in mind that customers will look at the professional viability of your business, so make sure you keep a n obvious separate home office where you can meet with clients and make them feel like they are dealing with a true professional. (as we grew, this was one of the main reasons we took the next step to office rental).

              The other advice I can offer is network, network, network. Web Development is an extremely competitive industry and in some areas may be well saturated already with few established and credible businesses. As part of your marketing plan, make sure you know what sets you aside from the competition and be prepared to answer the question "why should I do business with a new company?" Showcase your work and company anywhere you can, as much as you can as this will definitely help in creating the foundation of your staying power.

              As far as initial costs go, with the server factor aside, advertising and marketing will be your greatest costs because you will need to create the interest and desire for potential customers to want to do business with you over the industry veterans.

              Good Luck and I hope this helps ... feel free to contact me via e-mail if you'd like to talk in depth further. Deb@MainelyTechnology.com

              Deb L
              Mainely Technology
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