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WEB/DIGITAL I'm starting a business, need some advice

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by J P D, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. J P D
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    J P D New Contributor

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    Hi guys,

    I wasn't planning on getting this off the ground for a while, but lately it has been consuming every waking hour of my life, and shares sleeping hours along with cars and women. Thinking about it, planing it out, coming up with nifty ideas, realizing the need and potential of this... I WANT IT UP AND RUNNING YESTERDAY!!! I keep thinking that the longer I sit on this idea and wait, that someone is bound to come along and capitalize on it sooner or later. It is one of those "why didn't I think of that" ideas. This business is a web based service and I can go one of two routes with this. I can either find a partner with a little more computer/site building knowledge than myself. Or I can take a little longer and continue learning the things I need to know to do this myself. I don't know which way to go on this. Any thoughts or experiences either way?

    I don't know as much as I should about computers but I'm currently reading as much as I can about them, site building, html, etc. Does anyone have any recommended reads.

    I am not making a myspace type social networking site but I think the layout of those kind of sites will be ideal for my business. Does anyone have any experience with phpfox?

    I'm going to leave my laptop behind for my family when I move out so I'll need a new computer. What are your thoughts on the best models, necessary specs, best operating system for starting and managing a site? mac or windows? must have anti virus programs for running a site? I assume I will need something with lots of memory and multitasking capabilities.

    It bothers me that I have this great idea and have it all planed out and ready to go but my lack of knowledge with computers and site development is holding me back. I feel that I have one shot to get this site up right. And it has to be done right leaving no room for some copycat to improve upon.

    thanks
    jpd
     
  2. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    I suggest hiring a web developer and a web designer. You should focus on the business basics, not the technical stuff. Making a complex website in php can be very difficult. Not to mention that now you don't need just html but: javascript, html, css, php, mysql, actionscript (if flash is used) and so on.

    For running a site you could use OSx (Mac), Windows or Linux, it should be the same since most of the tasks are done via browser from an admin panel.

    I think you are planning on setting up a server for your site. Personally, I wouldnt do it. You would need a pretty good server that can cost you lots of money, then you would need a super fast internet connection, UPS, cooling system...too much hasle

    Why not signing up for a hosting account? I use dreamhost, and so far so good. Then if your business gets famous (I hope so!) you can setup your in-house servers.

    While being the first in one area, the most important is being the best. When a copycat gets into you market, you already have the customer base, the know-how, everything you need to keep your customers loyal to you.

    Good Luck!
     
  3. Yankees338
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    Yankees338 Bronze Contributor

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    Good post, Jorge. I agree with much of what he had to say.

    I would definitely recommend contracting out the technical stuff. I'm not sure how familiar you are with Robert Kiyosaki and his "Cashflow Quadrant" philosophy, but the ultimate goal of building a business, in his opinion, is to create one that is a system that can run and grow on its own. The more you try to do yourself in the beginning, the harder it will be in the future to allow it to grow on its own. While it may cost you a little more now, you'll be able to focus more on the areas of the business where you're needed most.

    Think of it this way: would you rather be spending your time worrying about hosting and the technical mumbo-jumbo if you could be spending your time working on marketing and creating a more efficient business? The programming aspect of this could be contracted out to a specialized in the field who could be paid the monthly hosting fee and cost of developing (Depending on how advanced the idea is and how much room you'll need, your prices will vary. Hosting could be as little as $15-20/month and development could be between $1000-2000 up-front or financed if they're open to it.). They would be able to handle any tech/server problems with the site and leave you with other tasks. In my opinion, your time is way too valuable to be spending on tasks that could be contracted out for a very reasonable price.

    As for your computer questions: I currently have a PC and have had one for my whole life. However, recently, all of the problems I've been having with them have really gotten me to consider getting a Mac. They seem more reliable, not to mention cooler and more modern looking. However, I don't have any experience with running a business so I can't really recommend anything based on that. One thing you should definitely check before you make a purchase is what software you will need to run for your business, and whether or not it is compatible with the different operating systems.

    Once again, good luck. I recommend getting started right away. Not only could someone swoop in before you, but as time goes on, I find that I often lose my drive for such ideas. I'd try to get the ball rolling while it's hot on your mind. Congrats and best of luck again!
     
  4. J P D
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    J P D New Contributor

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    Hey,

    Much thanks for the advice guys. You make some good points. I think I will most likely end up seeking the help of more qualified people to get this thing off the ground. Its just nice to imagine yourself as being able to do it all on your own, but sometimes for the sake of the business its just not realistic.
     
  5. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    Yeah I know the feeling. But in my experience, everytime I started something doing EVERYTHING by myself, I never managed to get it finished. One person just can't do everything that needs a business to get started.

    Then, you get to the "I wasnt that hot anyway" stage when time goes by and the idea isnt even started.
     
  6. Redshft
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    Redshft Contributor

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    I'm kind of in the same boat. I WANT to learn html, css, javascript, etc. But it is VERY hard for me to try to learn that on my free time while I am a full time student and working three jobs to barely pay my bills.

    Then there is the option of hiring a web developer. Well, the first issue for me is cost. I need to look more into this because I really have no idea how much it costs and for what kind of services. Even if it is a reasonable price, I'm still broke :(

    This may not be an issue in most cases, at least not for one of my ideas. But I am worried about being able to TRUST a web designer not to expose my idea and exploit it for themselves. Am I just being paranoid?
     
  7. dhuang
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    dhuang New Contributor

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    Heh. I'm in the same position... PHP, MySQL, AJAX, and all that jazz I want to learn so I can get some of my projects off the ground. But then again, I'm a full-time student with little or no time. Luckily I have some decent residual income paying for my expenses, so down the road, I'll have enough startup capital to dive straight into it and contract the work.

    Or heck, I'll just learn the languages...

    I too have Dreamhost, and I have to say, I'm quite pleased so far...
     
  8. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    No, your not being paranoid, its something that could happend. Anyways you could make him sign a contract of NDA and non competition.

    Im on a similar situation to yours, I being a web developer also have a full time job. So I got a partner that makes all the development for me and we go 50/50 on our ventures. We pay designers because none of us are very good at it.

    The cost, at least in Argentina would range from $500 to $2000 (usd) depending on the complexity of the site.

    If you need, PM me and I'll recommend you people that I have worked with.
     
  9. ProfessorSpeed
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    ProfessorSpeed New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I'm in the same situation as several of you... I've got the idea for a "why didn't I think of that" web business. I'm not sleeping on my best friend's couch, but I don't have much over $10k to invest. We've got to be realistic here and realize that it would be improbable to be able to develop the skills necessary to build a complex site in a timely manner (before someone else thinks of the same idea).

    What I'm after is what sort of statement of work or package does a web developer expect to receive from a potential customer? Is this something that's just done over a course of meetings, or is there a formal document involved that explains deliverables, etc. Does anyone have any examples?

    And second, does anyone have a clue on how to break down and estimate this work? Although I'd like to send this work out for a bid war, I don't want to be spreading my idea out in the public domain. I'll probably choose one company that I think can meet my needs and ask for a bid....For this reason, I'd like to have an estimating tool to give me piece of mind that I'm not getting taken for a ride.

    I think this information would be helpful for all of us.
     
  10. Redshft
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    Redshft Contributor

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    Duuuuuuuude...what if we're all thinking about the same idea?? Wouldn't that be some crazy sh*t?
     
  11. rlucas
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    If you don't know anything about programming or database design you would definitely be advised to contract out. Believe me it's not worth your time to learn these languages and try to spawn your idea out of this extremely limited knowledge.

    Try going to elance.com and setting a bid out and see how much it would cost you to create it. Always have the 'estimator' sign a non-disclosure no matter what... (if the idea is really good I wouldn't count on him keeping his contract). You have to figure if you explain a really good idea to a developer, even after they sign a NDA, he could potentially reveal the information to a 3rd party if the information given to him is more valuable than the repercussions of breaking the NDA.

    It's a delicate balance without revealing too much information. Word things in a way that identify the sub-structures of the site but never allow them to be able to piece together what all the substructures do. (The final idea).

    A good idea is to commonly break the site into substructures and have them developed by completely independent parties. It's then your job as the creator to synthesize all the parts together and work as a whole.

    Make sure to have all intellectual capital patented (or pending) by the time the site is formally launched to the public. This shields the final idea from competition (or replication).

    Most money should be invested in a lawyer that can write up patent proposals in a great amount of detail. Never put your site up before you have legal shields.

    Ryan
     
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  12. J P D
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    J P D New Contributor

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    Wow, seems like a lot of us are in the same boat. Which leads me to think that programmers and site builders must be in high demand.

    Redshft, I wouldn't be surprised if most of us ARE thinking about the same idea. That's how in your face my idea is.

    I'm going to keep on learning more about web programing and stuff, but I agree with the comment that it would be impractical for me to expect to master it enough to build a worthy website in any realistic amount of time, especially when I want it up and running asap.

    I am going to budget 6k as disposable start up funds, and this will include the purchase of a new computer and software. I should have more than enough left over to contract out the building of the site, legal services, and everything else involved.

    One more question, Jorge mentioned signing up for a hosting account. If I do this than I would be managing the site from a remote source(my home computer) and not actually storing all the info right? so then any regular home computer would be good to go? I think I might end up going mac.

    thanks for all the advice and best of luck to everyone trying to materialize your ideas, unless of course your idea is the same one I have.
     
  13. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    Exactly, all your databases would be on a remote server. There are two types of hosting:

    Shared: Your site and databases runs on the same server as many other sites. The Hard Disk, Ram and Processor are shared.

    Dedicated: Your site is handled by one server just for you.


    The second option is really expensive compared to the shared hosting, but you don't need that until your site becomes famous.
     
  14. J P D
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    J P D New Contributor

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    thanks,

    I have always planned to start a business of my own and began to familiarize myself with stuff like planning, finance, legal, marketing, etc... all the things needed to start a traditional physical business. It wasn't till recently within the last two years that I became aware of web based potential. So all this is still kind of foreign to me but I know that my general idea makes good business sense, I just need to figure out how to get it up and running and I can take it from there. I will first develop my business plan a little further and then contact a developer/hosting service and sit down and figure something out.

    thanks again
     
  15. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    I'm a developer myself. This is how I work with my clients:

    1) We set up a meeting, they explain me what they want: An ecommerce site, a Portal, an Institutional website, etc.

    2) We define whats needed to accomplish the site: Database, php, ajax, payment gateway, flash, css, etc.

    3) The clients explains what are the sub-sections of the site: Index, About us, contact, etc.

    4) Then he explains whats the content of each subsection. Much like a mockup in paper like: logo, lastests news, testimonials, etc.

    5) I pass the client a list of items to develop and the total cost

    6) I make a mockup in photoshop of how its going to be when finished

    7) When design is approbed programming begins.

    8) Quality test, bugs fixing in private server not available to public

    9) Launch!


    About costs...

    Check this for design (I havent tried them). Giving the design already done will speed up the developer work a lot! Especially if its done right with CSS for easy customization of internal sections of the site.

    For development the costs are really variable, but a seasoned developer most likely have a library of his own code builded over time that he can reuse in order to save money and time.

    Hope this helps, any other question, just ask :smxF:
     
  16. Peter2
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    Peter2 Fastane Legend. RIP.

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    You guys are a little too concerned about your "idea". An idea means very little. It doesn't matter what you come up with. Chances are that someone else has already come up with the same idea.

    What DOES matter, is how you execute and market your idea.

    Friendster came up with an idea, but they are not nearly as successful as Myspace and Facebook that pretty much copied the idea.

    One of my companies sold a product that thousands of companies all over the world had sold for decades when I started. I just decided to market it a different way, and within two years had the largest company in the world. The second largest company had been around for more than 25 years at the time.

    Bottomline, it's very little about the idea and very much how you market that idea.
     
    blackbrich and MJ DeMarco like this.
  17. J P D
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    J P D New Contributor

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    I understand what you are saying. My "idea" is not something new at all. In fact there are many others who already offer essentially the same service/product that I am going to. However, after viewing their attempt(which is successful), they have not executed it the same way I envision that it would be most beneficial and easy to use for the client/consumer. What I'm going to do is merge two already existing and very well known "ideas" into one super service that I feel will be a natural addition to how people do business. Fortunately for me, I am more familiar with sales, marketing, networking, and good business strategy than I am with computers. Now that I see it would be most beneficial for me to contract out the building of my site, there is nothing holding me back and I should be good to go once I finalize a RE deal Im working on right now.

    btw, when I say "idea" I mean marketing strategy. Not that I have an idea to sell a certain product, but a better way to sell it.
     
  18. Rawr
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    Rawr Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I knew it was you Peter!!

    [ame="http://youtube.com/watch?v=mS9xwV2qaBg"]YouTube - ENZYTE[/ame]


    I think I've mentioned before that one of my friends started a pizza place that within 2 months was making close to a mil annually. How did they do it with almost no money working out of their garage? An ingenious marketing plan. come up with a way to sell more than your competition, to undercut the big guy's price, to offer an extra thing that others don't, and it doesn't matter if you are selling something as old and trivial as pizza
     
  19. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    I was going to write something to this effect, but Peter beat me to it.

    Everyone seems so concerned about protecting their idea when they really should be worried about execution. Speed++
     
  20. Rawr
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    Rawr Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I've once heard if you can't talk about your idea openly it probably isn't going to work - as in you should not be afraid to put it out there and get the input.

    I swear, going from the idea to actually starting is ridiculously hard for me
     
  21. kimberland
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    kimberland Bronze Contributor

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    It is for everyone.
    THAT is why it doesn't matter that much about the idea.
    Plenty of folks have ideas.
    Very few act on them.

    Be one of the few and get moving on it.
     
  22. Walley
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    Walley New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I use to have a phpfox site. I was running it on a vps without an average of about 50 people online at a time and it was bogging down the server. I had their release before konsort. I wouldn't buy it because everyone else is pretty much on the bigger social networking sites and you better plan on spending $$ on the dedicated servers once your community builds up. Alot of my members also complained about the myspace layouts not working...the profile layout is totally different. Anyways best of luck.
     
  23. Jorge
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    Jorge Contributor

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    If I were making a social networking site I would go with ning.com without a doubt. You just have to take care of the design...
     

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