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An alternative path

by spx2 (Deacon)
on Sep 23, 2009 at 06:09 UTC ( #796894=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I read some interesting thoughts here.

By a similar reasoning it has crossed my mind a couple of times that I'd rather be studying stuff than writing code. Would it be realistic to think that it would be possible to write a project which would generate continous revenue , just enough to get by so I can get on with other stuff and not have to be concerned with bugs and writing code ?

Are there any such projects left to be done ? It's 2009 and with all this code around(sourceforge,github,googlecode,bitbucket, it's hard to imagine stuff that hasn't yet been done or attempted. I'd like to know what you think would be necessary for such a thing and some ideas of projects( for example ones that you need and haven't yet been attempted ).

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Re: An alternative path
by moritz (Cardinal) on Sep 23, 2009 at 09:04 UTC

    I don't think it's easy to start a project which will sustain you with minimal continuing effort. If it were, I'd have done it by now :-)

    You have basically two options: A ground breaking new idea, combined with a good business plan, or you have to be so good at what you do that an occasional job earns you enough.

    Even if you have a really good idea, it will take lots of dedication and effort - nothing that you do for a few months, in the hope that it will feed you for the rest of the decade.

    Ideas? I have one, but I don't know if you can make money from it... anyway, here it comes: An anti-lock-in service.

    Let me elaborate... there are a lot of "external" (ie ones I don't have control over) websites I have put lots of effort into: perlmonks, other discussion boards, my email provider (filter rules, settings). Many people also put much effort into social networking sites, online calendars etc.

    What happens when one of those goes down permanently? Or changes its terms of service for the worse? (as happened with StudiVZ, a popular German student's social network) - Well, my contributions are lost. D'oh.

    I'd like to have a service that lets me backup my online contributions to my local hard disc, and convert these backups to be usable for other, similar websites or programs. Turn that gmail profile into a thunderbird profile, google calendar to outlook, whatever. Keep it universal, easy to extend and easy to use.

    I'd be willing to pay for such a service, and considering how much time we spend online these days I think it has a future. It's not easy to do, and perhaps not easy to sell - that's why I don't think it has properly be done before.

    Perl 6 - links to (nearly) everything that is Perl 6.
Re: An alternative path
by ELISHEVA (Prior) on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:50 UTC

    If you want to conserve time so that you can eat while doing non-programming things you really enjoy, I'd concentrate on increasing earning efficiency and flexibility.

    A better choice would be building up a consulting practice. At the very least, consulting gives you more control over the times and places where you work. In some cases, if you can develop a needed but hard to find expertise, you can charge a lot for your time. Integration of management, design and technical skills is one combination, but I'm sure there are others, including niche technical specialties.

    If you were to go that route, you might begin by taking on side jobs while you stick to your day job. When you are confident that you can get enough work to live off of, only then consider replacing your day job with going back to school or a non-code project. This strategy lets you build up juggling and self-employment skills as you go.

    As for "writing a project" - it is a lot more work than it might look. If the project is successful it will grow. It is very hard to keep innovative start-up projects small and successful. If it grows and earns you money, you will need money, people, and management skills. Finding this eats up time when you least have it - you are busy trying to meet customer needs! Codebases are quick to write, but maintaining an extensive project codebase through many versions quickly becomes very time consuming. Test beds have to be maintained. As projects grow in complexity old build tools become irrelevant and new build frameworks need to be set up. The time involved grows exponentially. During growth periods human and financial resources generally fall short of demand for services. Time becomes their replacement and the work can quickly become 24/7.

    All of this can be great fun, but only if you (a) profoundly enjoy the project itself and really, really want to share its benefits with the world or (b) are extraordinary long-visioned and are willing to spend 3-5 years making something you only maybe care about your main thing in hopes that you maybe will earn enough to be financially independent at the end. It can happen, but more often than not it doesn't. The common wisdom (I'm not sure what study backs this) is that on average only one in 10 VC funded projects make it to a successful exit (defined as buy-back, profitable trade-sale, or IPO). Small organically grown business start-ups fair better but the survival rate is not good - 1 in 3 die after the first year, 50% after four years (see here (courtesy of SBA). Small businesses, however, rarely provide enough of a windfall to make you financially independent.

    Best, beth

Re: An alternative path
by TGI (Parson) on Sep 23, 2009 at 21:45 UTC

    All you need is a great idea and one hell of a lot of hard work.

    Two quotes for you to consider:

    Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.
    Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
    Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
    Thomas Edison

    There is an idea out there that has the potential to make you independently wealthy. But, before that can happen, you need to find it, correctly identify it (even harder to do) and then work your ass off to bring it to fruition. Even then you'll need some good luck. At any time a stroke of bad luck can wipe you out--ill health, financial market collapses, earthquakes and fires can all cause years of work to vanish overnight.

    If, despite all this, you see something, want to go for it, do so. Just don't expect it to be an easy and sure path. Otherwise we'd be hanging out in the Bohemian Grove instead of hacking all day.

    My plan is to play in ways that interest me and that pay my bills. It's worked out OK, so far. I'm not rich, but I am not starving. By all means, I'll keep my eyes open-- in case the million-dollar-whatsit happens to catch my attention; but I'm not counting on it.

    TGI says moo

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