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The Business of Development

by drfrog (Deacon)
on Dec 18, 2004 at 06:20 UTC ( #415833=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Owning your own development company is a daunting task, and year 2004 was my 'learn through experience' year when it comes to the business of development

it leaves me re-evaluating my businesses contracts and protocols

What is an acceptable contract for a client to sign?

What sort of financial guarantees should one ask for (30% down )? Are retainers a good idea?

I know there are as many ways to run a business as there are snowflakes in a blizzard, so let the storm begin!

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: The Business of Development
by binary (Novice) on Dec 18, 2004 at 19:51 UTC

    Just recommending a couple of books to you:

    Personal Networking - Mike Cope ## A book entirely devoted to building your network of contacts with independent consultancy in mind.

    The 7 C's of Consulting - Mike Cope ## Excellent book. The author has a very practical, new age philosophy on consulting. Ie, he's not a ruthless businessmen. He understands that your clients are you business and your success is determined by your relations with them.

    The only type of book on consulting I'd be careful of is ones written by programmers. Most programmers are programmers because we like writing code and solving problems. When you're working on open source projects, or writing your own code you can do things entirely your own way, usually the best way :) Sadly in business you have to work within the constraints of your client and a lot of programmers fail in this respect because they're not flexible.

    You need to be the type of person that companies/people feel they can approach with a problem and get a friendly and helpful response. Would you want to seek out a firm that will make you feel uncomfortable? Charge you through the nose without giving you solid solutions? A lot of consultancies are failing because they're like that. There's so many jokes about consultants due to the nature of the business these days. Look at this one.. :)

    A man walks into a consultancy firm and inquires about the rates for a study. "Well, we usually structure the project up front, and charge $50 for three questions', replied the consultant. "Isn't that awfully steep?" asked the man. "Yes", replied the consultant, "And what was your third question?"

    Would you want this type of person to solve your problems?

    Those books talk a lot more about all these very important and overlooked aspects of becoming an independent consultant.
    These are all important aspects to factor into your pricing scheme etc.

    I'm in the process of starting up my own consultancy. What I'll be doing for pricing is providing a free on site assessment of the problem with advice/analysis of the problem and a follow up with how I would solve it and how much it would cost.
    I'd then provide them with free technical support shortly after in case they had problems with my system. I'd also fix it for free if it broke down since these things would be MY fault. My job is to solve their problem, not write code and head out the door.

    Hope this is of some help

Re: The Business of Development
by mjeaton (Hermit) on Dec 18, 2004 at 15:49 UTC
      Thanks all, and i know its going off topic, but I think its important to have a handle on the business end...

      that way i can concentrate on whats important! Programming!

Re: The Business of Development
by cchampion (Curate) on Dec 18, 2004 at 11:06 UTC

      Actually, I think Joel's article is more about how not to determine prices :-)

Re: The Business of Development
by brian_d_foy (Abbot) on Dec 19, 2004 at 17:18 UTC

    The easy answer is this: make a contract that benefits you as much as possible, and get them to put down as much as they will. Don't worry about the client because they'll tell you when they want to negotiate something.

    The hard answer is: it depends on the the client, and you need to get an attorney who knows about these things. If you aren't hard up for business, you can play tougher. If you really need money, you'll have to agree to things that are more in favor of the client.

    I wish I could find this perl program I used to have (have only, I didn't write it) that acted as the contract. It spit out the postscript for the thing you printed. It was more of a novelty, but it impressed a couple of clueful clients.

    brian d foy <>

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