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View Full Version : NFT: Help me pick a side project with self employment potential


KC Jones
11-17-2004, 01:06 PM
I'm sick of giving away the fruits of my labor to what I consider poorly managed organizations. So, I'm trying to pick between several side projects that will (hopefully) eventually blossom into self-employment.

My current situation is that I'm a contract programmer operating under a crappy recruiting and staffing firm. I'm also the sole provider for my family, so going from employee to owner is a huge risk. I have some money saved up, but only enough to cover about 3 months worth of pre-tax salary. Certainly not enough for serious seed money. So whatever I do it's going to be an evening and weekend project until it shows enough profit that I can drop my day job (if ever).

Here's a list of known considerations with the different options:

1) J2ME Gaming - There's already plenty of competition in this field. However nobody has anything close to the feature set for the games I have in mind. As a bonus it would be a fun hobby even if I made little or no money on it. I would need help for the artwork though.

2) State Software System - IMO this one has the biggest money making opportunity and would be a damn nice market once established. However I think the barrier to entry will be huge. States are going to want to work with large established firms that have and will be around forever. Getting the contacts within the state and building their confidence in the system would be extremely difficult. However once one state was landed - you could really leverage that relationship to go get another state on board.

3) Small Business IT Linux services - Two downsides to this one. First, I'm a programmer whose network administration experience is limited to my home network. I'd have quite a bit to learn. Second, I think small businesses would be shy of getting caught up with Linux and/or a smaller service provider whereas the 800lb guerrilla (Microsoft) or their service providers are going to be around tomorrow.

For all three I have former co-workers that would be interested in working on the project with me. So I could share in the labor and opportunities with people whose abilities and work ethic I already know and trust.

Sig Kauffman
11-17-2004, 01:48 PM
where's the Gaz option on this poll?

KC Jones
11-20-2004, 04:43 PM
You people are no help :harumph:

So now I'm wondering about creating a virtual office data center as an alternative business plan. It would host accounting applications, database applications, websites, etc. and charge a low monthly fee for the services. This way I keep the servers up and running and the at home business types can reach these services from anywhere. I use open source software so my costs are primarily hardware, bandwidth, and my lease. I know I can build the data center to scale, so I could keep my costs relatively low at first and scale up as I add clients.

Of course, how many clients would I need to make enough to live off of and how much would my costs be? hmmm... this one might have to go into the circular file. ASPs never took off for big business and I'm not sure they would for small start-ups either.

BigRedChief
11-20-2004, 04:51 PM
Man guy I don't know. You are well aware of the cheap offshoring of programmers. Thats a hard batle to win to make a livable wage in this market. No matter how good you know your stuff. The market is there for small businesses that don't know how to outsource and just go to the phone book. Get your name out there and word of mouth and.......who knows.

morphius
11-20-2004, 04:57 PM
1) Well, he biggest maker of hand held software is already in KC, so that might be a dead end for ya. If I could only remember the name of it...

2) No idea here.

3) Could be doable, but I don't know what small business's need in this area. I doubt linux would be as big an issue as having everything stored off site, insecure communications over the net, data from competeing business's being shared on the same server (so possible spying/holes)... Plus I would think that many of these companies already have sofware they use and like, so getting them you run into the whole, teaching old dog new trick issue.

Phobia
11-20-2004, 04:58 PM
If you decide to do application hosting, give me a jingle. I could help on the hardware and construction end - if you need it.

Phobia
11-20-2004, 05:00 PM
If you plan to use the Yellow pages to advertise, you better make a decision quickly. The new Metro book is going to print soon.

The Pedestrian
11-20-2004, 05:06 PM
Become Gaz's apprentice so when he dies, you can take his place as the CEO of Muppets Inc.

KC Jones
11-20-2004, 05:07 PM
Man guy I don't know. You are well aware of the cheap offshoring of programmers. Thats a hard batle to win to make a livable wage in this market. No matter how good you know your stuff. The market is there for small businesses that don't know how to outsource and just go to the phone book. Get your name out there and word of mouth and.......who knows.

Yeah, I'm aware of the cheap offshore programmers. Many companies that use them end up with crappy products that don't meet their needs. IMO, the #1 problem in software development is lack of good requirements gathering and communication between end-users and developers. The guys in India don't often call back and say "Now explain to me why you need this feature but not that one, and would situation X ever pop up? What about situation Z?" Also, it's much harder to walk down the hall and ask them to fix something. Besides, many of the best foreign programmers are here or in Europe already, seeking a better life. IT will almost always be local for small to medium companies anyway.

It's not like I have to do this - I'm still getting top dollar to build some pretty neat stuff. I'm just tired of building neat stuff for someone else at $x/hr and watching them make the big $$$.

KC Jones
11-20-2004, 05:17 PM
3) Could be doable, but I don't know what small business's need in this area. I doubt linux would be as big an issue as having everything stored off site, insecure communications over the net, data from competeing business's being shared on the same server (so possible spying/holes)... Plus I would think that many of these companies already have sofware they use and like, so getting them you run into the whole, teaching old dog new trick issue.

yeah - an ASP hosting would certainly bring up certain issues and encryption of everything would be a must.

As for setting up existing companies with Linux, there are dos and win32 emulators and other stuff that could run their proprietary software (I'm thinking mostly of things like QuickBooks). Problem would be their support issues with those vendors running in an unsusportted configuration.

KC Jones
11-20-2004, 05:19 PM
If you plan to use the Yellow pages to advertise, you better make a decision quickly. The new Metro book is going to print soon.

Nah - I need a lot more time to plan a launch and get my shit together IF I decide to go down one of these paths.

Thanks for the offer - if I do go for the data center route I'll give you a call.

Donger
11-20-2004, 05:21 PM
1) Well, he biggest maker of hand held software is already in KC, so that might be a dead end for ya. If I could only remember the name of it...

Handmark.

Bwana
11-20-2004, 05:22 PM
Well, at least one of your choices didn't have anything to do with the fuggen car business, so you should do fine. Good luck Jones. :thumb:

Dr. Facebook Fever
11-20-2004, 06:04 PM
How about a lemonade stand?

Hydrae
11-20-2004, 06:13 PM
Choice number one has the least startup issues but is probably the most crowded field. But it also something you can start with during your spare time and not worry about the lost income while you continue to slave for others. Plus it is a business that has a large future as more and more of the world gets on the cell phone/PDA kick.