Business Development

CodeSnipers Community Idea: Deadbeats List

I've come across a recurring theme recently. First, there was our anonymous blogger who asked what to do about customers who don't pay, then there was a NYPHP thread about customers who don't pay, then I shared my experience with customers who don't pay. Does anyone else see a pattern?

In my personal case, the legal options are being pursued now, but I don't know about those other cases. There are numerous strategies available including not providing any code until payment, having a license not valid until payment, having a "you pay or we delete" clause, and all manner of related things. Of course, these all fail if you a) have to deliver any portion of the code and b) don't have access to the server.

As an advocate of the free market and of blogging, I have a proposal: A Deadbeats List. Local stores post the names and pictures of those who pass bad checks, the post office displays the Most Wanted list, and I think we can serve a vital role in providing this information to help others avoid these customers. I would propose listing information such as the company name, the individual(s) involved, the amount, the date the payment was due, and what the status of the payment is now.

While I will obviously speak with an attorney about this prior to starting any list, would anyone else be interested in participating?

14 Lessons Learned from 2005

In Your Best Year Yet, Bob Walsh made a few suggestions for taking stock and trying to start the New Year in a stronger position. One of the ideas involved listing lessons learned in the year, and this is the list I came up with when I decided to give it a try.

What I’d like from 2006

Rather than looking back at 2005 again, or telling you my resolutions, I thought I’d use my first post of the New Year to outline what I hope to get out of 2006.

I should probably have taken the time to pin some of them down to something more measurable, but they are specific enough that I’ll know if they happen or not. This time next year, I’ll try to remember to reprint the list and explain what I did, or what went wrong.

Startup Myths?

Sometime last week I squeezed in a couple hours to read Bruce Judson's Go It Alone. It's sort of motivating book for people starting companies. Conveniently (or maybe to prove a point) the author elected to start a couple companies himself, which apparently worked out okay for him.

Anyway, I said the book is sort of motivating, because really, as I have been having a chance to digest the material, the initial excitement is fading and I am understanding less and less where I stand in this regard. As I am writing this, it is well past midnight, my alarm will go off in about five hours. I am recalling Rusty's comment on the previous post of this happy series. If he only knew.

[Anon] Codesnipers Question

Well, we have our first victim for the Anonymous Blog. I've been in a situation similar to this before, but wanted to see what the community thought first. Please add your thoughts or if you'd like to post yourself, please let me know. - KC

Dear community,

I did a significant amount of work for a client - over 60 hours - for an application which an outsourced team had already failed on. I took over the application with an extensive bug list (20+ issues), some feature enhancements (10+), and some other conversion issues, etc.

I did the work in two stages. One in late spring to close the bugs and the second in early summer to add the functionality with a signed agreement in place stating that payment would happen this fall. I offered the standard 30 day bug fixing period and when the last issues were fixed in June, there are little communication with the client other than getting final signoffs on everything.

Two months later the client contacted me with a potential issue. Even though the bug fix period was long over, I worked with him to reproduce it and we were unable to. It faded into memory. Two months later, when the bill actually came due, the client said that he wasn't going to pay because "there are these bugs"... one of which had been reported, but months later.

Advice? Thank you.

Micro ISV Mistake #6

I knew there would be more mistakes to write about, maybe not so soon, but I’m glad I’ve finally labelled this one and taken a really good look at it. It’s something I’ve known was an issue for a long time, I just hadn’t let myself see how big it was.

The choice of primary keyword and part of the name of my core product wasn’t heavily researched. I just picked a word I knew meant what I wanted to convey and ran with it. It wasn’t a word I could see any major problems with, and although I was vaguely aware that at some point I’d need to identify and target more suitable keywords for an international audience, I put that thought in a little box and ignored it for most of the last 18 months.

Mistake #6 is choosing a keyword that confuses 99% of your market.

Starting it

A while ago, I found myself stubborningly exclaiming that I will not stop. That was more than two months ago. Time flys when you do not have much of it available. In this week's post I want to take a look back to see what happened since. In addition to that, I think it's a good idea (and the appropriate time) to offer some views (guesses) regarding future developments.

First Product Targeting

I am working on a product idea, a web service. It is probably slightly early to speak much about details, but one thing is pretty certain: The possible market is rather large, which means that eventually people of all sorts of different backgrounds, interests, age groups, etc. may benefit from using this service.

Now, I would like to start trying out the technology in a realistic environment by early next year. It will most certainly not be in a state where it would satisfy that aforementioned general user. Furthermore, I like to have a nicely sized group of early users, but I don't want way too many of them - if things go wrong, I'd like this too happen in a somewhat contained manner. I want real users to work with the system in a realistic way though.

The value of ignorance

Several weeks ago, I read Stephan Paternot's book A Very Public Offering. He was one of the co-founders of theglobe.com This book then described the rather spectacular rise of the company, including a very impressive IPO - and the equally impressive crash of the firm. TheGlobe.com was one of the first big online communities. The story is a typical tale of the dot-com boom and bust.

I do not really want to talk about the book though.

Before the story itself begins, before the table of contents even, the reader finds the following quote:


Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those who are already doing it.
- a wise fortune cookie

You know what? I like that.

First Steps... Avoid Winging it

No matter what the state of the economy, some just have the urge to be their own boss. I had it, and I would bet you do too if you're reading this. But to be successful in your own business it takes more than the core skill you want to market. You will need a plan to guide your moves and keep you on track.

You will begin building by knowing where you want your business to go, and creating a realistic road map to get you there. Writing your business plan also shows you have commitment to the vision. That you've thought through the pitfalls that lie before you. That you're prepared to move a head to get to your goal.

While you can find snazzy services and software to write a business plan for you... Do it by hand... You'll be glad you did. You are the only one who knows what you want and how you want to do things. Relying on someone else to record the words and formulate the plan pulls you out from behind the wheel and makes you a back seat driver.

Write it. Own it. Live it.

If you need help getting your plan hashed out, there are numerous resources available. The good news is that you don't need to spend loads of money on advice. While you can use search engines to explore any topic you like, there are actual business professionals waiting in the wings to mentor you.