I have been convinced, after a blog comment conversation with another fellow Micro-ISVer, to let the cat (or cats in this case) out of the bag with the ideas that I am targeting as I get my Micro-ISV business off the ground.
The specifics of those ideas will be my the focus of my next post. There will be a couple of teasers in this post ;-)
But before I reveal the ideas that I have been keen on, I wanted to set some context about my goals that I want to accomplish as a result of developing these ideas.
I have 3 ideas that I would like to flesh out and develop by the end of 2008 / beginning of 2009, if not sooner. One is, for the most part, an informational website idea. Another is a desktop application. The third is still a bit fuzzy, but the idea lies around downloadable tools/utilities.
Of course, as with any commercial business, a main goal is to actually make some money. However, for my first foray into this "run my own business" process, it is not my only goal. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that making money isn't my only top-tier goal.
My goals as I get my business off the ground are the following:
- Develop products that I myself am excited about and would use
- Determine the best business model(s) for me
- Learn how to run a virtual business
- Answering the "Is being a Micro-ISV right for me?" question
- Make money
- Ensure I remain technologically relevant
- Get my name out there (not just through the products, but by participating in forums, etc.)
- Balance contracting/consulting, other business opportunities with a Micro-ISV business
- Determine if I need/want/can support a partner(s) or employees
- Answering the "Can a Micro-ISV succeed in markets that already exist?" question
- Find the right Micro-ISV resources to utilize (e.g. is Microsoft's Empower program worth it?)
- Help other Micro-ISVs as appropriate and as best I can
There may be a few other goals that I am missing, but I think I have covered the major ones.
Let discuss some of the Tier-1 goals just a little bit.
Develop products that I myself am excited about and would use
I think this might be the most important goal. I believe if you don't like the work you are doing, the product quality suffers. And when that suffers, it is like a domino effect to all other goals, including making money. Also, I believe if you develop a product that you will personally use, you tend to put more of your heart and soul in the product because, hey, you want to use good products too, don't you?
Determine the best business model for me
Web-based applications with advertising and/or paid subscriptions? Desktop applications for sale? Open source / shareware applications? Donationware? Freeware? Which is the best route to go? Do I develop for both Windows and Mac? The three ideas that I am considering will each showcase a different business model.
Learn how to run a virtual business
Right now I am a one-man show (although I may have a partner for one of my ideas). I have to not only develop the products, but also market them, support them, maintain a good website, keep the financial books in order (assuming I make any money ;-)), etc. Do I need to hire a website designer? An accountant? An attorney? This is my first time doing this and this first year or so will be a learning experience more than anything.
Answering the "Is Being A Micro-ISV Right For Me?" Question
I am going to use this opportunity to decide whether I am cut out to be a Micro-ISV; or whether I am better served to be a contractor/consultant -- or -- a corporate employee full time. Many factors go into answering this question, not just the product development work. For example, how does the Micro-ISV lifestyle affect my family relationship?
All three of my ideas have been implemented before in one form or another. So I will not be making any money because I am inventing a totally unique product. However, I want to see if I can make money by adding interesting, unique features to the products, along with providing ancillary value through pricing, support, etc. So, I am hoping that it is not just the product that people look at, but also the total business package.
I may go into some descriptions about my other goals (e.g. Tier-2) in a later post. Let me know if you are interested.
To summarize, I want to use this first year as learning experience, first and foremost, so that I can better prepare for my business future.
I am hoping this a worthwhile strategy for me. I guess we will see, huh? :-)