Custom web apps for SMB



  • I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    One thing that I think is pretty important is integration with their current LoB applications, which would increase the cost and is probably a reason why they drift towards non-custom solutions.

    In my plan, they would own the code (unless there is something we agree on a discounting for making it open source), and I would be using a popular web framework, so they would still have control.



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    I don't agree - I think they are going for what's cheap... so it only looks like they are going towards cookie cutter solutions, because they are almost always WAY cheaper than custom anything.

    It's a difference without a distinction.



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    Yeah most remain SMB because they DONT keep their edge



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    One thing that I think is pretty important is integration with their current LoB applications, which would increase the cost and is probably a reason why they drift towards non-custom solutions.

    In my plan, they would own the code (unless there is something we agree on a discounting for making it open source), and I would be using a popular web framework, so they would still have control.

    As someone that wrote custom software for a while, custom software is expensive. That is why SMB doesn't do it.

    It is too expensive to buy something specific to them. They have to pay to have it wrote. Pay to have it debugged. Pay to have it maintained and updated.

    That's no different than general software, but general software spreads the development cost and debug cost across all the customers.



  • @JaredBusch said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    One thing that I think is pretty important is integration with their current LoB applications, which would increase the cost and is probably a reason why they drift towards non-custom solutions.

    In my plan, they would own the code (unless there is something we agree on a discounting for making it open source), and I would be using a popular web framework, so they would still have control.

    As someone that wrote custom software for a while, custom software is expensive. That is why SMB doesn't do it.

    It is too expensive to buy something specific to them. They have to pay to have it wrote. Pay to have it debugged. Pay to have it maintained and updated.

    That's no different than general software, but general software spreads the development cost and debug cost across all the customers.

    I agree. Just think about how long something takes to do. Say you want to make a custom web application. You need to find out what the customer needs, figure out how to implement it, do the actual work, test that it works, implement it for the customer and hold their hand while they learn how to use it and do whatever changes needed for it to work as they wanted.

    Can you do that in 5 days of work? 5 days, 10 hours per day, that's 50 hours total. Say $100 per hour for simplicity, that makes it a $5000 project for the customer.

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Now given that this is a side job, you can't spend 50 hours in one week. So how many hours do you have where you do nothing in a week, 10 hours? That means that this small 50 hour project will take at least 5 weeks to implement. Or 10 weeks for a $10K job. Almost half a year for a $25K project.

    There is only one way to find out if it works.



  • Also how big of an SMB are we talking about? A company with 10 employees is very different from one with 100 employees.

    The cost of something custom is the same but a larger company can make more use of it and as such it creates more value for them, hence they are more inclined to invest in it.



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    Is it what many SMBs should do? Yes, many should. It's a great thing.

    Is it what many SMBs will do? No, they don't understand what bespoke software is, how it works, or how their business works and can't fathom investing in themselves like this.

    Remember, being an SMB nearly guarantees that you don't understand business much or else you'd not be an SMB (in most cases.)



  • @Dashrender said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I don't agree - I think they are going for what's cheap... so it only looks like they are going towards cookie cutter solutions, because they are almost always WAY cheaper than custom anything.

    Where "cheap" means "cheap up front", not cheap overall.



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    In my plan, they would own the code (unless there is something we agree on a discounting for making it open source), and I would be using a popular web framework, so they would still have control.

    That does them little good. Better than not, but without you it is still useless. And the cost to maintain your code is generally more expensive than recreating.



  • @IRJ said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I was thinking about getting into creating custom web apps on the side for SMB, but I'm wondering what you guys think about the market. If I was running an SMB, I would think this is critical in order to keep a competitive edge. But my experience, SMBs drift towards cookie cutter solutions that are trying to be sold to all of their competitors too.

    Yeah most remain SMB because they DONT keep their edge

    Exactly



  • @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Tiny. Figure 200 hours for the smallest real work project and likely more like 1,200. And that's just to get into production!



  • @scottalanmiller said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Tiny. Figure 200 hours for the smallest real work project and likely more like 1,200. And that's just to get into production!

    50 hours would be more like branding or customization. Not really a build. This is the kind of hours you would expect to have after buying a works out of the box product, but have minor customization for your needs.


  • Banned

    Hell at the place I was at some years ago they had a piece of software called JobBOSS and spent over 200K getting it to work the way they needed it too, and even then the software just didn't do everything they needed.

    I ended up creating a report in crystal reports so that they could sledge-hammer their way through the day/week/month that still to this day is their bread and butter report. Of course I wasn't a billable resource of development for them, but the JobBOSS people sure as heck could've done what I did at a substantial markup.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Tiny. Figure 200 hours for the smallest real work project and likely more like 1,200. And that's just to get into production!

    Yes, a tiny project but that is all you are going to get when you are doing it on the side. If you're new, it's likely going to end up being a 50 hour project that will take 200 hours to complete - but without being able to charge the additional 150 hours for learning on the job 🙂



  • @IRJ said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @scottalanmiller said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Tiny. Figure 200 hours for the smallest real work project and likely more like 1,200. And that's just to get into production!

    50 hours would be more like branding or customization. Not really a build. This is the kind of hours you would expect to have after buying a works out of the box product, but have minor customization for your needs.

    Well, you could complete a small project in that time if it's very straight forward and you've done something similar in the past.



  • @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @scottalanmiller said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Now, 50 hours that is a very small project. So your potential customers should be willing to spend at the very least $5K and often much more.

    Tiny. Figure 200 hours for the smallest real work project and likely more like 1,200. And that's just to get into production!

    Yes, a tiny project but that is all you are going to get when you are doing it on the side. If you're new, it's likely going to end up being a 50 hour project that will take 200 hours to complete - but without being able to charge the additional 150 hours for learning on the job 🙂

    Very true.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    In my plan, they would own the code (unless there is something we agree on a discounting for making it open source), and I would be using a popular web framework, so they would still have control.

    That does them little good. Better than not, but without you it is still useless. And the cost to maintain your code is generally more expensive than recreating.

    I'd say that's not necessarily the case if the deliverable is a full pipeline with some documentation, following framework conventions. That's assuming the framework used is still relevant by the time someone talked it over.

    I have been tasked with reviving a 10 year old project that didn't even have the proper dependencies anymore and no documentation, that's a might as well recreate situation.

    Developing an integration could definitely cause that issue though.



  • @flaxking said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    I'd say that's not necessarily the case if the deliverable is a full pipeline with some documentation, following framework conventions. That's assuming the framework used is still relevant by the time someone talked it over.

    in theory, but it is still incredibly hard.



  • @Pete-S said in Custom web apps for SMB:

    Also how big of an SMB are we talking about? A company with 10 employees is very different from one with 100 employees.

    The cost of something custom is the same but a larger company can make more use of it and as such it creates more value for them, hence they are more inclined to invest in it.

    I've developed a custom application when working for a 100+ employee company, so that's kind of where my mind heads.


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