Hi everybody,
I am planning to start my own web developing business. First, I will be starting off at home and then seeing how it goes and will decide to take it to a bigger level. Keeping in mind the present scenario, web designing and internet based business are proving to be one of the most profitable businesses, but having said that it’s important here to deliver the best. I just want to get as much information as I can and tips before really getting into it. I am planning to start with one or two small projects and then thinking of expanding my business when having enough of work and resource. What do you people think on that?

Hey there!

The web industry is great - I love it, I love the work, and it's allowed me to be my own boss for years. That said, there's plenty of downside too -- there are tons of web developers out there (so competition is high), you're constantly on the lookout for new clients, and you better not mind working for days and even weeks with little or no real-world contact with other people.

I guess if you're asking for advice, I'd toss out a couple items:

  • First, you should only get into web development if you LOVE the work. That goes for any entrepreneurial endeavor - being an entrepreneur is too much work and too time-consuming to do on something that you don't love. If you try, you're going to burn out -- I guarantee it.
  • Secondly, I strongly suggest you write out a business plan. This doesn't need to be a full-on formal business plan that you can take out to get funding. However, at a minimum you should know what your operating expenses are, what your billing will be, how much you need to charge an hour to cover your costs, how many clients you're going to need, and so on.
  • You may want to read the book "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E. Gerber. It has a lot of good reminders to bear in mind when starting your first business.
  • Be prepared for a lot of work. It takes a lot of projects to support one person, and when you start to add employees, you will need a TON more projects to support the additional overhead.
  • Remember that if you're building a business with employees, you are now not in the web development business: you're now a manager and business owner. You will have to deal with finding good employees, hiring them, managing them, payroll, sick days, taxes, and all the other minutia that goes into running a business. I was a co-owner of a business for over 5 years, and three years ago I got rid of it and started freelancing because personally, I like doing the hands-on design and programming and I don't like managing others and running a business.
  • I don't know how much experience you have as a web developer, but I strongly suggest you perfect your skills on someone else's dime. Work at a good agency and learn everybody's jobs: information architects, project managers, salespeople, designers, programmers. Learn what you like about the agency and what you don't like. Figure out what's working and what's not. You can do all this while earning a salary and not having to worry about where the next project is coming from. Once you feel like you're at the top of your game, you should then strike out on your own.
  • Be a professional as much as possible. In my experience, clients definitely want good design/programming skills, but where you can really differentiate yourself from other developers is in your PROFESSIONALISM. Always tell the truth, stick to your word no matter what, set timelines and never miss deadlines, call clients back faithfully, underpromise and overdeliver, be reliable, communicate extremely well, and develop impeccable integrity. There are tons of talented designers and developers, but there are very few professionals. And people would rather hire a reliable professional than a talented flake.

These are just my two cents; take 'em or leave 'em. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors!



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