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Consulting Start-up

P: n/a
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!

Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.

I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.

I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.

My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.

Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.

Please...advice anyone?
Thanks,
Jeff Smeker

Nov 28 '06 #1
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12 Replies


P: n/a
Jeff Smeker wrote:
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!

Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.

I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.

I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.

My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.

Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.
One avenue to consider is volunteer work. There are many organizations that can
use/benefit from free software development that would be glad to provide a reference in
return for that work.

Its a win-win, has a feel-good benefit and was very helpful to me when I did this jump.

--
'---------------
'John Mishefske
'---------------
Nov 28 '06 #2

P: n/a
There are many famous children's authors that started out by telling stories
to one child, and then went on to write them down for all children. Telling
stories to one child will not make you rich, nor is it a necessary step on
the way to riches, though if the one child hates the stories perhaps a
different path should be considered. It is similar with software. Writing
software for one client and then extending it to many is a well-trod path to
success. The first app cost N & lotsa zeros, the second copy costs cents.

I assume that your custom machines tend to go into certain groups of
industries. In your place I would look for a small application that would go
into those industries and write that. Owning one of your machines might well
introduce new problems into those industries, for example ordering materials
for those machines, spare parts maintenance, perhaps a manual based on a
database. If you can offer a free or cheap solution to your customers and to
your potential customers the program itself can act as a referral, you get
to design the Splash screen and insert your name into the suppliers table.
If pursuing this strategy be aware that a Web site might be a more
profitable way of achieving the same goals.

As an example, I used a program I had written for calculating near minimum
paths (travelling salesman problem) for printed circuit board drilling
machines to get sales for PCB drilling machines, and wrote a program that
translated drilling programs between types of machines which also got many
sales. These applications were not free but under-priced, and generated
considerable income in their own right.

Yahoo's David_F_Cox

"Jeff Smeker" <ra*************@gmail.comwrote in message
news:11*********************@80g2000cwy.googlegrou ps.com...
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!

Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.

I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.

I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.

My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.

Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.

Please...advice anyone?
Thanks,
Jeff Smeker


Nov 28 '06 #3

P: n/a
Jeff -
Access is a "dime a dozen" program. Everyone knows how to write
queries and forms to get them to a point. Trying to make a business
out of Access coding is like trying to make a business out of painting
only it's a bit more difficult; not only can everyone do it but there's
less mess to clean up at the end of the day.

Start with sites like guru.com, elance.com, rentacoder.com and the
like. And if you're not frustrated enough to give up that line of work
after constantly being beaten down by people willing to bid on jobs for
next to nothing, then feel free to open your own firm.

If you're a VP of Engineering, you're probably making 5 times what
your full potential of an Access coder is. IMO, I'd rather have the
guaranteed paycheck (and the bonus you probably get) than the
aggrivation of trying to make a buck as a freelancer.

Peyton Manning
MVP

Jeff Smeker wrote:
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!

Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.

I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.

I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.

My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.

Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.

Please...advice anyone?
Thanks,
Jeff Smeker
Nov 28 '06 #4

P: n/a
In many ways I agree with you. Although I have no experience to back
this up, I could see that an Access programmer is a "dime a dozen". A
company that knows their data needs, that can write up specifications,
and go hire a guy to write the program, is NOT the customer I would be
looking for.

I know of very few small business that have this kind of technological
know-how, and I suspect they will never gain this kind of knowledge.
They don't need to. Hell, most of them don't even have a computer on
site! *This* is the type of company I'll be going after.

My value would be as a consultant. Advising companies on what can and
should be done, IT-wise, to improve their business. The way I look at
it, there are VERY few people out that that know these industries, and
know the technology side of things, the way I do (my mom always said I
was special).

I have not thought for one second about going after contract
programming alone. I'm not nearly good enough to be in that business.

My question really was about starting a consulting firm (that
specilizes in Access), more than starting a programming company. And
more specifically, my thoughts of giving away an app to get my foot in
the door.

PS: I guess a secondary question could be about the viability of the
plan I've outlined above. Any thoughts there would be greatly
appretiated.

Jeff
ManningFan wrote:
Jeff -
Access is a "dime a dozen" program. Everyone knows how to write
queries and forms to get them to a point. Trying to make a business
out of Access coding is like trying to make a business out of painting
only it's a bit more difficult; not only can everyone do it but there's
less mess to clean up at the end of the day.

Start with sites like guru.com, elance.com, rentacoder.com and the
like. And if you're not frustrated enough to give up that line of work
after constantly being beaten down by people willing to bid on jobs for
next to nothing, then feel free to open your own firm.

If you're a VP of Engineering, you're probably making 5 times what
your full potential of an Access coder is. IMO, I'd rather have the
guaranteed paycheck (and the bonus you probably get) than the
aggrivation of trying to make a buck as a freelancer.

Peyton Manning
MVP

Jeff Smeker wrote:
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!

Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.

I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.

I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.

My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.

Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.

Please...advice anyone?
Thanks,
Jeff Smeker
Nov 28 '06 #5

P: n/a
I have a article I wrote some years ago on consuting and ms-access.

.....nothing changed since then.

http://www.members.shaw.ca/AlbertKal...000000004.html

ms-access is not much the issue. Ask yourself, when you purchased ms-access,
did you ask if the developers used Delphi, vb, or c++ (you did not care).
Your customers as a general rule should also not care.....they are
purchasing applications...not ms-access....
--
Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
pl*****************@msn.com
Nov 29 '06 #6

P: n/a
Great article, I actually read this a few weeks ago. And again just
now. I agree, the customer does not care one bit what the platform is,
and does not even have the knowledge to be able to even have an
opinion.

Your article pretty much gave me the idea for how I want to approch
this. That is, not as a developer, but as a provider of solutions. It
just so happens that I would use Access.

Anybody care to share their consulting start-up stories? How you got
into this business? How you obtained your first clients?

Albert D. Kallal wrote:
I have a article I wrote some years ago on consuting and ms-access.

....nothing changed since then.

http://www.members.shaw.ca/AlbertKal...000000004.html

ms-access is not much the issue. Ask yourself, when you purchased ms-access,
did you ask if the developers used Delphi, vb, or c++ (you did not care).
Your customers as a general rule should also not care.....they are
purchasing applications...not ms-access....
--
Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
pl*****************@msn.com
Nov 29 '06 #7

P: n/a
Kind of gets off topic here real quick if we try and turn this newsgroup
into a business incubator.

Starting a business, be it a coffee shop, or consulting is much beyond this
newsgroup. (and, for much, there is little, if any difference between the
two!!).

Besides, there is like what...a billion or more web sites devoted to
starting and running a business, we really don't need more clutter here then
we already have!! Lets try and keep this newsgroup for ms-access. (there is
just so many resources for business out there).

is likely too many sites on the web devoted to business issues! (every city
seems to have there own local ones in addition the zillions of government
sites etc...).....

--
Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
pl*****************@msn.com
Nov 29 '06 #8

P: n/a
Hi Jeff,

The company I work with is very small and using MS Access application
for Sales and I am not good at MS Access. Please let me know if you can
help me making some changes to existing application.

my email address is mu************@gmail.com

Mukesh
Albert D. Kallal wrote:
Kind of gets off topic here real quick if we try and turn this newsgroup
into a business incubator.

Starting a business, be it a coffee shop, or consulting is much beyond this
newsgroup. (and, for much, there is little, if any difference between the
two!!).

Besides, there is like what...a billion or more web sites devoted to
starting and running a business, we really don't need more clutter here then
we already have!! Lets try and keep this newsgroup for ms-access. (there is
just so many resources for business out there).

is likely too many sites on the web devoted to business issues! (every city
seems to have there own local ones in addition the zillions of government
sites etc...).....

--
Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
pl*****************@msn.com
Nov 29 '06 #9

P: n/a
I don't completely agree with this.

You have to be prepared to defend your decision to use whichever tool you go
with, even if the customer is not technically savvy enough to question your
decision there are plenty of consultants out there prepared to come in and
pour scorn on it in order to try and inluence the customer into using their
services rather than yours.

I've also personally come across a customer who asked for a piece of
software to allow them to check variances between two SQL databases. After
doing a double take I pointed out that they already had a piece of software
to do this (an Access database which took half a day to write, provided FOC
some months earlier) the customers response was that they had never used it
as it was written in Access and they had some undefinable prejudice against
this, I ended up charging them for 3 days work to replicate the
functionality in a VB program.

--

Terry Kreft
"Jeff Smeker" <ra*************@gmail.comwrote in message
news:11**********************@80g2000cwy.googlegro ups.com...
I agree, the customer does not care one bit what the platform is,
and does not even have the knowledge to be able to even have an
opinion.
<SNIP>
Nov 30 '06 #10

P: n/a
Hi Folks

I would generally agree - most consultancies working with databases are
on the high end of expensive it is not uncommon for a db consultant to
charge 100 ($180) per hour for their skills! No small company can
afford this level of charge. Aim for small businesses where a little
bespoke or considered IT can make a large difference!

As for Access 'developers' being a dime a dozen that is almost true
however this often splits into 90% 'dabbler' and 10% 'Relational
Developer' - A lot of the 'dabblers' create a non relational database
system - and therefore the preponderance of code to 'solve' basic
design flaws creates a maintenance nightmare!

So my take would be

Aim for small businesses 5 to 50 staff
Aim for tailored or bespoke true relational applications based on
modular building blocks.

Purpleflash


Jeff Smeker wrote:
In many ways I agree with you. Although I have no experience to back
this up, I could see that an Access programmer is a "dime a dozen". A
company that knows their data needs, that can write up specifications,
and go hire a guy to write the program, is NOT the customer I would be
looking for.

I know of very few small business that have this kind of technological
know-how, and I suspect they will never gain this kind of knowledge.
They don't need to. Hell, most of them don't even have a computer on
site! *This* is the type of company I'll be going after.

My value would be as a consultant. Advising companies on what can and
should be done, IT-wise, to improve their business. The way I look at
it, there are VERY few people out that that know these industries, and
know the technology side of things, the way I do (my mom always said I
was special).

I have not thought for one second about going after contract
programming alone. I'm not nearly good enough to be in that business.

My question really was about starting a consulting firm (that
specilizes in Access), more than starting a programming company. And
more specifically, my thoughts of giving away an app to get my foot in
the door.

PS: I guess a secondary question could be about the viability of the
plan I've outlined above. Any thoughts there would be greatly
appretiated.

Jeff
ManningFan wrote:
Jeff -
Access is a "dime a dozen" program. Everyone knows how to write
queries and forms to get them to a point. Trying to make a business
out of Access coding is like trying to make a business out of painting
only it's a bit more difficult; not only can everyone do it but there's
less mess to clean up at the end of the day.

Start with sites like guru.com, elance.com, rentacoder.com and the
like. And if you're not frustrated enough to give up that line of work
after constantly being beaten down by people willing to bid on jobs for
next to nothing, then feel free to open your own firm.

If you're a VP of Engineering, you're probably making 5 times what
your full potential of an Access coder is. IMO, I'd rather have the
guaranteed paycheck (and the bonus you probably get) than the
aggrivation of trying to make a buck as a freelancer.

Peyton Manning
MVP

Jeff Smeker wrote:
About 4 years ago, my boss's son, for some reason, purchased a copy of
Access. Also for some reason, I ended up helping him get an application
going. Well, after finding out what Access was all about, I fell in
love. Access is now my favorite program...BY FAR!
>
Well, after 4 years of designing an application for my current employer
(boss's son is no more), I am VERY seriously considering going out on
my own designing custom apps.
>
I want to stick to specific industries that I'm knowledgeable of. I am
currently VP of Engineering at a custom machine manufacturer. I'm
thinking of going after, basically, small industrial manufacturers in
my area.
>
I have some good contacts in the industry, and I am thinking of
targeting them. I have one in mind that I was going to approach. I was
thinking of offering a free application, in return for...well,
basically...referrals, and the right to use him as a reference. But, as
you could summize, there is no guarantee of referrals, and my time
could all be for nothing.
>
My question is: Is there any point to this? At first I was thinking
this is a great idea, but after more thought, I'm not so sure.
>
Anybody have any tips, or experience in this area? I feel like I need
some apps under by belt before I'm taken seriously, but at the same
time, there is value in this app that I would create for free. Giving
it away seems like a shame. I'm torn.
>
Please...advice anyone?


Thanks,
Jeff Smeker
Nov 30 '06 #11

P: n/a
purpleflash wrote:
As for Access 'developers' being a dime a dozen that is almost true
however this often splits into 90% 'dabbler' and 10% 'Relational
Developer' - A lot of the 'dabblers' create a non relational database
system - and therefore the preponderance of code to 'solve' basic
design flaws creates a maintenance nightmare!
Amen!
--
Tim http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~tmarshal/
^o<
/#) "Burp-beep, burp-beep, burp-beep?" - Quaker Jake
/^^ "Be Careful, Big Bird!" - Ditto "TIM-MAY!!" - Me
Nov 30 '06 #12

P: n/a
"Tim Marshall" <TI****@PurplePandaChasers.Moertheriumwrote in message
news:ek**********@coranto.ucs.mun.ca...
purpleflash wrote:
>As for Access 'developers' being a dime a dozen that is almost true
however this often splits into 90% 'dabbler' and 10% 'Relational
Developer' - A lot of the 'dabblers' create a non relational database
system - and therefore the preponderance of code to 'solve' basic
design flaws creates a maintenance nightmare!

Amen!
What *did* happen to PC Datasheet? ;-)

Keith.
Nov 30 '06 #13

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