Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a few friends who are small business owners (~100 employees) and I've had good luck turning their Excel spreadsheets and the like into actual applications. It works great for them and is rewarding for me. You guys might laugh, but you'd be surprised the money and personnel time it saves them. The work isn't complex, per se, but I really love it.

Why do I love the work?

  1. I work directly with the person who pays me and who gets to see the results.
  2. I'm working in whatever framework/platform I fancy, so I can stay abreast on new technologies.
  3. I get to pick and chose what projects I want to work on.

This is great, but I'm getting to the point where I need to get extra income and I'm finding it really hard to branch out and get more clients. Mostly, small businesses seem to really leery of something they don't understand.

Any idea how to penetrate this market? Is this something, someone is doing right now? Are there certain industries where this is more amendable than others? This is really my dream, so any advice is appreciated.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Mostly,small businesses seem to really leery of something they don't understand. That being the main point.It would be best to catch people in need of your services rather than go out and try to convince them yourself . Otherwise it would be similar to a singular programming role in a firm which is not IT and which does not really understand,appreciate,fairly value the work involved. It would save you a lot of time/money effort.

The main thing what i have noticed that keeps them treading very softly is the cost factor.They don't want to spend for something they see no real value in.

Any idea how to penetrate this market?

Network,Market yourself,skills,services world of mouth of your previous client works best. Have you heard of freelancer /elance

Is this something, someone is doing right now?

Yes ,A lot of people already do it. I don't see how this is different from consulting and freelancing in general.

Are there certain industries where this is more amendable than others?

IMHO its more dependent the actual people i.e the outlook of the business heads , So it cant really be categorized by industry.

Point of Interest Freelancers: How Do You Go About Gathering Requirements?

share|improve this answer

Don't just rely on the serendipity of word of mouth, set up a systematized and regular referrals gathering process. Talk to your customer friends and lead them in conversation to thinking about other small business owners and leads they will know. This is a case of being specific in that you're seeking other small business owners they will know. Then ask something about if they could benefit from similar efficiency improvements. Get some background etc. Script it. Develop it. Above all help to lead them in the direction you want by getting them thinking in the right way. Then use it regularly!

While you have them in conversation, ask if they'd be happy to give a testimonial for your website and check if they're happy with their name and company appearing. Try and quantify how much time or money your application saved them and include it in some.

This is marketing gold if you work it correctly! (By this I DON'T mean hard sell on them fishing for leads of course)

"Do you know anyone else who might benefit from my services" is not going to do well, yet it's a pretty common approach.

After this then the usuals of marketing, networking etc.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.