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Starting A Small Business

Folks,

I am in the midst of getting a start-up off the ground and any assistance that could be offered here would be invaluable, especially from those of you who have treaded down this same path.

As a primarily Windows shop, we have to deal with all things MS.  As such, a quick look around and the software costs that we are going to incur seem somewhat ridiculous.

I would require the following for each developer:
* Visual Studio
* Office
* Windows (2000 Pro/Server)
* SQL Server
* Visio

What is the most effective means for managing costs/licensing issues, for at least 5 developers?

MSDN for everyone?
MSDN + a combination of single seat licences?
Other ideas?

For those in this same position, what has been the most effective strategy for you?

CRM
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Buy one copy of the software (to be fair) and then reuse it a few times! As far as M$ are concerned I would only pay what I feel it's worth. In the past this has been zilch but they've done such a good job with .NET that I've rewarded them by buying an MSDN subscription for myself.

I'm not an out and out software pirate but I'm buggered if I'm paying $x00 for Office at home when I only use it a couple of times a week. I've already got a licence at work that's unused when I'm not there. Same (used to go) for Visual Studio; I've got a licence at work so when I come home and do my own stuff, well I'm just continuing the use of the that licence!

Clearly this is illegal but there's no chance of this being detected so it's becomes more of a moral issue.

I bought Frontpage back in 98 and there were some big bugs in it... Did I get any support from M$? Nope. When I was home the UK office was closed so I rang through to the states. "Bought it in the UK?" "Sorry that's a different company we can't help". When I persisted the bitch just put the phone down!! So I resolved that no more would I pay for M$ software... (until .NET came along...)

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

I don't know what your business is exactly about, but I'm sure you'd prefer to keep some cash instead of giving it to M$.

If you can make your customer support the licence fees (like working on a project with included licences), do it.

If you're working on software you want to sell, the 'minimal approach' is perfect.

It's not totally unfair to pay your licences once you begin to make cash.

Ralph Chaléon
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Buy one MSDN subscription to get all of the SDKs and the full Visual Studio and tools.  Then for the other 4 developers buy Visual Studio, the lowest spec package available from ebay you might also be able to pick up Academic editions.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Oh and for the 'Office' applications use Openoffice for internal use (no cost) and get the MS Office applications with your MSDN subscription.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

One copy of MSDN will give you the basic tools you need.  60% of MSDN isn't licensed, so there isn't a need to purchase the whole thing 5 times.

Most of the PC's you buy will come with Windows 2000 (or can be requested to), so that isn't a problem.

Also, become an OEM. When you are an OEM you have access to the "Action Pack". The Action Pack includes Office, Visio, Project, SQL Server, Exchange, Windows, and some other stuff. It costs around $250.

So:
* 1 copy of MSDN
* 5 copies of the "Action Pack"
* 5 copies of Visual Studio

Marc
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

OEM sounds tempting.. What's the criteria for becoming one and where do you go to do it?

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

The MS Action Pack is good but is limited to two subscriptions per organisation but that will get you a lot of licences. You don't need to be an OEM ot subscribe to the MS Action Pack. My update for the Action Pack arrived this morning it's a good deal.

Do all your developers need the Enterprise edition of Visual Studio? Will some be fine with the Professional Edition?

"As far as M$ are concerned I would only pay what I feel it's worth." If you think it's not worth the money don't buy it. There are other tools out there.

John Ridout
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

There's a big difference between worth paying full price and worth paying part of the full price.

Anyway, had a look at the Action Pack and decided I should probably get it so went and ordered on the M$ site. Well, I tried to. When I put my company details in it sent a mail to my hotmail account with an authorisation code in it. To complete registration you have to type the code in.

Only problem was that my hotmail account had been deactivate. So that's it. I cannot get the code and there is no option to have another email sent or whatever. I rang up the quoted support number. They directed me to another number who said they couldn't help and had no idea who could.
"Can I start a subscription over the phone?" "Nope, gotta be done online."

"I can't do it online because your website is shite." "Too bad."

"So I'll just run pirate copies because you don't want to sell me a subscription." "If you like".

Hmmm. Great customer support!

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

It's Microsoft's problem that you had them send the details to an email account that you hadn't been using?

?
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

It only told me it AFTER it sent the authorisation, it didn't say it was going to do so. Also, the hotmail account expires after 30 (?) days of inactivity. I've no idea whether it's inactive or not until I try to use it.

Having been sent a first authorisation there's no way of sending another; you're stuck in a endless loop of scripts that you can't break out of.

So, yes, I would say it is their problem. And the dreadful customer support experience you then receive.

Gwyn
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

If you're hiring developers full time, then you're probably paying what, about $100k+ per year for them?

MSDN is less than $2k/year and covers all your MS software needs. (I've seen places where you can pick it up for under $1500). If you contact MS you might even be able to get a better deal (tho I wouldn't hold my breath - this is an area where MS sucks)

Also look at the MS Partner stuff - I'm pretty sure that includes MSDN access and other goodies.

How come people always think software is the most expensive part of the equation?

Philo

Philip Janus
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Ditto. If you can't afford/justify a few thou per developer, you might consider folding up now.

Not sure what business you have in mind but 5 developers initially sounds high.

pb
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Not all developers live in New York.  Some of us can get by quite nicely on $50k/year, thankyouverymuch.  (=  (Okay, plus benefits, but still nowhere near $100k.)

CRM, you can get a break on software through one of MS's partnering programs.  Gotta jump through some hoops, but the software definitely costs less.  Details here: http://members.microsoft.com/partner/partnering/programs/CertifiedPartner/

Sam Gray
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Although I am sure you can get by on 50k I doubt that is the total cost paid by the business for you after benefits unless you are a contractor. If you want full time employees it's more than just a salary you must pay for.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Folks,

Thanks for all of your suggestions.  There are some promising alternatives I hadn't considered!

To clarify for Philip and pb:

<Philip>
How come people always think software is the most expensive part of the equation?
</Philip>

<pb>
Ditto. If you can't afford/justify a few thou per developer, you might consider folding up now.
</pb>

I didn't imply that I couldn't afford this software nor did I mention that it was my *highest* cost.  I was simply looking to reduce my *software costs for MS products*. 

Luckily some good people have pointed me in the right direction.

Thanks all!

CRM
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Do each of you need the full Enterprise version of Visual Studio? you can buy either the C# or VB version for 99 bucks.  Hell, I do backend and ASPX programming in TextPad and the command line compiler.  I've even managed to do WinForms programming without the IDE.  Also, would everyone need visio? how much diagraming gets done?  Maybe a couple diagrams per project? 

Vincent Marquez
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Looks like your starting a business with no knowledge of what goes into it. Use common sense. As most posters stated, you don't need to buy everything for everyone. Didn't they teach you that in MBA school?

Dumas
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

I hope you don't skimp on the backup software, media, and off-site storage.

Imagine saving money on software, finding decent developers willing to work hard to produce great products, and then losing it all when static cling zaps your hard drive.

Keep us posted on your progress, and are you making a (nother) CRM product? Sigh...

Steve Wasiura
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Dumas>
Looks like your starting a business with no knowledge of what goes into it. Use common sense ...
Didn't they teach you that in MBA school?
</Dumas>

I have been an independent contractor for the last five years.  Prior to that I was a corporate code monkey.  I have worked in a number of vertical markets with a variety of clients.  Basically, I have seen all types of projects, customers and development teams.  I have the skill and experience to become successful in this endeavor.

However, on this brief resume you will notice procurement is noticeably absent.  It is my belief if you don't know the answer to something, ask someone who does.  Which is precisely why I posted this inquiry at JoS.

Seems like common sense to me ...

<Steve Wasiura>
I hope you don't skimp on the backup software, media, and off-site storage.
</Steve Wasiura>

Already taken care of!  I already have a stable client list so these things were necessary a few years ago.

<Steve Wasiura>
Keep us posted on your progress, and are you making a (nother) CRM product? Sigh...
</Steve Wasiura>

A (nother) consulting and custom software shop is how we are going to make our bucks.  I have a very solid (and growing!) client list.  Now its time to expand to meet the demand.

Thanks again for your help today people!

CRM
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

"Not all developers live in New York.  Some of us can get by quite nicely on $50k/year, thankyouverymuch.  (=  (Okay, plus benefits, but still nowhere near $100k.)"

Well, no. But it is around 70k.

Rule of thumb, add 40% to salary for the company's costs (payroll tax, SS tax, etc.).

Marc
Thursday, February 06, 2003

CRM, would you consider subcontracting parts of your development requirements or having developers work remotely?

I usually work on a per hour/daily rate, but am quite happy to quote fixed prices for properly specified technical work (for which I invoice in arrears and have a similar philosophy to Fogcreek - I don't want your money unless you're happy with the work).

Obviously, I already have all the tools to do the job and may even consider site visits.

If interested, please mail me for CV (resume) or further discussion. Incidently, I have previously built development teams from scratch for small startups.

** Joel, apologies for soliciting on your board.

Justin
Monday, February 10, 2003

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joe
Thursday, February 13, 2003

It's been a while since I read http://www.mmfhoh.org/ - thanks for reminding me...

Better than being unemployed...
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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