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help starting an ebusiness.

     
10:20 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I was looking all over for a forum like this and Im so glad I finally found such a large forum group.

I have come up with what I think is an amazing idea for an online business and I think I have the necessary funding to start this business (~40k). The problem is I know very little about web design/programming/databases ( i know basic html/xhtml but I know my project needs much more than this). I have several questions I was hoping you all could help me with.

1)How can i hire people I trust? Even using non-disclosure agreements I still feel like anyone I hire can steal my idea because my idea is all in the webpage (its a marketplace sort of thing).

2)Is it best to hide as much information from people I hire as possible? Ive thought of ways to explain the requirements for my site without revealing the actual purpose. Ive also thought about breaking the project into seperate pieces and hiring different people for different parts.

3)how much would you think is necessary for me to personally know? I can tell you right now that I know my website will need javascript or some other sort of web programming and for me to learn this and make my site would take forever. Also I know my site will need some robust database with probably sql or similar (not access).

Ill leave it at this for now and I appreciate all your assistance. I have more questions but I think they largely depend on these answers.

10:52 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How can i hire people I trust?

One solution to this is to make them partners in the business, so that their interests are aligned with yours.

So,
- you'd bring the idea and some of the money
- they'd bring the tech knowledge and some of the money

Of course an advantage of this is that it reduces the amount of cash you need to start the business, because you can have some of the IT implementation done as 'sweat equity' - rather than paying in cash.

One problem with this is that you're going to have to describe the business idea in order to find one or more partners - I occasionally come across people pitching with "I've got this great idea that'll change the world but I can't tell you what it is until you agree to sign up". Which doesn't cut it. So you'd need to think out in advance how much info you're going to be able to tell people in order to get them interested.

hth,
a.

12:08 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Most of the freelancers are trustworthy if you hire them from reputed and reliable freelancer sites. I would like to suggest you should get signed the NDA before you hire them. If you have still some doubt you should hire it locally but you have to trust somebody eventually.
1:12 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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anyone I hire can steal my idea because my idea is all in the webpage (its a marketplace sort of thing)

The moment your website is made public your idea will be all out in the open and available to anybody to steal anyway - so I'm guessing you're planning on this taking several months to develop. You could go down the route of business method patenting before hiring anyone if you're really worried about it (it sounds like you have the capital to consider this route anyway).

Regardless of patent protection; if your idea is good people will clone your site anyway. This is the Internet.

Ive also thought about breaking the project into seperate pieces and hiring different people for different parts.

If, as you say, you have little programming knowledge yourself then I think you would find it hard to compartmentalise the project such that the big picture was not revealed to developers. You will have to design APIs (application programming interfaces) between the layers and this needs a level programming expertise in itself.

If you really are worried then I would consider Andye's comment and offer a generous partnership in your business with the developer(s).

1:30 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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MrP8ntball,

Simply understand that any idea you have is totally worthless until it makes a lot of money. When that happens you will not be able to protect it on the web at any cost.

There are two ways to make money:

1. Come up with a unique idea that no one can replicate (tricky).

2. Steal an idea from someone else.

The problem with #1 is that you have to create a market, and that costs a lot of money.

The beauty of #2 is that #1 spent all their money creating the marketplace for you, now all you need to do is take it away from them!

I hate unique ideas simply because the cost of marketing them is too expensive. It is much more profitable to allow someone else to develop the market for a product and then take it away from them!

Don't believe me? Well look at GM, Ford, and almost all American Airlines, they are all going down the tubes. Meanwhile all the later starter copycat entities are performing much better!

Being the first to any marketplace is never a good thing! Conserve your resources until a true race for customers/revenue exists.

1:51 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi percentages,

It is much more profitable to allow someone else to develop the market for a product and then take it away from them!

You might be interested in the book "Fast Second" by Geroski / Markides, it puts the same argument.

I'm inclined to agree that a large corporation can do very well out of taking over other people's markets, but the situation is different for the entrepreneur, I'd say - due to having less resources.

Anyway, I'm also inclined to agree that an idea which relies on secrecy might well be in trouble when the business opens its doors to customers and everyone sees what it is. Still, there are exceptions - maybe MrP8ntball has the next 'million dollar home page' type idea? Or maybe he can get some patent protection, like goto.com (which became Overture).

best,
a.

5:32 pm on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thanks I totally appreciate all the responses. My idea is almost stealing someone elses market though. Im taking a service I use all the time and in my eyes making it 1000% better to the consumers. With that said I have some more questions now.

Let me mention that my site will need a multi-user interface (is that what its called) almost like say facebook.com though not quite as complex. People can interact with eachother but each user also has his own private area (think your account page on say ebay).

The reason i say this is because I am wondering if I was to partner with somebody, what background would I be looking for. Web design? Web Programming? Database expert? What would be the persons best background.

Secondly, If i didnt want to partner, who would i go to first. Is there one person who can get this off the ground for me or will this require a team of people.

4:02 am on Jan 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Is it a good idea to use something like www.elance.com and specifically use their project services (http://www.elance.com/c/static/main/displayhtml.pl?file=eps_landingpage.html)?

Is there any other similar project service companies you guys can recommend? My main concern is that I do not know the best way to implement my site and I think a reputable and professional company may be a good solution.

Thanks!

10:45 am on Jan 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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what background would I be looking for. Web design? Web Programming? Database expert? What would be the persons best background.

Secondly, If i didnt want to partner, who would i go to first. Is there one person who can get this off the ground for me or will this require a team of people.

There's probably two skillsets here:
1) Web developer - for the programming and database side.
2) Web designer / graphic designer - for the visual side.
Sometimes these skillsets are combined in one person, sometimes they're not.

I'd be inclined to find a developer with a good deal of commercial experience in the industy, if you're looking at bringing them on board as a founder. They should be able to find other people as needed.

hth,
a.

10:25 am on Jan 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think that also the methods prevent people from stealing source codes and maybe even from completing a "stolen" version of your site.

I'm currently working on a hosted scripts system. I am also afraid of being hacked or thieved. So i thought of some possible ways to prevent outsiders from getting your business.

1) If possible, meet the personnel you hire personally
2) Don't trust any webhost... easiest way to steal a website is to have it on your own server. You should carefully plan you host or buy own server. Also if you have a local provider, you can meat them in person too.
3) Don't share your FTP. Let someone do the design, but upload them yourself.
4) Use languages that won't appear on clients browser. For good example, PHP. None will be able to copy it unless they have FTP access. Clients will only see the "visual" area of the page. the idea, not the way it has been made true.

Tomi

8:38 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would use elance.com....

I have used programmers a number of times and they have always been very good...

The trick is to ensure that you browse the freelancers "top ranks" for the most highly rated old hands at it...

You can shortlist say 15 and then privately invite them to bid for your project..

About 10 will get back to you and there will be an "average" price theme that runs through the bids.

Keep it private so they cant see each others offers.

Sorted. You will now have only the best tried and trusted developers and pick the best (price quality etc)

Also make sure you read the reviews about them before you invite them to bid....

Thats what I did and just shortlist the 15 and do private invites :)

3:10 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I think that the fact the idea early or late will actually be revealed shouldn't dissuade from taking privacy measures. One thing is when it is stolen after the site has been launched and another thing is when it is stolen by someone long before leaving its author (that has got limited financial and professional possibilities) far behind the race. As for concrete suggestions I'd rather advise you to resort to legal solutions.

Good luck!