From a Contractor to a Shop: How to grow your Drupal business without losing your hair, mind, or bank
From a Contractor to a Shop Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg Partner | CEO @AlexU_A
About Zivtech• ~4 year-old company based out of Philadelphia, PA (& NYC!)• Currently ~20 people.• CTO/Co-Founder = Jody Hamilton• Drupal + other Open Source• Design + training• Complex Problems & Cool Clients
Starting Out• What "type" of Drupal/web shop are you? What are you selling? To whom? Service(s) or product(s)?• Mission statement: what are your values?• Business plan. • Skate to where the puck is!• Making it oﬃcial.• Bootstrapped vs. loans vs. investors• Don’t fear failure, but try to fail fast.
Partners• It’s a marriage, for better &/or worse.• Why bother? Team > sum of its parts.• Complimentary Skills = success.• Split tasks. • Someone has to focus on the business itself. (Sales, HR, http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/bastique/405755376 Legal, Accounting).• Hold each other accountable.
Management• Remote vs. Oﬃce(s).• Culture matters.• Motivating developers = herding cats.• More and longer term engagements.• Balancing contribution & business dev w/ client work.• Outsourcing & Oﬀshoring
Building a Team• Developing vs. Hiring Talent.• Smart > experienced.• Team player > raw skill.• Chaos is ok, internal disruption is not.• HIRE PROJECT MANAGERS!!! http://egee09.eu-egee.org/?id=674 • One for every 5-8 developers.
Cash & Accounting• Double-entry bookkeeping. • Accounts Receivable & Payable.• Cash ﬂow: if the bucket runs dry, your biz is dead.• Taxes (ouch!). http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/06/theres-hole-in-my-bucket-dear-liza.html
Clients• Relationships drive your business. • Clients as partners. • Worth maintaining bad ones?• Long term clients drive growth.• How much does it cost to develop one? http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/amagill/362201147
Sales & Marketing• Sales cycles• Request & proposal processes. • “Win w/out pitching”• MeetUps, Camps, & Cons• Contribute!!! Open source = publish or perish!• Develop or claim modules in desired verticals. http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/kdinuraj/3583955785
Legal• Contracts: better fences make better neighbors.• Fixed bid vs. time & material.• Protect your neck: get insured.• Who owns your code? Work for hire?• “Law of the land” • Employees vs. Contractors, unemployment, taxes, etc. http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/brymo/1014496150
Got help?• SCORE, SBA, Business Schools• Collaborate with other Drupal shops as well as design, marketing, & IT consulting companies.• Drupal.org -> Consultants list, Groups.Drupal.org, Drupal.org Marketplace.• VC blogs. • http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/juhansonin/2410866650 AVC’s “MBA mondays”