Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tip #0 - Less[Everything] is more!

Ok, Ok, so I didn't make a post yesterday after I had pledged to keep up-to-date on this. I'm sure with a little brain-washing and conditioning I'll get there. Hopefully today, I make up for it...let's begin.

With so many mentions of "eating your own dog food" made in the recent weeks, I've taken it upon myself to keep the ball rolling. This post is going to be my segue (there will be a pause - don't be so literal) into my 5 tips for the contest currently taking place over at

So with all that said I think a great candidate for the "eats their own dogfood" award should go to lesseverything. These guys are (seemingly) successfully running a business on Ruby/Rails (literally). So we'll just jump to the first example: you're a contractor, you need to keep track of your billable revenue (invoices, etc...) but, you aren't exactly happy with the open-source products on the market. Well, like anyone who is in this for the science (and profit) you naturally would roll your own. But, and this is where I really feel many small companies hurt themselves, you make it for "you" (DHH) not for everyone. Well, let's take a step back here. You can either absorb the costs time/hosting/beer/etc that came along with building this accounting system OR you make it simple enough that anyone and their aunt Minnie could jump in and track invoices.

These guys have accomplished this. And it's essentially the way (I believe) any small business with the programming capabilities should operate. If you can build something which helps you immensely and is flexible enough to aid in helping others at a minimal cost to maintain - that's billable revenue my friend! Check this out for yourselves at What's that you say? How do they keep the "www" off of their domain for branding purposes? Why it's simple - they'll tell you. So, just as a wrap-up real quick a little quote from their site:
Who is Less Accounting designed for?

We designed Less Accounting to meet our needs as small business owners. We tried to develop it flexible enough for personal use, but if you are a big business Less Accounting probably isn't for you.

I'd like to add a little something to that, if you're a bigger business - chances are your accounting system is overcomplicated anyways - overhaul and simplify. I know it's not the easiest thing to do what with all the personnel you've hired from your own family, but Uncle Joe will understand. He knows deep down in his heart that an Access database just won't cut it any longer and you're not prepared to take the plunge into a commercial accounting product. Give this a'll thank me later.

LessEverything has also released upon humanity, what I had been hoping someone would do for a long time and that is a social networking platform on Rails. I've had somewhat limited exposure to it, mostly because I think the world is better off without more social networking sites, however, it's what everyone wants. And I use this saying a lot as a developer and it really holds true here:
I want to develop a lever for <project>, polish it a little and deploy it.

Even if you're not writing a social network, there are quite a few benefits this application takes care of for you right off the bat. Adding blogs to accounts, creating relationships between accounts, many things which apply to a host of scenarios could be accomplished with some minimal undertaking. In terms of performance, I haven't sieged anything I've made with it so far, I guess that's another post outside the scope of my 6 tips.

So to wrap up - Tip #0 is identify your own needs and if it's viable, don't be so one dimensional, allow others to benefit (for a low cost), keep it simple and above all just get it out there! It's income you weren't expecting to have and who knows, maybe its earnings out-perform your original projects.

No comments: