When launching a self funded business you need to guard your capital and time. That’s why we started Reliable Bits. Many self funded entrepreneurs were spending too much time on tech issues. We built Reliable Bits to be the tech and design department for small companies, so they could focus their efforts on finding customers and growth.
Whether they should build custom or use out of the box software is a question that many entrepreneurs have. Here is how we answer that question.
Case for Ready Made Software
When you’re solving a problem that you think others have (i.e. an idea with no current customers), you should use ready made software
Let’s unpack this a bit more.An idea with no customers means there are a lot of unknowns, which you want to minimize before spending time and money on custom development.
Some common unknowns are:
- How to attract users
- How and where to reach new users (distribution)
Another indicator that you should use out of the box software is that you are not 100% sure that your idea will work. This can be difficult to admit because if you’re an entrepreneur, why would you waste your time doing something you don’t think will work? Well the fact of the matter is if #1 and #2 above are some of your unknowns then there is a chance that your idea will not work. Ready made software will help you to cheaply answer your unknowns in order to increase your chances of being successful.
The last scenario for when you should use ready made software over custom development would be when you are building a community. We work with a client named Firneo who leveraged ready made software to build his initial community. Now that the he has grown and actually has customers he is ready to start building a custom product. Going with this approach was very helpful because now he knows exactly what his product needs and he already has customers that are ready to use the platform.
If you have validation in the form of customers; or your business is a pure tech play.
Ready made software is great for the initial validation phase but after a while you won’t be able to do all the things you want to do in order to build your envisioned product.
A real example: We have a client name Kohab who is revolutionizing the HOA industry by allowing HOA members to see their expenses and pay their dues online. He had 2 – 3 HOAs already lined up when he came to us. There was not an out of the box software that would do what he envisioned, so we decided that we had to build a custom product.
The good thing with the proliferation of API based companies like Stripe (payments), Intercom (customer support), Twillio (SMS), AWS (server) – custom software isn’t as expensive or hard to maintain as it used to be.