How to find a software developer

I’ve been working with a number of entrepreneurs in recent months, and the same scenario keeps coming up.  Entrepreneurs are looking for a tech co-founder but can’t find one.  So the next logical step is to pay a developer to get you started.

This quickly leads to a long list of questions including:

  • Where do I find a developer?
  • What type of developer will I need?
  • Will I need to buy servers?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the best way to describe what I want my website / app to do?

Before I get started, you should know that I’m not a developer myself, but I have been working closely with software developers for over 15 years including a long period at Skype. So I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.

I’ve broken this article into a number of key subjects that guide you through my own approach.

Do I really need a developer?

The short answer is that it depends.  In the past few years it has become increasingly easy to build your own basic website without writing a single line of code.  There are numerous services that allow you to drag, drop and configure templates that create some stunning looking websites with a minimum of effort.  I strongly believe that almost anyone (even if you don’t think you’re tech-savvy) can do this with some time and patience.

The following is a list of tools that will allow you to get started with some stunning templates, add your own images and text, and even create your own e-commerce store:

If you know that you are going to want to do something a little more complicated, and may need to get a developer to customise the ready made templates, then this is the point at which you should consider something a bit more powerful:

WordPress is probably the most established of the drag-and-drop style website builders and is used by a number of big-name websites.  This means that thousands of developers have contributed free widgets to do such things helping you with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), create slide shows, cut down on spam, add Google Analytics and more.

Finding a developer

Of course, you may decide that you’re better off spending your time focussing on aspects of your business that use your own strengths and experience – while getting others more suited to building your service from a technical perspective.

It is often the case that entrepreneurs think that their idea is so great that they’ll easily find a developer who would happily spend their free time working on your product, for no money and the promise of a share of the company when it hits the big time.  The unfortunate reality is that unless you’re already best friends with the one person who already has the requsite skills, and shares your passion for what you’re building, then you may be disappointed.

Having said that, there are a number of ways to get a head start:

  • Networking – some people are natural networkers, but most people find it hard to walk up to complete strangers and build a relationship that will hopefully turn into something mutually beneficial.  Check out this great book: Business Networking: A Survival Guide.
  • Meetup Groups – In towns cities all over the world, there are plenty of general and specialised meetup groups where developers and entrepreneurs mingle on a regular basis.
  • Startup Weekend – Found in a number of large cities worldwide, the premise of Startup Weekend is that people with ideas pitch to people who want to work in a startup (developers, marketeers, sales people, etc) and launch a business in 54 hours. Great fun, but lots of coffee needed!
  • Co-working spaces – Join up, get to know the regulars, and monitor the noticeboards.  There are co-working offices in most large towns and cities.

If you’re lucky, you may meet someone who will join your project in one of the places above.

The easiest way above all others is to hire someone and pay them.  For this there are a number of online services to help:

Things to consider if you go down this route:

  • Make sure that you read the reviews
  • Get advice from someone you trust and who knows what you’re trying to build
  • Get two or more quotations for the work
  • Try to use “out of the box” solutions rather than creating something from scratch
  • Websites must be “responsive” (ie they work on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones).

In my next post, I’ll be discussing how to explain your idea to a developer, get an accurate quotation, and keep control of the costs.

Need more help and advice?

If you’d like to arrange some coaching on these subjects or even hand over the management of your development to someone with experience, contact me for an informal chat and we’ll see what we can do.




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