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  1. #1
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    MS Access as a business... (All)

    Hello! I have been working with Access for about 8 years. I am wondering if any of you have suggestions on starting an Access based business. I have visited several sites that do use Access to create saleable products. I believe I have some saleable applications, some small, some large. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to provide a 'check list' of things to do, or think about before starting such an endeavor?

    If you have been successful, and success can come in forms other than money, I would enjoy hearing your comments or suggestions.

    Thanks for your input, and thanks to Pat for encouraging me to post this question.
    KST

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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    I don't mean to discourage you, but realistically, it is hard to make your living that way although it might be a source of additional revenue and it could potentially lead to bigger things.

    One thing you would have to consider is how you would handle updates, support and bug fixes. The Access applications my employer markets require constant enahancements, testing, bug fixes, updates and general maintenance, but these are quite complex applications. If you have some smaller applications that have been well tested, then you may be able to get by with minimal updates and patches. You would need some way to distribute the product, plus any modifications that you make to it, either electronically or by CD. We have an FTP site for downloads but we also ship CDs and manuals all over the world. Our customers call and email us constantly, either with problems that need solving or requests for enhancements or customizations.

    If you're going to do it as a business, you need to be sure you have the business part down pat or you will wind up spending more than you make. So pricing, your investment in product and documentation, the cost of maintaining a website, marketing, etc., all need to be planned for and budgeted. You may also need to think about product liability issues, and you definitely will need to think about internationalization if your products may find their way outside their country of origin.

    All told, it's a lot of work, so be prepared! <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    It is a VERY tough business. Realistically, the only way to succeed as an independent is to have an application specific to some industry, so you can sell it many times over at a cheap price.
    Mark Liquorman
    See my website for Tips & Downloads and for my Liquorman Utilities.

  4. #4
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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    Thanks for the input guys. I actually do have some specialized applications, and hadn't thought that heavily about them, until Mark mentioned it.

    I have also thought previously about the issues that Charlotte talked about as well, and those issues would probably come into play with industry specific applications.

    If there are others who have some info to share, I'd like to hear other opinions and scenarios.

    Thanks again!
    KST

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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    Hi Scott,

    I agree completely with the thoughts expressed by Charlotte and Mark.

    To take a slightly different angle, let's consider making a living with Access skills (as opposed to running your own business). This may not exactly address your question, but I thought I'd share a few thoughts for others who may be interested in this.

    I believe you can make a decent living as an Access developer working for a company who uses Access as a front-end or as a standalone database product. There are some companies with large enough need to employ a full staff of Access and other database developers. Granted, it's getting harder to find these as the technology evolves and the economy struggles through a recession.

    I've quickly discovered that you have to learn quite a bit beyond Access in order to be marketable to most companies. Microsoft seems to be pushing SQL Server quite heavily, and that's one major direction the market is heading. If you can learn how to use SQL Server with Access and other front-ends, you should be able to find at least some work in most markets. (Also, knowing how to work with web-based data applications is a BIG plus!)

    Just my <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>

  6. #6
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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    Hey Mark!

    Thanks for the input. I may actually need to work for someone else to improve my skills in Access / VBA. Currently, my applications work, and work well, but they are not as clean as I would like them to be. I also agree with you about SQL and web-based applications.

    Thanks again for the input!
    It's much appreciated!
    KST

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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    Good input from Charlotte and the two Marks. It isn't a cup of tea out there for Access developers at the moment - we've been doing custom Access development for 10 years now, and we've had to do marketing for the first time in a number of years. However my sense is that things are just starting to turn around. We've been particularly hard hit in Colorado, but there are starting to be ads in the paper now that weren't there a few months ago. Custom development is a way to develop your expertise and learn more about what customers want. On the other hand the product route is a tough route to follow. We've tinkered with three different products over the last few years - a frequent experience is that someone comes out with a product that beats your product on functionallity or price or both just about the time you think you've got it right. Vertical niche products are a bit easier, but still subject to the same issues - and you really need to know your bulletproofing skills, or you'll spend all your time walking customers through problems.
    Wendell

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    Re: MS Access as a business... (All)

    Wendell,

    Just to build on your remarks, the competing product doesn't even really have to be *better* than yours to affect your market. If it looks slick or does one or two things better, good marketing can eat into your customer base ... at least until the converts discover all the things they hate about that spiffy new product they thought was so great! <img src=/S/sick.gif border=0 alt=sick width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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