I get this all the time:  “Hey we have this infallible business idea, it’s going to make us rich but I am looking for a partner who can build the website.”

So by “partner”, what they really mean is someone they don’t have to pay.  I used to get caught up in these “opportunities” all the time.  Truth is they are just bad ideas for the IT professional.  But lately I’ve been thinking they are bad for the business person too.

Look at it this way.  Let’s say you need someone to program a prototype web site. Quotes from vendor’s run at 10K.  So you say “Sheesh! That’s a lot of money to commit up front.  Why don’t I just give the person a revenue stream if the site is successful?”

  1. First, if you don’t pay you don’t have the “Work for Hire” clause that helps business owners intellectually own the custom software for which they paid.    So the legal side of this just got harder.  He or she owns that work by default if you didn’t pay for it.
  2. What if the site generates 250K or more in revenues?  How much will you be committing to the person who programmed it?  Probably a whole lot more than the 10K.  And remember you don’t just commit money, but decision making for the business as a whole because this person is a partner after all.  So basically bringing on an IT person as partner is a great idea if you expect things to fail.  But really costly if you expect to do well.
  3. Where’s the real value here anyway?  Is it in the coding??  No it’s in the idea. Your idea. A computer programmer or web developer is just another skilled individual whose work you can profit from.  You won’t give pieces of your business away to the person who cleans your office, sets up your phone lines, or files for your LLC, so why give it away to the person who codes your software?

If you believe you have a great idea. Then own it.   Pay for someone to develop it and then it’s yours for whatever potential value it has. Isn’t that what being an entrepenuer is all about??