I am going to launch charp.io using outsourced developers. And, I am going to launch for less than US$5,000. Here is how I am spending that money:
$50 Idea Validation
$200 Charp.io frontend website
$250 Logos and artwork
$3000 Web application
$500 Incorporate, Licenses
$1000 Launch advertising
My goal for the first 12 months after launch is to get 1000 customers each paying $100/year = $100,000 in annual revenues. If I can do that, it will pay for development of more features and advertising. Once the business is generating enough profit to pay for its own improvements, I can grow the business to $1,000,000 then $3,000,0000, then beyond!
I have been thinking about this question a lot myself: when I launch my first business in 1998, I was a programmer. And the technologies involved were relatively simple. Since then, however, I have let my programming skills lapse and the technologies have become very complex.
If I wanted to build a new web application from scratch, I would waste a LOT of hours relearning how to program and the code I would create would be of poor quality.
Don’t forget that there are really three parts to building a business:
1. Building/creating the product you want to sell.
2. Marketing and selling that product.
3. Corporate stuff (paperwork, HR, taxes, bank accounts, etc.).
So, even if you spent a lot of time learning how to code and then a lot of time building the product, you would be neglecting #2 and #3.
And, keep in mind that building a software product is really only 50% coding. The other 50% of the time is:
a. Figuring out exactly what product to build – how should my product work, what should it look like, what features should it have, etc.
b. Writing out the specifications in a way that developers can use.
c. Making wireframe diagrams of each screen of the software that the developers can use to make the program layout.
So, really, of all the things needed to start a web application business, you can do everything but the coding: 1a, 1b, 1c, 2 and 3. The work you have done in excel is most of the a, b, c items already.
And, today to have code outsourced is cheaper than ever. If you have a reasonable project, you should be able to boil it down to its minimum feature set so that people can use it and would pay for it and have that web application made for $5,000 or less.
I could really write a blog post about each step (maybe I will). But, to get you started, here are links to the work I did writing the specifications for charp.io