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The Almighty Buck

Great Small Business Idea for Linux 29

Anonymous Coward writes "VARBusiness has an article about how Tom Adelstein's Bynari, Inc. is using Linux as the basis of a whole new business model for his Dallas integration firm. In it he talks about the value of call centers and partnerships within the Open Source community. Click here for the full interview. " Everyone who dreams of owning their own Linux-based small busines, but doesn't have a lot of capital, must read this story. You don't have to follow the interviewee's business model, but he's sure got one thing right: The demand for Linux systems integrators and VARs is going to grow like mad!
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Great Small Business Idea for Linux

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  • Lets say that in your area the going rate for consultants is $75.00. Use this as a baseline. Next ask yourself "how much do I want to do this". If you are not very excited about the project bid higher (say $100.00) if you get the job at least you'll have incentive to finish it. If you really want the job bid less (say $60.00). Don't bid too low they will dimiss you. Same goes for "how much do I like these people".
    Oh yea if anybody complains about the price leave immediately. If you lowball them you are going to have a very hard time finishing this project and your reputaion is going to suffer. Most likely they will try to get out of paying you too.
  • This article presents no new ideas for us.. but how do we get these ideas to be seen by an enormous amount of the people starting businesses or trying to make their business more efficient??
  • by EverCode ( 60025 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @01:15PM (#1576522) Homepage
    You need to sell the Linux integration by offering new capabilites along with the integration. Simply taking the place or working with NT in not that impressive, even though their costs goes down.

    You need to really analyze their setup and see where the weak points are. Then when you actually do install Linux, fix those weak points. Point them out to who you are working for.

    Getting more for nothing is better than getting the same for nothing (plus cost of integration).


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Geez....it'a amazing how some people in the "open source" community are... I'd wager the ones saying it's a crime to make money or insinuating it have 1) neither owned and operated a business
    2) contributed code.

    To my knowledge these people at bynari have done both...
  • "Adelstein: Anybody can be an NT integrator and anybody can do Novell. Everybody is." So creating and maintaining NT is anybody's game? I'm sure most sys admins and the like will know a few people who aren't quite up to it... "Typically, the Unix world has been relegated to the elite..." Or perhaps the rich with high end networks systems... "We found there definitely was a market for it..." Doesn't this kind of go against the Open Source ethic? Shouldn't he be indicating to his clients that the can get this totally free (if they want to learn how to setup and maintain their own system, which I would think is desirable)?
  • Adelstein sez:

    One of the very first success stories on the Internet, as far as e-commerce was concerned, was a cheesecake company up in the Northeast that put up a Web site but didn't get any business. Finally, after a year, the owner put his cheesecake recipe out there and out of nowhere started getting massive numbers of calls. So, one of the things that you hear said a lot in the Open Source movement is "publish the recipe and build the restaurant."

    Anyone know what he's talking about? I've never heard this story before.


  • A typical mistake of people taking their first contract job is to charge too little. Look at the market and how much $ people doing similar job charge. If you undercut established VAR pricing, the suit will think you charge less because you are less competent.

    The pricing model change, depending on your area. In mine, rate (in CDN$) are about 45$/hour for technician job (repairing printer, reinstalling Windoze and such) and 60-75$/hour for serious professionnal service (building network, fixing server, etc.). Obviously, there is no limit : real pro could charge 150-200$/hour (experienced Oracle DBA, CCIE, Lotus Notes developper, etc).
  • by Mr Neutron ( 93455 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @01:50PM (#1576530)
    You need to sell the Linux integration by offering new capabilites along with the integration. Simply taking the place or working with NT in not that impressive, even though their costs goes down.

    I'd put it more strongly: I don't think any company will go through the time and expense of moving from NT/commercial *NIX to Linux unless you can guarantee some compelling advantage by making the switch. Operating cost/"TCO" (what an overused phrase!) may decrease over several years, but there's still the up-front growing pains of installing a new system.

    A better approach, and what Adelstein seems to say in the article, is to go after new opportunities. Rather than trying to get people to switch their webservers (for instance), he goes to companies/schools/other entities that are looking to build a new network or integrate existing systems. Lower up-front costs and lower operating costs can be a compelling advantage in that situation.


  • That is exactly the point - not everyone is
    interested in learning to be a sys-admin. School districts are very hard-pressed for funds as an example. They have an existing hardware/software investment they want to extend as far as possible. If Linux offers an answer that allows them to integrate new services on old hardware - WONDERFUL. That sells. Offering a consulting service to provide that kind of setup sells.

    That is the point me thinks.
  • Quantum Linux Laboratories [quantumlinux.com] serves the same purpose for the Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area. We've had quite a bit of success getting Linux into large companies dominated by Microsoft [microsoft.com] like Boeing Aerospace [boeing.com] because it is clearly a superior testing and "glue" platform. Companies like Boeing have many different platforms and a large base of Unix literacy. The biggest lesson we have learned is that, to a point, it's not what you know but who you know. Once Linux is in an enterprise, it tends to grow in terms of usage and install base.
  • I wasn't under the impression in this article that he was passing off Linux or other OSS as his creation or that the only way to implement these technologies was through him or his company. He's providing "Value Added" service to his clients. Granted Linux and other OSS is free monetarily, but if a given organization doesn't have the resources or desires to administer or setup this software and hardware then he's providing them a "service" by doing so. Which he has every right to charge for. I don't think that conflicts with the Open Source initative. In many cases if it were an NT or even a Novell deployment the school or company would not only have to pay for the "service" of having it installed and maintained but the liscenses (that's the kicker!). You could have a school or company full of guru's but if you want NT or Novell your going to have to pay in most cases based on every single user, client, or server you have. This is where Linux really shines in comparision (financially speaking, technology not withstanding...). The article also mentions that his company contribed some software/code for firewalls that certainly follows the open source initative. So "Totally" to you may me one thing, but "Totally" may not be important or reasonable for others.
  • Do a search for Tom Adelstein on Linux Today and you will find his 9 or 10 part series on consultative selling. Basically he goes into the gory details of how to make money peddling Linux.

    Things like how to do meetings with potential customers and how you should find out what they need before you even think about what to provide. Basic stuff that very few of us really know.

  • Yep. I've watched a bunch of friends either moon about starting their own businesses or try it and fail. I know the trust-funders don't like to see talk of money on Slashdot (or anywhere else) but it's a fact of life that most of us have to pay the bills somehow. And VAR and/or network consulting is an honorable way to do it if you are willing to learn how to run a business.

    And there's no reason a small business owner can't contribute code or other resources back to the community, either. Many do.

    - Robin

  • I understand what they're paying for, but if he's going to use Open Source resources, he should inform his customers that they can get it totally free, so they're completely informed of the situation. Making money isn't a sin? What if you're a Communist?
  • Well, and then Mr. Buck, the Almighty came....
    Really, they have found numreous already-there
    Linux installations but people were clueless to
    make a Muzzdie box talking to Linux one.
    Just another kind of FUD, IMHO- yes, Linux is all
    that Unixoid and it's free but don't you dare to
    touch the button yourself. We'll contact our Level 2
    guys and they'll come and add --color to your ls
    alias in ~/.bashrc
  • >My problem is I have no idea what to charge for a service like this.

    IANABM, but I have worked at a couple of places where I saw the multiplier for services (that is, take what you pay J. Random Hacker, then multiply it by some number ``a" to cover not only J. Random's benefits & such overhead costs like marketting, equipment & training), I would say pick a number you feel is what you want to earn per year, divide it by 1500, then multiply it again by a number greater than 2.

    (Yes, Social Security & Medicare withholdings will absorb at least that much, as well as business taxes, licensing & fees.)

  • We will be. I work for Bynari, excellent company to work for ;) Tom's a great guy. Unfortunately, the article did not flow well as it was pieced together from several different instances of Tom talking to the reporter and it was probably out of order as well. Since we are a fairly new business (only been around for about 6 months, I've only been with Bynari for 2 weeks), our main goal at the moment is to provide a linux solution for companys who are looking for a way to ease the transition from Windows 9x/NT workstations to a more maintainable solution (ie Linux). Tomorrow, we will be releasing an alpha version of the first of a suite of applications which will make the IT proffesionals life easier. The program is called TradeMail, so don't forget to check it out Here [bynari.net] Also don't forget that it is ALPHA ;) Alot of the features, including talking to exchange servers for server-side message storing, global address books and calendering aren't finished yet, but it does support multiple POP3/SMTP accounts with optional per-account profiling for things such as identity (your name, email address, reply to address, organization, signature, etc).

    Next we will be releasing our server side solution for Linux integration. I won't spoil it for you ;) We do have projects planned in the future which will expand the normal-everyday usage of linux to provide a more attractive alternative.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I would also say that there are a lot of people who want to use Linux but don't realize how seamless it is and easy to learn and install. Consequently, you'll have higher profit margins You get a higher rate doing networking than you would with NT or Novell or anything else because of the lack of knowledge in the market. But it's not hard to learn, and once you learn how easy it is, you understand you have a very simple solution that does everything everybody wants."

    Hmmm.. So in other words "ignorance is bliss" and you can make money off of it. Bring on the newbies I need a new car. :)
  • is the next "Big Thing" IMHO

    Sharing a fast Inet pipe throughout a house will be the push in the next few years. A linux box set up at a router/firewall/personal web/mail makes it that much easier. Set up a box, charge $20/mo. for "admin", and sit back and watch it just work.
  • I know the trust-funders don't like to see talk of money on Slashdot (or anywhere else) but it's a fact of life that most of us have to pay the bills somehow.

    Wow, now there's something that hasn't really occurred to me. Are there a lot of trust-funders among Slashdot readers?

    Are there people who support their geek lifestyles completely on inherited money?

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll