On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 08:08:21PM -0400, music...@gmail.com wrote:

> Hi List,
> I'm currently working on a medium sized project as an independent
> contractor.  The project is reaching the 2000 hour range and the
> client has asked for a project cost.  The problem I have in providing
> the client with a proper estimate is that the client is a start-up and
> does not have the dollar amount the project will actually cost (@ an
> average of $20 per/h the cost is roughly $40,000, quite cheap in my
> opinion considering the project size and required functionality:
> logins, cms, mysql, ssl, payment systems, shopping cart, and
> functionality specific to the user type).
> I wanted to gain some suggestions on alternative methods of making the
> project cost reachable to the client, while also allowing me to make a
> profit.  An idea that sounded very good was to agree with the client
> on a minimal system and upon delivery allow them to place a cost on
> what they receive.  The problem I have with this idea is that I'm
> afraid the client might not be fair in costing the delivered system. 
> If you are an independent contractor, what methods have you used and
> what would you suggest?  Greatly appreciate any response.

I don't have specific experience with this. (I've done reduced-price
websites for startups, on the theory that I would get more work from
them later.) However, my view is that if you're going to start a
business, you should know how much it's going to cost and secure the
financing up front, or scrap the whole thing.

In the case of these folks, $20/hour is cheap. If they don't take your
bid and get someone cheaper, they're going to get exactly what they pay
for. And they'll pay much more in the long run to fix the crappy code
they've paid for.

I can only think of a few outcomes:

1) You take less money for the project.
2) You ask for a piece of the project, which could be more than the
$20/hour you're quoting. Or much less, if the startup fails.

I don't think delivering reduced functionality will work. Ultimately,
the functionality they need is the functionality they need.

My advice (remember, I haven't personally dealt with this exact
situation) is to be honest with them about how much this will actually
cost, and then honestly discuss with them their alternatives, as above.
Find out what sort of flexibility and finances they actually have. I'd
also make the point that $20/hr is cheap, and if they decide to go with
someone cheaper, they'll get what they pay for.


Paul M. Foster

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