I just finished quickly reading through the book "Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality" by Bob Walsh. Although there were many parts of the book that I skimmed and/or skipped over, I learned a bunch of things. So now I want to share some thoughts I took with me from the book. I plan to implement some of these ideas with my own software business.
Don't expect overnight success with your new ISV. But given enough time, you can potentially double your revenues every 18 months or so. The definition of an ISV includes the business being self-funded and small. You should talk with people in the market to gain perspective. And before developing a product, you should see if another company has solved the same problem you are planning to solve in a similar way. If so, there is no use proceeding with that technique.
Be ready for a lot of long hours to get your ISV up and running. And you should also get your significant other prepared for the long road ahead. The author believes that open source is not a good way to make money as an ISV. However to get sales you need to have a very pretty user interface. Build up paper prototypes to flush out the UI design. Use a big pad for this, and make lots and lot of notes.
Know ahead of time that customers take bugs very seriously. So get a lot of beta testers together to hammer on your app. To publicize your product, announce the app in forums, blog about it, and email other bloggers. Realize that your product encompasses many things such as your web site, blog, the graphics, and payment processing system. Above all make sure you have great icons.
Show happy people being happy on your web site. Display a lot of screen shots which are big but do not have huge file sizes. Use of templates is recommended to produce a professional looking web site. A good way to register domains is Go Daddy. Put key points in bold text on your web site. Emphasize links with two words per link which are surrounded by white space.
You should offer a 30 day free trial and 30 day money back guarantee. Lessen the steps in the purchasing process to increase the number of people who make it through. Paypal and 2Checkout are good payment processors. Get objective feedback about your site. Do not include a EULA that you copied from another company. Consult the EFF and Wikipedia for good ideas to generate your EULA.
Set up a new private email address to deal with business correspondence. Discussion boards can be a strategic advantage to your ISV if used correctly. Tucows and CNet (download.com) are popular places to upload your apps. Update your listings on these sites frequently to move them to the first page of the listings.
A Little Bit of Crypto - I have been trying to figure out to "collision resistant" some of these standard hash functions are. It is a tough concept to get my head around. I figure...