Kellogg School of Management | Groups

Why can't I just hire a developer? I hear they are cheap in Eastern Europe

Too many people just dream of the idea, but do not spend the time to make a basic prototype. While you can definitely hire a developer, they don't come cheap and usually charge per hour of work unless you get a flat rate or give them equity. Even if you decide to hire a developer, if you make a prototype, you'll know exactly what you want so you can spend less time explaining and answering questions. Often though it's not that the developer doesn't understand the request, it's that you did not give her exact specifications.

Developers <> Mindreaders. If you don't understand that code, maybe you should prototype before getting a developer.


Don't be intimated by this word. Make a basic version of your idea in the easiet way possible for you. It could be through Excel, MS Access, HTML, drawings, paintings, Google Docs, etc. Just make a basic version that would actually get a user some type of value even if it isn't pretty. For the more advanced, here is a great article on 6 different types of prototypes.

Not only does prototyping allow you to really think about how the backend or operations work for your idea, but it also allows you to look for tangible results, create a beautiful design, do some initial testing and prioritize functional requirements into musts, needs and nice to haves.


After you've done all you can do with your prototype, it's now time to make something real or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP); the name says it all. With MVPs all you have to do is create the most basic version of your idea. Don't worry about the prettiness of it or even the name. Focus on the functionality.

So how do you build something especially if you don't have the skill set? Here is a guide to help:

Options Pro Con
"I know how to code"
You can move quickly
You aren't dependent on anyone else
Limits your time to focus on marketing, finance and growth
“I’ll learn to code”
You’ll pick up how to communicate to eventual programmer
Do you really have time to learn?
Check out
“I’ll outsource a developer”
Work gets done quickly
Frees up your time
No real binding tie and can mess up your website
Hard to communicate and align the design you want
Can be costly…or too cheap with bad quality
“I’ll find a partner to develop”
Partner is now vested in business
Frees up your time
Depends on partner schedule/dedication
Make sure you can all communicate  clearly

If you are going to outsoure or communicate to your partner/developer, make sure to have a requirements document that has mockups of what the website/product looks like and a list of "requirements" or definitions of the fuctionality and what it does (e.g. Ability for user to click "sign up" and be directed to sign in page). Also make sure you get a contract in writing about payment and try to frame it around paying for milestones and not work hours so that a developer doesn't charge $$$$ for spending hours to make a button a shade of purple.

Now the hard stuff- incorporating and admin must haves
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