Here’s an idea: create a software development firm, and franchise it out.
This may already be happening, but if it is, it isn’t doing it right. First of all, the only way a franchised firm is going to be more profitable than its competition is if it can differentiate itself from the competition in a positive way. How do you compete against the independent firms? Blow them away by sharing information between your offices giving each office the resources of a huge company. How do you compete against the huge corporations? Win by staying flexible, knowing the customers in your area, and being a good member of the community. Most of the money spent locally, stays local.
Here’s what the parent corp. would provide:
Advertising – one name, one brand, one place to go — wherever you are.
Knowledge – training, ideas, advice, and more will flow between the branches.
Standards – by demanding excellence in all aspects of development, customers will know that no matter which office they choose, they will be always be happy. Technological standards also mean that software developed by one branch can easily be worked on by other branches.
By far, most of the time the customer will be interested in software that they can use, not in something to resell. If that’s the case, then they probably don’t care what the licensing is, as long as it’s not a burden. Open source licenses would be an obvious choice for most of the software created. Not only would the different branches be able to share the code (thus lowering the price for future development), it also means that the buyer doesn’t need to worry about asset tracking and making sure they bought enough licenses.
So, how does one go about building a business like this? Ask some really smart business people. I don’t know. 🙂 I’m sure you’d want to start out small, each firm is going to cost a small bundle to get off the ground. The good news is that once the money is flowing, it becomes easier to set up new branches. I could easily imagine a Franchise Software Development Firm going from a regional market to world wide coverage within 5 years.
The main benefit of any kind of market swing where development, not selling and re-selling and re-selling, becomes the main focus is that the firms that truly innovate (instead of blocking their competitors from innovating) are the firms that win — firms get paid for development. This is good for the consumer, good for the developer (me), and good for the economy.