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Hosted Solutions Rock | 35grove.com | Where Ideas Grow

Hosted Solutions Rock


[Photo by willsfca]

Let’s say you’re trying to build something. And as you are, you notice that someone else has already built exactly what you were building. But not only have they built it; they’ve perfected it, and are continuing to improve upon it. Would you still consider building yours? Maybe…

So let’s take it a step farther. What if they were willing to let you use it? For free. Would you?

And that’s the basic premise behind hosted solutions. Let’s take gmail as the classic example. You could look for another email solution, but you’ll probably have to pay a monthly fee and miss out on the rich feature set that gmail provides (particularly solid spam protection). The moral: take google’s free offering. (Yes, I understand that if you romp around with an aluminum foil hat afraid that technology is going to steal your identity, then gmail might not be right for you, but it’s definitely good for 90% of the general population.)

Gmail is an offering that you can apply to your business (free email!) and save some money with, but it won’t necessarily help you make money. However, there are hosted solutions that will.

For example, I was looking into building a job classifieds board for one of my properties. I started coding it from scratch when I took a step back and said, “hey - wait a second; hasn’t someone done this before, particularly in today’s age of open source web applications?” And surely enough, someone has. In fact two people have. They’re called Job-a-matic and JobThread. What both of these solutions enable you to do is to create a jobs listing board that looks like it fits into your site (your visitors will think it is) and can be accessed at either a domain (e.g., http://35grovejobs.com) or a subdomain (e.g., http://jobs.35grove.com). They’ll even split the revenue from job posts with you 50/50 and provide support to anyone who posts a job. The best part: the board is actually hosted with them, and they deal with uptime, making sure it’s running, and continually improving it.

Ultimately, “hosted solutions” is the Internet’s equivalent of the brick-and-mortar’s concept of “outsourcing.” In the “real world,” manufacturing companies tend to send their goods to a warehousing company that takes care of fulfillment and shipping for them. They’re good at manufacturing products, not delivering them to customers. So, by having someone else deal with fulfillment, they can focus on their expertise and let someone else handle the rest.

Moral of the story? Figure out what you’re best at and focus on it. Then find people to take care of the rest, usually at no cost (so what if you split some revenue; it doesn’t cost you anything and allowed you to focus on your core business). What this ultimately gets back to is K.I.S.S. The only caveat I’d like to add is that when outsourcing, make sure that what you’re outsourcing definitely is not core. Many people make the mistake of outsourcing programming, when in fact, it’s an integral part of their business that should have been done in-house. (Check out my article on whether or not outsourcing programming is right for you.)

So, do you use any hosted solutions? Drop them in the comments below.

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