Expanding my business, need advice!

This is pretty off-topic, but I know most of the other people on this forum are probably way smarter than I am about the software business and definitely better at programming than I am. So I figure this is a good group of colleagues who might be willing to offer me some advice :slight_smile:

As many of you know, I’ve been working on Lightwright for over 40 years (see lightwright.com). By now, the code base is enormous and it’s a complex Xojo app with a mix of old craggy code and better new stuff. I took on a business partner a year ago - he doesn’t know Xojo, but he’s young, had a theater/computer science major in college, and he’s been really good at getting our back-end web site and sales stuff going. He knows the theatrical lighting business and what people do now with Lightwright and is beginning to see what our customers will need in the future. My goal is for him to gradually take over programming and/or running everything while I fade into retirement in the next 5-7 years.

Right now, I’m buried in work 24/7 fixing bugs, doing tech support, and planning for the next round of major improvements. We need to bring on one or two additional people, primarily to help with writing code. All my business friends say we shouldn’t hire employees, we should find independent contractors to do the work. I’ve never been a contractor, only worked for myself, but I used to run a scene painting business that had employees so I know the headaches involved.

OK, how much $$ are we looking at for Xojo contractors? Where do I find Xojo them, and how do I evaluate their work or suitability for what we’re doing? Do consulting request posts on the Xojo forum or this forum produce results? What pithy advice can you offer me?

Thank you!

  • John

First of all: my best advice is get in Contact with Norman Palardy, Great White Software which is as far as I can see one of the best in case of Xojo. He has a big amount of knowledge and knows how to code. He was long years developer at Xojo, inc and knows Xojo not only as developer from the outside but as a Xojo programmer also from the inside.

Using the forum is free of charge. But you may need some more than a forum can do. This forum is open for all questions around Xojo.

To get out if an independent developer fits your wishes and needs there is only one way. work two month with and you will see. As far as I can see that is the only way to try out. I have a few people in Java Business around which are working as contractors and they do a good Job. A few where not my taste and a few where not as good as I wanted. Something you get within that. That is what you need to invest to have at the end the guarantee that you have done the best for your product.


As Addon after re-thinking about I would also say: Tim Parnell could also be a good Consultant for Xojo, he is the developer of lifeboat Software for publishing Xojo Web Apps to the Web. Him you can find at https://strawberrysw.com.

1 Like

Lightwright looks like a neat app. I enjoyed your History page!

$$ for contractors can vary widely, but finding employees that already know Xojo is like finding a needle in a haystack. Just make sure you setup a version control system that the contractor(s) must use so you can manage and protect your product.

I have picked up a few consulting gigs through the Xojo Consulting Requests, so it does work.

Both VERY true & good advice

1 Like

Thinking further about this - you stated your plan was for your business partner to take over programming over 5+ years. That is enough time for him to thoroughly learn Xojo, if he’s amendable to it. Or maybe hiring one employee that’s willing to do this. You could still use contractors to help him learn and to be a resource whenever needed.

Yes, Norman and Tim are high on my list of people to talk to, hopefully within the week - things here suddenly got even busier than usual. Thank you!

Yes, we’re already on GitHug, though Covid and the unexpected increase in sales (I’m not complaining!) slowed us way down this year. My partner does plan to learn Xojo, that was our original plan and still is, but we’re behind on starting work on the next major release, so we need to play catch up, hence the need for outside help. And yes, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone other than me trying to ease him into Xojo.

1 Like

Probably depends on what exactly you want the contractor to do, and how they are set up. I’m a contractor set up with an S-corporation, so all payments would go to the corporation, and I am responsible for taxes, healthcare, etc. Be careful of self-employed contractors if you employ them more than a few hours a week, since the feds might decide they are, in effect, employees (and you know what that entails…).

Expect to pay c. $100/hr and up. If you are quoted below that, be suspicious.

P.S. I’m trying to retire, so don’t look at me :stuck_out_tongue:

Be careful with GitHug. It could lead you to check out and fork the wrong person, and you might not like the commit that follows. :slight_smile:


Good one!

Yet coincidently, there is a project called Githug: GitHub - Gazler/githug: Git your game on!

A self employed contractor just needs to be able to show that they are indeed NOT employed solely buy one entity to avoid such a determination
Been there done that for 15+ years

The only time I had to register an incorporated business was in a prior stint being self employed as the entity I contracted TO insisted that they could not & would not employ self-employed since they HAD had the Tax authorities deem several of their self-employed people to be employees
Thats an expensive mistake on their side AND those people as :

  1. they had listed these contractors in the “employee phone number lists” and gave them all the trapping s of an employee - business cards, offices etc - so they were impossible to distinguish from employees
  2. these “self employed” people had no other clients/contracts where they did work
  3. the “contractors” were required to adhere to all “employee” protocols procedures etc
  4. the “contractors” didnt set their own hours or control much of anything of how they did what they did

So in reality they were just expensive employees

You might want to look at Upwork.com. I’ve done freelance programming work through Upwork and I’ve also hired freelancers through Upwork. The process is pretty easy and streamlined on both sides.

Hey, the more hugs the better! As long as everybody’s been vaccinated…


First I’ve heard of them, I will definitely check them out, thank you!

Yes, I had to testify in a determination hearing once, one of the questions was who all did I work for? Fortunately, I had a bunch of clients, not just the one that was being examined. Interestingly enough, the judge asked if I could hire the client I was working for to assist me in my work. Since that client was famous in the industry, it would be highly unlikely, but theoretically it was entirely possible.

Ultimately, they determined everything was OK, but to be totally safe they closed the business in question and opened another one with a different structure.

The entity you were contracted to was skating on very thin ice, the rules are pretty clear.

I’ll be in touch with you directly soon, thanks!

Yeah here in Canada they arent wildly different than there
They should have known better but …
Its why any contracts I have explicitly state that I will do work for others
And I have for the last 15 years JUST to make sure there is no ambiguity


The marketer Perry Marshall differentiates between 10$, 100$ and 1000$ work. Developing software is the 100$ work. What tasks in the 10 or 100$ categories can you makes into a process and outsource those first?

I have a garden. When I’m not in front of my computer then I’m in the garden. But I occasionally get the gardener for the heavy stuff.

For the software development: why not start with the non-development tasks like writing the manual or doing the testing?

1 Like

The nice thing about contractors is that if you don’t need them you can tell them to buzz off (nicely). The drawback is that they may not be available the next time you need something done in a hurry.

Employees are great when you find one that’s good. Awful when they’re not so good. Unless you’re doing code reviews you are placing an awful lot of trust in the employee. They need to earn it but that’s only if you’re willing to put the time and effort in. The other sad part of employees is that they tend to move on to bigger/better paying gigs once they’ve got some experience. And along with employees you have to deal with payroll, taxes, and benefits. Hired a number of employees in 20 years and had to fire a number of them too and that’s no fun either and some I wish had stuck around but I understand why they left for big $$$ elsewhere.

Pros and cons to both. We tended to go for employees because of the nature of our contracting business and if I was still doing consulting I’d have already contacted you to see if I could help out. :wink:

Without a sense of budget it is an impossible question to answer.

If there are no financial constraints then hire the absolute best and most experienced you can find.

Don’t count on your partner learning Xojo and being proficient enough to not destroy your code base anytime soon.

I would hire a pro as a part time lead/consulting architect. I would hire a couple more hungry CS folks to do small directed tasks and level up in Xojo that provide immediate value to your app. The low hanging fruit.