Problem is I work full time, as a Linux systems engineer (30 years of Unix experience), with a side passion for C programming, web technologies, and have built a hand full of web apps that are getting a lot of use at work (btw I'm not under any contract prohibiting side projects, and have cleared it with my management).
Next problem: The project itself is relatively simple, has client-side pieces that will be open source, and over all I prototyped it in about a weekend's worth of work, but need probably a month or so to get it more polished and robust. The upshot is that it can be easily replicated by anyone in a similar space. There are similar products that try to solve the same problem, but in a rather backwards and less secure method, but I'm really not sure why other vendors haven't thought of this project first.
Third problem: I'm relatively new at modern advanced web apps, so things like taking payments, handling customers, integrating to a customer's on-premise or cloud based authentication (O365, Active Directory, etc) is something I'm not too familiar with (for my projects I just used ldap bind for authentication against a local AD server).
So for my next step, should I put a prototype / demo site online, and let people create demo accounts that last for a couple weeks? Then if there is sufficient interest, set up something like a Stripe account? Start off with local user account authentication, then later on add the ability for customers to set up users authenticating against their own AD domain or O365 account?
Or would I be better off finding a business partner that has been through all this already?
Here is the thing I learned in 2018, in which I also generated >$700K of side income working 10-12 hours a week (mornings, evenings, and weekends): If you know how to learn new tech skills at a reasonable rate, you can learn anything you need to do in a few hours. Obviously this doesn't apply to sophisticated things, but how many of the things you need to do in tech are really that hard? For example, my client needed to update a static website with data stored in Airtable - I spent 2 hours finding some python code that was open source on GitHub that scrapes Airtable every few minutes and puts the data in a JSON file that his static website can now read. 2 hours of effort and I have a client that I billed almost $1000 and he's completely happy with the outcome. His static website is now dynamically updated from Airtable. Not only that, I learned a new skill and I can repeat this for other clients without the effort of learning. Multiply this over several hundred days over several years and you have an amazingly strong side hustle.
Just do it, you can figure out the details as you go...
I think many problems are like this. We engineers to think that we have to build something "rocket science", but actually many businesses don't require "rocket science" software to take off. It's more about the execution.
>I'm relatively new at modern advanced web apps, so things like taking payments, handling customers, integrating to a customer's on-premise or cloud based authentication
These days, there are almost already SaaS for everything. A little googling here and there will find you what you need :) Also sites like indiehackers.com is really awesome. People share what indie projects they had built, there's also a comment section where people can ask.
>Or would I be better off finding a business partner that has been through all this already?
I think you should try to do this in parallel with trying to learn it yourself. Finding a good, competent, and suitable business partner isn't exactly the easiest thing to do.
I would even go further than that, that's exactly the reason why Wordpress and basic CMS are very popular, most companies have some very basic and similar IT needs.
Happy to partner up, or just mentor. Just went through a third-party AD integration, for example.
(Throwaway as I don't want too many people knowing I'm looking at side projects right now...)
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.