I have a small company (only me, and hire developers on a project to project basis) and I will have soon completed a software product that will help a lot of oil companies (FYI: doing this on request from oil company employees, not just guesswork). I want my tiny company to be the supplier for the big corps, but I am afraid that the structure of my company, size, etc., will be an issue for bigger companies as they've got rules and regulations when doing deals, but with cloud technology I imagine there is an opportunity here. How do I go about this? Am I destined to sell my software to a huge IT corp and just get royalties?
Here's what I don't see so far: executive (buyer) INVOLVEMENT by your target customers.
Go to them. Show them what you've got. Get the testimonials from your employee-level advisors to show them the need is legit. (Use these same employees to start going up the chain and finding out who are the decision makers you need to talk to.) Find out if they are interested.
If they are, say that you want their help with compliance issues (they already employ highly experienced experts in this department, believe me; and you can leverage this). In return you'll give them a deal in licensing the use of the software.
I want you to understand something: User Adoption is key here. Right now, you have nothing. But get ONE user, one client, one recognizable name in your target market using the software, and now you have something.
So be prepared to basically give that initial license away--at least for the first year--if you must. That's your Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement (time for you to read up on negotiation, I think). Because after that, you can go to the next whale and say, "Yeah, ABC Oil is using our product and they sure like it."
If Customer #1 wants a guarantee of exclusivity, like this software is going to give the user a competitive advantage, then guess what, the price goes up.
You cannot protect your idea from being stolen. So quit worrying about that (if you are.) Frankly, most firms and their staff are too darn busy with their own daily firefighting and are only too happy to outsource something like this to someone they can delegate out to.
If you want further detailed strategy help like this, wording for conversations, and more, book a call.
This also implicitly handles all manner if random details like...
1) Packaging + Shipping your software to people.
2) IP (Intellectual Property) protection. If you ship your code to someone + the market is lucrative enough, your code will be reversed engineered by anyone smart enough to notice your niche + your software.
3) SAAS runs in every browser + every OS... well... if you have good coders. Better said, you should only pay your coders based on performance + first payment contingency is code should run in browsers running on Linux + OSX + Windoze.
4) You can always ensure people have the latest version of your software, so you fix bugs + roll out fixes to your code base, so you always know what version of code clients are running when they open a trouble ticket.
5) International shipping cost. Related to #1 + keep in mind about the cheapest you can ship 16oz anywhere is $30 USD, so if you do ship product, ensure you figure in this amount.
6) International shipping paperwork. One of my companies is a Super Food company which ships from the US to many other countries. We only ship overseas product through Freight Forwarders. These companies take care of all the paperwork, which can take 1-4 hours per shipment to fill out for some jurisdictions. Also, oil + gas software may fall under all manner of Government restrictions, based on code you include. If you use a Freight Forwarder, all this nonsense consideration pushes to buyer + Freight Forwarder.
So you're shipping product from the US to Finland, you'll only be responsible for shipping product to the US Freight Forwarder where your Finish client has setup their account.
I suggest MyUS.com as I've used since around 2003 with great success.
Another paperwork trick. If the country you ship to requires a commercial invoice (for various products so countries do, some don't) require you client to provide you with the exact commercial invoice they'd like include in their shipment.
If you write the wrong thing on a commercial invoice, your client will receive a "burn bill", instead of what they ordered.
Burn Bill - bill customs generates to cover whatever was required to destroy your product.
Always only include commercial invoices generated by clients. They will likely know better what's required for their customs to ensure package delivery.
7) Access control. SAAS delivery allows you to control how many people access a given "seat" to your product.