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5. whether or not I should initiate some sort of profit-sharing or stock option thing in order to motivate technical people to do a good job and to stick around
Profit share is good, but it kicks in after <some minimum number of months). Equity is not good unless it kicks in after x years. You may not want a few equity owners who are not connected with the company after they leave, but you may be OK with this if they were great contributors when they worked for you.
slow to hire and quick to fire
In my experience, technical people are far more autonomous and easy to manage even across the world, compared to a general laborer in the same room as you.
Critical for doing things remotely and managing a distributed workforce is an effective system of objectively measuring each worker's productivity. This doesn't guarantee effective workers, but it is a necessary tool for management. Choose your platform carefully, it isn't easy to get everyone to change systems later.
Hire a good accountant first, to keep all your payroll and tax issues in order. This is critical, and too specialized to handle yourself and still manage your business.
Read up on corporate structures, processes, procedures etc; you won't reinvent this wheel in your lifetime.
Look at systemizing and building processes so that a monkey could do it. Remember: a good business isn't one that requires good employees. That's a flaw in the system. A good business is one that can take mediocre employees and through a good system produce superior products.
Hire for personality, train the skill. I can't emphasize this enough. You can always teach people skills but you CANNOT teach someone to be a good person.
There's two types of leaders: 1. Those that plan a direction, then find people to do the tasks and 2. Those who hire good people and then figure where to go. In 1. you're screwed if it doesn't work out as you planned. It never works out. In 2. you don't know where you're going but you'll eventually get somewhere good.
I run my company remotely. But really, if you do it right, it won't even need you.
Don't worry about keeping your "secrets" safe. The truth is, your system and processes are your secrets. Not your ideas or your code.
I'd rather say don't.
Arguments about in-house , contracting outside all revolve around your capacity to adequately manage the issues of your business SWOT.
I've read about SWOT, but could you elaborate on this a bit?
I agree with this statement. All of us developers had access to the code, we could have done whatever we wanted, but we didn't. We were there to do something we enjoy, programming.
In 2009 I started my own e-commerce web site selling products. I have worked on many e-commerce web sites and decided I would create my own and sell products. I'm very familiar with our dedicated server, code, source control, database, etc..etc.. since I'm the one who set it all up.
If I were to start handing over some of the IT work that was involved with the web site, I would look for a 1099 contractor that would be able to dedicate the needed time to my web site.
I would start the contractor off on a small project and see how he/she does. I would go over the framework of the web site and show them the ropes.
After they have completed their first project, they would check in their code, I could review it etc..etc..
[edited by: Tonearm at 9:07 am (utc) on Apr 3, 2012]
Have you had much experience managing technical people remotely?
system of objectively measuring each worker's productivity...
I'm really interested in this... Are there software packages for this sort of thing?
Hire a good accountant first...
I'm glad you brought this up. I don't see why accounting needs to fill even a single part-time position ...trained my wife to handle payroll and bookkeeping. Income statement preparation is just a click. Payroll taxes are a hassle (and expensive!) but it's only every 3 months. When is a "good" accountant necessary?
Does a general liability insurance policy usually cover this sort of thing?