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I expect anyone in a similar situation has encountered the same issues.
It is working fine so far I am / have been:
- finding and winning plenty of work,
- completing work (to deadlines) getting paid, (not fast enough in either case :-)
- can just about keep up with the new issues (though this is one of the biggest challenges)
- used subcontractors where needed technically. Usually where I dont have a specific skill.
However I need to grow to be able to do more work per year and evolve into a more proper business.
If I were selling all the time I could generate more work than I could handle, at the moment I am on the balancing act of selling enough to win the work and working enough to complete it. It seems a hard balance to strike because the skills and routines are not 100% compatible ...
Has anyone in here come a similar route and is willing to share any tips on moving from a one man show to something more substantial in this line of work?
After that the next expansion is only by 50% and reduces after that.
One way that you can do it is by going into partnership with another person doing similar work in your area, this may mean merging two limited companies or other accounting tricks.
Or you can subcontract out work until you have enough to fill two peoples time and then look at taking someone on.
You can subcontract in your core skills just as easily in areas where you lack the technical expertise.
We now have three people with complementary skill sets. We started out by forming a company from three individuals and actually had to fire one of the original three because he wasn't producing, that was really tough. Since then we have taken on a junior designer from college which was quite good as he didn't have any preconceptions about work.
Interesting Ian, I had not thought of it in that way but you are quite right.
Sub contracting route seems to need plenty of admin to keep control of distributed work and meet deadlines.
I used one guy for dbase work which worked great but did not produce enough work to keep him anywhere near dedicated (not anywhere near :-) so I was effectively competing with his other sources of work and a couple of months ago I lost that little competition so I probably need a new dbase programmer for any bigger projects :-(. Big loss because its the same as loosing an employee in that the working together experience is lost.
Sub con does remain attractive because I dont have to pay all the time even if the person is not producing anything. However continuety is a big thing I would like to get in any personal relationships .... I guess thats obvious ..
I agree there have to be at least some significant overlaps, for example you can't sell it if you dont understand it and you should not develop it if you dont understand the customers need.
"had to fire one of the original three because he wasn't producing, that was really tough."
Must have been nasty that.
I am kind of courting one individual I would like to do business with. Its not often I find people I trust enough to go into business with.. pretty rare in my working life so far in fact, perhaps because in the sectors I was employed in many people seem to be just "along for the ride".
"Since then we have taken on a junior designer from college which was quite good as he didn't have any preconceptions about work."
HaHa so Ian, you have a slave :-)
Did not want to be funny in this thread but: I think you have to "get em before they are negatively brain washed" or when they are old enough to have "thought it all through for themselves"! The only alternative is to employ teenagers when they "know everything".
Seriously Ian thanks for your thoughts.
If anyone else wants to contribute I hope they will.