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  1. #1
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy

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    Knowing when to expand

    I have a question.

    It seams that many web design companies have more than one founder, which naturally helps the company grow.

    Now imagine if it's just you, lonely you, a humble freelancer competing against the corporations.

    You're working all the days god gives just to keep everybody happy. When do you know it's right to hire more people, and how do you ensure that you're able to keep those people on without the fearing of having to sack them?

    I think it's wrong to expect your staff to create business from the get-go. It's vital that the there is proper procedure to allow you to generate business quickly. Once I've finished with the SEO Book from Sitepoint I'll probably naturally read the Business Kit for more helpful tips.

    How do you know when it's time to hire staff, and what useful tricks do you do to speed your business up and increase your profits? It's important that we are the best and have the most opportunities in life, but how can we assure that the path we take is the right path?

    I would be very interested to know on your responses.


    Kind regards,
    Sega
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot alicia101's Avatar
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    Hi Sega,
    As a first step maybe you should look to hire freelancers, maybe even using elance or odesk. This limits the risk to you, as you're only paying them for what youre using.

    If you find that youre using a lot of freelancers and it becomes cheaper to have a full time employees, that when you should look to hire,

    Hope that helps,

    Alicia

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard webcosmo's Avatar
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    your earning track should tell you when to hire. if you have consistent earning for at least 6 months to be able to pay an employee, you could do it.

    i would personally hire only if I can't handle it all by myself.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict Green Moon's Avatar
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    Don't expect the new employees to bring in new revenues. If you have projects that are generating more work than you can handle, that is the time to hire employees. As pointed out above, you might try freelancers or even part time employees before you undertake the burden of keeping a full time employee busy.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Green Moon View Post
    Don't expect the new employees to bring in new revenues. If you have projects that are generating more work than you can handle, that is the time to hire employees. As pointed out above, you might try freelancers or even part time employees before you undertake the burden of keeping a full time employee busy.
    Very well said. At some point we need to expect the employees to make extra revenue. I use to work in a big corporate company, and they expected to triple our revenue, not really sure how it worked for them. They did seam to be doing very well.

    I completely understand what you're saying and you're right. Part-time is probably the next best option. I am starting to meet other designers in my city, which is cool. Outsourcing is a bit nightmarish, I've done it in the past and sometime, particularly, if their first language is not English, you run into all kinds of problems.
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  6. #6
    Chive On FFCus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    Outsourcing is a bit nightmarish, I've done it in the past and sometime, particularly, if their first language is not English, you run into all kinds of problems.
    I agree. Another big issue is the time zone difference. I had done some work with outsourcing where their business hours were my sleeping hours and vice versa. It wasn't convenient at all.

  7. #7
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    Another option would be to go into partnership with someone else rather than simply hire. Yes there negatives but you could widen your skill base, lessen the risk while doubling the drive to success by teaming up with another individual who has everything on the line rather than turning up for the salary.

    Si

  8. #8
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    Agree with the outsourcing, it works on large projects that can afford heavy project management support and detailed documentation by an IA or technical architect to absolutely specify in black and white what is expected (bound to contract). Otherwise it can be a bit of a nightmare...

    Si

  9. #9
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    I have a question.

    It seams that many web design companies have more than one founder, which naturally helps the company grow.

    Now imagine if it's just you, lonely you, a humble freelancer competing against the corporations.

    You're working all the days god gives just to keep everybody happy. When do you know it's right to hire more people, and how do you ensure that you're able to keep those people on without the fearing of having to sack them?

    I think it's wrong to expect your staff to create business from the get-go. It's vital that the there is proper procedure to allow you to generate business quickly. Once I've finished with the SEO Book from Sitepoint I'll probably naturally read the Business Kit for more helpful tips.

    How do you know when it's time to hire staff, and what useful tricks do you do to speed your business up and increase your profits? It's important that we are the best and have the most opportunities in life, but how can we assure that the path we take is the right path?

    I would be very interested to know on your responses.


    Kind regards,
    Sega
    It sounds to me like before you consider expanding/hiring, you need to come up a more coherent direction and strategy so that you know what you are working towards.

    What is your goal? If you hire someone else, what would they do? What would you do? What do you like to do? What are you good at? Who will win new business? Who will handle what, etc.

    Most freelancers who want to hire out have a simple approach that if they hire someone on, they can take on more work and thus make more money. But, that isn't a very nuanced or promising path - each person you add bring organizational overhead as well as costs. So, there has to be some idea of how it will work.

    For example, say that you hate doing new business/sales. So, maybe you would hire that part out. Maybe you are a good project manager so you might keep that part, but you're a slow programmer so maybe hire another developer. One thing is for sure, if you just bring someone with no plan, it's going to be hard to grow/manage it because each person will need management, etc. unless you bring in a full partner.

    So, what is it that you are good at, like doing, etc?

    I would also encourage you to consider the language you used in your post, which suggests that you feel that you are a humble and diminutive competitor to 'the corporations', toiling away using all of your hours. That kind of mentality is for freelancers/employees and if you truly want to grow a business you should start thinking like one rather than already putting yourself in some lesser category.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  10. #10
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    Yes I would agree If you have the business expenses covered for 6 months and have had a steady flow of new business you should be good to go.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy

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    I love the solid advice given here. I think it's fairly safe to assume that if I had 6 months of solid business it would be a good idea to hire staff.

    At the moment because it's just me I pretty much do all the work. The internal work is just as much as the external work, and it all eats into you schedule.

    I officially started in February, things have been slow and steady, but I am just about coping on my own. Things have started to get busier now, particularly as new potential clients are coming into the mix, making things interestingly different.

    So, what is it that you are good at, like doing, etc?
    Managing clients. Designing websites. Supporting customers needs. HTML and CSS obviously! SEO and I love that bit, really do!
    Not a great fan of doing the paperwork! Got to admit that. In fact I pretty much hate it.

    I would also encourage you to consider the language you used in your post, which suggests that you feel that you are a humble and diminutive competitor to 'the corporations', toiling away using all of your hours. That kind of mentality is for freelancers/employees and if you truly want to grow a business you should start thinking like one rather than already putting yourself in some lesser category.
    The competition here does not offer anything better. Business always evolves but clients demands need to be met, even if we don't necessarily agree with the changes.



    PS: THE NEW SITEPOINT FORUM ROCKS!!!!
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  12. #12
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    How continuous is your cash-flow?

    Are you living by the seat of your pants, or are you able to put money away for a time, and build up a buffer? Personally that it what I would be looking for, then take someone on, with that safety. You'd need to make sure that you have enough to keep them busy though - so you'd be looking to land a reasonable size contract before taking the plunge. Do you have in between large jobs work that you can give them? Might be worthwhile chasing that, or setting up a number of customers who are interested, but explaining that you will launch at a particular point in time. If you offer them a better deal, you both win, and could overcome your potential cashflow issues.

    The other alternative is to take someone on initially on a per project basis, might cost a little more, but overcomes the cashflow issue.

    What you need to be able to do is systemise your business - make it so that it is a cookie cutter, and can be repeated. You need to be sure that you have instructions that can be easily followed, and then when you're ready hand them over, so you can concentrate perhaps on getting more work in?

    How well set up is the rest of your business, the administrative side? Who currently does that? Could that be the first thing to outsource / offload, so that you can continue doing what you are good at? What about the day to day operations? Do you have your accounts all set up and clicking along? If you don't you're going to go through a lot of pain and expense if you have staff.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like you need to get to know your business a little better before trying to expand, or at least find people who you can pay to help you, but don't actually work for you. If everything is ticking along, and you have plenty of work, you wil know, as it should be easy to transition.

    Another alternative would be to partner with someone who has what you don't, and work together, or take on a partner who will generate their own money.


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