Considering how to get a consulting/digital agency started. The goal is to become a 20 person firm within 3-5 years who focuses on high end clients and solutions (higher hourly rate). At the moment it is really just me. Here are the approaches I'm considering - would love to get some feedback:
1. Do the work myself - I am a "domain expert". I have a background in programming, design, proj mgmt etc. I can do the work and can ensure the quality is high. I would then need to hire someone to do sales on my behalf I suppose. But I've heard a million times that if you want to build a business you need to work *ON* your business, not get stuck working *IN* your business. I've seen several people go this route and they never seem to break out of being a freelancer.
2. Outsource Hybrid - I can step back and only do the proj mgmt, architecture planning and pass off actual production work to the offshore developers. This frees me up at least 50% to do the client-facing work (acct mgmt and sales) myself. This allows me to work *ON* the business, but I worry that I won't be able to take a position of a high quality firm by employing offshore team (perceived value). I can lower my rates and pass some of the value to the client which may help to get clients but perhaps not the better clients as a result. I'm sensing offshore is really getting a bad reputation lately (some earned, some not).
Those are the two main options that I see. What would you do? How do you get started, establish momentum and yet still maintain a brand that is able to attract higher end clients and projects? Do the work yourself even though you cannot grow very quickly, retain offshore assistants even though it may damage your credibility, or is there another option I'm not clueing into?