As Cameron Moll noted – as nimble and flexible as small teams (or one-man-shows) are, there are things they lack in comparison to larger teams. While teams may have plenty of red-tape to cut through, they are afforded the resources to make up significant progress that might be lost because of.
Teams cannot produce more time but they can create more opportunity for time by dividing and conquering or being able to throw more resources at a project. Individuals and small teams will more than likely come to a conclusion at some point that things do — and will — take time and that time is often the valuable piece needed to make the product better.
Five years in, I am slightly better about managing my time and schedule but there is room for improvement. My estimating time for projects could definitely use some help. I often run my estimates short of where they should be when developing for clients and it’s usually because of one of two factors: either I firmly believe that I can do something in that amount of time, or I feel like I need to underestimate a project just to land the client. Neither of which are acceptable solutions.
In my attempts to acquire new client work, my under-estimating causes anything from unneeded stress to make sure I complete the project by the deadline or in the fact that I hinder my ability to provide other clients with the highest level of service. When stress happens, projects begin to suffer. It’s a cycle of knowing work needs to come in regularly, work needs to be completed on time and work stacked upon work (some that have been under-estimated) creates for long nights and weekends.
Idealistic answers like ‘stop at five’ or ‘charge more’ are nice but they are just that, idealistic. Raising rates is fun until the dotted line isn’t getting signed. Stopping at five o’clock is a great idea until you realize that work isn’t getting accomplished. I can’t say that I’ve come to a final solution but something in the process needs to change.
Though there’s no guarantee it will be the same tomorrow, right now business is good. Good enough that it’s driven me over the last month or two to make some challenging but exciting decisions for my business. I’ve come to the conclusion that getting some extra help might be the best option at this point. Having an extra contractor or two to fill in some gaps seems like the appropriate route to take. It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to arrive at and I apologize to those of you who have had to listen to me think out loud about it for the last couple of months.
I am essentially about to replace myself.
I have contracted guys to do work in the past, but I believe each and every one has been for roles I did not have the skills to accomplish the task. I put my trust in each of them and their competence of their respective technologies. This however, I see as slightly different. I am now in the process of obtaining help for roles that I myself have filled over the last five years. I am essentially about to replace myself.
Oh captain, my captain
For me, bringing help on is a scary proposition on multiple levels. It means that I have to be completely sure that I’ve got enough work to keep everyone going as well as it means I have to be able to relinquish some control over certain pieces of a project. It also means that there are real people to deal with that have emotions, talents and potentially differing working styles that I will need to be able to adjust to and learn from.
My best bet in countering the control issue is finding the right people to surround myself with. Better than me at their respective tasks seems to be the best route to go with. I haven’t yet figured out the best answer to forcing a consistent pipeline of work. Zig Ziglar anyone? And as far as managing the human aspect of it all, that may be the toughest challenge before me.
Today I moved forward. I delegated a task that I would normally handle. I am excited about the potential and feel like I’ve given it to the right person to solve. And when it goes well, I’ve got more work to share.
Feel like you have a talent that I might need the services of? You should get in touch. I’ve got a good feeling that 2011 is going to be big.
Know someone in need of my (our) services? I just cleared the calendar.