Building on the previous post, one of the issues I’m facing right now is the enormous amount of work I have to accomplish, not all of it paid. In addition to addressing my client work, I also need to focus on building the business and finding new clients. That means marketing, networking, accounting, etc. It turns out I have a bit of a knack for these things. I love marketing and networking with people, I love meeting with clients and strategizing about their websites. And, yes, I do still enjoy occasionally implementing the work I plan for, though that’s lower on my “enjoy” list than it used to be.
The bigger issue right now for me, and the connecting thread in my last three posts, is that there’s far too much work for one guy to do at the moment. The answer, of course, is to find help, and I;ve begun doing that. However, there are a few challenges there as well. Specifically, how to find solid folks who meet my standards who are also affordable for me to still make a profit on the work performed. I’ve received a number of offers from offshore companies, but I’ve managed offshore relationships in the past and I find them to often be more trouble than they’re worth. I’d much rather tap talent local to me, not only in the USA but specifically in Contra Costa County. Even with ubiquitous telecommunications technology, I still like to sit across from a table and look someone in the eye before I trust them with something as vital to me as my clients’ work.
Of course, finding and vetting these folks takes time, which is already an exhausted resource. Worse, it’s unpaid time. In the long term, that time is really an investment for, when I find a groupd of folks I can work with, I’ll be able to take on a lot more work and actually build the business. In these early days, though, when cashflow is everything, it kills me to have to take that time away.
Hence my current trap – I can remain a one man band and take on as much work as my time allows, or I can take some of that time and focus on building a lasting, sustainable business. In my industry, there are a ton of freelancers, most of them happy to do the work they get and leave it at that. But what happens when they move or burn out or change careers? Their clients are often passed on to other folks who may or may not be as trusty as the original freelancers. Plus, despite the money that comes from it, freelancers usually hate maintenance. One of the greatest joys in freelancing is being able to do something new every day. When you get stuck updating and maintaining the same thing day in and day out, it can get tiring.
TechKnowMe is my solution to this problem. I’d love to just freelance, but I have a couple of dozen other things I want to pursue as businesses down the line as well. I’m concerned that, when I’m ready to pursue those dreams, I’ll feel like I’m letting my clients down by ditching them and dumping them on someone else. If, however, I have a cache of programmers, designers and administrators I trust to spread the work, I can be confident that, no matter what, my clients will be taken care of. And this is the same value proposition I wish to offer to the freelancers I hire. It’s better to work as part of a team rather than as a one-person show – better for the clients, better for the freelancer.
But, again, getting that together takes time, which equals money to me right now. So the conundrum continues – risk my cashflow to build a business, or risk my business to maintain cashflow? There’s no real answer, I just need to keep plugging and focusing on keeping the cash coming in while I build. Still, it’s a lot for one guy to handle.