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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Options for increasing total work output?

I've got a non-problem where there's too much paying consulting work and not enough time to complete it all.

Normally I'd just work more slowly, but a) I want to work on other things (micro-ISV), and b) I worry about damaging my relationship with the clients.

So, options I've considered:

- Outsource to Rentacoder et al. I'm having poor results so far, mostly related to the time and cost being many times what I consider reasonable for *local* staff.

- Hire an employee. Loss of productivity, cost, insurance and undesirable company growth are all problems here. I'm not confident that I could make this work out economically.

- - Sub-idea: recruit an intern.

- Sleep less. I include this only for completeness. I've tried sleeping less and working more in the past. It absolutely ruins my quality of life and moods. I won't do that again.

- Fire a client. I consciously realise that this is probably what I should do, but my conscience gets in the way. They're not in a position to find a new person anytime soon; there'd be extensive handover work; I'm not confident that the client company would survive my departure. All said, though, the main benefit I get from them is money, and money is not really that high on my list of priorities.

- Work more efficiently. From a mercenary point of view, I'm opposed to this as I'm doing more work for less money. Realistically, I'm not sure there's much improvement to be had. Stress management tends to be the limiting factor in my daily productivity.

Any more ideas or advice?
Ian Howson Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Charge more.
nobody Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
One of the leading problems that lead to startups going under is a founder(s) that tries to do everything or too much.  If you wish to grow your business you need to step away from the "grunt work" and MANAGE the business.

IMHO, you need to hire an employee and start planning on how to let go of the "low-level work" and start concentrating on high-level strategy and business.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Fire a client.  If you don't, you will continue to suffer, the quality of your work will decline, and you'll either burn out or you'll lose at least one client due to dissatisfaction.  Maybe more than one.  If that happens, there's every chance you'll find it hard to get more clients, as the ones that fire you most certainly will not want you back, ever, and will not give you referrals to people they know.

So suck it up, pick the one that is the least profitable in terms of at least one of time, money, and pleasure, and apologize profusely while you give them the axe.  Refer them to a friend who needs the work.
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
I also agree with the "charge more" option.  You could raise your rates until one of them drops out of the game, but you do run the risk of losing more than one that way.
Aaron F Stanton Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
As a consultant, you should always have a network of trusted friends (or at least acquaintances) who also do consulting. Then when you have too many clients clamoring for your services, you can always hand some of them off to your buddies. And during the lean times when you're not getting a lot of calls, your buddies can hand off clients to you.

The network of consultants is also handy if a client asks you to do something outside of your area of expertise. You can refer them to a friend who is more experienced in that area.

And yes, raising prices probably isn't a bad idea either.
Dan Helfman (Luminotes) Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Instead of firing, could you maybe just tell the client with least priority that you're completely backlogged and will have to delay their work for a couple weeks? Delays are normal in most businesses (backorders, etc) so maybe they'd prefer that than outright firing and having to find someone else.

Then just put in your 35 or 40 hours. You can only work so much, everything doesn't always have to be done "now!"
Thursday, January 31, 2008
It's kinda funny - every time I mention this to my consultant friends, they nod knowingly and say 'good luck!' as they're in the same situation (too much work).

Like I said, it's a non-problem - it's a problem, but it's a problem that is generally desirable.

I like the idea about increasing rates - I win either way (they ask me to stop working, or I earn more). Thing is, I'm not entirely about the money - I'd rather have interesting work to do (micro-ISV).
Ian Howson Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Toothless in Seattle
Thursday, January 31, 2008
You could raise your rates until one of them drops out of the game, but you do run the risk of losing more than one that way.

Not if you only raise rates on one of them... If he doesn't flinch, move on to the next one.  Continue until you find a flincher.  Mazel tov, the market has just done the work of keeping the quantity of demand for your labor within the quantity of supply.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
++ raise your rates

As a bonus, you may find that, having raised your rates, you can comfortably afford to hire some help.

Of course, I'm not clear on why, as a contractor, you would have any trouble hiring help: you hire them as a 1099 (independant contractor) and take a cut off the top. When the work dries up, you let them go.
Jeffrey Dutky Send private email
Thursday, January 31, 2008
"I'm not confident that the client company would survive my departure."

Either you're way overestimating your importance, or they've put themselves in an untenable position.
Drew Kime Send private email
Friday, February 01, 2008
Same situation here. My plan is to charge more and also find and hire 1-2 local students whom I can "develop" over the course of a few weeks. They have the benefit of flexibility (essentially part-time work), doing interesting stuff that pays better than usual student jobs (bartending etc). As they improve, I can raise their salary. My benefit is I don't have the risks, sunk cost and bureaucratic overhead of Real Hiring of officially registered full-time employees. As long as they stay under 80 hours per months, no headaches with authorities.

Now I only need to find them... anyone living near Berlin and done some .NET work before?
Philipp Schumann Send private email
Sunday, February 03, 2008

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