This is the story of how I took a small web design and development shop from near collapse to profitability in just a few steps. I want you to learn from my past so that you can also grow your business, maintain your sanity, scale up and down easily, and be more profitable.
Let’s start from the beginning…
About three years ago things weren’t so great. We had really amazing months and we had months that we felt we couldn’t catch our breath. We were trying to juggle large-scale software systems with smaller marketing-focused projects. Although we had been in business for a while, we still had not learned how to manage ourselves and the extensive growth we were experiencing. It was difficult to bring on developers fast enough to match our sales rate…especially developers that you want to keep around. Integration into a team takes time and finding the best developers requires a ton of recruitment and time invested.
So, what could we do?
Well, that’s when I met Andrei.
Andrei had been managing a Romanian-based outsource team for nearly 20 years. He helped me learn how outsourcing teams operate and how to manage and work effectively with this kind of team.
As I began working more with outsource teams, I realized that there were more options than constantly finding, hiring, and training new in-house developers. Three years later and I couldn’t be happier with where this has brought our company.
Not in the industry? You may want to read this.
Not an information architect, designer, developer, or project manager? Don’t know how to scope, plan, or manage a project? Don’t currently work with an outsourced team? Well, hate to break it to you, but you’re probably going to fail.
Now I don’t say this to discourage you; I’m trying to give you a reality check. The truth is, you’re not experienced enough to get a web or mobile app up and running successfully.
Think about it this way:
Building an app is like building a home. If you were building a house, could you draw up the blueprints? Could you identify who to hire and who can plan the project? Could you plan the project yourself? Do you know what needs to be built first, what things will likely go wrong, and what things will likely go right?
If you didn’t know how to do any of these things, you wouldn’t and couldn’t build a house, right? Well, the same goes for building an app, web-based software, or large-scale website. You wouldn’t build a house with no experience and you shouldn’t build software without experience, either. Period.
So if you’re wanting to build a house with no experience, you’d hire an outsourced team of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, framers, etc. You would need an architect and a foreman to lead the team. Makes sense right? Well, you’d be surprised how many don’t understand this approach when it comes to building an app or website. I see so many great startups that fail to understand that some outsourced teams don’t come with architects. I’ve seen a lot of great teams and business owners lose a massive amount of time and money because they don’t realize this.
You might be saying to yourself: “Well what’s the big deal? Can’t I just manage it myself? I know what I want and thats all that’s needed, right?”
No, you’re wrong; you don’t know what you want. And here’s why:
You aren’t an engineer, and you aren’t an architect. You are the investor, and each role thinks and communicates differently. An engineer is driven by building something that fulfills a purpose. They can’t tell you what the purpose is, though. An architect, on the other hand, is driven by telling you what the purpose or “function” is, and knows the best way to accomplish this. It’s almost like the two roles were made for each other. The problem? Who is going to fund their ambitions and help them to pursue their dreams of conquering the world one line of code at a time?
That’s where you come in. An investor (you) will have the money and is driven by a return on his investment. The investor has ideas on how to get there, but doesn’t know the best way or how to break it down into a more detailed way for an engineer to understand. You might know what you want, but as far as an engineer is concerned, if you don’t know how to communicate this, then you basically don’t know what you want. You have no ability to direct their building prowess, and that is why you fail.
Still not convinced? Let me lay it out like this:
If you hire an outsourcing team with no information architect and you are NOT a designer, developer, or project manager, or, if you don’t WORK in the industry at all and you want to build a web-based software system or application… you might as well pay double on what you originally budgeted for the project and let someone punch you in the face. I guarantee you, it will be less painful and way less expensive than trying to go a “cheaper” route by going directly to an outsource team.
Don’t want to do that? Good news for you! Invest that budget you planned to spend into real estate on the moon! It will give you a better payout than hiring an outsourced team with no information architect. So why not go ahead and pursue your dream of being the first real estate tycoon when we all have to move to the moon…
My Point: if you don’t have the experience needed to execute this project from start to finish, don’t hire JUST an outsourcing team.
I will say it again…if you aren’t already in the industry and want to build something successful, please hire a team with an information architect who has done this before. You’ll thank me later and you will end up learning a lot.