As an entrepreneur you’re ready to hire tech staff. You’re told this is crucially important. You’re advised that, not only must you hire the correct number of developers, but they must have the right skills and experience that match up with the technology stack. Unfortunately, according to this article, we’re gently guided to be aware of certain minor practical concerns.
“The idea of millionaire status is seductive, leading many job seekers to strategically apply to startups heading toward profitable exits.“
So, by “job seekers” the author means “bad actors and parasites.”
There are all kinds of practical problems, most of them financial, lurking in the details of hiring competent and productive technical staff. Competent developers are expensive. Productive ones even more so. Hiring problems are going to present themselves as distractions, stealing from your precious time and startup capital. Job titles, compensation and benefits plans, profit sharing, stock options, incentives, etc. Do you want contractors or full time employees? Staffing firms charge impressive commissions. Traditional consultants, if they consistently deliver results, do so according to what can easily turn out to be an adversarial and expensive process.
Things could go wrong in many more ways than they can go right.
With no sense of irony, the last paragraph of the article makes reference to “asking the right questions,” yet it seems to have missed the larger question-- “How can I get to market and realize revenue quickly?”
For an early stage tech startup, “How can I build a solid team?” is a question that can be, and often must be postponed until after there is a proof of concept for your product or service and it is deemed viable. Doing it any other way introduces too many variables and too much expensive risk.
It is far better to ask some other questions first. These questions can only be answered once there is some prototype, proof of concept, or initial version of the product available for you and your investors to study and test against alternative ideas that may occur to you during this early process. Instead of risking everything, you have the opportunity to risk almost nothing during the phase of the project in which minimizing risk is the most critical.
What about matching the skill sets of the tech staff to the tech stack? First of all, most developers need to update their skill set every few years. This is just part of being a developer. Secondly, while everyone has their specialties and favorite tools and platforms, good developers do not have a rigid list of technologies and if they’re faced with any language or tool not on this list, they are hopelessly lost. Instead, good developers are used to fluidly moving into a new technology on-the-fly. This is how they reinvent their skill sets over time. For example, you do not make a fatal mistake by hiring a highly intelligent and flexible AngularJs developer to work on a ReactJs or VueJs project.
Once you hire top notch software developers to turn your ideas into a reality, there are multiple approaches to the process of software development-- or any productive enterprise for that matter. There will be discussions, both technical and non-technical, about the scope and the priority of each product or service feature in relation to all others. This is because software development is an exercise in trade-offs. Ultimately, each methodology is a reflection of that and a reaction to the failure of another methodology to result in project success.
Do you plan to also staff for all the roles associated with the development methodology? Even world-class technical talent can be thwarted by ineffective technical project leadership. Ask any of these expert developers about their experience with project failure, and be skeptical of anyone who tells you they’ve never seen such a thing! The first thing your development team is going to want to know is what they’re supposed to be building. They’re going to want as many details as possible. This might cause you to spend a lot of time back at the drawing board.
Let say you hire two developers for $175,000. You hire one relatively inexperienced developer for, say $75,000 and a more experienced one for, say, $100,000. This will, of course, be challenging, at least in the United States where there is a culture of innovation and a robust labor market. You will likely either pay significantly more, or be able to hire fewer developers than you first planned, with all the operational risk that entails. Contractors engaged through an agency will bill at a rate of at least $100/hr. For full time employees, you’ll need to add benefits, taxes, computer equipment, office expenses, perks, and agent (head hunter) commissions.
In any case, let’s say you’re able to do this for about $300,000 (it will be more) for just two full stack developers. Let’s next assume you take two weeks to perform interviews and make the proper hiring decisions, and an additional two weeks for your new hires to leave their former jobs and onboarded and up to speed with your project in order to become productive. Let us assume, then, it will take these developers two months to deliver the first version of your product.
Therefore, ideally, three months later, you will have spent more than $50,000 and your product is delivered. Hopefully, it will be of acceptable quality. By dealing with Lognosys instead, you will spend less than this amount to get a guaranteed result in the same amount of time (plus get a year of technical support) and you don’t have to hire anyone and be committed to that payroll expense for an indeterminate length of time. What’s more, you do not pay anything unless the product you are satisfied with is delivered.
When you hire a traditional consulting firm, contractors, or full time employees, you have to take on the risk of unfulfilled expectations, mistakes, illnesses, bad actors, security and intellectual property issues, and a host of other potential problems at a time when you need to enter the market as quickly as possible with a solid product.
Instead of risking your time, trade secrets, and capital in a market fraught with short timers, you should turn the tables on the situation and demand fast, risk-free results at a lower cost. When you begin to realize revenues and your product or service is proven to have market viability is the time to make the careful and critical decision that should be made to expand this product and make long term plans for in-house management and development.
One final interesting idea is to go ahead and hire your technical staff to develop your solution while simultaneously engaging us. When we implement your vision faster than your in-house developers, you will be faced with two options instead of one, and we may be able to work with your developers too, in a continuation, support, or project management role.
It’s best to have more options than fewer options and technically competent people who understand your business and your goals, just in case of unforeseen risks.