If you’re building a company as a solo founder, you have a long lonely road ahead of you. The sooner you start putting together a team, the better off you’ll be in every possible way.
I originally made the mistake of believing that it didn’t make sense to pull in contractors on a regular basis because of the amount of time it would take for them to ramp up on Sifter. Instead, I set my sights on getting us to the point where we could hire full-time help. In theory, that way we’d have someone involved who didn’t have to constantly be ramped up.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. These days, we effectively have a bookkeeper, system administrator, front-end developer, and two Rails developers on retainer. Each month, depending on their availability and Sifter’s needs each of them work somewhere between 2-30 hours per month. On top of this, we’re also outsourcing some marketing work so that I can stay more focused on the product. We should have done this a long time ago.
This may not sound like a lot of hours, but these team members have two huge advantages over founders. First, they aren’t multi-tasking and context-switching like founders have to. So they’re able to focus on and execute much more efficiently. Second, and most important, they’re experts at what they do. As a founder, you have to be a generalist, it’s impossible for you to as good at any of their tasks as they are. If you find the right people, they’ll do a better job within their area of expertise than you ever could, and they’ll be faster.
On top of that, there’s one big intangible reason. Working with a team of people makes work more fun. While this probably isn’t news to anyone who’s ever been in this situation, I doubt that I’m alone in being hesitant to bring on contractors for fear of using all of their time ramping them up on a new codebase. It’s not true at all. Find people that can help you 10-20 hours per month and setup a retainer with them. The sooner you begin to build a team, even if they’re only a part-time team, the better off you’ll be.