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Solo-Preneur to Entreprenuer Transition Advice

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New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Mar 26, 2012
52
14
Hello Fastlane Members,

Thank you for reading my post. I am seeking feedback and advice from successful entrepreneurs.

Background:

I read MJ's Fastlane book 4.5 years ago and launched my Software product 4 years ago. The product was a success and in the first year I made $150K in profit / revenue. I studied Computer Science, hence, I created the product myself and was a solo-entrepreneur. After 2 years of being a solo-entrepreneur I decided to migrate the Desktop product to Web / Mobile. I hired two contractors to migrate the product to Web / Mobile. One currently works for me full time and the other works part time on an as needed basis after his regular work hours.

Two years ago I also hired a full time Desktop Developer for the Custom Software Division of my company. Prior to creating the product I was an IT Consultant for a niche industry here in Ontario, Canada and I have multiple custom software customers.

Hence there are two revenue streams to my business. The Product Division and the Custom Software Division, both catering to the same niche industry here in Ontario, Canada.

Growth Challenges:

The three contractors that currently work for me (2 Full Time, 1 Part time) are very good. They all have strengths and weaknesses but overall I feel grateful to have them on my team. They are skilled, dedicated, have integrity and want to produce quality work.

The challenge I am encountering is that to create an excellent work environment for them (we all work from home) I dedicate a lot of my energy to them at the expense of Sales and Business Growth.

What I am noticing is that if I stayed as a solo-entrepreneur I would be making more money, have more control of my time and have more Product Sales. The niche Product is still only making $150K revenue / year and now I have the added overhead of a full time and part time developer which is around $65K / year.

However without contractors, I wouldn't be growing in the areas where I want to grow which are Leadership and Building a Business.

I find the biggest bottle neck is that my developers are very good developers but they cannot take on some of the other roles which I would like them to own.

For example, I wish the full time Front End developer could take on Software Training and Support which I currently do. However, he has very limited industry experience; so although he could explain the software functionality he has no understanding of the data and its relevance to the industry. It would probably take him 6 months to become proficient and comfortable in this area. What I am currently doing is pulling him into Customer Training meetings which I conduct and slowly exposing him to industry knowledge.

Also I wish the full time Custom Desktop Software Developer could lead specification meetings with the customer, and provide support and training. In his case he has extensive industry knowledge but he doesn’t want the responsibility of interacting with customers without my presence especially when it comes to specification meetings. Hence, I have to be highly involved in Custom Software projects and do the Business Analysis which is quite mentally intensive in our industry. Also I am only making $20 - $25 / hour on my Custom Software developer and sometimes I think the stress and exposure to risk for Custom Software is not worth it. That being said there are peripheral benefits to Custom Software Projects: new Product Customers, more industry knowledge and presence, and risk mitigation from a second revenue stream.

In conclusion, although I have time for Sales and Business Strategy my focus is often interrupted and at times I let sales go because I am dealing with so many other day to day issues. I found when I was a solo-entrepreneur I had much more control over my focus, scheduling of my time, was more peaceful and made more money. That being said I wouldn’t the trade the experience of contractors because it has accelerated my personal growth in so many areas. Also, I realize that my best path to financial independence is building a business system which I can eventually sell. I will turn 40 in February.

In your opinion, what are the solutions to me growing my Sales and building a Business System without compromising product quality and contractor morale?

Thank you.
 
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ions

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Mar 26, 2012
52
14
Hello Fastlane Members,

I decided to hire my uncle (part time to start) to assist me with Business Analysis. Hopefully later he may also be able to assist me with managing the contractors.

I also reached out to a woman I met at an industry conference last year to see if she would be interested in a part time sales position.

I realized that if I am going to grow the business I need to take more risks and grow the team so I can delegate more and focus on strategy and sales.

I also setup a meeting this Sunday for all contractors to finally meet in person at a restaurant. We all work from home and we have never all been together.

Writing this post helped me clarify things in my mind.
 

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