First Year in Review
It has been a little over a year since I officially started the business. Which means it’s time for a retrospective! This is going to be all over the place, which is where I’m at mentally right now. It’s not a complete overview of our first year, by any means, but a highlight of things that have loomed in my mind regarding this past year.
I admit, I don’t have much to say on growing the business at an early stage. I’m fortunate that I had a very strong network that allowed me to grow very rapidly early on. I didn’t have to work that hard to get clients. If anything, that speaks to how important it is to have good relationships with people. Not just because it feels good, but also because it can make beneficial connections happen later on.
After growing to a certain point, I realized I definitely needed the extra help and I was ready to make the jump. To go from one person to…more than one person.
There was a lot I learned about the hiring process.
Mainly, it sucks for both sides. Now that I’ve been on both ends, it’s just…sucky. I was nervous making sure I did not become one of those type of people who dump too much onto an applicant to do and nervous that I was not properly articulating what it’ll be like working with me. I imagine the applicants were also nervous…they’re trying to get a job.
To make the best of the situation, I tried to be ‘real’ and be extremely honest. At this stage, I could not afford to make a hiring mistake and my business model is one that’s very hard to find the right people for. So I laid out all the red flags on my end…so hopefully they did in return.
The technical aspect I definitely think I could have been more organized about. I gave projects that were based on applications the applicants had already built on their Github. Like asking for refactors or feature additions. I liked this idea as the code would be valuable to them for other job interview processes if it didn’t work out and it simulated a legacy code environment. I think it worked out, but I definitely needed to figure out what I wanted to see from the process. I also should have figured out better technical questions to ask and dig into so I had a better understanding of the person’s technical knowledge.
Beyond the actual interviewing process, I wouldn’t have been able to coherently navigate the steps without the support of my HR help. She hand held me throughout the process, explaining what I needed to do, best practices, everything. I had no idea about anything and she got me to having a pretty clear picture…and getting over the finish line to actually hiring someone.
As I was saying with my HR help, I started out effectively not knowing about anything. Which is overwhelming when you need to do everything to get going. But you don’t have to do everything alone when you bring in ‘trusted advisors’ to help you. Just like people bring us on to be their technical help, I ‘hired’ a lawyer/HR group to help with LLC formation and the basics, and I have an accountant to help with managing the business books and to do taxes (which are more complicated now). They’re part of my ‘team’, in a way. ADP, my payroll provider, is also kind of part of it too.
I would not be here without their patience and help. I would say to anyone thinking of starting a business, to find groups/people you can trust to advise on these critical parts of running/starting a business. It’s much better having help than not.
In August 2021, I had to deal with a major family medical emergency and I’m still sort of dealing with it. This really threw my trajectory for a loop and also affirmed my previous decisions. Namely:
- Hiring someone in the first place. Knowing I had someone to try to cover for me while I was out really reduced my stress level.
- Being self-employed at all. I imagine, if I was working somewhere, there’d be PTO problems and leave paperwork to deal with and it would be harder to take the time in the wake of it to mentally recover.
- The flexible structure of the business. For the most part, things were quiet/there weren’t any hard priorities so the catchup cost didn’t cause undue stress when I got back to working.
My goal with the business was to have a flexible working environment for people whose lives weren’t always predictable…or who have fluctuating energy/focus. Now more than ever I realize how valuable it is.
I also realize, honestly, how important it is to be good to people, but also how not exactly important business and work is, like in the grand scheme of things personally. During my family emergency, my business was the farthest thing from my mind, effectively. And now that it’s calmer on that front, I’m trying to balance like the desire to be successful to share this positive working style and my desire to, well, not really have to work as much. It’s…interesting.
My goal is still to grow…but to grow ‘responsibly’ as they say. Take projects that I feel comfortable with, ones that I don’t think will cause stress and fit my vision of a flexible environment, and to bring on people that need to either grow or have a space where they can work on their own. It’s been hard lately finding the drive to push hard to get to the next level, but I’m still chugging along in the mean time.
To summarize: It’s been quite a year.
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