December 5, 2023

You’re the Boss: More on Hiring a Web Developer

Thinking Entrepreneur

My last post elicited some interesting responses. It was a straight-forward account of how I selected my new Web site developer, and some readers took issue with the process we used — in particular a reader named Rob.

“There is a conspicuous absence of someone being made the project manager or point person of this project. Instead, there’s a self-congratulatory tone of how he let other people actually participate and have a say.” — Rob

Well, yes. I am quite proud that I don’t have to do everything myself anymore. I have four key people working for me who have been here for years and who are dealing with the Web sites on a daily basis. I have almost no day-to-day experience with the sites, and I have no need (or desire or patience or ability) to immerse myself in the process. I have capable people who do that everyday.

“And can you really call yourself an entrepreneur if you have no interest in doing any of the work yourself? I don’t think so. Entrepreneurs are not just detail oriented, but interested in details. They are not just quick learners, but they soak in knowledge all around them.” — Rob

Being detail-oriented doesn’t necessarily mean being mired in the details. Others might call the person you describe a micromanager, a control freak, someone they don’t want to work for — or someone who is working in the business rather than on the business. Which isn’t necessarily bad if it makes you happy. But I have never met a successful entrepreneur who didn’t say that it’s important to hire smart people and let them do their thing. As far as not wanting to do anything myself? I used to work 70 to 80 hours a week and go from problem to problem, with a lot of stress. No thanks. My staff helps run the business and in most cases does things better than I could. I have 103 employees. Maybe I have turned into an executive. Does that mean that I am no longer an entrepreneur? Is a mother no longer a mother when her child grows up?

“For the 30 minutes he did sit in on the meeting, he tells the vendor to rat out the employees if they weren’t doing what the vendor said they should be doing. Are you kidding me?” — Rob

Maybe I left the wrong impression. The message to the vendor was to make sure that he understands that I don’t want my people used as an excuse after the fact when something goes wrong. Why would I say that? Because during 33 years of dealing with everything from box suppliers to accounting firms I have seen that things do go wrong. And when they do, you often find out that the vendor knew there was a problem but didn’t feel it was his place to speak up or didn’t want to get an employee in trouble. Not good. Not productive. And not something I want to have happen. As I said in the post, the vendor responded that he operates the same way. My real message was not to rat anyone out. My real message was to work together to get the job done. Period.

“I want a great house. How much will that cost? Well, you can buy an abandoned property in Detroit for $5,000 or a mansion in the Hamptons for $5.5 million.” — J

In my post, I suggested that it would be impossible for us to set a budget for building the site at the outset. First we had to figure out how much it would cost to build a great site. We didn’t just ask, How much does a great Web site cost? We did our homework first, including figuring out the best platform for us. We spent a lot of time reviewing our current site, talking about what we wanted and asking questions. Then the vendor asked us a lot of questions and got us in the right neighborhood — more of a starter home in the Hamptons.

Helpful post, Jay. But c’mon, I would’ve loved to also hear how much the actual quotes were. Was the “double” $10k-20k, or are we talking 100k-200k, or more? — Ed

You’re second guess is more accurate. I hope this gives some further insight, whether you’re spending $10,000 or $100000 (I’ve done both). To each his own Web site!

Jay Goltz owns five small businesses in Chicago.

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