IT-preneur is overworked; doesn’t want to hire assistants


I am a web designer and programmer.  A good one, I think.  I am saying this because I started with one client and because this one client liked my work she referred me to another and still another and so on.  There are clients who even ask me to maintain their websites,  which is additional work and income.

I suppose you can call me a one-man band.  I write proposals, meet with clients, conduct web planning workshops for them,  do hands-on web-designing and programming, train clients’ staff to administer the web sites, do follow-up services, maintain the sites if I am asked to.  I also handle bookkeeping or what passes as bookkeeping.

It has been two and a half years since I have been doing all these tasks for my one-man business.  At this point, I am about ready to collapse.  This situation is also taking a toll on my family life.

I don’t think I could afford to pay regular employees or assistants.  In fact, I do not even have an office to speak of.  I work at home, right in my own bedroom.  Last but not least,  I am so used to working alone;  I am afraid working with others or managing people might cramp my working style.

So you see how taking in employees would involve complications I am not ready for!  Help!



It is okay to run a business as a one-man band;  many start-ups do that in order to keep overhead costs down.

But as you have personally experienced, you cannot do this indefinitely.  More accurately, you cannot grow and prosper and still maintain your unilateral hold on your business.

Definitely, you need people to come in and help you out.  But you don’t have to hire them on a full-time  basis.

Consider taking in IT students as apprentices.  There should be many young men and women who would appreciate the early experience in web programming and design and the income it would fetch them.  They don’t have to be paid monthly but on a project-to-project basis.  You don’t need to provide them with an office or even with equipment.  Most of these students have their own computers  and laptops;  they would also be perfectly happy working at home the same way you are doing. You can have weekly meetings with them  probably in some coffeeshop, to discuss new and ongoing projects.   These meetings may even be virtual, that is, held online.

Remember, however, that you might need to give these student assistants additional training.

Or you might consider partnering with an experienced web designer like yourself.  A former classmate in IT school perhaps?  This need not be a formal business partnership. It can be a partnership based on mutual expedience – whereby one has the other to pass on work to  in case of an excess of projects one can’t handle by himself.

Handling financial books can be tedious.  Don’t you think so?  You might  prefer to concentrate on the creative aspect of your business and have someone handle your financials.  Find an experienced, highly recommended CPA and pay him or her a retainer fee.

Some small entrepreneurs also find it useful to hire a business lawyer on the same basis. You may find yourself in a legal bind sooner or later and might need an experienced legal mind at your beck and call.

Later, when you find yourself deciding to take in full-time staff, you would have “acclimatized” yourself to working with people and likely realized by then they do not necessarily have to “cramp your style” after all.

Photo: “Working late” by Alan Cleaver, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved