From employee to employer

June 8th, 2005 § 2 comments

Starting your own company is a trick business, pun intended. So many things you never thought about before become pressing worries, and you hardly know what to do first, both where the organization of your business is concerned and the day-to-day care of the company. Switching from the mindset of an engineer to the mindset of a manager is a really big challenge.

In the last months, I’ve been trying to adapt myself to such a situation, slowly planting the seeds of my own company. I never had such a busy time in my life. Sometimes I feel like a juggler trying to balance to many balls. From account management to project management, everything is somewhat new.

But, in spite of such difficulties, I’m liking the experience. I certainly need to pay attention to the small problems that arise daily, dealing with them as quickly as feasible, prioritizing everything in the best possible way so that I can avoid getting swamped by demands, but there is also the freedom to talk your own management decisions, experimenting with new ways to handle old problems. It’s a continuous learning experience since the practice of administrating a company, in terms of the problems that you have to solve, is qualitatively different from the practice of system analysis.

In a certain way, it’s the same difference between humanities and math careers. You are not dealing with precise quantities that can be measured repeatedly according to your need, but with dynamic variables that oscillate between factors whose balance is delicate at the best.

There’s also a certain irony when you stop been an employee and become an employer. I’m sure complaints are part of the employee experience in every part of the world, and in every occupation and time period. Sometimes we are right to complain, sometimes not. Of course, the times we are not right to complain are often ignored because of other valid concerns. When your side in this equation changes, you realize how hard is to keep both sides satisfied. A company has as many needs as its employers, and keeping everybody happy is a balancing act.

On the other side, it’s possible to see how many simple decisions a company could take to make the lives of its employers easier, with a good return on the investment. Since I’m already hiring my first employers, I’m trying to create a different style of work that will benefit both my company and its employees. The plan is to prove that, sometimes, which goes against conventional business wisdom is the best path. So far, it’s working well for everybody. Let’s see what the future will bring.

§ 2 Responses to From employee to employer"

  • Dema says:

    Hey Ronaldo,

    Being a employer for over 5 years, I am well aware of all the challenges that it’s involved, specially when it comes down to deal with your own people’s needs, just like you said it. It’s a great responsability and a very difficult game to play (piece of unsolicited advice: don’t hire until you REALLY need it).

    Nevertheless, being an employer also gives you (almost) full control of your professional choices, and we all like to control our own destiny (isn’t that the main reason we choose open-source?).

    The other great benefit is that every move you make makes a BIG difference and that’s very pleasing, specially when you make the right choices, too bad this doesn’t happen too often though ;-).

    Anyway, congratulations and good luck on your new adventure.

    Best regards!

  • Ronaldo says:

    Thanks for your votes and advice. I’ll keep it in mind. The employees I have now are saving my life, so I guess I qualify for needing them. :-)

    Anyway, I’m trying different models and I hope they will be fun and profitable both for me and for those employees. Actually, I was inspired in part by Rails’ philosophy of returning joy to the job of programming. Working just to live is terrible, and I hope none of my employees will have to do that.

    You right, of course, about the challenge and pleasure of running your own business. I may even become used to it. :-)

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