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tldr; I was consulting alone and I'm not sure on how to do it with a team.

My consulting business (software, independent) in a niche field is going well. Up until now I have winged it, since there is code involved and I'm not a good coder. Recently the requests I get have become harder. I'd like to build a team of freelancers (not fulltime employees) to outsource the coding part so that I can focus on communication with the clients and product management (making sure the solution get delivered). I'm technical but some of the solutions require experience in an area that I'm not experienced in, so I cannot provide more than generic technical guidance on some projects.

I do either weekly or fixed value pricing depending on the project.

Some of the projects have great value for the client, in the effect that I could bill $50k (or even $100k) for a fixed value project.

Some problems I'm facing:

  1. I have found some good developers that could build the solution for $10k. Is it a usual thing for the head consultant (me) to rake in the difference ($40k or $90k)?
  2. Should I be the only contact point between the developers and the client? Should the developers talk directly with the client's team?

    i. I guess I'm worried that if the client discovers I'm not the technical architect of the solution and that I just do "product management", they will be mad. Or if they find out that the developers are getting paid just $10k and I'm getting $40k.

    ii. I'm also worried that the client might poach them. If the developers can deliver on their own after some point, what do they need me?

  3. Sometimes I feel like an impostor, is that normal?

  • Do you want to take the responsibility here? What if you do fixed price offer and the Developer does not deliver/ needs more time/money ...? – Daniel Jan 29 at 11:25
  • I do want to take the responsibility. My idea is that I'll wing it, either get someone else or make sure I find some solution. It hasn't happened yet so if anyone knows any strategies on how to mitigate this, let me know. – John V. Jan 29 at 17:46
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good questions. I'm facing some of the same. I'm a single freelance IT consultant / software engineer and I'm doing the freelance gig on the side. I've a customer who needed a larger project done, so I hired a developer I knew from a class I had taken.

Here are my two cents on your questions:

  1. If you've indeed found developers who will do good work at a small fraction of the price you can charge for the product, then congratulations! I generally find that I can only work with experienced devs who are native English speakers. They aren't cheap. I generally can mark up by about 40%, but not by large factors like you. Maybe I'm not greedy enough.

  2. You should always be the point of contact to the client. I'm open with my clients about having sub-contractors, but it's important and good business that communication with the client is reliable and always done in the same way. You can't guarantee that if you let your subcontractors talk directly to them.

  3. Yup, get used to it!

  • 1. The reason is that it's a specialized area that I have years of experience in. 2. Do you mention something to the client at the start of the project? Do you give them the names of the subcontractors? If they have access to the code on github they can see who is doing what. Business people will not care but technical teams might care. Do you mention anything to your subcontractors (i.e. for any issues I'm responsible for communicating them to the client)? – John V. Jan 28 at 13:20
  • Yeah, I mention to my client that I use subcontractors and will also mention the subcontractors by name. I'm always up front and open -- both with the client and the subcontractor. It's clear to both client and subcontractor that I'm the interface for commnication. This keeps it simple and well organized. – Dr. O Jan 28 at 21:55
  • How is it "clear"? Is it implied by being upfront or do you mention it at the start of every project (both to clients and subcontractors)? How does one deal when the data is under NDA and the subcontractor needs to access it? – John V. Jan 28 at 21:58
  • Yes, I mention it explicitly to both client and subcontractor at the start of the project or when I bring on a subcontractor. – Dr. O Jan 28 at 22:02
  • May I ask what's the actual phrasing you use or how you communicate that? I'm thinking of several versions but they all sound a bit like they could be mistaken as raw or aggressive. – John V. Jan 28 at 22:05

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