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I am a Software Engineer with 1.5 years experience in full stack web development. About a month ago I took a part-time job for a fairly simple webshop with a client online. We planned for me to work 20 hours weekly with hourly pay. The goal was to have a fully functional prototype in 6 weeks.

I was also required to hire 2 guys for short tasks. We were meeting the deadline almost, I guess we would require 1 more week to finish.

Then one of the guys I hired started falling behind and spending less hours due to his main job.

About two weeks ago my client saw a number of similar webshops popup, so he decided to invest quite a bit of money into the project. We managed to hire 2 more guys, one of which is full-time.

Overall, I'm not currently doing any development work because I spend most of my time managing the stuff and talking with the client (12 hours weekly really). I don't think I can do any major development tasks in the time I have left.

The problem is that he wants more guys and all the stuff done within 3 weeks. He is ready to pay, but how do I explain that even on a high budget 3-4 weeks is not nearly enough to complete his grand plan? It's not enough time to add social network functionality to a simple webshop.

Another thing that worries me is that he is looking for full-time developers, and I'm not sure that there will be any full-time work left to do in 2-3 months (he is sure though). He does ask me to talk with these new developers to make sure that they are professional, so I am part of the hiring process. He is also willing to hire me full-time and give a 30% raise to my salary, but I don't believe that this project is that viable in long-term.

My client is also very young, 22 or 23 years old, a year younger than I, so I'm a bit skeptical on his overall experience as someone to be hiring that much people.

I'm very stressed out with this. This is not what I signed up for. He did increase my hourly pay to compensate for the troubles.

But how should I handle this madness with having more way more people than I need?

closed as off-topic by Retired Codger, Dukeling, Mister Positive, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 11 '17 at 20:21

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions require a goal that we can address. Rather than explaining the difficulties of your situation, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, see this meta post." – Dukeling, Mister Positive, IDrinkandIKnowThings
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  • 2
    which is also not really your problem. If you are unhappy with the way he runs his company, then you have to leave or be unhappy. – SaggingRufus Jul 11 '17 at 15:18
  • 1
    Damn it man, we always agree - you're wrong! – Fattie Jul 11 '17 at 15:25
  • 4
    If one woman "make" a baby in 9 months doesn't mean 9 women can "make" a baby in 1 month. – Cocorico Jul 11 '17 at 15:35
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    There are so many analogies to explain why this won't work, the pregnant one being the best. If you can bake a cake in 30 minutes at 350, can you do it in half the time at 700? If a 180 pound man takes 60 seconds to fall from the top of a building do the ground, will a 360 pound man get there faster? No? What about 2 90 pound men? Surely, twice the people will get there faster! In many things, it just takes a certain amount of time. – Chris E Jul 11 '17 at 15:49
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    Give him a copy of *The Mythical Man-Month" (Addison-Wesley, 1995) by Frederick Brooks. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month] – A. I. Breveleri Jul 11 '17 at 18:47
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Assume the money will run out and act accordingly

I think you're doing the right thing - it sounds like you have a day job somewhere else so you won't be in trouble if/when this client runs out of money.

In the mean time, you're building up some very valuable experience that could look good on a resume. "Assembled and led a development team" is a good phrase to have.

Be sure anyone you bring in knows the score - they might want to work as contractors who treat this as "just another 3 month gig", or they might want to take the plunge and work as full time employees at the Next Big Thing. That's their call. Treat them honestly so you still have good connections if/when the money runs out.

Work always expands to use up all available resources.

If the money doesn't run out (perhaps your client is a trust fund baby?), then don't worry about running out of work. There are always bugs, customer requested enhancements, technical debt pay down, and so on that can keep them busy.

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I'm very stressed out with this. This is not what I signed up for.

One thing you could suggest, since he's hiring people anyway, is that he hire an actual hiring manager. Explain that you were initially hired as a developer and that you aren't enjoying doing management tasks full-time. Point out that by getting a hiring manager, not only will he get someone experienced to hire new developers, he also gets you back on doing development tasks.

If that doesn't work and you still decide to stay for your remaining time:

The problem is that he wants more guys and all the stuff done within 3 weeks. He is ready to pay, but how do I explain that even on a high budget 3-4 weeks is not nearly enough to complete his grand plan?

I'm guessing your client thinks that adding more people will get the work done faster. Make one last attempt to explain to him that this is wrong, using this question from Software Engineering SE: Why does adding more resource to a late project make it later?

Point out that your new management tasks mean that you aren't doing any development work now. If there is any way it can be done on time, suggest that: The only way we can get it done by [deadline] is to drop the new social media requirements.

If that doesn't work then stop trying to convince him. If and when he brings up the deadline, just re-iterate that it's going to be late. You don't actually need him to agree that it will go late; he'll see that when it isn't ready at the time he wanted it.

Another thing that worries me is that he is looking for full-time developers, and I'm not sure that there will be any full-time work left to do in 2-3 months (he is sure though).

This is 1000% not your problem. It is not your job to tell your client how to spend his money. It's not your job to convince him he doesn't have enough experience to handle this amount of hiring. Let go of this point of stress.

If the issue is that you feel guilty because you expect these developers to quickly end up laid off due to lack of work, then just be honest in the interview about the current workload and what the future plans are. Don't rag on your client, just be straight-forward about the current situation: We're currently working on [project] which we expect to be finished in X weeks. He's hiring full-time developers in order to do Y.

Explaining to candidates what they'll be working on is pretty standard and smart candidates will ask anyway so you're not betraying your client by explaining that the current workload is actually small.

  • "If the issue is that you feel guilty because you expect these developers to quickly end up laid off due to lack of work, then just be honest in the interview about the current workload and what the future plans are." -You can also pay them this way, make your client give you the funds to do so, and be honest with these potential developers that they project might only last a few months. Plenty of cool contractors would be willing to work full-time provide they were paid to do so. If the money is no problem, tell your client, to pay up or accept your projections – Ramhound Jul 12 '17 at 0:06
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All you have described here is:

  • The idiotic fiasco that is a startup.

It's not even worth going in to the details.

Stating that a "one-man, whim" type of startup is a fiasco, is as obvious as stating that apps flop, politicians lie or hookers charge money.

Just walk away.

Over and over, explain politely that you honestly feel he is just wasting his money, and you honestly don't want to take part in that. And leave it at that.

It's only 8am in Cali. as of writing, you'll have a new gig by lunchtime.

The guy won't even remember you in 120 seconds, he'll be on to some other completely confused business "venture".

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