[Courses] Running A Business- Starting a Company

James jas at spamcop.net
Sat Aug 31 10:05:29 EST 2002

On Fri, 30 Aug 2002, Kai MacTane wrote:

> At 8/29/02 11:18 PM , Jacinta Richardson wrote:
> >[starting a company with friends]
> >It doesn't always work in the "real world" either.  Think of the
> >following that you might need to say one day:
> >
> >         "This code is not sufficient.  It only addresses 2
> >         out of the 10 requirements you were given.  You're
> >         going to have to do it again."
> >[etc.]
> >If you can't feel equally at ease saying this kind of thing to all of
> >your friends joining the company with you as you would to just another
> >hired staff member you might need to reconsider.
> A situation like this actually came in my own life a while ago. I and a 
> couple of friends were considering starting up a consulting firm. We knew 
> that this was a big step, and we'd better consider carefully -- that 
> friendships could well be at stake here. It didn't occur to us to check on 
> all the sorts of things mentioned here. Instead, we just went straight to 
> "Could you fire one of the other people?"

This is one area where the sort of group projects you do at university can 
help - obviously, you can't fire the other students, but you still need 
all the other cat-herding skills.

On my own group project, there were seven of us, with two months to write 
a Java applet encrypted mail client. At the first meeting, we assigned 
roles. Unfortunately, one of the two programmers couldn't code for toffee 
(he'd done all the courses, but produced lousy code - then stopped turning 
up half-way through the project!). The other programmer was much more 
enthusiastic - which was unfortunate, since she only told us she'd just 
transferred from the Maths course (and hence knew NO programming languages 
at all - and didn't have a computer, either) at the second meeting...

You really need to be very careful when choosing staff: first, it's MUCH 
harder to get rid of bad staff once hired, and secondly a bad employee 
will reflect on the company. I hope someone will be able to post useful 
interview/recruiting tips to "weed out" problem applicants??


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