The sort of odd “best of both worlds” balance in my different projects at “VitalSource”:www.vitalsource.com and as a solo shop is that I love working with a team, and I also love working alone. I mean really alone, doing the planning and design and coding and marketing. I’ve resisted farming out any piece of my apps at “Riverfold”:www.riverfold.com (except the application icon) so that I can have complete control. It’s brutally hard sometimes, but it’s mine.
If you’re working by yourself and add another person to the project, a funny thing happens: you become a manager. Before, you could spend 100% of your time on the work. Now you can allocate 50-75%, because you’re getting the new programmer up to speed, answering questions, and setting priorities. If you’re lucky (and I usually am), the person you added is contributing so much that it easily makes up for your loss in productivity, and then some.
The trade-off is worth it. Exchange the previous low communication overhead for extra coding man-hours.
You can build something great with a team, something that would be impossible alone, if you surround yourself with people who are better at your job than you are. I love that first moment when a team doubles in size from 1 to 2, or 2 to 4.
But after the initial frenzy of coding and emails and new features, I usually get burned out again. The project doesn’t strictly need me anymore, and I’m ready to get back to starting an app from scratch, when the scope is so small that the whole thing still fits in my head.
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