They are big and I is small

Sat, 29/09/2012 - 12:55 -- hvancann
Keep looking for possibilties in a hostile environment (pigeon on foodstall under Eiffeltower in Paris)

They are big and I is small

“We appreciate your enthusiastic reaction. It’s unfortunately been decided not to use your services at this time. Thank you again, and good luck.”

They only want to deal with big suppliers with a headcount anywhere North of 30.  They’ve had some bad experiences with smaller providers. But is a bigger supplier really the answer? The gut feeling might say yes, but the answer is no in actual practice. The solution lies in making smaller providers strong together. Keep an eye out for possibilities in a hostile-looking world.  

A larger IT company with 100 staff employs about 5 of the “very best” developers. These are to the point trained experts in the specific field of what the customer wants, and the reason why the IT company is selected for the job. People both in-house and outside only want to work with “the very best”. For this very reason alone, “the very best” people of the big companies are often burdened with the biggest workload. They are the ones that have to deliver on the promise of others. And at the end of the day - they leave. They either start for themselves, or they go and work for a less stressful employer.

So, what’s left of the proposition that bigger companies are by definition the better party? A bigger business obviously offers more capacity, more experience and more professionalism compared to a sole trader. As an individual, you have to juggle a lot of balls in the air; a day only has so many hours.  

The type of person that works for a large company is usually by nature a better team player (you’re a freelancer for a reason). The employee usually focuses on one or perhaps a few specialties. The freelancer is usually also very specialized, but is distracted from its core job by peripheral stuff that he/she doesn’t excel in straight away (with a few exceptions): admin, acquisition, sales, purchases, outsourcing, contracts, project management, support, and so on.

Behave like a big company

A customer doesn’t care about the internal issues of a provider. He wants support, advice that will stand the test of time, flexibility and confirmation of available capacity, not dependency on providers.  Is it therefore a waist of time trying to measure up to big companies? Absolutely not! Start behaving like a big company today. You can do this by adhering to 5 golden rules of conduct and by joining a collective that actively sets out to strengthen the group.

A “collective” that helps freelancers get jobs is not going to solve the above-mentioned problems. Outsourcing people is a proven but outdated model: it doesn’t resolve the issues concerning flexibility and security. It’s just about short term luck: as soon as the hired freelancer leaves, it turns out that his/her work is not standardized, it’s not left behind in accordance to transferable guidelines and methods. As a result, the client can call the outsourcer again for a new temporary worker with a whole new set of unique qualities. 2Value on the other hand works with five golden rules of conduct and five systems that have two strongly related goals: together stronger for customers, and earning respect and a decent buck in a enjoyable way.

Personal when it comes to attention

When it comes to open source technology, customers want big companies. However, the majority of the expertise can be found with smaller companies and freelancers. Don’t be discouraged when you have this expertise. The personal attention that you can deliver within your work compared to a big business is priceless. In big companies, the “very best” are usually shielded by a cordon of account managers, planners and project managers. Most of the time, a client doesn’t even get to see or talk to the developers! A passionate and customer orientated independent expert is a lot more valuable than you might think. So continue to keep an eye out for possibilities in this hostile-looking world.  

"Think big, act small" is ok, but it’s better to act big too. Organize colleagues around you, stick to the 5 golden rules, but be sure to keep on doing your own thing in your creative own way.