Build it Yourself or Hire a Consultant?

by Jason -- February 18, 2010

Building something “in-house” versus hiring a consultant and outsourcing seems like an age old business question. In this post, I explore this decision for my own future website, – an “app store” for travel itineraries.

Building it myself

The primary motivation to build the website myself boils down to learning the skills to build a web application. Building will require I learn a slew of web development skills, all of which will transcend beyond this initial website. They will help with any web application I choose to build in the future. Additionally, this skill could allow me to consult for building web applications or even apply for a web developer position (ideally for a startup).

The downside about building it myself is the amount of time it’s going to take. My knowledge in this area is little to none. I understand basic programming concepts, databases and some other web basics, but other than that, I’m a complete novice. Building this website will require a lot of time and most importantly, patience.

Hiring a Consultant

The primary benefit of hiring a consultant is the speed in which I would be able to get a website up and running. If I found the right consultant (a task within itself), I might be able to have a functioning website up in a matter of weeks. The sooner it’s up, the sooner I could start earning an income again. Additionally, it would be done by a professional and hopefully with professional standards – ensuring security and compatibility across different computers and browser types.

The downside about hiring a consultant is putting out additional money that I really don’t have. If I moved some things around, I’m sure I could find the money, but it doesn’t seem like the responsible thing to do at this time with no money coming in.

My Decision

At the end, the decision came down to this question: how sure am I that UnAnchor will be successful? If I was certain it would be a success, hiring a consultant would be the correct decision. I would ideally be able to recoup the consultant costs in a reasonable amount of time, as I would be off and running with a successful website. However, as with most things in life, I’m just not that certain. I’d rather hedge my bets, learn a new skill and build the website myself.

Final Thoughts

I’ve explored this decision discreetly, either to do it all myself or to hire a consultant, when in fact there are many ways I could blend the two together. I could hire someone to do the visual design for example. There is a good chance that as I get into building the website, I may hire a consultant to help with various pieces.

Yet another approach is to bring in a web development partner who is passionate about the idea and is willing to be compensated by future profits. However, for now, I’ve decided to build it on my own. I do, of course, reserve the right to change my mind.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts via email or in the comments on building it myself versus hiring a consultant, what’s your recommendation?

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