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The Most Expensive Mistake I ever made was Hiring a Cheap Engineer

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Just had “one of those calls” again.  Startup that hired an engineer at a really good rate.  To make a long story short, it did not end up well.  Even though the rate was well below market, it still ended up costing much more than it should and worse, took a lot of time.  In the end, the “thing” done was not even the right thing to do - at least not at this stage of the startup’s journey.

Just because you're a startup with little capital does not mean you should hire a cheap engineer.  In fact, doing so will likely end up costing you more.  

To be clear, I am not advocating you hire an expensive engineer either.  I am advocating that you hire the right engineer - or engineering team for you, and price is only one, and a relatively minor factor in deciding who to hire.

The mistake to avoid here is choosing the engineer, or firm, purely on price.  Proper fit will have a much bigger impact on ROI than price ever will.

First, let me state the price for engineering services (per hour) is virtually the same wherever you go.  We do a lot of price comparison, and it has always surprised me how close in price these services can be when you compare “apples to apples”.  Given that it is a very competitive business, the law of economics would dictate such an outcome.

However, that does not mean that your cost to develop a product will be the same.  The cost for any specific project can vary widely from “how did you do that” to “wow, that’s a lot of money”.  This difference will be largely based on who you hire.

So if price is not a way to choose product develop services, then what is?  

Steve Owens - Finish Line PDS
A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products

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