When I started blogging on Cocoanetics.com in early 2009, I had been dabbling with iOS development for little under a year. That was the same time when I turned full-time, when my prior employer decided to have someone cheaper doing my job (Windows PC Helpdesk). This initial blogging frenzy was the way most of my clients found me, both for components as well as custom app development.
In April 2012, Stefan Gugarel joined my company, as a Junior Developer. For exactly five and a half years his main responsibility was to keep my US-based client happy and did a great job at this.
When Stefan started with us, I was still living and working in Weistrach, about an hour away from his place of residence. We were sharing an office at my former brother-in-law’s, so we could huddle together over difficult issues. After my divorce, I moved further and further away, first back to Vienna (2 hours) then to Hainburg (3 hours). So we had to switch to pure remote working.
We took to Google Hangouts where we met and screen-shared for challenging problems. Every day between 9 and 10 we did a longer session to keep in sync. Every few months I would book a small conference room in Vienna where we could meet in person. We used Slack for group-messaging and communication about issues related to software we had in GitLab issues.
I have to pay Stefan a big compliment that I found him to be largely self-sufficient. I attribute this to him working full-time for my client. Whatever you do most of your time, you get good at.
Having Stefan take care of the day-to-day “grunt work” allowed me to dig into the more advanced and esoteric techniques. It gave me the freedom to write Barcodes with iOS.
In 2016, I hired two more guys, but with much less stellar results. One guy was a former friend pretending to work on growing my business, when he was really working only for himself. We parted ways after a mere three months, only to meet again in court, where was suing me for overtime payment.
The other guy, coming from a web background, told me that he wanted to become a great Swift developer. He had a great start and got into it really quickly. But after only a few months he decided that he didn’t want to be employed after all and resigned.
Then there was an intern, who didn’t cost me anything while I tried to give him some basic tasks to execute. So for a very short we were having hangouts with 5 people in total.
Having to keep track of working and project times made it necessary for me to subscribe to the timr time tracking system. It’s a web-based system made by fellow Austrian company troii. I was still doing the billing with Billings Pro, but moved also my personal project time tracking to timr.
Summer supposedly is a slow time in various industries, but I had never consciously experienced that.
Until 2016, when suddenly several of my clients told me that they needed to cut back on development expenses. For a short while we pondered the possibility of piecing together Stefan’s work from multiple projects, but after many years of focussing on a single client this felt like an unsatisfactory compromise.
It was my blessing that Stefan went looking for a new employer. It so happened that troii was both located nearby but was also looking for an iOS developer to work on timr.
Isn’t it curious how the ideal constellation for Stefan materialised itself so easily? I guess that must have come from all the good karma that he had collected working for me.
During all those turbulences, Stefan proved to be the most stable, trustworthy and loyal employee I’ve ever had. During his 5.5 years of service he grew into a world-class Senior Developer. It makes me very happy that we was able to quickly and painlessly find the next step in his career and I wish him all the best moving forward.
For me, this change means that I will have to adapt. Business looks to be better than ever before, but at the same time my time is more constrained by responsibilities that come with building a house. But when you are self-employed this is a problem you want to have: more well-paid work than you have time for.
Also published on Medium.