[Baypiggies] Thoughts on starting a career as a consultant?

jim jim at well.com
Wed Jul 7 00:53:18 CEST 2010


   there's a rule of thumb to double your estimate. 
some say then double that. assume you can work an 
average of four hours a day. 
   one friend of mine never worked by the hour, 
always fixed price, because he could make more 
money (he was very good--microsoft's engineers 
sometimes called him to find out how things worked). 
   another friend set aside tuesdays for marketing 
day--did no project work, spent the entire day 
trying to line up more jobs (made sure to have 
lunch with somebody, schmoozed, tried to catch the 
right crowd at happy hours. 
   i think simeon's path is exactly right. over 
time one builds a reputation and contacts. i'm 
guessing three years to get established. 




On Tue, 2010-07-06 at 15:23 -0700, Simeon Franklin wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM, Emile van Sebille <emile at fenx.com> wrote:
> > On 7/5/2010 7:37 PM Alex Clark said...
> >>
> >> But unlike with day jobs, there is no cap on the amount of money you can
> >> make as a freelancer.
> >
> > Well, there is -- 2000-2500 work hours/year at say $100/hr -- $200k - $250k
> > (flavor to taste or individual circumstances)
> 
> I understand that you're using these numbers as a cap but I think it's
> worth pointing out that most people who freelance may work 2000 hours
> and only bill 1200. I personally consider days I can bill 6 hours a
> pretty productive day but I rarely work less than 8 - usually more.
> This is something to consider when establishing your hourly rate. I
> don't charge for billing time, time writing proposals or reading specs
> or meeting with clients. I don't itemize routine communications
> (emails/phone calls from clients) and pretty much try to keep my
> billable hours down to the time I actually spend working on something
> technical.
> 
> This is especially true at the beginning of most people's freelance
> careers. Unless you have established relationships you probably start
> out underpaid and doing small jobs for a variety of clients. The cost
> of context switching between clients shouldn't be minimized!
> 
> >This is probably the biggest
> > downside to strict consulting.  You're selling your time.  You need to add
> > people or develop resellable products to go past that and get a multiplier
> > or residual effect going.
> 
> In fact I have a 4 step theory of the path of the typical freelancing career -
> 
> 1. Low money for hard work. You probably start out underbidding just
> to get the job. You have poor estimating skills at this point and are
> abashed to ask for much more than you made as an hourly worker. Expect
> to work 10 hour days for relatively low amounts of money.
> 
> 2. Medium money, for moderate work. This is actually a decent place to
> be if you can afford it. You have established enough relationships
> that you can charge what you're worth. Your main concern now is
> rounding up work each month - you may not have full time work and you
> probably never have more than a few weeks worth of work stacked up.
> You still spend time pitching, networking, writing proposals and
> looking for better gigs.
> 
> 3. Good Money, Hard Work. You have arrived as a contractor. You've
> fired your first clients and are able to concentrate on your more
> lucrative or interesting clients - or you simply have the luxury of
> consolidating and eliminating some of those context switches. You
> could probably bill 10 hours a day (and work 14) 7 days a week. The
> money is good but beware of burnout.
> 
> 4. $$$ for moderate work. At this point I branch off into theory. I
> have heard that some people are able to make a living (or better)
> without working 10 hour days. The obvious way to move into this
> territory is to raise your rates and if you have too much work you may
> well be pricing yourself too low. But most of us work in competitive
> industries - its not like I'm the only Python/Django/DB/Web guy in the
> world so raising my prices only gets me so far. I suspect that the way
> to get to stage four is to own a resellable product or service that
> isn't directly related to your hourly billing. My personal business
> goals at this point center around saving enough money to pay my salary
> while I do a mini-startup - and this will be when I really feel I've
> made it; not only being my own boss but also developing for myself! In
> the meantime I read hackernews to keep myself motivated...
> 
> -regards
> Simeon Franklin
> 
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