Advice to a Mate going Freelance for the first timeΒΆ

2 points by lifeisstillgood 2 days ago | link | parent | on: Ask HN: First Contract Job, what to do?

Things I wish I had done:

  1. Thought it would last longer than one month. I assumed (still do) that they would realise I was faking it and take it all away. So I paid extra for temporary access to things (rented a car not bought). A year later I still was. Stupid. Assume you are now a contractor for five years. You probably will be these don’t sound like people to stick with.
  2. Think of yourself as a business. Not a contractor - a business who needs to market and build a “sales pipeline”. Who are you going to work for in six months time? doing what? How will you find them in the next three months and persuade them to wait?
  3. taxes. Oh shit taxes. Get a accountant and do not leave their office on the first day until you have written a spreadsheet and calculated your own basic tax return. know this stuff inside out. You are now running 4 tabs on a spreadsheet and carrying over from one to the other:

Business Income > Business Outgoings > Home Income > Home outgoings. Make a spreadsheet like that today. Fill it in.

  1. Blog - it’s probably the best middle path for marketing yourself. But choose your story, your unique take on things. Are you techie through and through? A Brogrammer? An outdoorsy hiker, a Beethoven lover? What is your (oh god) tribe? Talk to that tribe - somewhere there is a hiring manager who is also a member of your tribe. Probably quite a few - talk to her through your blog.
  2. Never ever ever ever lie for anyone ever. Politics is a hard game especially in companies that are changing a lot, like startups. As a contractor you can have a professional armour - you have an obligation to give unbiased advice and opinion.

Not the companies problems are not your problems. Do not take on board their views of “if only we can hit this deadline we can make the sales and hit 100M...” - you should give your real views on the state of the codebase, the likelihood of hitting the deadlines and the tech debt.

Go read the clean coder (with an r) by uncle bob martin.

  1. be your own project manager - that is track in your own system the tasks needed to achieve the requirements and the likely ship dates. Don’t keep this a secret but don’t rely on someone else tracking this for you. I recommend fogbugz these days (it’s for pay). Don’t touch Redmine with a barge pole. Basically know that the two week estimate the sprint just made is bullshit. Be clear on what your estimates are - no need to be shrill, just be clear, polite and consistent.
  2. Be calmer than everyone else and realise this all takes time.
  3. Don’t take career advice off random people in the Internet :-)

tptacek 2 days ago | link

This is great, but I don’t think he’s trying to start a consulting company; he’s trying to navigate a temp-to-perm offer. :)

Sorry I got a little carried away (then noprocrast stopped me reediting.)

Anyway, if I was to give our hero here any advice, it would be to see himself not as an employee but as a consulting company - if POV at Parc Xerox was worth 40 IQ points, in our business I would say POV is worth 40k pa.

Hello there old boy ! How are you ? Now, when I heard you were dropping the so-called safe corporate world for the stomry waters of freelancing, well, I turned my car around and we met in our favourite pub-by-the-Thames and had a chat.

You asked if I could point out some of the lessons I had learnt over the past few years, and what started as a chat, became a long email and now is an article or two. Sorry about that. Its likely this is more my therapy than your actionable advice, but I hope it proves useful.

Firstly, what this is not. This is not a list of things to go do now and you will be successful. Its far more a description of the landscape in front of you. If you are reasonably prepared for the terrain and weather, you will not get caught by surprise, not spend a lot of wasted time going in the wrong direction and hopefully this will mean your natural advantages will end up with you making a few quid.

Which leads onto the first subject. Money.

You are here to make it. So don’t ever drop your rates

Money The future shape of the world

  • new education

Money again (Tax) Money yet again (Domestic spending) Small companies, remote working Evolution of mgmt (the new freelancing company) - acqui-hire and loosely coupled investment. (international tax as a political force, specific exnterprise zones in metro areas, and ability to become a tax-associate of one ie an acquihire)

-> we are becoming the new middle managers, and our job is three fold -> innovation, mentoring,
  • The fundamental shift -> virtual and physical has been linked, and is growing closer.
  • GeoPolitics -> much harder, but expect metroarea level focus, with the likely collapse of nation-state economic agreements coming in (basiclly no one expects we can keep paying western lifestyles. SOmething has to give and expecting tech to step in and make it all cheaper is denial)

Expected partial-failure of nation-states. There will not be an apocalypse.

In that situation, the sensible answer is to have at least two homes. Ready.

  • New tech -> The internet is connecting everyone to everyone else (forget censorship, its as dead as privacy. You want in on the new world, you drop the firewall). But building on that will be green energy, internet of things and biotech. These will make it possible for a mega-city / metroarea to actually work.
  • We are looking like angels with no capital. We are going to be the new apprentice masters for the new apprentices
  • The means of recharging -> developing countries for a year.
  • Collectivisit income co-operatives.

The end game.

Stuff fairness and equality. Become part of the rent-based upper class.