The dream- your hand on the wheel, guiding your ship where you will, when you will. The wind at your back, the sun in your face. Ahh – the entrepreneurial dream. (You know I’m not really talking about sailing, right?) You are the captain of your own ship, to sink or swim on your own merit. You finally have equity, and can retire richly – just as soon as you create a valuable company that someone else will pay for.
Before you bump out of your cubie in search of the NEXT, NEXT THING, stop and consider a few points that aren’t apparent at first glance:
You will need a mean bill rate. Experts recommend that you should be billing 2-3 times your hourly rate as an employee if you are going it solo. This is for two reasons in my mind: 1) you aren’t going to be working 2080 hours per year like you have been (the work isn’t always there initially), and 2) you now have the joys and overhead that the were formerly fended off by the good people of the company.
Learn to Love Networking. Selling a mean bill rate requires that you are well positioned as “expert”, otherwise you’ll simply be a contractor scrounging around for the next gig that pays a comparable hourly to that paid inside the company (without the benefits of benefits, annual increases, company drunk fests, or possible promotion).
Use a Time Management Tool. Hate measuring? Stick with the safety of the exempt world, where you can daudle endlessly on simple tasks and no one notices (ie. covers on TPS reports, anyone?). Time is money – not just when you are billing a client, but also when you aren’t – because you could be, but this is a choice you make to play PS3. One fundamental challenge to your personal life is that, once you begin quantifying your time, and find that it has value, you will begin asking if
- sitting in front of the couch all night is a good use of your time;
- making appointments with doctors, dentists, mechanics and accountants during the day makes sense;
- taking “vacations” that aren’t that appealing are really worth the cost of a big screen tv or air fare to Germany.
Polish, Polish, Polish. While you may have gotten away with sloppy work inside, never cleaning up your spreadsheets or word docs before handing them to your audience, this has got to change. Spell Check. Headers and Footers. Because presentation matters, you can’t afford to put sloppy work out with your name on it.
I’m not trying to discourage, simply enlighten. There is at least as much time in the engine room as there is at the wheel, and the wind is often in your face and not at your back. No reason to give up dreams of sailing- just know what you will be getting yourself into.