A Little Perspective on Running Your Own Business

I was pinged the other day through LinkedIn by one of my wife’s former colleagues.  Here’s the nut of her request:

… suggested that I contact you to see if you’d be willing to talk with my husband.  He is currently a principal / management consultant at … and is trying to break out of the MC industry to be able to spend more time at home and less time traveling.  … said that you were able to do this and I’d appreciate it if you could give him some tips for breaking free.  He has always been a MC since graduating college and needs guidance on other positions / roles where he can use his skills and feel challenged.  And, of course, still make a good salary. 

Those of you who follow me on this blog, through my MSDN answers, through my jQuery Library for SharePoint Web Services, or via Twitter (@sympmarc) may not realize it, but I do work for a living.  I have my own company called Sympraxis Consulting LLC.  I don’t push it much across those vehicles much because I find it truly annoying when people push too hard. (And here I am pushing a little – I’m not perfekt, you know.)

Here’s the quick perspective that I shared in case anyone else finds it useful:

In my case, it was less “breaking out” and more “changing the rules”.  I worked for some big firms, and loved it much of the time.  Then I went with a very small firm (I was the third hire) and most recently started my own consultancy.

So I still do much the same sort of work, but I do it on my terms.  There are three major benefits that I see:

* I answer to every single employee, but they are all me! (I started Sympraxis Consulting with a partner, but he has moved on to a great new position.)
* I get my own rate. Low overhead, same rates, more $$$ for me and my family.
* I do the work that I choose, whether that means taking something purely for the $$$ or because it’s totally cool work.

With all benefits come some downsides:
* The work is not predictable or steady.  You need to be able to deal with the gaps.
* You have to do everything yourself. That means sales (my least favorite activity, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with it) and managing QuickBooks and all of the paperwork.