TL;DR: As of 23rd November 2015 I will be a freelance developer for the first time. I'm excited but also terrified. I'm on the lookout for interesting projects. In particular I'm looking for greenfield Bespoke Business Applications or Start-up MVPs. Please get in touch and spread the word. Hire me!
Taking the plunge
After 18 years of working for other people I've decided to take the plunge and work for myself as a freelance software developer. This is both super exciting but also absolutely terrifying all at the same time.
Working for myself has always been something that I wanted to do, but for one reason or another I never went for it. I've worked for some great companies and enjoyed most of the work I did for them. There was however, that little voice in the back of my head telling me to go it alone.
I recently decided that I was ready to go freelance sometime in the new year and so I started talking to as many people as I could for advice. I'd like to say a big thank you to those that gave up their time to speak to me and help in all sorts of ways, you know who you are so thank you!
I wasn't really prepared for what happened next. I managed to win my first two clients just from talking to a few friends. I even had a couple of interesting leads for more work that I hope will pan out for the new year. Things moved faster that I imagined and I had to make a quick decision and decided to go for it. Eek!
I've always been a risk averse kind of person. There was always either a safe option or a comfortable job that kept me safe from the crazy idea of freelancing and consulting. I worked for some great companies and worked with with great people. I got paid a good wage and have a wife and three young children to support. Why now, are you nuts?
I worked for a digital agency for many years as their Technical Director. I really enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed speaking with clients, understanding their needs and then building a bespoke solution for them. In fact, the times that I got the most satisfaction from work was when I was the sole person working on a project. For these projects I'd deal with scoping, pricing, project management and of course the software development. These projects, as well as being super satisfying for me were also some of the best for the agency and the clients were always super happy.
That's what I enjoyed the most. I guess if I'm honest (people that I worked with will know this) I was never totally comfortable with the people management side of my job. I gave it my best and I think on the whole I did ok. However, something telling is that whenever I met someone new and they asked me what I did for a living I wouldn't tell them that I was a company director, I'd say I was a software developer. That is what I've always been since my parents bought me my first computer nearly 30 years ago. I'll always be a developer.
I now have a great deal of experience and a good level of confidence that I feel ready to go it alone and help my clients solve their problems.
What projects would I like to work on?
In an ideal world, I think there are two types of projects that I would enjoy the most and also would be able to provide the most value to my clients.
Bespoke Business Applications
I have a lot of experience building custom applications for businesses. These can range form back-office systems for streamlining business processes to CRMs to front of house applications for your customers to interactive with.
These are interesting for me because I get to speak to people and really understand their business, how it works and what problems they have. I then get to build something meaningful that solves real problems and provides real value. This gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
MVPs (Minimal Viable Products) are another area that interests me greatly. When I listen to entrepreneurs talk about their idea and see how excited and passionate they are about it, I just want to get on-board and help them realise their products potential.
As part of building an MVP I enjoy working collaboratively with founders to understand what is important and what the goals are for the MVP. It may be to help secure investment or prove that their product is technically feasible. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I can help someone be successful.
In addition to these types of projects I will also be considering traditional contracting work. If at all possible I would prefer to work with remote friendly teams but will be happy to talk to any prospective company about how I can help them.
When I finally decided to go freelance I had one big worry (and still do). That is, finding the work. Not only finding work but finding good quality work with people that are great to work with.
So far, I've found the best way is to just talk to people. I'll continue to do that and will reach out to people. If you know of anyone that I should talk to then please let me know.
This is a big adventure for me and I don't know how this is going to play out. I'll try to blog about the experiences, the mistakes and the successes. I have the support of my family and friends and I feel ready to take on this next chapter of my career.