Steve Klein

Thoughts on life, design, marketing, startups

Quit My Job For Consulting: Two Months Later

It's been a little over two months since I quit my full-time to start consulting. I wanted to take a few minutes to write down a few thoughts on my experience so far.

Unbillable Time

One of the things we quickly learned that caught us completely off-guard was how much of your time is not billable. We're decently strict about the time we actually bill for, the consequences of which have been a real eye opener. Stopping for breakfast, lunch, the gym and running a few errands during the day adds up faster than you think. Add in a few breaks to hang out with your significant other who gets home early and you'll be working all the way to 10:00PM just to get 8 billable hours in. One thing that I've found helps is making a concerted effort to work in blocks of time. For example, from 10AM-3PM and then again at night from 10PM-2AM. Getting out of the house and going to a coffee shop helps make sure you don't get distracted by things around the house.

Book Clients Playing With House Money

Another thing we learned has to do with types of clients. If possible, work with clients who are somewhat removed from the money they're paying you. If a client is paying you out-of-pocket, they are going to be a lot more sensitive to how you're spending your time and the progress you're making. This project is also probably something that has consumed their life for the previous year or so. Who wouldn't want to make sure they're getting every penny's value out of what they're paying you? We had a good relationship with our first (and only so far) client of this type but could foresee similar situations going not as well.

By contrast, working for clients who have raised money or are already healthily profitable is often less stressful for both parties.

Become a Full-Stack Employee

We often hear the term "full-stack developer" used to describe someone who can do everything from server set up to wrangling CSS. If you're striking out on your own, you need to become a Full-Stack Employee. At the very least, you'll need to partner with someone such that the two of you combined form a Full-Stack Employee. A Full-Stack Employee is a full-stack developer that can also do marketing, usability testing, adwords and facebook ads, SEO, make sense of analytics and just has a good general sense of what the product should and shouldn't do. Scott and I together make a Full-Stack Employee, you should find your complement.

Work-Life Balance

It's very easy to work all day when you're working out of your house. I'm still terrible at this and I'm starting to feel the effects of it. Without the clear separation, the whole day just seems to blend together into one long work day. You and your significant other will be dragged down by this over time. You will start to feel burned out and they will feel like you're rarely fully "present".

Join me in my roost.
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