brandontreb.com Tips And Resources For Software Consultants

Why Start Software Consulting

Want to jump ship and be a software development consultant? This post will detail why this path is a much more fulfilling and safer path than a traditional job.

Diversifying Income

Early in my career, I worked for a software consulting agency.  I was in my early 20’s and getting paid way more than I should.  One day, my boss called me up and let me go without notice.

After interviewing quite a few developers in the consulting space, I quickly realized that this is a very common story.  If you work for a company, they can usually let you go at any time for any reason. Given that this is your sole source of income, you are now in an extremely risky situation.

Contrast this with being an independent consultant.  Most likely, if you are consulting you have 1 or more clients.  In addition to that, you have some sort of pipeline set up.  So when you lose a client, you simply pull another from your pool.

Mo Clients Mo Money

The going rate of a senior software development consultant is between $100-$125/hour.  At this rate, you are looking at pulling in somewhere between $16K-$20K/month.

Working for a traditional company, you would be hard pressed to command this salary even after having 10+ years of experience.  I’m not joking, kids who learned to code on Udemy in 6 months were making this while I had a salary cap of around $100K.

Commuting

In the U.S. , car accidents are one of the leading causes of death among young people.  Obviously, consulting can help mitigate this risk by allowing you to work from home or close to it. Therefore, further limiting your physical safety risk.

In addition to limiting safety risk, not having to commute has financial advantages.  Since going independent, my family has cut down our need to a single vehicle saving us money on car payments, maintenance, gasoline, insurance, and most importantly time.

Flexibility Of Location

When you don’t have to work in a traditional office, you are free to work anywhere in the world.  This could be coffee shops, the park, or even on a cruise ship.

I typically like working in my shipping container office (post on that in the future) or wherever my wife has chosen to take the kids on a field trip that week.

Flexibility Of Time

When I worked at a traditional company, I was required to be signed in and available from 9-5 Monday - Saturday.  As you can imagine, this has a huge impact on how you plan your free time.   It’s also extremely limiting when you are trying to plan a trip or vacation.

As a consultant, you have 100% control over your time.  This allows you to live life more on your terms.  If you enjoy staying up late and hacking until 3am, you can then enjoy sleeping in until 11.

My wife and I currently homeschool our kids.  So when we want to take a trip, it’s literally a matter of leaving our house.  We don’t have to ask for time off, we don’t have to plan around other people.  We can quite literally drop everything and head to Disney World during the “deadest” parts of the year and enjoy doing things while others are “working”.

I have found this level of flexibility has greatly improved my quality of life.

Unlimited PTO

This sort of goes with what I said above. Traditionally, if you want to take off time you need to:

  1. Make sure it's cool with your boss
  2. Make sure it's cool with your team
  3. Give 2 weeks notice
  4. Fill out paperwork
  5. Burn through your limited "vacation days"
  6. Still take calls from vacation because your are a "nice guy/gal"

When you are a consultant, the process becomes:

  1. Leave for vacation

You Are Your Own Boss

"So, Peter, what's happening? Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?" - Bill Lumber

I never want to have a “boss” again. It’s true. I hate the thought of someone constantly breathing down my neck watching my every move.  I also can’t stand the idea of someone giving me a ”performance report”.

When you become a consultant, it should be obvious, but you are the boss.  Early on, I would make the joke when my wife asked me to go on a random adventure “Let me check with my boss”.  Hilarious right?

Working In Your Underwear

Unless you are a Victoria Secret model, chances are you actually have to put on pants to go to work.  Not with consulting! I’m so glad I met my wife before I became a consultant, otherwise there would be no chance of me landing her wearing some of the choice outfits I do during work hours.

I find my level of quality goes up with my level of comfort.  It never made sense to me why companies preferred “business casual” over “sleep professional”.  Seems like millions in lost revenue.

Other Benefits

This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive. These are just some of my favorite perks that I have been enjoying over the years. If you have some others that I have missed, please feel free to add your comments below.