Re: Early contracting experiences? Learning the haard way! (1 of 2...)

Subject: Re: Early contracting experiences? Learning the haard way! (1 of 2...)
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 11:46:46 -0700 (PDT)

"Charles E Vermette" <cvermette -at- juno -dot- com> wrote
> - I deal only with experienced companies - and generally avoid startups
> altogether.

Actually startups can be extremely productive and exciting environments. But you
have to handle them differently. Most startups have ZERO interest in complex
processes, procedures, or people with fussy work habits. Start ups are the
ultimate "adapt or die" environment. If you enjoy challenge and can adapt quickly
to volatile environments, than start ups are exciting places to work. If you like
to show up at 9 am every day and leave on the dot at 5 pm and do everything
according to a strict plan - then don't go anywhere near a start up.

I find working at startups very interesting. But then again - I am a highly
adaptable person. I like the intellectual challenge of learning cool new stuff
and working with obsessive visionaries. Its people like that, that change
history. And its fascinating (and sometimes scary) to work beside them.

But its not for everybody. And if you are scared of obsessive visionaries or like
everything nice and ordered, then yes, stay away from startups. They will eat you

> - If I sense that a potential client doesn't know what they're doing - or
> is simply disorganized and/or immature, I walk and don't look back.

This expresses an "I know better than they do" attitude. Which I find very
distasteful. The fact is not every work environment is identical. If you have
extremely fussy or explicit expectations in your work environment, then you
probably should avoid contracting all together. Go find a nice big company where
you can settle into a stable grind for 25 years.

The largest mistake most inexperience contractors make is to assume they know
better than their customers. If you listen carefully and pay attention to the
inner-company dynamics, you can often adapt your work and work habits to suit the
customer and have consistently satisfactory contracting relationships. And in the
end, you will help them move forward by infusing insight into their existing

This is fundamentally different then showing up with a "I know better than you"
attitude and then demanding they re-engineer their company to suit your needs.
This type of attitude will likely lead to a few successes a lot of half-success,
and a handful of spectacular flame-outs.

> Sue, don't feel bad. Even very experienced contractors make this mistake.
> See the January archives and search on "Client from hell"...

That's a good thread. Pay close attention to my questioning and analysis of that
event and you'll notice that it wasn't so simple as "client: BAAAAD, writer:

Andrew Plato

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