Re: Fair Contracting Practices (again!)

Subject: Re: Fair Contracting Practices (again!)
From: Brannon Golden <brannon -dot- golden -at- WCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 19:55:16 -0600

If you will recall, last week an individual asked us how she could *get started* doing contract work. Specifically, she asked for printed guidelines that listed some general contracting rates for different types of projects. Instead of what I felt was any helpful advice, what she received was a heated debate about "price-fixing," "anti-competitive practices," and so on. She asked a simple question, and she needed a simple answer. Unfortunately, she was mildly flamed instead. :-(

Obviously, my initial post addressing her question was unclear (or some of you didn't read it in its entirety). I have received a handful of responses to my message that indicated this to me--enough that I felt I should send this to the list, rather than on an individual basis. I specifically said that the formula I was offering was "overly simplistic." (Didn't I?) I promise: I'm *not* trying to "send [any of] you straight to the poor house!" (Although, how would that be for "anti-competitive practice"?) >;->

I strongly suspect that the long explanation that Susan Holbert provided--excerpted here in part--is *precisely* the kind of answer our colleague was actually looking for. Since the individual asking the question provided us with no details about her geographic location; her experience; her past, "salaried" asking rate; etc., we didn't really have anything specific that we could offer her. I was hoping to give her a simplistic alternative to *get her started,* as she requested.

Apparently, the sparse parenthetical examples I included in what I obviously should not have called "overhead" were not sufficiently labeled as such (as examples, that is). That list is basically infinite, depending upon what's important to you: equipment, medical/vision/dental, auto, child care, sick/vacation leave, taxes, drive time, paperwork, project hunting, ad infinitum. I also was careful to *specifically* state that you should factor in the elements that are reflective of your personal situation. Sorry that I was not more clear.

Susan wrote:
<snip>"I have seen published in several places...that...a contractor must charge twice the nominal hourly rate as an employee..."
Where specifically, Susan? This is *precisely* the kind of information that I believe our colleague requested. I'm sure she could benefit from these kinds of publications...

<snip>" guess is that here in the Boston area, beginning tech writers start at $25/hr..."
17 years in the field... Do I understand you? Are you advising a newcomer to base critical calculations that she'll need to feed herself upon a "guess"? ;-)

<snip>"...No contractor can bill 52 weeks per year..."
Whoa! Did I say that? Of course not. Factor this downtime into what I lumped together with "overhead," maybe? :-)

<snip>"...Figure that the average "40-hr" employee works no more than 30 hours per week..."
Really? I work 8:00am to 5:30pm every day. I have a one-hour lunch and no "formal" breaks. I also frequently work overtime to meet project deadlines. After seven years on this kind of schedule, I guess I'm still the exception. ;->

<snip>"Your overhead must include..."
Uh-huh. I hope we've addressed this sufficiently now.

Please... Can't we all just... get along?

Best wishes (honestly!)
brannon -dot- golden -at- wcom -dot- com
"Are you saying that I'm redundant? That I'm repetitive? That I repeat myself? That I keep saying the same thing over and over..."
Kelsey Grammer, Dr. Frazier Crane, "Cheers"

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