Re: FWD: Advice on contract vs. captive

Subject: Re: FWD: Advice on contract vs. captive
From: Robin Allen <rmallen -at- TEXAS -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998 16:52:47 -0500

Many of the contracting issues that have been brought up are valid, however, my
experience has been a little different. I did not have six months salary in
savings -- never have. I've worked in the computer industry my entire
professional career. When I started I made sure that I had basic office
equipment -- PC, printer, fax, Internet connection. And I also had basic
writing skills -- knew how to use MS Word and page layout programs, how to
write, how to explain things in a way that others could understand.

I have five clients that have basically kept me working for the entire three
years that I've been a contractor. I've never experienced a dry spell,
therefore never needed the six months salary in savings. Maybe I've never
experienced a dry spell because I couldn't afford to. In any case, only you
make make yourself a success.

Most of my success comes from knowing what I'm doing, being able to admit when
I don't, and knowing how to market myself. I believe that most contractors, in
fact most small business regardless of the industry, fail because they either
don't have effective marketing techniques or they can't back up their
advertising. You can spend a lot of money creating a nice logo and printing
business cards and creating a brochure (none of which I have) and creating a
killer website, but if you don't know what you're doing or don't instill
confidence in your customers that you know what you're doing, you're not going
to make it.

Most of my business has been word of mouth -- my mouth. I network at STC
meetings, I spend time with other contractors, and I'm always asking my clients
for more work. My clients know that I'm available for my them regardless of the
job or the deadline. You have to be willing to (and have a lifestyle that
allows you to) make it happen. Sometimes it's a squeeze when all five have the
same deadline, but fortunately deadlines slip and things always work out.

Sure you have to keep up with the industry, but you can go to a couple of
conferences each year, subscribe to this list, and download some demo software
to keep your skills up to date. "Standard" applications are standard for a
reason -- everyone uses them and chances are your clients use them too. But if
one of my clients wants me to use an application that I've never used before
(like Quark for Macintosh), they pay for me to learn it.

It's an employee's market right now. If the contracting thing doesn't work out,
you could probably find a captive job in a week.

Good luck.

Robin Allen
Twenty-Six Letters, Inc.
210-696-8721 voice
210-696-8724 fax

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