Archive for the ‘selfemployed’ Category

A Good Work Environment

October 4, 2006

Working At Home Being comfortable is important. It can mean that your attention wanders less. Of course, it can mean that you fall asleep too, but you can solve that one yourself. When I am reading on the computer, I prefer to use the laptop and find some place comfortable. With WiFi of course this is entirely possible. Sometimes I have projects running on my more powerful desktop while I am using the laptop. Rather than get up, I can use VNC to remotely interact with my desktop (for example, to change the volume on my surround-sound system). In all seriousness, a flexible and pleasant work environment helps me be more productive (and happier and more inspired and …).

Entrepreneurs are Fools?

October 2, 2006

There was a very interesting article in BusinessWeek (way back in Feb, 2005) that I just stumbled upon. Researchers found that entrepreneurs take risks not because they have more tolerance for risk (they might even, on average, have less), but because they are overly confident in their ability to succeed.

My First Month of Self-employment

October 2, 2006

September is over and so is my first month of self-employment. It was a month of transition. I returned from three months of traveling (Europe and China), spent a week in Boston, settled back into my apartment, and then moved at the end of the month to a new apartment. Needless to say there have been a lot of distractions. Nevertheless, by the numbers I did well. Through consulting work I made 85% of my previous salary while working about 1/3 the number of hours. Just as all investments ads warn that “past performance is not a guarantee of future results,” I too must warn that almost all revenue came through a single job. Although I expect to do many more hours on the job, one of my goals for the next month is to diversify (multiply really) my sources of revenue.

Business Cards

September 29, 2006

I just got my business cards today. I ordered them from www.VistaPrint.com. They came out exceptionally well! VistaPrint allows you to design and preview your cards online. They provide a variety of templates and graphics, plus you can upload your own. I got 250 cards plus a metal case for about $45 after using a coupon. Coupon? Before I buy anything online, I always google for a coupon. Low and behold I found one and saved about $20.

MeeboMe

September 28, 2006

I have a success story that I want to share. I use a service called MeeboMe that allows prospective clients to chat (instant message) with me from my website. I have found this works well— people who might not have taken the time to e-mail me seem to prefer this medium. I like it too. Why? Quick resolutions. They tell me their needs, I ask for whatever information they left out, they shoot back answers, and I tell them if I can help them or not. With instant messaging, there is no waiting around for replies. Every time customers have to wait for a reply, the chance that they will lose interest in the effort increases. MeeboMe can be inserted, free of charge, into any website with just a few lines of code and is rendered as chat box widget. As long as you are online, messages are routed to your Meebo instant-messaging account. Meebo itself is a cool service because it allows you to instant message from multiple accounts/providers from a single web-based interface. From any computer you can log into all your accounts and see your contacts in a single buddy list.

The catch of course is that you need to be at your computer and able to respond quickly to questions, but since my job is to sit at the computer, that is hardly a problem. The other night (late) three prospective customers messaged me all within the same hour! I don’t think they would have bothered to contact me if the chat box wasn’t right there on the front page of my website.

Why I Made the Switch (Part II)

September 12, 2006

I knew I had to make a change. I took a leave of absence for three months during which I backpacked in Europe and taught English in China. Wonderful experiences! I had taken the GMAT (business school entrance exam) in the spring and scored in the 99% percentile. I knew I wanted and could do that, but didn’t feel directed enough to enroll right away (maybe in two years?). I considered moving to another position within the company or moving to other companies, but two years is not much time to advance within a company. Why not do my own thing *again*? I say again, because I ran a successful software business in high school. It was a fabulous experience. By being self-employed again I would be able to take on a unique and very rewarding challenge. I would have flexible hours and potentially have time to pursue other interests. And luckily I already have some contacts, a couple of which I had been freelancing for already, to help me get a consulting business rolling. Anyways, if it doesn’t work out, I have some savings and can always get another technical job very quickly.

Why I Made the Switch (Part I)

September 12, 2006

Let’s review my background. I am twenty-three. I graduated from an Ivy League school with a degree in computer science. I worked for eight months at a software company in the consulting division writing software for monitoring large computer networks. The application itself was cool, but I became discontent for two reasons: the tools and work environment.

By tools, I mean that we were using C, a low-level programming language, to write a large windows application. To write simple features took weeks. Bug fixing often involved tracking down numerous memory leaks and other outdated tediousness. Of course we leveraged a multitude of libraries that provided functionality obtainable in higher-level languages, but these were proprietary libraries. A newbie like me had to figure out what was there and how to use it and then come to terms with the fact that this knowledge would be useful nowhere else. I wanted to learn how to use the latest languages and libraries that allow for rapid application development and a more frequent feeling of accomplishment.

Second, the work environment was not stimulating. Everyone worked on their own feature and communicated only at weekly meetings or when a question arose. Maybe that makes sense. We had a job to do and we were doing it. But I prefer a more intense and interactive environment, like that perhaps of a startup company where you are constantly going back and forth and looking over each other’s screens while rapidly putting together an application. Additionally there was no flex time benefit and the Internet was filtered such that certain sites (like email or cnn) could not be reached. Is this kindergarten?