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Comment Re:Roll your own (Score 1) 232

I'm in agreement. I'm a little less focused on success, so I'd say that not every month would be "intensely hard", but certainly many would. And the no vacations thing is more about the love of the work than the lack of the time. But yeah, it's all there. But it's not just hard, and it's not just intense. It looks hard, and it looks intense, but it's always exactly what you want to do, so it's not difficult and it's very fun and rewarding. Especially the 12 hour days.

Comment Re:Roll your own (Score 2) 232

As someone whose done it more than five times in his life, I can tell you that there really are only three skills that one needs to be an entrepreneur of a small business.

The third one is a self-motivated attitude, which doesn't really count because it amounts to wanting to do what you're doing, and that's why you started in the first place.

The second is to realize that you don't need to jump all of the hurdles at once. You can solve one problem at a time as you encounter them. And shifting your business into a slightly different direction is a valid option. So navigating the client-space is a skill. To see what's working, what isn't, which clients to drop, and which clients are worth keeping. This can be easy if you monitor where dollars come and go, or where time comes and goes. It's not too difficult, but it's not very easy either.

The first is the big one. Most people don't realize that when they are really good at their jobs, everything's been set up for them. For example, my father's a fantastic executive. But payroll is done for him, hiring is done for him, product design is done for him, etc. etc. etc.. When you roll your own, you need to be capable of making EVERY decision from the pizza dough to the pizza toppings. You can't every say "whatever, anything's good" because you're still the one who needs to choose. So you need to be capable of making trivial decisions that don't matter, as well as big decisions that do. Along those same lines, you need to be able to do a semi-decent job at each stage of the process. So I build internet applications and business web-sites to automate human tasks. It's not good enough that I can program great web-sites. I need to design databases, talk to clients, choose suppliers, handle invoices, do the testing, plan the design, select colours, etc. etc. etc.. I'm responsible for every element of the path. That's difficult for most people -- soup to nuts.

Comment Re:Roll your own (Score 1) 232

Oh come on. If you're a technical person, you know exactly what "extremely rusty" means. It means that you're in the 98th percentile, and not the 99th. It means that you've lost confidence in the skills that you used to have, that'll come back in three days of trying.

But more importantly, it means that no matter how many times he mucks up on day one, he'll be able to fix it on day two. So if a project that should take a week, takes two weeks, and he only charges for the one, then it'll take a few months to get going at full speed, but it'll happen.

He's not a coward. He just hasn't done it for a while. The good news is that five years ago, high-end network hardware is basically what smaller businesses are using today. I mean, that was the draft version of 802.11n, and now it's no longer a draft. Cisco things haven't changed that much. And either way, it's all so very well documented in this industry that he'll learn it in a matter of weeks.

And besides, you know the mantra of a small business: "Yes, I can do that." No one ever said "Yes, I know how to do that.". We pick things up very quickly. That's what makes us technical people.

The question in any small business is only one of two: "Do I know more about it than the client knows?" or "Can I do it much faster/better than the client can do it?", If either answer is yes, then you're set.

Comment Re:Roll your own (Score 1) 232

Then you don't work in an office building. He's said that he's highly skilled with something. That something is used in most office buildings. There are hundreds of office buildings each with hundreds of offices each with dozens of desks in my city alone. Each of those desks has an employee who lives in or near that city. I'm sure some of them are his neighbours.

As a small business, he doesn't need a thousand clients. He needs three. Maybe ten. Any small business takes two years to get rolling. If you don't think that he can apply skills over that period of time to acquire a few clients, then you must not think much of his skills.

And keep in mind, he doesn't need to use the top-end of his skills on day one. Let's say that he can design and build routers from paper-clips to manage thousand-node networks. Well he can still start off assembling networks for a business with two dozen desks. Think about how well he can differentiate between linksys and dlink hardware. And imagine how well he can plan for scalability. And imagine how few problems he'll have, and how rarely he'll make a mistake. Those are all very well sellable skills.

Comment Roll your own (Score 5, Interesting) 232

Stop thinking that someone else has a job for you. Start creating jobs for someone else. If you're over the age of 30, your community needs you to create jobs, not take them.

You've got an interesting world of experience. Cross-industry experience no less. Start your own company -- don't let the big word fool you, it's meaningless. You'll pay far fewer taxes, you'll be able to get free and very inexpensive employees from schools, co-ops, interns, neighbours, and anyone willing to "start at the bottom".

It needn't be a big company. Just you and a physical assitant is all you need. And you want the physical assistant a) so you can shift your business into a different path to be flexible in five years and b) so you can worry about business admin stuff like client relations and invoicing and c) because someone should cover for you when you're on a beach somewhere enjoying life.

Clients don't tend to ask for credentials -- I own and run a programming company, and no client has ever asked. They ask about skills. You've got 'em.

And since it's your business, you can get just about any client by offering to do the work and not collect any money until the end. It's only a risk if you don't know what you're doing. If you do, you manage to buy a new client with nothing more than delaying payment by a month or two. That's effectively free client acquisition.

Dude, just dive in. Expect to pay $2'000 per year on accountants and lawyers, just to get it off your plate and so your government talks to them instead of you. You don't need insurance unless you're punching holes into walls -- and those premiums aren't a big deal either.

Get decent business cards, and give them to your neighbours. Each of them works in an office building somewhere. And each of their employers needs networking done at some point.

Take small jobs, they turn into big jobs. Take small clients, they turn into big clients. Take clients with bounded projects that have a start and an end. They'll become your best repeat business. Don't spend more than 25% of your typical month on a single client (with many exceptions of course).

Small business helps small business. Talk to other small business owners. Even your competitors. It doesn't hurt my business to help my small-business competitors. It just improves both of our small businesses vs the many many others. If you've got no one to talk to, talk to me.

Comment Re:Old code (Score 1) 683

I used to say the same thing, but since I program something different every day, I can't remember 300 projects any better than I can confuse them.

But either way, you're not asking him to use it. You're asking him to walk you through it. If one line of code yields twenty-seven sentences of explanation, or if ten lines of code yields three words of explanation, then it'll be obvious to everyone.

Remember, it's not about right or wrong. It's about whether or not everyone's happy with the explanation. If they are, then they only need to learn to read it. If they aren't, then it really doesn't matter anymore.

Comment Re:Old code (Score 1) 683

if no one else can, the solution might be to teach the others. don't make someone stop writing code that works just because others aren't good enough to read it. either hire better readers or teach them. otherwise you're angling to have the most easily-read code, as opposed to the most something-else code. and since the client doesn't pay based on code legibility (that's not true for all projects, but for most), you should be optimizing your code for its functionality, or its flexibility, or its size or something that matters to the client.

Comment Re:Old code (Score 1) 683

Yes, different is bad. But it can be solved in either of two directions. You don't need to change the code. You can change the developers.

So you define what good code is -- in my world, that's code that you can read two years later within 10 minutes -- and then you make everyone use that style.

It's not about the syntax, or the conventions. It's about the end-result.

Comment Umm, You mean planting trees. (Score 1) 285

So instead of planting millions of trees (these days, in most places, paper comes from farmed trees), you're going to destroy the tree-planting business, and wind up with fewer trees on the planet. What a swell idea. You know there are more chickens than ever before right? I eat about 100 chickens every year. Chickens are probably the most successful bird species on Earch.

And whereas I can have tend pages of paper on my desk, I can't have more than six on my screens -- and I have six thousand dollars of screens on my desk. And I still can't highlight or sketch a diagram on my screens with any degree of ease and precision.

And as for the environment, you're going to replace farmed and then recycled and then composted paper for electricity and plastic and garbage and mercury. Again, good idea.

I certainly see how Google benefits. But not how humans nor the environment benefit at all.

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