Just thought I’d jot down some notes outlining my experience so far of contracting in the world of .Net Development. I’ve been working now for about 5 months and only have 1, maybe 2, months left. I actually got the contract with the company I started my career with and this definitely helped with the initial settling in period, as I knew the culture and even some of the people I was working with.
Doing anything else during the contracting period is super difficult, it’s just impossible to find the motivation after working a full day to go home in the evening and work on that side project you had planned on tackling. If you have other clients that you are dealing with from the time previous to starting the contract then these relationships will suffer, as you just cannot offer them the same level of service you once did when you were freelance/you own boss. You really do need to clear the deck of any outstanding work you may have before starting. I made the mistake of taking on a small website job just as I started the contract and this caused a lot of unnecessary stress on my part and I was pretty burnt out for that first month!
It’s nice working with people again (most of the time). One thing I do miss from time to time is working with really great people. Working alone from home has its benefits, and certainly my introverted personality means I’m quite happy in this environment, but it can become lonely at times and you sometimes miss that buzz of working on a team. I’m working with some really great coders at the minute, some of whom I’ve learned a lot off and had a great laugh with. Other times I’ve been able to help other younger coders on the team which is also a rewarding experience. Dealing with people can be difficult of course and there have been times where I’ve longed for the sanctuary of my home office, but overall its been a positive experience.
Having guaranteed income week after week is a nice change from the constant sales pitches and barren spells of running your own company. Definitely one of the toughest things about going it alone is having to build something from nothing. You have to convince people that they should be spending their hard earned cash on your skills and not someone else. It’s a slow process. Thankfully the business has grown in the first couple of years and our portfolio of work is starting to look strong. However, it is great to be able to relax a little, just clock in, clock out and know that the money will be paid into your account at the end of the week. What’s great also is that as it’s contracting, the money is paid to my company, so when I see these great sums of money in the sales column it brings a sense of legitimacy to the company that I didn’t feel before when we were just getting by. I can puff out my chest a little when sending my accountant on the sales figures for the end of year report for the first time!
The only down side of this is how I will cope once the contract is over! I’m beginning to see that maybe for the foreseeable future this idea of splitting my year between contracting and my own company work might be a pretty good idea. With contracting I get financial security, a fresh challenge, working in a team environment, making new friends and connections. Then with my own company I will have the time to work on projects that truly interest and inspire me to do good work, as well as study and learn new skills, spend time being my own boss which I love. 6 months in Dublin or Galway over the winter when things in Mayo are a little quiet and spending the summer months in the Mayo countryside sounds like a pretty good plan at the minute anyway!!