Articles

Two birds in the forest

In Business on April 4, 2010 by petrem66 Tagged:

Is the old saying ‘A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the woods’ true? This dilemma is especially painful when one has to choose between extending his contract for software consulting services with a large car manufacturing company for another year, or to go and build his own business. I’ve managed to sort out the dilemma by giving up on consulting for a while. Let me explain why.
My understanding is that consulting the way I currently do is not scalable, meaning that I am expected to allocate the bulk of my active time for one client at a time to earn an income from my trade. Also , when providing consulting services I am not expected and cannot become a Linchpin (as per Seth Godin see http://www.squidoo.com/linchpin) therefore the value proposition from me to the client and back are limited to the best and easy to replace. Not that it happened to me so far (never been fired in 25 years since working), but the potential is real with any client. I have never been in a position where my services could produce measurable value to the companies, and there’s nothing wrong with that except the fact that I cannot climb that corporate ladder, nor earn millions by consulting. I know there are better ways to utilize my time, skills and knowledge (see Paul Graham on wealth). An you know, better is the worst enemy of good, as they say
I want to be in a situation in which my participation to the market can scale. That is when I will provide service for many clients at the same time through a web based application (that is what I know best). But first, I need to build such a business.
In theory, building a business part time is possible. A Bob Walsh puts it in his excellent book ‘The Web Startup Success Guide’ about the By-the-Bootstraps startup ‘Try this experiment: Put a pair of boots and find a stairway heading up. At the foot of the stairs grab the back of each boot with a hand; then in that position, jump to the first step. If you can make it, jump to the next step, still holding your bootstraps’. That was my initial plan, but realized that it would take years and a lot of neurons to burn to jump to the next step.
A better approach is to give up on consulting for at least 5 month. My estimate for building version 1.0 of my web application is for that long. The benefit is that I can utilize 800 hours of work of the best coder/designer/architect/pm I can afford without getting into a deep hole of depth or the need to chase VC or AI for funding at this stage yet. In September, after v 1.0 release I will return to consulting at least until my online and scalable business takes off
Yes, foolish me, I am giving up the bird in my hand for two in the forest

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