Introduction: Are you ready for the arena?
Recently, I have been seeing a trend. This trend is mostly of people just like you, working in information technology, but wanting to break out of the cube farm and blaze their own trail. From those that are just starting out, to veteran troubleshooters, this trend has them wondering about self-employment.
I also see the same piece of advice being handed to these seekers of self-reliance:
- Get a job working at a help desk
- Stick with it for a year or two
- Go work for another help desk for a year or two
- Then start off on your own
Granted, this is how a great many have done it, myself included. I see this as the default way to start out in this industry.
However, I have discovered another way.
This series of posts will walk any technologist through the steps of becoming an independent contractor field technician in their spare time within as little as one week. Then it will provide the steps needed to become the sole proprietor of a freelance technical service company within as little as one month.
We start at the beginning
To begin, you must know what resources you can tap to get you going. If you are currently working the standard Monday through Friday nine-to-five job, the main resource you will need to manage is time.
If you are currently working part-time, a student, have a schedule that is unpredictable or you are between jobs then your primary focus is going to be on cash-flow.
On the subject of time management, the first thing to adopt is an attitude of flexibility. You are starting with only four or five hours each day for either personal pursuits or working this system. Learn to adapt to your needs, both personal and professional until you can find a balance that allows you to progress without sacrificing your sanity or peace of mind.
First, I do not recommend trying to go this route full force, working every spare minute of every spare day. Ease yourself into it at first. Try to get in three to four hours per week at the beginning and adjust as you see fit.
Second, get to know your strengths, intimately. Be honest with yourself and know your limits. Focus on the things that you are already good at. As you progress you will discover other skills you either weren’t aware of, forgot about, never new you had or are brand new to you.
So, before you even start down this path, you will want to establish a schedule. Set aside as much time as you feel comfortable with to pursue the goal of becoming your own boss. Keep it real, and remember that you will need time to unwind and relax. Take care of yourself first, and the business second.
As for cash flow, the bare essentials are a laptop and a phone with a decent camera built in. You can acquire tools as needed, when you can afford them.