DaedTech

Stories about Software

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I’m a Business, Man

One thing that I’ve come firmly to believe over the last several years is that every developer should have a business entity.  Please do not confuse this with me saying that every developer should hang out a shingle and become a freelancer.  The staff developer is alive and well and not going anywhere in the near term future.  And, besides, full time hustling isn’t for everyone.

Still, I stand by the claim that every developer should have a business entity.  What I’m referring to here is the idea that you should be your own company, capable of doing business on your own terms, with your own branding.  You should exist on a map of the business world independently of whatever company direct deposits paychecks to you.

Because, right now, for many people, this is the default state of affairs.  As far as the world of commerce is concerned, they exist only as (human) resources on a company’s ledger sheet — essentially property of that company.  And in a world where long term relationships between companies and employees is increasingly a thing of the past, that’s a bumpier ride than it would seem.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reliable presence through all of that, whatever comes?

RobotWithMoney

We tend to think of going into business for ourselves as mutually exclusive with working a corporate job.  But there’s a different path, which is to establish yourself as a corporate entity alongside your working for a company.  That allows you to maintain gainful employment and a steady paycheck while dipping your toe in the waters of freelance as a weekend warrior.

But, above and beyond that, I would argue that it gradually starts to help make you more marketable as a salaried employee.  If you’re a software developer, you’re competing against other developers for jobs, and you’re competing against a whole slew of people, former-developers and others, for higher paying management positions.  Don’t you think, “I’ve run a business” might help with that job application?  How many of those you’re up against will have maintained budgets, understood operating agreements, contracted with vendors, etc.

In Illinois, where I formed my LLC, it’s comically expensive to incorporate.  I believe it’s more expensive in Illinois than any other state.  It cost me $500 to form the LLC and it costs me $250 per year to maintain it.  That’s an 11 year total of $3,000.  So, let’s set that as an upper bound.

The gamble I’m talking about will then pay off for you so long as you’re able to negotiate $3,000 in extra salary over the next decade.  Do you have any idea how likely this is?  I mean, let’s say you make $50K per year right now and that, with your business credentials, you negotiate an extra 1% pay increase 5 years in.  You’ll make an extra $500 per year over the subsequent 6 years and break even.  That’s it.  One slightly tinier raise, and you win.

I’ll close out this short post by saying that this isn’t purely a motivational speech.  I believe in this strongly enough that I’m starting to work on an offering to help software developers with their independent business affairs.  And, as sort of a beta of this, I’d like to invite anyone in the readership thinking of starting a corporate entity to reach out.  I will basically help you start your business for free, walking you through everything you need to do.  I will have to limit this offer to only a few people due to constraints on my own time, so, first come first serve.  Feel free to send email to erik at daedtech or to send the request as a question through the submit a question form.  Really, feel free to reach out however you’re comfortable.

But, whether you participate in this or not, I think you should do yourself a favor and make yourself a business.

Editorial Note: Thanks to everyone who wrote in about the Beta!  I wanted to make a quick update for anyone still reading that the slots for this offer have been filled.  I’ll keep you posted if I have any further, related offerings.

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Happy New Year, 2016

Much like last week’s Friday post, I think a seasonal greeting will suffice.  Thanks very much for reading the blog and all of your feedback and support.  Here’s to a good 2015 in the books and, hopefully, an even better 2016.  Happy New Years to everyone reading!  To celebrate, please enjoy this worried owl.

WorriedOwl

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Merry Christmas, 2015

Big chunks of the world take the day off on Christmas, and I see no reason that DaedTech should buck the trend. So, instead of your usually scheduled Friday post, please enjoy this festive, non-sequitur drawing of a bunny farm.

And, of course, for all Christians reading, have a Merry Christmas! (And to everyone else, hopefully you get to enjoy a relaxing day off).

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Happy Thanksgiving, 2015!

For me and for readers in the US, today is Thanksgiving.  So instead of working and writing a DaedTech post, I’m going to be watching football, eating, and relaxing with family.  I suppose I could publish one of my drafts that was written for another blog, but a significant chunk of my audience is going to be spending the weekend with family and not reading technical blogs.  So, I’ll just hold off on a post until next Monday.

For those not in the US, have a good weekend.  For those in the US, have a happy Thanksgiving, and a good long weekend.  Try not to eat too much or kill anyone while shopping on Friday morning.  (Better yet, stay home on Friday morning).  For everyone’s enjoyment, here is a picture of a turkey that my wife drew.

Turkey

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My New Project and Dignity in Hiring

I saw this tweet tonight and thought of dignity in hiring.

I admittedly didn’t read through the site in a ton of detail, but notwithstanding that, I found myself feeling a little giddy. Apologies in advance for the spoiler, but one of the main things for which I’ll be advocating in my in-progress book, Developer Hegemony, is that software developers stop commoditizing their labor at pennies on the dollar. Instead, I think they/we should form organizational structures akin to law firms, and sell software expertise as a professional service. With this model, a rising tide will lift all boats. Even the odd staff developer at some non-software company will be paid more like staff counsel than like someone with 4 layers of middle management between them and people that make decisions.

But, I digress. I mention seeing this site because it was a hopeful reminder that better ways of marrying developers with automation needs are on the way.  And, for my part, I’ve been thinking about how to get there, and not just for the purpose of my book.

A bit under 2 years ago, I realized that I’d completely burned out on salaried, exempt (i.e. full time) employment.  At the core of this was the feeling that exclusive employment cedes entirely too much control over one’s circumstances to another entity.  On a long enough timeline, you’ll find yourself in a situation you don’t like, doing things that you think are stupid, and hoping for reprieve before you have to make the life-disrupting decision to go job hunting on the sly.

OppenheimerShady

So, I followed the advice that brings you continuous integration: if it hurts, do it more and more, until it’s painless.  I decided that, whether it be with employers, clients, or anything else, I’d never be completely able to prevent a situation from going sideways.  But what I can control is how easy it is for me to hit the eject button when it does.  And having a bunch of different clients and a whole ton of connections makes any single depression of the eject button relatively painless for me.  I was done putting all of my eggs in one basket.

That’s gone quite well.  These days I have more offers for work than I can take on, and a lot of different connections, contacts, and clients.  Life is good.  Maintaining my own pipeline is not without its drawbacks.  When you’re taking a break from your 9 to 5 gig on weekends, you might well find me invoicing or following up on prospective contracts.  But, I wouldn’t trade the relative freedom when it comes to controlling my working destiny.  I work more hours than most, but none of those hours are spent doing things that I think are stupid, at the behest of some megalomaniacal expert beginner.  And that has made all the difference. Read More