Project Management

Six resolutions for a new year of consulting

It's hard to believe that I'm about to kiss 2007 goodbye when it seems like we barely got to know each other.  With 2008 right around the corner, it's time to make some resolutions for the new year.  Well, these aren't so much resolutions as they are goals or guidelines.  Some of them even conflict with one another, potentially.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Do more of the work that I want to do, and less of the work that I have to do.  For me, that means more exploration of newer programming languages and technologies, as well as more writing.  It's weird, but that now-clichéd book title Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow often turns out to be true.  When I started my blogs in 2001 and 2006, I had no idea how I would make any money from them.  But I kept writing, and this year I landed paying gigs writing here for TechRepublic as well as at [Geeks are Sexy].  Likewise, if I spend more time working with a programming language or platform that I like, chances are I'll find an opportunity to use it for a paying project someday.
  2. Spend evenings and weekends face to face with my family instead of my monitors.  Over the Christmas holiday I got some not-so-subtle feedback about the amount of time I spend online.  You know what?  Real life is way more important than Second Life, and my family will be here long after my Facebook friends fade away.
  3. Make more money than last year — but not at the expense of my family, my health, or my sanity.  I'm raising my rates for most of my clients this year.  Sorry, but I'm worth it.  Some of my clients have been at the same rate for several years.  It's time.
  4. Do something for each of my clients that makes them say, "Wow, I'm glad we hired that guy."  It doesn't matter what the project, there's always a way to kick it up a few degrees on the leetometer.  Not by adding layers of complexity, but by focusing on simple, elegant designs that generate those V-8 moments when everyone knocks themselves on the forehead and says "why didn't I think of that?"  To be fair, though, the most elegant designs usually materialize in round two or three after much feedback from the client and their end users.  The trick is to keep going until we get there, rather than releasing round one as "it works, so it's good enough".
  5. Don't put up with clients who stretch the terms of their agreement — whether it's expecting free work,  not paying on time, or some other insult.  They're not worth the hassle.  Tell them where my limits are, and stick to them.  If they come around, great.  If they walk, then it's better that way.
  6. Make sure that my good clients know that they're appreciated.  I've been known to give customer appreciation credits to clients who consistently pay on time and provide a constant flow of work.  Some years I've sent out presents during the holiday season.  I'm not sure what I'll do this year; I'll have to be creative.  One thing I can do all year long, though, is to let them know that I'm here for them, ready to work and listen.

So, what are your goals for the new year?


Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

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