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  • #2249225

    Consulting – Quit the day job?

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    by e ·

    I have a great job currently, network designer and admin, but I have a family member that needs care now due to illness, and am finding my usual 50 hrs per week hard to do and provide the care that I need to.

    I’ve been pondering the possibility of doing consulting. My hope was to pick up a handful of small to mid size businesses and do computer support for them.

    My question is, is it realistic to hope I could cut down my hours to part time (25-30 hrs per week), still make a little bit of a living and keep my career alive, doing pc, server and network support for a couple of clients?

    Some folks tell me when you break out on your own you have to double your hours though it’s a lot more lucrative. My problem is a difficult family situation and the need to cut my hours back and have some flexibility for dr. visits, etc. If I have to work even more hours I can’t do it.

    I’d be grateful for any input.

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    • #3224215

      Perhaps a stupid queston but…

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Have you explained your needs to your current employer? Under the Family Leave Act your current employer may be able to accommodate this change in your needs right now. Especially if you are simply looking for flexibility.

      Consulting is a tough road. My experience has been that you can get overwhelmed pretty easily even in the best of situations.

      I would start with a chat with your HR folks or your manager. Explain that you enjoy your job but have this challenge just now. Find out if they will be willing to work with you. My experience has been that many will.

      Good luck to you and your family.

      • #3224197

        Agree, and see about tele-commuting

        by maevinn ·

        In reply to Perhaps a stupid queston but…

        More employers are willing to allow tele-commuting for more and more positions these days. If a significant portion of your job can be done remotely, see what they’ll do to support that. It ends up being a time saver for them as well as a benefit for you. You’d likely still need to come in a few hours each week, but that could be 4 hours each morning, or 2 days a week, etc. Definitely worth asking about, anyway, considering the potential hardship of losing income during a stressful time.

        • #3224884

          did check about fmla

          by e ·

          In reply to Agree, and see about tele-commuting

          We can have family leave, but my understanding is the law allows only a certain amount, and I think I might be in this for a longer haul, so was exploring the options ..

          Regarding telecommuting, the current administration is old school about this . . if we can’t see you how do we know you are actually working although the programmers are gaming while sitting at their desks and are thought of as productive . . .

          I’ve been at the job a long time and even with 10 years track record of 5 nines they’d jump at a 20 something that would start for less than my hourly.

          Just had heard the rates of freelancers, three times mine hourly, and thought that might be an avenue to explore.

          thanks for the input . .

    • #3224901

      Speaking as someone who’s done that NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      by hal 9000 ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      I had the idea of going into semi retirement a few years ago and I set up this business with the idea of only working a few hours per week and having time for my [b]Play Toys[/b] and do things that i really wanted to do.

      That lasted 12 hours. Now I have 10 techs working for me one surly Office Manager who thinks that she owns this place and I’m constantly stealing from it and worst of all no Play Time at all! 🙁

      Then to make matters worse I can not plan anything as emergencies crop up that need attention immediately so there is no time off for Good behaviour and I’m on call 24/7/365.

      The closest thing that I’ve had to a holiday was a 2 week hospital stay on the 9-9-01 when I dropped a car on myself and even then for the first 12 hours or so I was left alone and then the next morning several of my staff turned up with a NB and several mobile phones that could be connected to the NB so that they could stay in constant contact. It also allowed me to collect my E-Mail and do any work that was required. About 2 years ago now I took 4 days off and drove to Melbourne. 1.5 days to get there, .5 of a day there and 1.5 days to get back I didn’t get much sleep except on the way back I managed to grab a few hours of shut eye 6 about all up.

      I didn’t even get the 4 days either as when I got back I had a pile of work waiting and I had several members of staff unload the car and do whatever was necessary while I went off to work.

      If you can I would see if it’s possible to Telecommute for your current job. As the Network Designer & Admin you should be able to do most of this remotely and be flexible enough to allow you to do the necessary things required even if you have to constantly carry a NB with a Wireless Internet connection to VPN into the LAN that you are administering.

      Col

    • #3224640

      Options

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      “cut down my hours to part time (25-30 hrs per week), ” Sure you could do this.
      “still make a little bit of a living” This is the tough part and it depends entirely on what a “living” means to you.
      “keep my career alive” It might have to morph a little bit, but it doesn’t have to die.

      Some Options:
      Do you need to be so involved, or do you choose to be? You could check with your local Social Services organization. They should be able to hook you up with free services that will provide some of the care you are trying to do yourself.

      Working part-time as a consultant is much more time consuming then working part-time for sombody else. Check out UNLV. You might be able to get a part-time position there. Universities are normally VERY supportive of family healthcare needs.

    • #3289117

      independent consulting?

      by icerhack ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      For a manner of speaking, it is a tough job doing consulting on your own.

      Unless, you have a wide contacts in the market, this means a lot of companies in the same business as your which will outsource some jobs for you, or are needing people like yourself to add value to their business.

      you may also need to have a figure in mind of the minimum income that you are expecting to be able to survive.

      if the situation in your family can be solve by hiring help with your current pay, then it’s best to stick to the job.

      Unless you can directly cure the illness, or you may know some medicine, DONT DO IT.

      That’s all.

      • #3289111

        Consulting is good for money…bad for EVERYTHING else

        by joe.crowe ·

        In reply to independent consulting?

        DON’T do it. If you don’t sell your soul with 24/7/365 you won’t have reliable income.

    • #3289109

      Contacts

      by sdrury ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Consulting can be a greatmove – but make sure your industry contacts up to the highest level are rock solid and that you have the respect of your peers.

      You will experience many empty promises at first so you’ll have to consider how you market yourself -on and offline.

      But from personal experience – having worked for one of the world largest corporates and taken the leap – I’d say GO FOR IT!

    • #3289099

      Yes you can do it!

      by info ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      I have worked here in the UK for the past 7 years doing just that. I work up to 30hours a week have 30 small business clients who I vist monthly.
      Remote access, telephone support and offsite backup system all make it practical.
      Just be strict with you time and charge a realistic price from the beginning.

      • #3289090

        It Depends

        by r.beckman ·

        In reply to Yes you can do it!

        The advice above is relevant but no one can know for sure without more knowledge of your situation. A couple of points:

        1. There is a reason for fewer women and in general young-family aged parents in consulting. Its brutal although well paid.
        2. Remember, while working one assignment the staff is constantly marketing and writing proposals for the next job. Unless you are confident of a steady stream of work and good contacts for even more possibilities it could be a very tough “row to hoe”. The client must have the money available to commit and you need confirmation of that from a willing “decider”.

        Personally, I would explore every possibility where you are now.

        Good luck!

    • #3289078

      Consulting

      by verd1 ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Consulting always looks good on paper and sounds like you can make your own hours, but in reality you could be working more hours than you would at a regular job. Some days I work 15 hours or more. You could work more hours working for yourself than at a regular job. I would talk to your employer.

    • #3289077

      RE: Consulting – Quit the day job?

      by info ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      e@… You can cut your hours but be sure to have maintenance contracts for steady income and of course you’ll need a few steady clients. You’ll need about 5-10 clients with around 25 users per network to make a decent living. You can charge them upwards to a grand per month each for total support (9am-5pm) plus anything ($) outside your maintenance contract. Good luck!
      -AJS

    • #3289069

      This is not the right reason

      by mrkahatr ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Independent consulting is a fine approach to making a living, but, like everything else, requires a high level of commitment to succeed. You’re looking at consulting (really contracting) as a means to enable another priority in your life. Running the whole show yourself, without a support structure or safety net requires more attention than you are probably willing to pay.

      Trying to set up a part time (even dropping the 10 extra overwork hours would be a 20% improvement) with your current employer is a lot less risky than backing into self-employment.

      Good luck!

      – Bruce

    • #3289062

      Think about the cost of Insurance, etc.

      by melimaze ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      I just left consulting for a full-time permanent position due to a need for health insurance and other benefits. It was costing my family of 5 close to $20,000 in premiums and deductibles for coverage with no preventive care.

    • #3289050

      Are you aware?

      by dr_zinj ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      That having a consulting business means that you own your own business?

      Successful, self-supporting, small business owners almost never get to work a 40 hour or less work week.

      You MAY EVENTUALLY earn enough to be independently wealthy and can retire from the business; but your kids will be grown up, through college, and on their own by then.

    • #3289017

      Possibly

      by hollandm ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      I found myself in your position some years ago. Luckily, I had enough money to allow me to quit my job, and the great good fortune to have two friends who immediately hired me for part-time consulting positions. This works only if you already have the clients — and they know your situation in terms of being a caregiver. I was eventually able to get back on the career track I’d left, but it wasn’t easy after several years as an independent consultant.

      Positioning yourself as an ordinary consultant means being on call — and that makes it hard to be a care-giver. Also, there are a lot of independent consultants out there, so unless you already have a client roster lined up, you may not find them quickly. If you need the money to live on, remember that consultants are paid like any other business vendor — payment in 30 days is great, and it’s not uncommon to wait 60-90 days for a payment.

      Ask your current employer if you can telecommute, or reduce your hours. If they say no, start looking for a part-time job.

      Have you considered teaching at a Jr. college, or working for a government agency or school district where you can negotiate hours (and benefits) up front? Jr. colleges don’t pay great (less than you’d make as a consultant), but the hours and paychecks are steady, and if you really need to limit your hours, a steady part-time job may be better than a consulting gig unless you have a friend who will hire you at a good rate and limited hours. It also removes the headache of paying your own taxes and getting the insurance you’d need to protect your home and family in the event of litigation — a big problem for any small business owner. Errors & Omissions insurance for a small independent computer consultant can cost $8-10K per year, and that’s just not affordable for many people. On the other hand, you don’t want somebody taking your house or your retirement savings because you were tired from taking care of a sick relative, and made a mistake that cost them money.

      All in all, if you don’t have the luxury of planning for a consulting business, and need money to live on now, a part-time job is much safer than a consulting business. (Lots less rewarding, both financially and emotionally, but safer.)

    • #3288998

      May not be the answer you’re looking for

      by mtoombs ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      e@,

      As a long time consultant, I wanted to offer my insight to your posting.

      If you’re looking to a consulting job to give you the flexibility to care for a loved one, here are some things to focus on before making this jump:
      – Set out a plan for your consulting practice
      (e.g. will you be traveling or only accept local work, what salary do you need, can the service you offer be done from your home, etc.)
      – Set a salary target for the year. Once you reach your target, decide if you want the remainder of the year as time with your family, more training / education, etc.
      – Get yourself organized. Are you going to setup a corporation to handle things like taxes, etc?
      – Keep in mind that clients have deadlines, and as such, they will expect consultants to be available for key milestone dates. A lot of times these occur on weekends and holidays. Decide if you can live with that and if not, make this clear to your client up front.

      Two final thoughts:
      1) As a consultant providing a service to your clients, always establish expectations at the outset. If you (or they) have limitations as to how many hours or which days of the week you can work, spell those out up front. This avoids problems later.
      2) If you head down this road of consulting, sometimes it’s difficult to get back into a corporate job. They think you’re going to be used to a big salary and they won’t be able to afford you, so they may not even be willing to talk with you about a full time corporate job. This is the voice of experience speaking.

      Finally, I hope the situation with your family member isn’t too serious, and that they will be well, soon.

      God Bless during this holiday season.

      Mike

    • #3288974

      Impact of taxes and medical insurance

      by jo.case ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Cousult you tax guy.
      If you work asan independent contractor, you will have to pay Social Security tax, state and federal taxes. You probably will need to file quarterly estimated tax payments.

      If your present job provides health insurance, you will have that as a cost if you go independent.
      If your present employer hires you as a consultant, and keeps you on the payroll, you probably won’t have these problems.

      Just a caution to check these things out before you make a move.

      I wish you well.

    • #3288973

      In The End there is only 1 Factor = QOL

      by scottwittig ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Consulting = QOL decrease
      Family Requires = QOL Increase

      Please do your family a favor now.
      Look for other answers.
      Consulting will consume you and your soul.

      IN a year or 2 your family will hate you because your not home ever, and all you can do about it is continue working or you lose everything.

      Quality Of Life = Family togetherness at all costs.

    • #3288892

      Plese consider carry over & start up costs

      by rfdswa ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Hi there,

      Just wanted to add something else you should (if you haven’t already) consider. I’ve just recently hung up my ‘independent consultant’ position and have gone back to full-time employment for several of the reasons that other consultants have addressed in this thread.

      – Start up costs: Remember that you will need to set up and register a business name, get basic stationary (business cards at the least) and other sundries.

      – I think it would be safe to say that very few of us have made the leap and had the luxury of securing a good steady income from day one. Best advice I got years ago was that you should have 6 months worth of your net pay saved up that you can use should you struggle in the early months. If you do not have a ‘pot’ to draw from you can lose everything.

      – Insurance and taxes: It’s really easy to overlook insurance and tax commitments or to put them on the back burner. Recently a friend of mine was in a tragic car accident and lost several thousands worth of hardware that he was transporting for his customer. Not only did he lose his car, but his income (no income protection insurance), and the vehicle insurance did not cover the equipment inside so he has to pay his customer.

      Sure I can take time off when and if I needed it, but then the pressure is on to get the income generated that I’ve lost from the time off and there’s nothing worst then trying to get money.

      Maintenance contracts are the most lucrative which have already been highlighted where you have steady income coming in on a monthly basis, but it takes time and you need several clients to make it worthwhile. I concentrated on the SMB space which was 5 – 25 seats in my mind. Problem is their budgets are small as well and you only get work when they can ‘afford it’.

      Bottom line of this rambling – consider it wisely, make sure you can support yourself for at least 3 months whilst you build a customer base.

      I do wish you the best in your endeavours and for you and your family.

    • #3288847

      Been there, done that…

      by billy ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      One of the things you need to consider is “benefits”. Health Insurance can be incredibly expensive for “not much of anything”. I agree with the advice to check with your HR people, if possible. I’ve been “employed” and I’ve been an independent consultant. I REALLY enjoyed the IC, but as I got to be 45 years old, or so, I realized I’m paying BOTH halves of Soc. Sec., my own health insurance, etc.
      And – ya GOTTA think about retirement. One day you’ll be “old”, and … will you have income to provide a decent retirement?
      Lots to think about – been there, done that.
      I LOVE my current job.

    • #3274204

      Family vs work – a dilemma, more so today

      by dms1 ·

      In reply to Consulting – Quit the day job?

      Dear e@,

      I made the decision to take care of my father in his final days cancer, for this I had to leave work. Looking back I am so glad I made the sacrifice for I now a man who is an engineer where before I was an engineer who was a man. If the person is close and you make the sacrifice you will be a better person for it; the opposite is true should you regret your decision.

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