So You Want To Be A Consultant?

Some day I may not suck so bad at blogging and actually update this weblog more frequently than once every two to three months. For those of you that may not know, I no longer work for Nucor. I resigned (willingly) due to personal/family issues and moved back to Iowa.

After I returned to Iowa I formed a small business and am providing consulting services primarily for the steel industry. Considering the economic state of the country right now, I am actually surprised by how busy I am, it is encouraging.

I thought that I would note a few things about my consulting experience so far:

  • I underestimated the amount of time that you can spend trying to find work and market your services. Obviously this depends on what type of consulting work you do. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you need to spend on the phone and sending e-mails to potential clients.
  • I always thought that working from home would be great. Basically it is, however, if you have small kids it is difficult to make them understand that you are working. To be honest though, the interuptions that I have working from home are far less and much easier to manage than the interuptions I have had in any office that I have worked in.
  • If you consult from home it is difficult to turn work off (for me anyway). I am working by 6:30 every morning and working until at least 6PM , but usually 8 or 9PM. The lines between work and everything else get very blurred, maybe that is a good thing?
  • My startup costs were less than what I thought they would be. A nice surprise, but bad because I should have done a better job estimating and planning.
  • The social aspects of work are gone. For many people work fills the social aspect of their lives. If this is the case then working on your own may not be for you. People seem to be increasingly moving their social lives onto/into the internet, maybe this isn’t such an issue anymore.
  • Being able to choose the tools you use to do your job is great. There was actually an article in the Wall Street Journal a while back about how people have excellent computers and tools to use at home, but are given the equivalent of a Trabant to use at work. I bought a MacBook Pro to use as my main machine, it is excellent. This could take up a blog post on its own, but it is really a great machine to work on for 12+ hours/day.
  • With one exception (Fermilab) I now have the best office setup that I have had in my professional career. There is really a lot to be said for small things: A comfortable chair, heat/AC that works, a roof that doesn’t leak, nice paint, a view, windows that open, an internet connection that doesn’t suck, being able to listen to internet radio, being able to use Skype, etc.

I will probably note more things here as time goes on. I have known a lot of people that have considered trying to make a living consulting, if you have questions about my experiences to date you can post questions annonymously in the comments for this post (or any other post), or IM me.

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