Well it’s been a minute since I blogged, but we’re back! I had a hack, and the site was down for a time, but it feels good to be putting the proverbial pen to paper again.
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I was flipping through yCombinator News recently, as it’s where I get most of my interesting information. The filter is just excellent.
I ran into this piece by Forrest Brazeal Every engineer should do a stint in consulting.
Being one of my ongoing mantras over the years, the headline caught my interest right away.
1. Running a business helps you understand your boss
A stint in independent consultant requires one to wear a *lot* of hats. Don’t know where your next meal is coming from? You’d better hit the streets and find work. That is start networking. Meeting people out there in the world. Talking, sharing your story, your knowledge, how you solve problems, and what you can contribute to those businesses.
You also have to constantly evaluate costs. How much time do I spend learning a new skill? Will that skill land me a specific role? What other skills would help in the mix? What problems are startups trying to solve? How can I save them money, but fixing problem X?
By managing your own tradeoffs you begin to see some of the tradeoffs your boss must juggle. Hiring new people is a cost, but longer term benefit. Creating the right atmosphere, creates a workplace where people stick around. And solving interesting problems. draws the talent.
Read: Is AWS too complex?
2. Running a business helps you value your time
If you’re working in a fulltime role all the time, you always make the same paycheck. So taking long lunches, or working through lunch benefits you the same. Putting in overtime too, is hard to translate directly.
In consulting, you may often work by the hour. So both you and your employer are slicing up your time into dollar amounts. Yes I can work at 2am, it costs $x/hr. If that price is higher than your day rate, your employer will evaluate how much it’s worth to him, and so will you.
A regular habit of this, allows you to get better perspective on pay packages, bonuses, and nebulous stock options that may only have a gamblers chance to pay dirt.
3. Running a business teaches you to solve problems
Yes an engineer builds things, and in so doing solves many many technical problems. And consulting also asks you to solve challenging problems such as:
o How can I frame what I do in a way that speaks to my bosses day-to-day challenges?
o How can I find new business? Who could use my skills?
o How can I price and package my services?
o How do I make sure me & my customer are both happy?
o How can I communicate better with my team or CTO?
o How do I ensure I get paid in a timely fashion?
o How do I create longer term growth and bring more customers to my business?