CAD Manager's Q&A: Going It Alone22 Mar, 2006 By: Robert Green
I'd like to go out on my own but have no idea where to start. Could you give me some pointers on how to get into business for myself?
Robert Green replies: A very cool question -- and a subject that I’m passionate about because I’ve been on my own for 15 years now. I’ll actually need a few newsletters to answer this question. We’ll go ahead and get started in this issue and continue with the next one.
When you go out on your own, a number of issues compete for your time and attention, but the first and foremost is actually finding work. When you become an independent contractor, you only get paid when you work, so you need to focus very hard on building some client contacts that can get you started.
Some suggestions from my personal experience:
Contact software dealers in your area to see if they have need for part-time help. You’ll find that by offering yourself as a part-time employee, a number of opportunities could open up for you. You’ll be solving an employer’s labor needs without burdening them with the drawbacks of a full-time employee, so they’re much more likely to use you in a pinch. It might take a while to actually get the work, but if you’re patient, it’ll happen.
Consider working for a temporary agency for a while. The temporary agency can hook you up with paying work that’ll tide you over while you build more contacts and get your client list established. Willingness to work short-term jobs will make you very popular with temp agencies because most people only want long-term assignments! Strive to be the best worker the temp agency has ever seen and you’ll get work and make great contacts while you’re at it.
Make your former employers your new customers. Why not see if any former employers could use you on a part-time basis? You did leave on good terms, right?
Send resumes to everyone advertising for CAD help. If somebody is running an advertisement for CAD services, you know that there’s an opportunity for you to provide services to them. Just be persuasive in describing your abilities and assure the company that you can serve its needs professionally.
Now go put some thought into getting new customers. Remember that getting customers is the cornerstone of building and maintaining a business, so get to work and see what you can come up with.
In the next issue of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll answer some questions about how much to charge and how to set up your finances.