I’ve been back working for myself again now for about 2 months since returning from my trip to Central America. For the first 6 weeks or so I was pretty busy setting up my office, networking and doing some small jobs but a few weeks ago I started contracting, mostly just to stay busy and recoup some of my investment.
I redesigned my company website to better reflect what I hope to do, you’ll notice that nowhere does it say that I contract. As a matter of fact, most of the books I have read and a consulting website and blog I sometimes read state that true consulting business should charge a weekly rather than hourly fee and work on a retainer basis.
This is my goal and within a few years I think I’ll be able to make it a reality but until then I will probably end up doing a lot of contracting and hourly work. Right now I am working on a fun multi-machine startup and design-on-the-fly job about an hour from my house. It is in the opposite direction of my office in Nashville so I am not able to go to my office during the week. I have a receptionist and administrative assistant as part of my office setup though and they handle most of that part of my job while I’m gone.
I am actually contracting through a controls company to a custom machine builder. There are a lot of other contractors working there, especially in the controls department. Most of them are pretty much one-man companies who contract regularly but some are through technical services companies like Aerotek. A lot of them are ex Wright Industries employees like myself. Despite all of the bad news about employment over the past few years it hasn’t affected the controls, electrical and mechanical engineering fields, at least not around here. I get calls from recruiters regularly looking for good engineers and I know of none that are looking for work.
I imagine this job will probably be done sometime in mid-May and then I may have to take a trip to the customer’s plant for a few weeks for install. This is pretty much the cycle I followed in the old Automation Consulting Services and at Wright Industries, so it is a comfortable position to be in right now. At the same time I hope to start picking up complete system jobs of my own as a project manager and consultant within the next few years. Until then, contracting is fun!