149 FS When To Turn Down Work

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02:19 - Lifestyle Choice and Changes

03:09 - Clients That Have Run Their Course

05:29 - Having More Work Than You Can Handle

12:40 - Non-Résumé Worthy Work

13:33 - Getting Bad Vibes From Potential Clients

21:44 - Transitioning to New Kinds of Work

  • Splitting Your Focus
  • Moving to Product Building

37:14 - Management

39:13 - Reopening Doors to Previous OffersPicks

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[This episode is brought to you by Audible. Audible is the first place I go to keep my business skills sharp. They offer over 150,000 books on business, finance, planning and much more. They also have a great selection of fiction that keeps me entertained when I'm just not up for some serious content. I love it because I can buy a book, download it to my iPhone, and listen while running errands or at the gym. Get your free trial at freelancersshow.com/audible]**[This episode is brought to you by Code School. Code School offers interactive online courses in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and iOS. Their courses are fun and interesting and include exercises for the student. To level up your development skills go to freelancershow.com/codeschool]****[This episode is brought to you by ProXPN. If you are out and about on public Wi-Fi, you never know who might be listening. With ProXPN, you no longer have to worry. ProXPN is a VPN solution which sends all of your traffic over a secure connection to one of their servers around the world. To sign up, go to ProXPN.com and use the promo code tmtcs (short for teach me to code screencasts) to get 10% off for life]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 149 of the Freelancers show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hey everyone. CHUCK: We also have a new panelist and that is Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello everybody. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. I just have one quick announcement. About a week from when we record this, so when you’re listening to it, I’m putting up a Kickstarter campaign. The idea behind it is to support the show and to provide value. It’s going to be a video series on Ruby on Rails so if that’s not your thing then you can go and support the Kickstarter campaign to support the shows or to get some of the goodies that are there. Otherwise, if you’re interested in Ruby on Rails then this is a good way to get some training material going. You can find it at devchat.tv/kickstarter. All of that will be working by the time you get this episode, so go check it out. This week we’re going to be talking about turning down profitable work and some of the reasons why you might do that. I know we had some things that we discussed before the show; do one of you guys want to talk about some instances when you’ve done such a thing? JONATHAN: I most recently did this when we were pregnant with our second. It was purely a lifestyle choice where I had a great long term client but it required a lot of travel and for that first year, it just wasn’t going to work. It was just purely a lifestyle choice, so I parted ways with them nicely. Maybe at some point we’ll went back up, but that was definitely my most recent one. CHUCK: It seems like it’d be a hard thing, right? Because you’re bringing in money, you’re paying bills. JONATHAN: Yes, straight up lifestyle choice and it’s a pay cut for sure. It was a great client; I had them on a monthly retainer that was pretty nice, but the travel really it does get old; it gets difficult. So basically for 2014 I don’t think I did any travel at all but this year I’m ramping back up. Other times, there were clients that have run their course. Most of my work is long term, retainer type stuff and after a while the returns are diminishing even though their continuing to pay the same thing. It gets really worn out. It starts to feel like a squeezed out lemon; you’re just trying to get a little more juice out of it and it just doesn’t seem fair really. They start to treat you almost like an internal employee. So I’ve killed off a couple of those in the past. REUVEN: So you had a monthly retainer with a client and they were paying you to do – the way you described it is; phone calls and meetings. And you basically said to them, “Look guys, I just don’t think I’m really providing you with value. Let’s stop”? JONATHAN: Basically, it comes up in different ways. Sometimes we get to that point I think maybe they subconsciously are thinking the same thing or they’re feeling the same thing. Things get a little snippier communication wise. Then something will come up where it's just like, “Oh this might be a good time for us to part ways.” I can think of an example where I was doing a long term retainer for two different clients at the same time. The newer one – it’s kind of a long story – but a project came up with one of them that was way too similar to the other one, and so I felt like there’d be a perceived conflict of interest. I was already past the point of really feeling tons of value to the second one so I was like, “I don’t want to be involved with this. I don’t want it to look like I’m sharing information across the two clients. So maybe let’s just call it a day.” REUVEN:**I’m curious, how did you spin it down then? Was it just like, “Okay, we’re done or [crosstalk 04:53]**JONATHAN: Yeah, that one was cold turkey. It was literally January 20th I was literally getting ready – I was preparing their invoice for the February invoice and this potential conflict of interest came into my email box and I was just like “Not doing this.” So I just emailed them I said, “Hey I was just about to send you an invoice but I got this email, how about I not send it?” And that’s that. CHUCK: Interesting. JONATHAN: It wasn’t a dev project, so it wasn’t like I was laying them in a lurch. It was just they no longer had permission to call me basically. CHUCK: That makes sense. One thing that I’m running into at this point is that I have more work than I can actually do. I’m trying to hire people to backfill that. But at what point do you turn work down if it’s work that you want to take, but it’s work that you don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to pick up? Does that make sense? So you turn work down because you don’t have time? REUVEN: Yeah, I’ve been running into that a lot with my training. So as I mentioned to you guys before the show, I mentioned this for a while that I’m planning to leave the training company I’ve been working through and do it more on my own. Part of the motivation is I now have between two and three weeks scheduled; I think it’s October at this point through them. It’s getting to the ridiculous point where they say, “Oh please, you must have a day in March when you can give us.” I’m like, “No, I’m totally full up.” Just today I got an email from a private client where they said, “So can you do us a week training of March?” I just had to laugh and say, “Well no, but I have in April.” I basically ran out of time to offer. It’s not exactly the same as development stuff but it’s pretty similar. One solution I’ve had for at least for the development stuff is that I have an employee. So he deals with the day to day development, which I could do but I don’t have time for. The other thing is I’ve started prioritizing “Well, I’d rather work for X than for Y.” In this case it’s; I’d rather work for my own projects and my own training than through this other company. But then once I get to a similar situation, I still need to make the same choices; it’ll just be on my own than through them. Then I think it’s going to be who’s going to give me the most long term return like which companies do I want to work with for a long time, and which companies can I work with for a long time? Is it just a one shot deal? Even if it’s really lucrative or is it likely to be returning – give me a big return on my investment over time? ERIC: Right. You constantly look at the big picture of; “Is this a client where I can take their brand name, take their logo and use it to impress other clients even if it’s a short term and you’re not going to make as much?” It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs idea; once you take care of what you need to bring in to survive and keep your business running, you look at things like; make you feel like you’re learning, make you feel like this is the joy, this is the job you want to do. Then what’s going to set you up in the long term. REUVEN: So I mean, Chuck, I think part of it is you figuring out of all the clients that you got, unless they’re all doing the same thing in the same direction, which is closer to where you want to be a year from now, or five years from now? CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. JONATHAN:**It’s also a sign that you should raise your prices [chuckles].REUVEN:[Chuckles] Right.**CHUCK: That's true. I’m definitely fighting that battle where I have some sub-contractors that can do a lot of this work that I need done, but I don’t have enough people to get work done. So I’m trying to figure out what to say no to in order to – because I don’t want to take a job and then have to blow it, “Oh sorry, we didn’t have enough time to do your work.” JONATHAN: Absolutely, that’s the worst. ERIC: Or it might be just you can’t take it. I’ve had that happen a couple of times where there’s no way I can make it work. I don’t ever want to hire people for contract development, but even if you do, if you can’t find people you’re going to hire, you can’t find where you can do it. It might just be best to pass on it. There’s always going to be another thing coming down the pipeline later. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t right for you to take this project. It might have looked really great on paper but if by taking it you might have missed out on another opportunity coming up; that would have been even better. So instead of straining yourself going into overtime mode for the next month, two months, six months or longer, maybe it’s just better to pass on it and keep your eyes out for the next thing. CHUCK: Yeah. JONATHAN:**There is that other thing though where you got that – as a business order – you got that engrained desire to make [inaudible 09:17]. When I was doing development work, it was very streaky; it was seasonal where at the end of the fiscal year it would get super busy but around the holidays it was completely dead. So you’d have these seasons where you get a ton of leads and there is more work than you could do and you want to do it because you knew that the next three months away it was going to be pretty slow. So it is difficult, you don’t want to give yourself cash flow problems basically.**CHUCK: I just came off of a dry spell and so I took a bunch of contracts because I was in that position where I was like, “Okay I have time for it; okay I have a time for this other one.” Then I had a big one come in that requires a lot of time,” and so  that’s the point I’m at now where I’m trying to get the little ones out of the way so I can focus on the big one. I haven’t had time to juggle it all. Then I have somebody else offering me another fairly large contract. So I’m trying to decide if I should turn it down or if I should find more people. REUVEN: It’s not always an obvious decision. I really like the fact that I have an employee that I can give stuff to. At the same time, he and I have a great relationship where I can just say to him “Go work on this.” He’s super independent and communicative with clients so I don’t need to micromanage him. On the contrary I’m probably doing just the opposite, but with his training, with his development, you can also sometimes feel it out and figure out how urgent is it? You can sometimes say to people, “Well, I’d love to work with you, but I’m only available in another month or in another two months. Is that okay?” And I’ve sometimes found they are okay with that, much to my surprise. ERIC: There’s one lead I’m following up with. It looks like it’s going to be a good one. I think it’s pushing six or eight months since I first talked to them and started talking about stuff. At the beginning they are like “This is urgent. We have to get this done in the next few weeks.” Looking back, it’s been eight months now and they haven’t even started development. So asking them, trying to find out their deadlines is important but they might not even be realistic about it and you might be able to take on this other project but it might not actually get underway until the other ones are done. It’s so hard to schedule that because there are so many variables up in the air. JONATHAN:**I’ve had that happen many times as well where they’re hair is on fire. You’re like, “Okay, let’s go.” They send a check and you never hear from them. [Crosstalk 11:44]**CHUCK: In my experience those are almost always the worst ones, because they give you the check, they pay every invoice you send them. Then they come back at the end of it and they go “This isn’t what we wanted,” or “we didn’t get enough for our money.” Since they haven’t been communicating whether you’ve been trying or not inevitably almost every time they’ve done that, they’ve disappeared on me, they’ve come back and been unhappy with what I wound up giving them. JONATHAN: Yeah, that’s where the value pricing thing comes in for me because that never really happens with me. Clients can go dark it doesn’t change my cash flow and it doesn’t change the price they pay. If I’ve done my job right during the proposal phase leading up to the proposal phase, I don’t have that problem. When I billed by the hour, absolutely had that problem. CHUCK: So are there other reasons why you’ve turned down paying work? JONATHAN:**I’ve turned it down when it was probably two reasons. One of is, it’s just not the kind of work that I wanted to put on my website as somebody I worked for. Like when the iPhone first came out, they didn’t allow any, let’s say, adult applications in the app store and since I was well known for doing web based mobile applications, I got a fair number of requests from the adult industry to do those kinds of projects which I’m totally 100% fine with. But I just couldn’t see myself putting them in my client portfolio. I’m not that emotionally stable, I guess. I didn’t really want to continue to attract that kind of client, even though it’s probably a huge industry you can make a ton of money at but I just didn’t want to put them in my portfolio and I was like, “No, not going to take this on. I’m totally cool with what you’re doing but I don’t want my business to go in that direction.” That was one thing. Another thing is when you just get a vibe off people like you have some email exchanges with them and everything seems pretty good but there’s a personality mismatch. Again with the value pricing; you can get killed by a client who’s a nickel and dimer, somebody who want you to just hold their hand constantly and do all these teeny little things that are irrelevant [inaudible 13:56] for their business. So you have to watch out for people who – you’re afraid might not treat you, might not respect the fact that you’re making yourself vulnerable to them. So I can give you a specific story where a client got in touch with me – a buyer got in touch with me. We did the deal, she sent me a five figure deposit and then at the kick-off meeting, the owner of the business – her boss – got on the phone call and I immediately was like, “This woman will destroy my business.” I can tell she was just the kind of person who was unpleasable and was extremely opinionated and knew nothing about the deal, nothing about the paper work. It was a kick-off call for the project, but she hadn’t even bothered to read any of the email or the contract that I sent. So I was like “I’m not dealing with this person.” So I took my project contract, I was like, “I’ll send you the money back, I can’t work with this person.”**REUVEN:**Wow, that’s very noble of you. I think I probably would’ve tried to slug through it and then just complain to everyone at your shop how frustrated I am [chuckles]. My wife would be like, “I told you so, these clients are terrible; I told you some of them were crazy.” So you probably did the right thing, medium to long term, not only for the business but for your psychological health. That is hard, right? I had this client over the summer, I guess it was. They were kind of crazy they kept coming back to us saying, “Well you said you would do X, Y and Z.” and I’ll be like, “Yes, we did that.” “But we really meant – so you said people would be able to log in.” I said they can but they said, “Yeah we really meant they should be able to log in with these new fields connecting to these external systems with these sorts of validations.” Basically they gave us a laundry list of things. I think we figured out that they had 70 things that they had forgotten to mention in the spec anywhere which would have been obvious to us, or so they said. I was like, “Do I really need this? Do I really want his anymore,” and basically the decision was made for me because they hated me as much as I hated them. So they said – before I even got the chance to say anything to them to leave them, they said, “We have a local firm that we’re going to have some of the small things that you hadn’t have the chance to take care of yet.” That was literally the last I heard of them. I’m glad that they struck first because I should have or would have very soon after that because there’s a limit as to how much my sanity can take people just, as you said Jonathan, nickel and dime-ing me and driving me nuts and not appreciating the good work we had done.**JONATHAN: Yeah, it’s critically important. Hourly is one thing because you’re sort of insulated. Your customer continues to get more angry as the project goes over estimate but you’re insulated from getting killed financially. I think because I don’t bill that way my red flag meter is incredibly sensitive. So the way that I usually put it is I wouldn’t take on a client that I don’t want to have drinks with. If we can’t sit down and have a fun dinner out, there’s no way we can work together, because work is way more intense. REUVEN:**On that particular project we were actually getting paid hourly but they kept saying, “Oh yes, you’re getting paid hourly but these things should have been included in your hourly charge.” [Chuckles]**JONATHAN: That’s super weird. REUVEN: So it was obvious we were just operating on totally different wavelengths. But at the end of the day they did pay. That is the other thing; another reason I walked away from paying work is when it doesn’t pay. The moment someone starts to get weird about paying or late about paying. I start getting very angry with them. I say, “Look, this cannot continue.” As my business grows as I can afford to do this just say to them, “Listen, you haven’t paid. I’m leaving you.” I got a guy now who’s like that and I just emailed him a few days ago and said “So, I think now we’re at the point in the project. I normally don’t bill by the project but I did it for you.” Basically I think he was kind of slimy about it but fine so we’re over that, “I think we’re done with the project, how about paying me?” and I literally have not heard from him since, it’s been four or five days. I think this is a very bad sign. Again I was thinking of leaving him anyway and now it seems to demonstrate the wisdom in doing that. And he has paid me a lot in the last year, but if paying every month is like pulling teeth, I have way better things to do with my time than send angry email to get paid. JONATHAN: Yeah absolutely. I used to manage a development firm. I was the VP and basically in charge of the developers. I used to say to them – they were all very self-directed, they would deal directly with the clients. It was up to them to let me know if there was any problem going on. I can’t believe I did this because I wouldn’t do it now but when you’re billing every hour in arrears every week; invoicing every week for the previous week. What I used to say to them, “You guys are like a coke machine. If the check doesn’t come in, you’re not working on it. No money, no coke.” That’s the deal because we had a lot of late payers. They just treated us like a bank and I would say, “Look, if the check didn’t come in, do not do anything, do not work on it,” because that’s the only thing that will get  them to call the accounting and be like “Make sure you get that check ASAP because we need this work done.” It’s a horrible way to be but you have to be like that if you’re billing that way and you’ve got a fifty thousand dollar month payroll. REUVEN: That’s right, absolutely. I had a guy I guess about a year or two ago who paid late. He was difficult to deal with and I wasn’t liking the project, but it was potentially quite lucrative. The moment he paid late, I was like, “Okay, I’m out of here. This is just the final straw.” It wasn’t even that late, it was two days late three days late, but I’m getting too old for this; to call people and SMS them and email them, “Where’s the payment?” I really have better things to do with my time and I have clients who pay very nicely and on time. JONATHAN: I don’t know if this is cool or not; but I have a friend who recently started a business called Just Tell Julie. Have you guys heard of this? REUVEN: You might have mentioned it or I might have read about it or heard about it on a podcast. JONATHAN: She just launched and it’s hilarious. She’s just this person, Julie who, if you have late payers you just go on this site and she’ll take care of it for you. It’s kind of like collections but she calls up as if she’s your employee basically and says, “Hey, I’m calling for Reuven and I notice your invoice is late. Do you want to take care of that now over the phone?” That’s the whole conversation. She’s super genial and doesn’t get into it. Then she takes a percentage of whatever she got. It’s hilarious. It’s only been around a short time but it seems pretty successful already. CHUCK: It’s sad that such a thing is necessary but it’s not surprising either. REUVEN:**I had a business manager working for me, probably 10 years ago 12 years ago who was fantastic. We had someone who was late at paying and she said, “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it.” It was like that sort of thing; she would call up and be very nice about it. If they didn’t pay, I think once she just went to the person’s office and sat in their lobby [chuckles]. It was amazing, by the end of the day we had the check.**CHUCK:**My friend, his wife is his business and office manager; she pretty much did the same thing. She drove up to an office and basically sat there and somebody decided that they wanted to lockup and turn off the lights and go home and so they cut her a check [chuckles]. I’m wondering though, and this is something Eric went through, what about if you’re transitioning? You don’t necessarily want to take the work that you have been doing and you want to be doing other things. So Eric transitioned into more general Rails and out of Redmine. Do you have thoughts on that Eric?**ERIC: Yeah, it was hard looking back. It was three years ago, maybe four at this time. There’s a lot of stuff behind it, a lot of stuff that I still haven’t made public. It was more than full time work; I probably could have hired another developer, like, employee. They would have been completely busy. To this day I still get leads every now and then. I’ll do some Redmine stuff for past clients and people I know. It’s like more of a favor to help them out. But it was hard; you can ask my wife. We spent probably a month going back and forth talking about it; how it’s going to affect us. At the time, it was my entire income. It was a very difficult decision and we ended up – I think the point we came down to was; I was providing value for my clients, my clients loved the work I was doing but working in that environment, in that ecosystem, was hurting me as a person. So it was one of those, “Okay, I could do this but I’m basically digging myself my own grave. I’m not happy doing this, I’m not enjoying it.” We decided, my wife and I, it’s better to leave that. Maybe have a lot more fluctuating income over the next year or two years and have the happiness. I feel fulfilled, and I’m enjoying work again versus staying in, being a highly paid unhappy consultant because I was lucky at that time that it wasn’t actually affecting clients. My clients were still getting value but I could see if I stayed at it, I was going to become really grumpy, really upset and it was going to leak into the work I was doing. I was going to eventually piss off my clients or cause damages that way. Not only would be unhappy for my clients and my business would die versus if I just got out. I know that because I was watching two different consultants at different stages of that. I can see signs of what was happening in my business, with what was going on with them. I actually see when you get really grumpy, really mad and start talking and bad mouthing your clients, this is what happens six months later. So it was a really hard decision, but looking back I’m really happy I made it. It’s one of those; you really have to get perspective on those because you’re in it day to day you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think one thing we ended up saying was worst case if it doesn’t work out, I leave it. I can be a developer at some company locally or I could just work at a bookstore that’s by here; that’s a really good bookstore. I’d love that job, I’d be happy there. I won’t be making as much but I’d be fulfilled. REUVEN: I’ve got a similar story when I was back at that firm where I just mentioned where I was managing people. It was a Filemaker development firm and I was sick of it. Compared to the web, it’s a very small product and if you learn it, after a couple of years there’s nothing left to learn. It was getting boring for me and it was a really small pond. I felt like there was a ceiling I didn’t like. The exact same thing; had the conversation with the significant other and said, “I got to transition out of this.” I still get leads for Filemaker stuff and I haven’t done that in four software versions. I don’t even recognize the product anymore. You do take a financial dip. I would say for me it was six months. One day I just took every reference to Filemaker out of my website and within a month, business was down and it took another few months for web stuff to start ramping up. Exact same thing, I could see I was bored; I was getting cranky even though I could still be making a good solid living doing that stuff. I just didn’t feel like a growth area. It felt like a contracting market to me and I just felt too young to be in a spot like that. CHUCK: So I’m trying to move out of development or out of contracting and into other areas. But at the same time it’s so lucrative to have people, to have so much work that I’m paying other people to do the work and they’re all sub-contractors. If the word goes away then they can too, as much as I like working with several of them. How do you make that transition? Do I just have to put my foot down and say, “I’m not taking any more contracts; I’m going to transition.” ERIC: Depends on what you want. I know a lot of people that have done that with products; put their foot down and said “I’m leaving consulting and going to products full time,” or a product that they have. For some people it’s worked for other people, six months later they say, “Yeah, I’m coming back to consulting.” You can make it work like that; you can be lying in the sand. The most successful one I’ve seen have been very soft about it like if they stopped doing consulting they do it by just not taking a client. Either crank in their rates up to a really high amount or just say they don’t have availability until next December, some really far-out number. In that way they can go back if they need to go into consulting. They can say internally they need the money but externally they can say, “I have some openings in summer.” You could do that or you could just do a little bit of each. It’s harder but you can say, “I want to work on this passion business I have but I still need to pay the bills. I still want to do consulting.” It might even be that you want to keep consulting for the rest of your life. Just transition the actual consulting you’re doing; maybe you’re not doing development , maybe it’s more consulting advice, or you just want to manage a team of contractors, whether it’s your contractors or someone else’s. I don’t think there’s really one size fits all. It’s what you want to do and what your end goal in five or ten years is going to be. REUVEN:**Right. I don’t see myself ever moving a hundred percent out of development or a hundred percent out of consulting, but it’s clear to me that my real passion is in training and move some of the products that I’ve been working on and then developing new products. So I’ve told people straight up this is a form of leaving potentially a lucrative business. People call me and say, “Can you do some development?” I say, “Well, I do it together with my employee. I manage him and do the harder stuff or more [inaudible 28:08] stuff but day-to-day work is done by him.” I’m sure that I could have brought a whole bunch of business by stating more explicitly – by making it a priority to do it myself, but I think so far it has served me pretty well doing that. It allows me also the soft landing that Eric’s talking about where if I have a hole in my schedule, then I can say, “Fine I’ll take it. I’ll work on it the next week or two or at some point in the next month.” So it gives me some flexibility that people know that I’m still in the game even though it’s not two feet, a hundred percent.**JONATHAN: I think that’s all good advice. For me personally, I can’t do the one foot in both worlds thing very well. I need to be a little bit more cold turkey about it which, Chuck, may or may not be a fit for you but for me, I can’t. It’s like a light switch for me; I got to do one or the other. The risk is that you run out of cash. So you need to have some cushion there and say, “Okay, I’m going to give this three months of full on attention and if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say I tried.” Every time I’ve done it, and I’ve done it a couple of times; it’s worked out. REUVEN: I’m curious Jonathan. So you now do very little development and mostly the consulting work? JONATHAN: Right. REUVEN: So you’re clients don’t find that you’re out of it to some degree? That you’re not as well informed as you could have been if you were doing day to day development? JONATHAN: That’s a great question. So that depends on the kind of consulting I’m doing but you’re right. The kind of consulting I am doing is – the advice I’m giving is very developer-y for a lack of a better term. I address that by doing usually at least one project a year where I’m actually coding and I have a bunch of FPS or fun side projects. I still code a lot but I typically don’t charge for it. Every once in a while I’ll have a friend who has a development project that I can’t say no to and is also going to do a great job in forming my consulting work; I’ll take it. Last year was the Entertainment Weekly mobile responsive redesign so I did all the JavaScript for that site. Things change so fast in mobile and in the web that it would be easy to get out of touch really fast. So I keep a toe in that water but it’s not my business. I don’t advertise it, I don’t market around it. People who know me will sometime just call me and I’ll help them out but it’s not my thrust. ERIC:**One part of that is you have to keep up to date with things but that doesn’t mean you have to be doing it 40 hours a week. Some things you can actually spend a few hours and actually get the gist of it and it’s the other 30, 40 hours that week is just repeating that one thing you learned. [Crosstalk 31:01]**JONATHAN: Or you know people who you can ask that you trust about that thing. ERIC:**Yeah. You know how to ask of what resources to use. Staying updated is important but there’s also an aspect [inaudible 31:13] diminishing returns to it.**JONATHAN: Yeah, I totally agree with that. CHUCK:**Gotcha. The issue is that I’m a lot more like Jonathan where it’s hard for me to split my focus. I’m really bad at it and I really hate doing it. It just makes me crazy. And so taking the contracts now to build that buffer, which is what I feel like I have to do so I can focus on it full time, is frustrating. Because I see that it’s three to six months or so down the road that I’ll be able to actually go full-time focusing on this. So I’ve been trying to find other ways to short cut it [chuckles].**ERIC: Maybe it’s perspective. You got to look at other jobs, other careers. There are some people that put in 20 years of work. Say they’re doing science research; they put in 20 years of work before they’re actually able to do what they really want to do; they quote pay their dues. Maybe you would want to do your side projects stuff right now but you can’t, so waiting three months and doing everything you can to make it, so that three months – you’re going to hit that. That might be just the cost of doing business, you just have to suck it up and deal with it. Because really being able to change your business massively and even a 12 month time span; that’s not unique but that’s really a unique thing with web and a lot of that industry is that it can move that fast. For a lack of a better term you can pivot quickly. A lot of industries don’t have a lot of opportunity. JONATHAN: Again, I totally agree with Eric. The first couple of pivots I did, I did sort of step wise where I went from Filemaker to Filemaker Web then straight Web and then to Mobile Web. So I could sell my new services to my existing clients I didn’t go from Web to basket weaving. There’s enough of relationship there that even a lot of my old blog content – it dovetailed nicely instead of just being this hard break. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. ERIC: One thing that you really have to watch for if you projected, like in your case Chuck, you said in three months you’ll have enough of buffer built up. One thing, and this has bit me a few times, whenever I flipped the switch back and forth was that wasn’t enough. Once actually you get into it and notice, “Oh I actually should have built up say six months or twelve months. I should have built up more than what I had.” Looking back that caused me to jump back earlier than I wanted too. It made it so my first few jumps into products weren’t that successful because I had that limit. So it might be worth it just to have something that’s working now stay with it a little longer that what you think have a little bit of that extra cushion whether it’s financial, time, or experience then flip it once you know it’s all good. Another thing is you might be able to get your consulting business where it’s pretty systematized and so even if you turn it off, if you have to come back, you can turn it back on and you have all these processes. You have connections you can draw on right away so coming back to it if you have to fall back is actually a lot easier. CHUCK: I’ll buy that, and that makes sense too. The other thing is – something I’ve been thinking about for a long time is I want to move into products. I like doing products for programmers but I also want to do products for podcasters. So I could do a lot of the prep work now just talking about what I’m doing in podcasting to build an audience, build some social proof and then turn around and actually pull the trigger. ERIC: Yeah, those are a lot of the long term things that takes a while to get growing. You could start out. They won’t take a lot of time and then you go full force; newsletters, community stuff. It takes a bit to get started, but once it started it can feed on itself. REUVEN: I have a couple of people that I’m mentoring and one of them is actually says, “Well, I have this day job in Silicon Valley, I know I don’t like it but it pays the bills.” He’s working with me to build up a side hustle for him where he’s working full time at a start-up but he knows he doesn’t want to do it. There’s a lot of stuff that is good to have done in advance so when he quits, he’s going to have six month of work behind him that’s just like, “Boom,” ready to go that day. Instead of like he just freaked out one day and quit and say “Okay, what do I do now?” He called me and we started working on this stuff, it would be six months before he made a dollar. So there probably are a bunch of stuff that you can put in the hopper, its ready to rock so that when you do flip the switch you’ve got a huge queue of stuff that’s set to go. Whatever it is, drip campaigns or videos or products. CHUCK:**Yeah, that’s the direction I’m going. I’m also trying to short circuit it with some of these other things. I’ve got the conferences. I just announced people can get early bird information and access to the Ruby Remote Conf that I’m putting on because the JavaScript one was a success. So those may bring in enough to jumpstart that so that instead of three months, it’s a month. So I’m definitely looking at some of the options there. It’s just interesting to figure out, “Okay, at what point do I start telling people 'no'?” I don’t want this show to be all about me, and I’m not saying it was, but I kind of monopolized the last 15 minutes [chuckles]**ERIC: I don’t think you monopolized it. I think you had some questions that I think a lot of other people have. I’ve had similar ones, numbers changes, circumstances have changed. CHUCK: The other dilemma that I’m facing that isn’t really super relevant to what we’ve talked about is the consulting contracting is picking up. I have been able to hire people thus far. So do I give up on that completely or do I try and find somebody else to take more off my plate there and just keep it as another source of revenue? But I worry that I won’t be able to focus as well. REUVEN: I’m sure you’ve realized this already just because you already have people working for you but management takes time. Even in my cushy world where my employee’s great and he’s very self-directed, I still need to actually spend some time with him and talking to him, managing the projects and so forth. So you need to decide how much time you are willing to spend each week or month on that which is not necessarily depending on how you charge for it. It might not be directly billable. JONATHAN:I think that is certainly possible to create a business that you can extricate yourself from, but development’s a tough one. If the business is selling e-books and courses to consumers who are just going to buy them; there’s no bug in an e-book. The thing with trying to run a development firm from a beach somewhere, in my experience – I know a bunch of people who have attempted to do it, what happens is a project ends up blowing up. Then all of a sudden, the only thing that you’re doing for work is dealing with blown up projects which are the worst [chuckles]. So that would scare me. I would love to be able to do that, but to Reuven’s point you got to manage it. This is software development; it’s like a thing all to itself. That would make me nervous. I wish I could do that, if I thought I could do it, I would actually do that and have that as a side income but I can’t imagine doing that on the side.CHUCK: I hear that. Alright, any other direction we should go with this before we do picks? ERIC: One last note, depending on what you’re actually turning down work wise, you might be able to come back to it. There is some I turned down for a couple of leads just saying I don’t have the availability or I’m not doing that work anymore. I came back to them six months, I think maybe a year later in another case and say, “Hey, I’m doing it now. Are you still interested?” and some of them actually took me up on it. So you’re not actually slamming the door on people’s face, unless you are really being mean about it, but you sometimes can re-open those doors and pick-up where you left off or pick-up some parts of it. So don’t think of it as an ultimatum type thing, think of it as just not right now type thing. JONATHAN: Yeah. Plus one, definitely. REUVEN: I‘ve also had people do the opposite with me where I’ve said I’m not available and they said, “Okay we will just do it with someone else.” Then six months later they call me and say, “You know, we really didn’t find someone else, are you available now?” CHUCK: Alright. Well, let’s do some picks. Reuven, do you want to start us with picks? REUVEN: Sure I got a pick for this week. I'm not sure how many people out there have used this already and I think I might have picked it once in the far distant past. I had some hard drive problems some years ago, and I thought I was all set because I use Time Machine to back up. A friend of mine who actually knows a ton about Macs – he said “Oh Reuven, that’s so cute that you thought you were all set.” I did actually restore my machine from Time Machine, unfortunately thanks to some miracle it did not take until I have grandchildren for that to happen. It was just so incredibly, horribly slow. So this friend of mine said “What you really need to do is not only back up with Time Machine which is nice for individual files, but you really want to have a clone of your disk every night.” So I went out and got an external disk and I got Carbon Copy Cloner and every night – actually I have two disks doing it now; one slightly older than the other and so at three or four in the morning every day I get a full clone done. In the past, I found Carbon Copy Cloner to be helpful, useful and good, but with a mediocre to bad interface and they just came up with an update in the last week or two and I must say the interface is so much easier and nicer. For the hardcore hackers out there it is true that Carbon Copy Cloner is basically a fancy gooey on top of Rsync. Yes, I recognize this but it’s nice to have this combination Rsync and Cron job with fancy buttons and windows that I can click on and see what’s going on, where it gives me every message that I can quickly interpret enough to look up in a man page. I definitely not only recommend backing up and not backing up in this way but Carbon Copy Cloner, I’m sure there are other products out there but I’ve been quite happy with it. CHUCK: Very nice. Jonathan, do you have some picks for us? JONATHAN: I’ve got one for you. It’s a gadget pick. I am a big mobile phone guy of course. I carry a couple of phones with me all the time and I was recently inspired by a portable charger – external batter pack. Called the – you’re ready for this name? the Vivis Knight V3 13000 mAh dual USB Portable Charger External Battery Pack with unique leather visual design for iPhone 6,6+, 5s, 5c, every phone in the world. REUVEN:That’s the short name [chuckles].JONATHAN: The name is a paragraph, a six line paragraph but the thing is great. It is unbelievable. It charges up really fast, it holds a charge for weeks and weeks, even when you’re using it to charge your phones and it has a built in micro USB cord so you don’t have to remember that too, it tucks away into the back of the case. The only thing about it is of course it’s a little bit heavy it’s probably the weight of a full size iPad. It’s a small thing but it’s very dense. It’s in my bag every day though. I keep it in there and whenever the phone dies, you just stick it in there and it works great. You can even put it in your coat pocket, keep your phone charging in there if you want. The battery quality is just unbelievable though, it charges quickly and it’ll last forever. That’d be my one pick for this week. CHUCK: Alright. Eric, do you have some picks for us? ERIC: So I actually got this from another person, it’s a candy called Gin Gins. It’s actually like a ginger candy. I have three of them on my desk, there are three different flavors and types, but there’s one I tried this last weekend it’s the spicy apple chewy ginger. I like ginger and I know some people don’t, but this actually it’s very apple flavored. Not only does it help if you’re stomach’s not feeling good, but they actually work really good on a run because it’s sugar and ginger, and so it actually works as a good alternative to having gels or really dense running processed food. It’s nice because they actually taste good. You actually want to eat them versus gels which you just want to get it down as fast as possible and not touch your tongue. They’re pretty good and it has ginger which helps with sea sickness or if you’re not feeling good, so it’s a nice bonus thing. But I’ve been having them for a while. I think there’s a huge product line I think they have some coffee flavored ones, too. I’d recommend the chewy ones and then there’s a double strength hard candy one which are pretty good. I’ve actually been having a few on the call when it’s muted. CHUCK: Very cool. I’ve got a few picks. I’ve been working on getting all of the episodes up on YouTube. I’m really liking YouTube as a distribution media. You can waste a lot of time on YouTube, that’s not the end of what I’m picking. So It’s really easy to get your stuff out there, to organize it in a playlist to create new channels you just go in to Google plus – who knew? And create a business entity and create another channel. So that’s what I’ve been doing, I’ve been using like I said FFmpeg so my pics in YouTube are FFmpeg Then I’m just going to announce, I already mentioned the Ruby Remote Conf and the Kickstarter campaign, but another idea that I’m toying with and I’m collecting email addresses of people who are interested in it. If you want a box full of development swag junk, books, t-shirts, etc. Then you can go check that out at devboxclub.com and just leave your email address. Then I’ll let you know when I get around to launching it which should be in the next few months. So if you’re interested in any of that stuff, go check it out and that’s all I’ve got. Thanks guys for coming, thanks for all your great advice I really appreciate it. We’ll catch on next week. [This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]

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