Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Today, it's been exactly one year since I became self-employed.
I've loved almost every second of it - while the start was hard, the middle and end were absolutely great
The market is still going up and down so I've had quite a few days without paid work, but used those to work on my business, network, future clients and assignments, and the apps and websites I'm working on
After one year, I've made a few times what I used to earn so the future looks bright. I treated our family to our most expensive vacation ever as successes have got to be celebrated, and conveniently that concluded my first year
Would I do it again if I had the chance, given the benefit of hindsight? Oh yes, definitely, not a doubt about it. I love the life of self-employment and being an entrepreneur. The number of people who tell me what to do has been reduced to one: my client, and my client alone. Being so close to the client also makes it easier to negotiate and make plans for the future, and whenever I see a business opportunity I can't fulfill myself, I try to find someone in my network who can
It's great to be so nimble: I drive a second-hand car, all paid for, and have a phone (an Android of course) and a laptop (of course, an Acer). I bought a few new suits, shirts and shoes, and that was the entire investment for my new business - all paid for, no bank loan, no venture capital needed, no nothing. Independent, and free as a bird: that's how I wanted it
Web site? I have a few web sites and some of those run cloud services for private and / or public use, total running cost for all being less than 100$ a year. I designed and developed all of those myself, that cost a few hours but I had time on my hands back then anyway.
So, I have very, very low running costs. I mostly work at the client's so don't need an office, and the very few times I do, I either kick the kids out if really need be, or just move upstairs
The flip-side is that I can't just go to conferences whenever I want, that costs me serious money twice: first because of lost revenue, second because I have to pay for it myself (at least a good part). Then again, no difference there given where I come from.
Talk about which: I keep close contact with quite a few (ex-)colleagues, enough to see that there is only one market and that it is doing not so very well for the big consulting companies either. Considering consulting rates I sometimes have higher rates now than when I was with my former employer, and I worry about the market: rates have gone down and it is not unusual to offer 55 euro an hour for a senior architect - and every one who takes such an opportunity is spoiling the market
Of course there is a relationship between quantity and quality: if you are desperate enough to take that 55 euro senior architect assignment, guarantees are you won't deliver a truly magnificent result. But one way or the other, it shows the defensive state the market is in today. By the time this crisis gets over, I think the rates will become a little bit better but like the last recession in 2001, it will take a serious bite out of the apple for good
Still, the market for integrating old and new together is growing every day, and that's where I'm mostly focusing on at the moment. I'm one of the few that can tell and explain you that those at the outside will try to integrate your existing legacy into their brand-new product, and that those on the inside will expect the exact opposite.
In more crypric terms: the contrasting nature of B2B and B2C is driving A2A - ESB and SOA will be reborn, but this time working as it should.
It's time for companies to take charge and realise an Integration Center in the enterprise that will be the "landing page" for any application: previous, future, inside, outside, proprietary, SaaS-ed, anything: the need for any-to-any Integration is getting louder and louder.
Simpliest put, if I may: there is a need for a Neutral Integration Zone in enterprises and companies.
Hence the new company slogan:
Don't wait to adopt. The fittest adapt