July 17, 2020

10 Things I've Learned About Consulting

A brief 2-year retrospective

2 years ago, I quit my corporate Front End Developer job and became an independent consultant specialising in Design Systems. In that time I've been lucky enough to work in 2 countries, for the likes of LADbible Group, Sky Betting & Gaming and more…

To mark the occasion I took time to recap what I've learned in a Twitter thread, here's an extended version of that list:

  1. Build an emergency buffer 🌧

    Put all your initial earnings aside until you have a minimum of 12 months salary.

    Invest time in getting a grip of your personal finance, tools like Google Sheets and YNAB are great places to start.

    You should have control over your finances, not the other way around.

  2. Don't fall for an accountant's glossy site 🧮

    There are many accountants that claim to offer slick software and “easy-to-use” expense apps but these come at a high price, and often with limited resources to offer personal advice.

    Pay for the support, not the software.

  3. Ask questions, all the time 💬

    Being a contractor/consultant isn't about knowing all the answers, it's about asking the right questions.

  4. Know your tax residency 💸

    If you're planning to live somewhere else for more than 6 months you'll be qualified as a tax resident.

    Speak to a tax advisor before you leave to avoid unexpected tax bills or the dreaded “double taxation”.

  5. Treat yourself 🛍

    Don't be afraid to take advantage of your expenses to dine out as a "Christmas Party", read books or get the latest hardware.

    You’re your own boss.

  6. Take time off 💤

    It's easy to forget, but it's crucial to give yourself downtime. You'll live and work better for it.

  7. Trust your gut 🧠

    If a contract seems "off" or a client is showing signs of toxic work behaviour, leave immediately.

    No amount of money is worth the strain on your health.

  8. Know your price 💵

    Speak to recruiters and other consultants about rates and pay attention to the market.

    A great place to start is to determine a minimum expectation, and ask your client for ~25% more.

    If they try to haggle below your minimum, walk away from the negotiating table. If they want you, they’ll hire you.

  9. It's OK to say "no" 🙅🏼‍♂️

    If you don't want to work on a project, you shouldn't do it.

    For example; although I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences and friendships I’ve had with clients in the gambling sector, I no longer work in this area.

    If you’re not enjoying the work or you don’t agree with the company/sector’s operations, you won't be delivering to your best ability.

  10. Enjoy yourself and make friends ❤️

    It can get lonely changing teams all the time, make an effort to connect with others outside work.