2 things new consultants must know

Someone commented on my previous article but deleted the comment before I could approve it and give a reply.

So, it’s apples fault you don’t do backups?

The author was right. It’s not Apple’s fault I didn’t back up my data. But it’s Apple’s fault for sending crappy updates on 2000+ EUR computers with 1-month old OSes installed and totally mess them up.

Glad we got that out of the way.

This article is not about failures. It’s about learning and not making the same mistakes again.

It’s quite hard to convince people to get backup for their work. Hell, it was hard to convince me too. Until I messed up my work and my laptop kinda’ died 💀. It’s still “kinda dead” because I’m not 100% sure it’s dead.

I discussed this problem with a couple of consultant friends who went through the same trouble. Then I thought about it. And I came to the startling realisation that although I have shifted from being an employee to being a consultant, I’m still acting like an employee.

When you’re an employee, your company provides the laptop and other hardware you work on. They may have a full-blown IT department that takes care of installing your system, backing up your data and all that good stuff.

But when you shift to being a consultant, the IT department vanishes, and backups aren’t even a thing. Until it hits you hard. If you’re just starting out, data loss can put you out of business very fast.

If you have a couple of clients and you just lost a week’s worth of work, that either means you need to look for a job or you will have to dig deep into your pockets and pay yourself for the work you have to re-do. That’s if you’re lucky enough and your client doesn’t sue you for delaying their deadlines 😂.

I took 2 big learning points from this small mishap that could’ve turned out worse.

1) Our work is critical

Consultants are sometimes called solo practitioners. The emphasis is on solo. This means that we have a lot of knowledge neither our clients nor their teams have, internally. If we lose that knowledge that our client already paid for, it’s on us to get it back.

So instead of wishing you had a backup for your system, get one beforehand. Don’t ponder over which one is the largest, fastest, safest.

Find out if they have been hacked one-too-many times look at the space they offer, end-to-end encryption and how much they cost. That’s it!

2) We should be paid more

We are using our own hardware, Internet connection, tap water, electricity, AWS, email, GitHub, BrowserStack, iPhone and all other “small” items required to run an office. It’s about time we stop billing for a good salary and move into a consulting fee.

I’m sick of consultants with no health insurance who earn just as much as their fellow employed friends and use all sorts of “tricks” to avoid taxes just to stay afloat.

Being a consultant is not about merely surviving. It’s about providing value through knowledge and expertise the client doesn’t have, internally. This also means that you need to thrive rather than survive.

So start taking into account all of the above, when billing your clients.

3) BONUS: Get health insurance

You can treat health insurance as backup for your body instead of your laptop. What happens if you can’t work? What if you get sick? If you’re an employee, you can go on sick leave and you still get paid.

But what about consultants? You can have all the sick leave in the world, the only problem is that nobody will be paying you.

Even worse, you have to take money out of your pocket to pay for expenses like surgeries and investigations.

So get that health insurance today!

Bottom line

Backups are important so don’t overlook them. Don’t make the mistakes of others, make new mistakes!

This morning I bought Backblaze. And I’m still investigating Resilio and Arq and the option of buying a NAS.


Photo credits: AndrewServer

Copyright (c) 2023 Adrian Oprea. All rights reserved.