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A New (Old) Chapter

I’m no longer employed. Well okay I have a tendency to say unemployed for a laugh but I’m actually operating as a sole trader with my own ABN, my own quotes, and my own invoices.

When did this happen? Four months ago 2 Years, 7 months ago actually!

Okay so here’s the thing: I wrote this entire post 2 and a half years ago, shortly after deciding to resign at my old company and pursue self employment. I stumbled across it after a conversation about blogs today drove me to log in to my wordpress and here it lay, gathering dust.

I’ve come so far since this point, and the journey has been amazing. So somehow, this half-hearted post (that I didn’t feel at all compelled to publish at the time) feels all the more meaningful to me. It’s rough, it feels naive even such a short time later, but perhaps it will pique your interest or provide you with a little bit of an insight into the first steps of my current journey.

So without further ado, please enjoy.

[Originally written in February, 2016]

Mid last year I came to a personal conclusion: that despite still enjoying my work I was reaching a point where my rate of learning was rolling off and I wasn’t getting as much from it as I had previously. I was also starting to feel more and more like I should be doing something new, something exciting, for myself.

I considered jumping right off the deep end and handing in my resignation but it felt reckless and even a bit immature for me to go from a decent full-time job to absolutely nothing – without even having an idea of what I wanted to do next. To this end I came up with a personal compromise, that I would ask for a substantial raise on my hourly rate (this was long overdue mind you) and for a reduction of my work week – down to 3 days.

The hourly raise would help keep me afloat with the reduced hours, and the extra free time would allow me to explore new horizons, plan for the future… and hopefully have a little more fun during the week!

My manager was friendly and supportive about it all, as he has always been, and brought it up with the company owners when he was able to. It took a few weeks but eventually my manager and I sat down to discuss the results. It was a confident yes to the pay rise, $5 per hour now and a further $5 per our at the conclusion of the year. It was a unequivocal no, however, to the reduced work week. It was a disappointment of course but hardly surprised, so we both walked away from the meeting with the aim to explore some alternatives that could help us to reach an amicable agreement.

At the next meeting my manager suggested a number of potential “carrots” including a more sales-oriented role, an increase in responsibilities as part of an engineering management position, and some external leadership/management training. I was very grateful for his efforts but I believe we both knew by the end that it simply wasn’t going to work; that the company was unable to provide me what I needed , nor was I able to continue to provide what they needed.

To this end, I gave two months notice of my intention to leave the company.

Over the following two months I began wrapping up my projects, training up the new engineers and handing over existing accounts. It was during this time that the idea of contracting out some programming work to me was raised, and I eagerly approved of the idea.

Fast forward two months and in my first week of being “unemployed” I was hit with three requests for quotation from my (now ex) employer. To be honest with you, it was a rush! It’s the sort of work I’ve done before, I’d quoted innumerable such jobs in the past, but there’s something about quoting your own hours that I found to be quite intoxicating.

I had done some contract work in the past, while I was at University, but it had always been a billable-hours type of arrangement, where encountering hurdles just meant a bigger payout in the end. This new system involved fixed price service quotations, where the responsibility of accurate quotation is placed on me and my experience. To over-quote means to reduce the chances of a project proceeding, to under-quote means a reduction in hourly rate.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty in this post, but in the coming posts I plan to share my experiences of going into business for myself as a sole trader.

I hope to explore methods of quotations, time tracking, invoicing, book keeping, and to share my experiences with acquiring an ABN, registering a business name, business insurance and whatever else I happen to come across.

I hope that my coming posts will help others in the same position to speed up the process of getting started – and to hopefully help them bypass some of the mistakes (trust me, there have already been mistakes!).

Thank you so much for reading and here’s to an exciting future!

Let me know what you think!