So 23 days into the new year and I’m starting to get to one of my resolutions — write more. I’d like to write everyday, but I’m going to hold myself to once a week for the next month or so and hopefully build from there.
I’m starting a lot of things in the next few weeks/months. At the very least I won’t be working in the same capacity as I have been for the last 5 1/2 years shortly, so I will be starting a new path in my career.
I’m not sure if I will be joining the “gig” economy. With three school age kids it’s hard to shun the illusion of stability that you get from being a full-time employee. Just the absence of group health insurance and uncertainty of the future of the Affordable Care Act make being an employee an “easier” option.
There are a number of projects I’d like to work on, so maybe starting a business beyond “Mike for sale” as a freelancer is an option. Although I don’t have the luxury of living off of savings for a few years while I try to build something profitable.
I think, like a lot of people in the economy with a commoditized skill set (software developer), I have to define my value in the workforce differently than “I’m good at writing code”. I’m also 43 in a profession dominated by 20-somethings. Why should I be paid more than them or even get the job instead of them? Because I have three kids, a wife and live in an expensive suburb is unfortunately not a valid answer and could be viewed as a handicap (“he has to go home to his wife and kids and won’t be totally dedicated to the company all the time”).
My greatest differentiator is that I haven’t been writing code my entire professional career. I was in sales for 15 years, I’ve run my own business, I was a journalist, I was an electronics technician on a submarine in the Navy, I hitch-hiked across the country working as a day-laborer — essentially I have a world of experience beyond typing code. I have experience solving real-world, everyday and sometime mundane problems. I’m not saying that makes me better or my career choices better, but I do believe it gives me a different perspective and therefore the ability to tackle software development differently.
That being said I’m not sure employers who are looking for someone to write code will necessarily see all the value in that.
But getting back to paying the bills. What will I do to pay the bills? Again, like a lot of people today, probably a combination of things. Ideally, I’d like to run my own shop, developing and selling enterprise software. I will be and have taken on some freelance work to make sure money keeps flowing in, but I have to admit that a “job” with great pay and benefits would be very hard to pass up.
I had the opportunity to ask Dave McClure once if he thought it was possible to have a “job” and build a start up. Without saying definitively that they were mutually exclusive, he related his own experience of starting a business without a safety net and said he did it because he had to dedicate himself fully to his business.
I don’t know if I would have been able to do away with my “safety net” on my own, after having done it once and struggled to survive constantly, but I’m starting to see this, perhaps, as opportunity forcing itself on me (not in the Trump/beauty queen kind of way — more welcome and hopefully more fulfilling).
This is exciting and terrifying and fun and exhausting and it’s all starting right now.
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