Gant Software Systems

Business Advice

Your Value Is Not Your Profession

One thing that separates successful career programmers from those with a bit…less success (we won’t call it failure, because it usually doesn’t manifest as abject failure, but rather as stunted potential) is their ability to figure out their value to the people who are retaining their services. Regardless of what that job posting says, what the recruiters tell you (more on this in a minute), or what you’d like to hear, you are NOT ever hired into a position simply to write code. You are hired to solve a problem that someone has, with the expectation that your solving of said problem presents an advantage greater than that provided by simply keeping (or using elsewhere) the money required to hire you. It’s a simple thing that is missed fairly frequently when discussions of programmer salaries come up, as well as when programmers sit and complain about the messes they deal with at their jobs. It also happens in just about every other industry. I’ve had similar discussions with people in other industries. The fitness industry, for instance, is loaded with people who live under the belief that the fitness program they are selling is actually the reason they have clients, instead of what the clients are actually there for, such as losing weight, gaining muscle, just the feeling of accomplishment and pushing past obstacles, etc. The dividing line between the successful ones in that industry and those who are unsuccessful is also remarkably similar, in that the latter fail to line up their offerings with what their customers are actually buying, versus what they think they are selling.

10 Ways to Unintentionally Screw Your Clients

Contract software developers have to deal with a lot of issues, especially if they are honest. There are loads of scam artists out there who can’t code particularly well, but will throw an application together for a client quickly, often disappearing shortly afterward. I’ve cleaned up lots of code from that sort and it’s a headache. This article wasn’t really written for that sort of developer, however, as I believe it’s very easy to accidentally screw a client over, even when one is otherwise trustworthy and honest, simply because you don’t think through all the implications of what you are doing. Here are ten ways I’ve seen developers screw their clients, without intending to do so. This is aimed more at solo developers, although a number of these points could apply to larger companies as well.

On Reliability

It’s been an interesting couple of months. While I’ve been getting the business going, I’ve also been trying to get my house ready to sell, trying to sell the house, and picking up contract work. What’s been amazing to me during the process is how utterly unreliable some companies and individuals are that I’ve worked with. For instance, I’ve dealt with plumbers who said that the work they were doing replacing galvanized pipe under the house would be done within a single day and ended up losing some shrubs I just planted because the water was off for three days during a heat wave. The same plumbers also managed to knock some duct work and a dryer vent loose, ultimately causing moisture problems under the house, which made a buyer back out at the last minute.
Reliability is not free, nor is it cheap, but lack of reliability is even more expensive. In terms of business, the problems they created cost me several thousand dollars, both in repairs and in opportunity cost (because there were quite a few hours I was not able to work out of the house when I expected to be able to, because we had to go through the process of showing it again).

16 Things No One Told You About Freelancing

Wise generals of the past have an old saying. No battle plan survives first contact. It’s true. Whatever you have planned is subject to the whims of fate. I had plans going out on my own as a freelancer. Some have come to pass. Others have been…adjusted by experience. I think everybody that makes it through their first six months or so has a list (and everybody further out probably has updated their list as time goes on). This is my list so far of the things I’ve noticed that nobody really told me (or they suggested, but I didn’t listen very well). Here are my top 16 things that I just didn’t really understand fully until I started freelancing.