Saturday, May 26, 2007

7 Rules of Successful Freelancer

I've been a freelance programmer, web developer and system administrator for three years. Not that much, you'd probably say, you may be right. You may be wrong either. Anyway, when you're 21, three years don't seem to be a little time.

I started when I was 18. I had a part-time job in dental clinic (I'm terribly afraid of dentists since then, though I wasn't afraid of them before) and my salary could just cover my Internet bills (in a small town ISPs have very high prices while students can't get much money for work) and leave a little spare money to later spend them on my friends' and parents' birthdays and New Year. I'll tell you the full story some day, now I just want to note that I started from barely nothing and today I only get money from freelance. No full-time office work.

1. Work regularly. Don't depend on you mood. You should choose time for you to work, and you must work every day from, eg. 6 pm to midnight, and you mustn't do anything but work during this time. Yes, it's very tempting to have a break, read forums, chat, play quake, make love, go skating, etc, and finish the work next morning. That's completely wrong attitude. You work at home, it gives you more freedom and more flexibility, but it's still work.

Of course, if you feel tired, you should rest. Make coffee, smoke a cigarette, clean your cat's toilet, but do not start doing anything time-consuming and interesting – you'll lose a working day.

If you don't want to do anything right now, force yourself to do. You want money? You want to finish this project? So work, you bastard! Start from simple things, do some routine stuff you didn't want to do the day before.

Also, it is very important to make your family understand, that this is work, too, and they should try to not to disturb you when you're working.

It's hard at the beginning, but soon you'll get used to working on schedule, and become as productive as never before.

2. Don't lie to your clients. “Of course, I do not!” – you'd say. Lie! Terrible lie. There are three kinds of lie to client I know:

1. When you weren't working or didn't yet do something, but you say you were or you did.

Sure, you don't want to look lazy. But you aren't, are you? So what are you afraid of? Tell you client honestly, that you lost a couple days, tell him, why is it so. Don't make him distrust you. Tell him, what are you going to do to outweigh lost time.

2. When you have problems with some part of work, but you say that everything's okay or that there were some difficulties, but you overcame them.

Are you afraid to look not good enough? You aren't then. I'll tell you more about that a bit later. Remember, noone can know everything, no one can overcome each and every difficulty. You understand it, right? So why do you think, your client doesn't? Don't let him think you're a lier. Tell him, that you are not very familiar with 'XXX', but you can work it out, and say how much time do you need to do that.

3. When it was easy to do something, but you say it was a great achievement and you had to go through terrible difficulties to implement that feature.

Are you afraid to get less money than you could? If you want higher prices, take harder work. Any work should cost what it is worth. And do you really want to look that bad, so you are hard to do even simple things? Clients are not coders, but in most cases they realize what is easy and what is not.

3. Don't think you're smarter than your customer. If you're that smart, where's you money then? You not smarter, and neither he is. You now how to code, he know to make money. Everyone is an expert in his own sphere, so cooperate. Ask him, why he needs the features he needs. Understand what are priorities. Tell him, why is 'XXX' bad in your opinion, and how could it be improved. Extreme programming adepts call it 'planning game'. Work together. You'll see the resuls.

4. Communicate. Yes, it's obvious, but many people underestimate the importance of communication. At first, people like when you're open and communicative. Be a nice guy. Let them like working with you. Of course, you met to work, not to chat, but a couple lines in IM isn't a big deal. Just let client know what are you working at right now. Be alive. It is okay to say “Be right back, gonna make some coffee”, you're a coder, coders are known to drink litres of coffee every day. That's thought to be funny, use it. Be a geek and be a normal person at the same time. But do not chat too much, you should be working. And your client surely have things to do, too. Remember (or write somewhere) clients' names. Let them feel you remember them.

And the second, not that obvious, benefit of communication is that it helps you track the progress. When you tell someone what are you doing, you know better where you are now and what are you going to do. IM is optional, but weekly email reports are the must, even if client doesn't require them. It would be very good if it's your idea to file the reports. They are not only to let client know how much he has to pay you. they are for you, too. Without them you may have lost the feel of progress and start working slow and inefficiently. I recently made that mistake, and right now I'm finishing the project I would finish two months ago, if I had reported regularly.

5. Do what you can do and a little above it. If you're afraid you aren't good enough, you aren't. We are programmers. We can do anything. If we don't know how to do something, we read manuals, look at the examples, and do it. But, from the other side, you must clearly know, what you aren't good at. Never take the work you're sure you can't do. But don't be afraid if you have to deal with something new. Ask for more. Get experience. You can't get experience in any other way but working.

6. Love your work. Obvious. Never deal with what you don't like. Be good at what you are interested in. Find your niche, but ensure it's not too narrow. Discover new areas of expertise for yourself, but always keep yourself interested. Enjoy your work, programming is almost like sex, didn't you know? If you don't get any pleasure from your work itself, maybe you should try to find someting more suitable and joyful for you?

7. No step back. Never ask for less bucks/hour than on previous project. No, I don't mean asking more and more and more. You'll lose all your client then. But the work should be paid what it is worth. So don't take the work that is too cheap'n'nasty for you. Be professional.

Maybe not all the mentioned rules are the must, but I did follow them and it brought me to success. My freelance experience is not limited to these rules, check my blog at for updates of this article, my other experience, including reviews of freelance sites and general freelance and programming tips and tricks.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

More on staff or employee leasing

If you ever thought about outsourcing your staffing needs but is taken aback by the cost of availing staff leasing services, think again. There are staff leasing or employee leasing companies that caters to small to medium size businesses. At least, that's what Elite Business Solutions offers.

With employee leasing services, you should not think about how much you will pay your staff leasing company but you should think of how much you could save by employing their services. HR departments are costly to maintain and the headaches they brought is enough to divert your focus from revenue generating activities. Enter employee leasing companies like Elite Business Solutions.

Not only that. Elite Business Solutions also offers payroll, employee benefit programs, human resource management, and risk management and insurance.

How are these beneficial to you and your business?
They can help implement the practices necessary to maximize the benefits of our service model, which can help take a growing business to newer levels. EBS puts the resources necessary at your finger tips to put you back in control of your business and your vision back to work.

The best of all, You are assigned a business advisor as your main contact. Your business advisor works with the service team to ensure your needs and expectations are being met.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

What are PEOs and how you can benefit from them

What is PEO?
PEO stands for Professional Employer Organization. It is also known by it's other name: Employee Leasing Companies. They are in the business of helping other businesses with payroll processing to staffing. PEOs are full pledge HR department.

A general overview of what PEOs offer businesses:
  • Payroll outsourcing and processing
  • Workers compensation
  • Governmental compliance outsourcing
  • Employee benefits and savings
  • Financial savings plans, 401K plans...
  • Small business group health insurance plans
  • HR outsourcing and human resource assistance
Why do businesses need PEOs?
PEOs get the job done fast, efficient and economical. PEOs handle the issues with employees leaving businesses to concentrate on running the revenue generation part of the business. No more worrying about workers compensation, for instance. But how does it work? Here's a good outline of how workers compensation is handled by PEOs from Get PEO Quotes website:

  • Improves Cash Flow: Most PEO's require no down payment or upfront cost to cover workers compensation premiums. This also eliminates the year end audit since you are on a pay-as-you go plan. No Surprises at years end!
  • Sharing the risks: By pooling your employees with thousands of other employees your company is able to share in the economies of scale. Imagine the buying power of a 25,000 employee company to yours.
  • Loss Prevention: Employee leasing companies have a vested interest in keeping your employees safe. They are very proactive in helping your company run a safer workplace to help reduce claims therefore, costs as well. Most PEO's have in-house safety engineers to assist you in making yours a safe workplace.
  • Certificates of insurance: In the event that your company needs a workers compensation certificate of insurance, they're just a call away. Most employee leasing companies have the ability to turn those valuable workers compensation certificates around quickly.
  • Extended Limits: Higher numbers of employees means higher limits of workers compensation coverage, adding another measure of security for your company.
  • Claims Administration: In the event of an "on the job" accident, simply call the number provided by the PEO and they take it from there. The PEO will make sure your employee gets the rapid quality care they need with helping them get back to work quickly.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

When You Hate Your Job and Can't Leave

You hate your job, but what specifically? Take this structured approach to get some clarity, and identify some action to take. It's unlikely you hate everything, there must be something that is good, and other elements that are ok.

Step 1: Take some time (perhaps over the weekend) and put down in detail what you dislike about your job. You really must be specific, it is not just that you dislike your boss, but e.g. the way he never gives you feedback or flies off the handle without reason, or never shares business information with you and your colleagues.

Step 2: Next, list down what you like about your job. There must be something that you like, perhaps not your boss, but your colleagues, or your free healthcare.

Step 3: Identify what you can resolve. Can you be proactive in some areas? Can you approach the person you are having problems with? Perhaps it's a colleague who doesn't do their fair share of work so everything gets loaded onto you. Be careful though. Don't charge right in, wait and think things through from their perspective.

Step 4: Address the areas you may need some help with. Has the volume of work increased so much that you have to work late each night, or are you taking work home? Do you need to discuss this with your manager if it is becoming far too much?

Step 5: Should you look for more responsibility? Are you bored by what you do? Let your boss know that you could handle more and get involved in some projects? If you get turned down, then persevere. Perhaps you need to convince him or her more. Are they aware of your out of work achievements?

Step 6: Do you need more variety? Look to do more of what you like and less of what you don't. Think about how you can position this to your manager to make it a win-win for both of you. If you get on well with your boss she or he is likely to want to keep a valued member of staff and so be more willing to help.

Step 7: you can take a wider view and see what else you can do to make your time there more tolerable - sign up for an evening class and do some study in your lunch break? You might even get some support from the company.

So, a few suggestions to help you make the most of a job you don't like. You are likely to learn something about yourself, and the way you handle work situations and people relationships. Any other ideas? Do let Denise know.

About the Author

Brought to you by Denise Taylor, Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Denise is a careers expert who specialises in helping individuals achieve career satisfaction and to take a systematic approach to job search. Do you need help with job search? Whether it's CV preparation, interview practice, increasing your profile or self marketing, let Denise guide you though the maze so you get a job quicker, make more money & have fun while you do it.

Article Source: GoArticles