Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The tenth reason

WOW! It's been about eight years since my last post, which was about the nine reasons people leave their jobs. I wrote that post while I was preparing to leave the company I was working for back then. It was a sort of thinking out loud post, where I was evaluating my decision to leave. Now, it's time again to move on, but it is for a reason not mentioned in my 2008 post.

Recently, I have been thinking about leaving the company I'm currently working for for some of the reasons mentioned previously (financial, different types of experience, etc.), but found myself adding another reason to the mix that I wasn't aware of back in 2008. It's independence!

I want to be on my own. I have some side projects that I wanted to work on since forever, but never had the time to attend to due to my full time job. Whether you want to have your own business, become an entrepreneur, be your own boss, whatever you call it, you just want independence.

One solution to become independent is to have your own project, whether it's a services providing company (e.g. social marketing, SEO enhancement, car cleaning, etc.), a product (e.g. mobile app/game, a book, hand made soap, etc.) or opening a shop/office (e.g. co-working space, coffee shop, etc.). Another solution is freelancing! Yes, when you're freelancing, you are actually an independent service provider.

The great thing about freelancing, if you're really good at what you do, is that you get to choose what to work on and when to work on it. Of course when you agree with a client on performing a task in a specified time frame, you have to do it the way (s)he wants in the time frame you agreed on, but you get to choose the project and agree on the time frame before you start, which is totally different from when your boss tells you that you have to do a boring task in an illogical time frame, causing you to work extra hours and weekends on something that you don't like. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you get the point. I have met cases quiet similar to what I have described here, and believe me, they suck.

There are of course several problems with freelancing, one of which is marketing yourself. If you decide to be a freelancing developer, web designer, whatever, you have to search for prospective clients (checking ads in newspapers, craigslist, etc.), show them your portfolio and previous projects, and convince them that you're the one they need. The problem here is that doing this search is hard, and a lot of clients are non technical and would cause more hassle for you that your current boss.

The solution to this is to go for one of those freelancing websites, like upwork (formerly oDesk), elance (an upwork company), freelancer, guru, fiverr, etc. However, another problem shows up here. The problem with those sites is the barrier to entry. You might be the best one in your field, but you would still find it hard to land your first job. Bidders do not want to take the risk of hiring someone with no previous work reference on the platform they're using. This will cause you to lower your price to really (funny) low rates to convince people to hire you. This will also make you go to any brain dead job just to get a positive feedback. My first job on oDesk was to solve some high-schooler's programming assignments, but to keep the quality of the code low so that not to raise the teacher's suspicion (I'm not proud of that, but I needed to get in the system back in 2007)! Well, oDesk (now upwork) have a good system where you take a lot of tests to prove the skill you have, but the problems are still there. One more problem is that the clients of those platforms are mostly small companies (or individuals), which limits the cash you might get.

This is where Toptal comes in. What Toptal does is to screen all applying candidates (language, personality, skills, problem solving, etc.) to make sure they only get the top 3% of the freelance talent. By guaranteeing the talents that work with them, they have a great roaster of clients, and they set (really) good hourly rates for you. I believe that this is the best thing you can get (if you're one of the top 3% of course). I'm trying out in the next couple of weeks to join Toptal in the software development group, which is going to be great for me. I believe that I'm one of the tom 3% in my field, so I hope this is going to go fine. However, if you read this, I hope that you pray for me to do well, since I think that this might be the best option for me.

A company similar to Toptal is crossover, but the drawback they have is that they require that you work with them full time (but you get paid hourly based on the actual work). By them making you work exclusively for them, with no guarantee of the number of hours you will actually make, and now way to set your availability to be a part-timer, Toptal wins by far (IMHO).

So, this is the tenth reason why you might want to leave your job. You want independence, which is what Toptal provides.

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