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Going Out on Your Own as a Solo Programmer

Take control of your career and build a business to set you free

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Feel free to look over the lessons below to find what you're looking for, otherwise jump right in!

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Becoming a Solo Contractor

Hello and welcome! Let's kick things off by getting our heads in the right place and understanding what we're getting ourselves into. This could be a life-changing moment for you and having a plan is essential! So let's take a minute and wrap our heads around this.

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Is The Contract Programmer Thing Right For You?

Going out on your own is, essentially, turning up the volume on your career. The good parts get better: freedom to choose what you do and when you do it. The bad parts get worse: you will be the worst boss you’ve ever had, and a simple mistake can greatly affect your income.

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Exercise: Get Organized!

Everyone has their scheme and their way to get things done and if you're that kind of person hooray! I'm actually talking about something a bit different than a personal To-Do list - we need a methodology and a way that we can ensure that we can execute our vision.

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Creating Your Business Plan

We’ll take a look at how a business plan can help solidify what it is we want to do when we go out on our own. We’ll use a simple template, choose a business name and detail the market that we’re about to enter. Finally, we’ll consider where we want this business to end up.

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Exercise: Business Plan

We can ponder about our business plan all day long - let's not. Let's execute by laying something down right now, and building on it. You've learned what's in a business plan, now let's put something - ANYTHING in writing and commit ourselves to this vision.

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Exercise: Business Name

Naming things is hard and you will either spend way too long on this or way to little. Let's give it a reasonable amount of time and then move on. I'll help you (I hope) by sharing with you how I came up with various business names of my own... then we'll buy a domain.

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Exercise: Marketing Plan

At some point you'll need to let people know what you do, that you're good, and that you're worth paying. This is tough stuff, but if you don't do it you won't last long

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Setting Up Professional Services for Your Contracting Gig

Trying to run a business on your own is a sure way to burn yourself out. You have to delegate certain duties to online services and third parties. It might seem like an expensive thing to do, but it’s really not.

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Setting Up Your Finances as a Solo Contractor

In this section we turn our attention to your new company’s finances. It may seem intimidating, but tracking your income and expenses can be quite easy with simple to use online services.

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Sample Contracts

At some point you'll need to let people know what you do, that you're good, and that you're worth paying. This is tough stuff, but if you don't do it you won't last long

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Growing Your Professional Network

In this section we’ll look at ways to find your most important client: the very first one! We’ll get out and meet other developers, creating a legitimate network of peers. Finally, the best work is repeat work, so we’ll look at things you can do to make sure you are your client’s go to person.

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Branding Your Solo Contracting Business

You need to stand out and make your virtual self look sharp and competent. This isn't about physical looks, it's about how you present yourself to others and the care you take in making an impression. These things matter a lot and they don't take a whole lot of effort.

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Good Luck!

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last 90 minutes, and I hope you’ve seen that this process is not that intimidating. Yes, it does take a bit longer then jumping right in, but that investment of your time will hopefully result in good things later on in your career.