November 1 was the first anniversary of I-A-N and coincidentally the same day I was at my accountant to find out not only how much corporate tax I had to pay for 2010 but more importantly confirming if I was indeed operating a successful company. The good news is that I-A-N is doing well from a financial perspective and hence the ‘many more to come’ above. So... what has happened this past year?
As I told all my friends a year ago, October 31 2009 my final day as an MTL employee was to be either a trick or treat and only time will tell. So far it has been more treat than trick. I was fortunate that MTL offered me a contract for up to 69 hours/month to assist them with development of their FF market through the development of Application Notes, market studies, and representing them on various FF committees. The caveat was that I was restricted from working directly for any of their competitors. MTL has now notified me that they will not be renewing this contract so I am now able to pursue opportunities with all FF equipment suppliers without hindrance – or what may have been perceived as some as a potential bias on my impartiality. I must however thank MTL for their support during the critical first year.
My other major client this past year has been SAIT, where I am their Certified Foundation Fieldbus instructor. Information on classes there can be found at http://www.sait-training.com/search-for-a-course/saitcourse/5.html and the next open enrolment session is December 13 – 18, 2010.
The most ‘difficult’ part for me at least in the first year is to accurately estimate how much time it will actually take to complete a project – I think most engineers by nature are optimistic on what we can do in a given amount of time. I paid the price on one project where I DRASTICALLY underestimated the required time. I better improve in this area in a hurry or next year may not be as rosy a result.
One thing that you need to remember as a consultant is that you will likely be billing for no more than 75% of the actual hours you work and this is likely a high number. Why? Because you have to spend time looking for the next project, billing and bookkeeping (another part I procrastinate on but promise to do better this year now that my accountant has my books in some semblance of order), and the “free consulting’ you tend to do - again as part of the marketing effort.
Overall it has been a great experience and I am enjoying the work. Time now to take the next step in year two and make plans to ‘grow the company.’ More on that in another posting though watch soon for a corporate brochure outlining both my industrial networking and process analyser assistance along with a new web site – all before the end of the calendar year.
For those readers in the USA: Don’t forget to vote today because if you do not you have no reason to complain about the results you get and most importantly there are many people not nearly as fortunate as you who are not able to exercise this hard fought for freedom.