Charlotte Clark, software product extraordinaire, found herself feeling unchallenged at her previous role in programming. So she decided to shake things up and transitioned into a role that suited her values and goals better. Charlotte has since marketed herself as a software consultant to startups. She uses everything she learns at work and focuses on what she does best – consulting her clients.
Charlotte recognizes that if you’re lacking in one area, the best way to address it is to hire someone who can fill up that gap for you. Time, after all, is a precious resource that we have to be mindful of, spending it on doing things we love and that brings us closer to our goals.
In this article, Charlotte answers some important tips about the struggles of having a computer science degree. She shares her journey in navigating the uncharted waters as a technology consultant in the startup space and why health insurance for consultants should be a priority.
Struggles in transitioning from W2 to 1099 role
Be intentional about branding
Charlotte faced many challenges when she switched roles from programming to consulting. So many people want to become a programmer, and it seems like only a small percentage of people transition out of being one. Charlotte really had to be intentional with how she branded herself based on what she’s passionate about. When people see that she was a programmer who is now a technical consultant, everything seems to be discounted. She is singularly asked questions about her development skills. Charlotte feels that programming has given her a great foundation to become a multi-dimensional person and business owner, and it’s sometimes disheartening to feel that people ignore the holistic picture only for one part of who she is.
Stand your ground
The other struggle Charlotte faced was getting hired as a technical consultant in the startup industry. Charlotte is able to demonstrate that she provides a lot of value, but some potential clients who really need her help aren’t able to compensate her appropriately as they are in the earlier stages of their startup businesses and can’t afford to hire her at her skill level for technical consultancy services. This too has made Charlotte very intentional about how she markets herself and to stand her ground on being compensated appropriately.
Tip for programmers who want to transition into consultancy roles
The biggest tip Charlotte has for other software engineers who want to become self-employed freelancers, consultants or business owners is to do your internal and external research.
Internally, figure out what you love to do and what you know you want to do over and over and over again for clients – basically figure out your niche. Get very clear on what you want to do day in and day out.
Externally, figure out who your clients are and how what you love to do aligns with your clients’ needs. And price yourself accordingly! Everyone struggles with this. Remember, your price continues to evolve as you evolve. Don’t sell yourself short as you begin your business.
The need for health insurance for technical consultants
Health insurance is vast and complicated. For years, Charlotte thought it was very simple. It was easier to sort out health insurance as an employed software engineer. Simply put, just opt into what your employer is offering in the health benefits package.
However, once she transitioned out of that role into a self-employed technical consultant, she realized that the complications of a healthcare system definitely crept into health insurance options as well. Charlotte didn’t have the capacity to think about the details of health insurance when transitioning from a W2 to a 1099 role, what with already needing to handle every other aspect of her consulting practice. This is why she believes that hiring a healthcare advisor who knows health insurance inside out is the best option for self-employed consultants. Especially, when it costs nothing and only takes an hour to sort out.
In Charlotte’s words, there is a lot of homework to be done before you transition from one role to another. Be ready to question your every move and make calculated decisions every step of the way. Don’t take things like pricing your services and taking care of yourself in stride, as these are crucial ways for you to sustain your technical consultancy business.
Have an idea for an app and want to make it a reality? Find out more about how Charlotte Clark and Custom Quest Consulting can help you here.
Have you just transitioned from a W2 to a 1099 role? Thinking about it but not sure how much health insurance will cost? Want to know the best health insurance plan for you?