Jacques Mattheij

technology, coding and business

How to Be a Consultant, a Freelancer, or an Independent Contractor

This is a series of pages that guide you through the creation and operation of a successful consulting business. I’ve written this after running a fairly successful consultancy business in the mid-90’s and reviving this business in 2008. I’m primarily active in software, so some of the things in here will be skewed in that direction, but I’ll do my best to keep it general, and to make it ‘location independent’.

The reason I wrote this up is because on the Hacker News forum people will post questions regarding freelancing, and given the nature of the medium it is not always feasible to put all the time and effort into writing an answer as good as possible. So, this is dedicated to all those HN’ers that help me with my questions, I hope this balanced the scales a bit.

This book assumes several things:

  • that you have a skill
  • that this skill is marketable
  • that you are willing to work reasonably hard
  • that you have some self discipline

If all of those are answerable with ‘yes’ then there is no reason why you could not run a business of your own.

In the larger context of ‘starting up’ a consultancy business is an excellent way to bootstrap yourself into something larger, it gives you lots of very useful knowledge about running a business and it will get you a lot of contacts.

You will also make a half decent living.

The chapters are laid out more or less in the order that you will need them, the whole thing should read like a book, but feel free to dip in or skip pieces that you are already familiar with.

If you should find yourself in disagreement with what I wrote here or wish to comment on a passage (or if you want to suggest improvements) by all means, do contact me, jacques@mattheij.com is my email address, I’ve also enabled comments at the bottom of every page to make it easier to comment on the content ‘in context’.

I should probably add that this stuff is written by someone who started out in Europe, and lived in Canada for about 5 years, so the experience in here will be somewhat biased because of that, even though I’ve tried to keep that sort of location based information to a minimum, and to keep it as generally applicable as possible.