Evolution of career from perm/consulting to freelancing?

  • Hi, 
      I am working as DBA for 17+years.
      permanent -> consultant->  permanent -> consultant ...
      at some point I start thinking about switching from office work to remote consulting in DBA or data management related field.
      In past I tried  provide on call "DBA" consulting for local business (city 2.5 million) and realized 
      1. medium size companies have own IT team and don't need external  DBA  
      2. small companies call you once when system crash 🙂 and forget about they servers until next crash 
     3. to make a living  you need to have "service" contact with company charge them monthly fee 

    at the same time some of my friends charging $$$ working from home as 
     -java developers
    -web develpers
    -graphic designers

    Does anyone can share experience switching from DBA to freelancing as
     - BI Developer
     -Data Scientist
     -SQL developer
     -Other Data related freelancing

    Thanks

  • I can give you some hints regarding working as a DBA freelancing, let's start with your list first.
    1. mostly yes, small companies neither as they usually have some kind of Service Contract with the Software Vendor(s) providing the applications being used.
    2. Depends on how hard they actually crash, some might want someone to take care of Windows & SQL Server Patching.
    3. No you don't. I haven't had a monthly service contract for 9 years either. You're supposed to charge enough from your customers to be able to fill in "blanks" yourself. If your Business model requires you to have service contracts in place as a single freelancing entity working for your own company, don't bother looking any further into freelancing, it's not the right thing for you I can tell.

    I personally have been around Europe mostly for a lot of interesting customers and all of them have been Fortune 500 or close to it. In fact I had only one customer in what you would consider medium size company and with that customer my work was basically to present some strategies how Performance issues within their Application can be tackled on the SQL side of things. Afterwards they went off to do some coding work.

    I have been able to comfortably not need to take on new projects (full-time) up to the point of 6 months no 5 days / week Job. There have been Jobs that did require my remote attention for 2 days a week and still be able to pay what others were offering for a full week of work. 

    As a BI Developer things will look differently, my main line of work is around SQL Performance Issues, I've specialized on that knowing that not everyone will have Performance Issues just because everyone has a Database somewhere. The same goes for the BI Developer, not everyone needs Tableau or SSIS just because it's there. It's never bad to have a "side gig" as freelancer, for me it was my Microsoft Trainer Certification which could and did provide at times a few additional bucks here and there, if you like coding and want let's say be a BI Developer it can't hurt if you can create some Webpages or -Applications and such so in the case of all SSIS code that could be needed as your current project ran out without an immediate replacement not in sight it's always good to have a "side" at your business.

    Good luck no matter how you decide!

  • Hi Dino,
    I missing important point in my target customer group 
     why "forture 500" company need a freelancers  while they have skilled teams of DBA and developers

    I worked at several NA financial institutions where number of SQL servers   goes from 50 to 500 and  where duty of DBA and Application developers were divided 
    DBA would manage heath of servers  and group  of application developers/dba  would manage performance of application

    Additionally,  for new DBA  it  would take ~ few weeks to get pass security and account/permission creation to get access to  databases

    I also thought remote administration and occasional performance optimization would be dominated by bigger  established companies like "Pythian"    
    and not like web sites with headline like "Hire a SQL Server DBA"?

    Might be it related only financial institution  where main rules 
     1. No production changes between December 10 and January 15 
     2. we would prefer to get more CPU, memory or storage instead of adding 2 more extra indexes

    Thanks a lot

  • Well, you should differentiate between 24/7 Remote Monitoring which is what "Pythian" is offering, which usually involves one central number for the customer to call when things go wrong etc. and you get a call "our DB is slow, why is it?"

    A small Business which requires an hour of your time per month will pay you quite differently than a F500 Company requiring the same amount of time from you. Now at least here in Europe it is not uncommon that larger than small sized businesses require you to have a certain (limited) company before they would even consider hiring you, no matter how good your experience or price is which in return over here means that unless you can afford 15.000 - 35.000 Euros up front funding your company you will get exactly nowhere. Asides that you might be require to complete certain ISO certifications for your company especially when working in the financial sector. This process takes up to 6 Months before you can have your first review if you would pass or not. I would assume you might face such requirements in the U.S. or elsewhere, too.

    So where exactly would be the difference for Company A (in which getting accounts according to your story can take weeks, in 9 years of working with companies up to 200.000+ employees worldwide I've exactly encountered this once that it would take multiple weeks to get access, most agree on a start date with you and do the homework up front) to create an account for you - that would aswell take weeks - or to create the same account with eventually a different name for someone they might hire permanently? What if your desired customers switch to DevOps where the same person does the coding and Administration? Will they kick out the existing DBA, Developer or the external "sometimes watchdog" first? Just trying to give you food for thought if your desired business plan could work out or not.

    Asides that I do not see a correlation between going freelance and "main rules" your potential customers might or might not follow through.

    My desired customers were in Telco & ISP, tobacco industry, automotive branch and government. I didn't know they were my desired customers, they were the ones offering me the most interesting projects. Today I can safely assume that if you buy an european car you have an 80% chance that your car has at least something from one of my customers, if not multiple customers.

    Now I'm not freelancing anymore but I wouldn't mind if my boss had something interesting for me in a branch I haven't been yet. I certainly would find it interesting to design some sort of DWH within aviation or many other things, much more than staying in Telco & ISP (first customer) forever.

  • Hi Dino,
     thank you for valuable information. I really helps to reconsider approach to freelancing.

  • Hi Dino,
    I missing important point in my target customer group
    why "forture 500" company need a freelancers while they have skilled teams of DBA and developers

    This is a critical question you need to be able to answer about yourself.  In short - if you cannot answer for yourself why your target group would want to hire *you* (over a number of other freelancers out there), then don't make the jump.  What makes your skillset attractive/unusual/valuable?  If you cannot articulate that, chances are a. you're not ready to make the jump yet, b. that's the wrong target group or c.  both of the previous answers.

    Also - why Fortune 500? What made you pick that as your only target?  I spent a decade freelancing, and made a good living at it without ever stepping foot in an org that big.  Small orgs have big needs too from my own observations, so cutting them out is a mistake IMO, at least before testing which types of orgs might respond well to what you have to offer.  I think you will find a lot more unmet demand OUTSIDE of fortune 500.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part...unless you're my manager...or a director and above...or a really loud-spoken end-user..All right - what was my emergency again?

  • @Matt Miller 
    If I extract from 1)  and 2) what is left after you won't get a service contract with a medium company and the small company would be the big companies?
    It's much more likely you might get a service contract with SMB if you were into something like managing Telco Solutions or "remote hands" for things like removing defective drives from a physical server located away from the customer.

    I'm not challenging what you said about SMB, just according to OPs Analysis there won't be much left outside big companies (I do use F500 as a synonym for big companies, as I think it's a rather well defined "big").

  • This was removed by the editor as SPAM

  • ebooklub - Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:53 AM

    Hi, 
      I am working as DBA for 17+years.
      permanent -> consultant->  permanent -> consultant ...
      at some point I start thinking about switching from office work to remote consulting in DBA or data management related field.
      In past I tried  provide on call "DBA" consulting for local business (city 2.5 million) and realized 
      1. medium size companies have own IT team and don't need external  DBA  
      2. small companies call you once when system crash 🙂 and forget about they servers until next crash 
     3. to make a living  you need to have "service" contact with company charge them monthly fee 

    at the same time some of my friends charging $$$ working from home as 
     -java developers
    -web develpers
    -graphic designers

    Does anyone can share experience switching from DBA to freelancing as
     - BI Developer
     -Data Scientist
     -SQL developer
     -Other Data related freelancing

    Thanks

    If you're a DBA, why would someone pay freelancing rates for you as a BI Developer, Data Scientist, SQL developer, etc. when you aren't one compared to other qualified people on the market?
    Either go in as a freelance DBA or switch careers on the permie/consulting side.

  • In general, being a DBA is considered “more senior” role than a software developer. It makes SW development easier to outsource coding role to outside party.
    Probably good way to start as a DBA freelancer is to distinguish yourself as a “system DBA” rather than a generalist (or application) DBA. In this role, your skills are transferable between various clients or projects. It is also good idea to have some kind of “methodology” when you approach new clients. One alternative might be a paid “discovery phase”. It gives you good idea whether client is serious enough to work with an external consultant on long term basis.
     
    Canada provides tax incentives for incorporated small businesses. Many IT consultants simply started businesses and took tax advantages offered.
    They even tried to collect tax retroactively. Rules for staying on “safe side” were either business has 5+ employees or they serve multiple clients. Although this approach received bad publicity, it can give a a good idea when one is ready to start it’s own business.
    "The soup is never eaten as hot as it is cooked." There were ways to deal with the issue. The worst case scenario was to "transfer" increased tax adjustments to personal income tax resulting in more/less the same total tax paid to government. 
     
    Point I am trying to make is if you go solo,you might have to deal with situations you are not accustomed to. It takes time, patience and perseverance to succeed. At the same token, if you stay perm, you might be most likely challenged by management responsibilities. This can be just a nifty way to deal with career growth issue.

  • Igor, I'm not following you when you talk about a "System DBA" rather than a generalist/application DBA. Sorry for being so dense, but could you please that more, please?

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • igor.klepoch 31928 - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 3:25 AM

    In general, being a DBA is considered “more senior†role than a software developer. It makes SW development easier to outsource coding role to outside party.
    Probably good way to start as a DBA freelancer is to distinguish yourself as a “system DBA†rather than a generalist (or application) DBA. In this role, your skills are transferable between various clients or projects. It is also good idea to have some kind of “methodology†when you approach new clients. One alternative might be a paid “discovery phaseâ€. It gives you good idea whether client is serious enough to work with an external consultant on long term basis.
     
    Canada provides tax incentives for incorporated small businesses. Many IT consultants simply started businesses and took tax advantages offered.
    They even tried to collect tax retroactively. Rules for staying on “safe side†were either business has 5+ employees or they serve multiple clients. Although this approach received bad publicity, it can give a a good idea when one is ready to start it’s own business.
    "The soup is never eaten as hot as it is cooked." There were ways to deal with the issue. The worst case scenario was to "transfer" increased tax adjustments to personal income tax resulting in more/less the same total tax paid to government. 
     
    Point I am trying to make is if you go solo,you might have to deal with situations you are not accustomed to. It takes time, patience and perseverance to succeed. At the same token, if you stay perm, you might be most likely challenged by management responsibilities. This can be just a nifty way to deal with career growth issue.

    Well I didn't know that DBAs are more of "Senior Role"...When did this development occur?

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