I quit my job this week.
In an unusual step for me, I don’t have another job lined up. I’ve decided to try my hand at something completely new: self employment. I want to build a business making and selling my own software as well as doing contract development work. That is to say, I’m going indie.
This change is something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. I’ve gone back and forth on the “best” way to start. Should I write software on the nights and weekends? Try to expand my social and business networks first? Go big or go home? I was pondering these questions and more when I attended SecondConf last October. The experience, aside from the great content, was simultaneously inspiring and demoralizing. It was inspiring to meet so many people who are doing what I want to do. Developers making a living writing software that they want to make, developers working on interesting client projects, developers in charge of what they do. It was also demoralizing because I felt like a fraud. I wasn’t doing work that I enjoyed, I wasn’t doing work that I could be proud of, I wasn’t doing work that mattered to me. I was just punching a time clock and being miserable while doing it.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that punching a time clock is bad, per se. I have no problem with being an employee, so long as I’m an employee in a challenging and rewarding environment that values the same qualities in software and its creation that I do. I just didn’t feel that I was in that kind of environment. So I decided that I needed to create it for myself.
The major revelation that struck me while at SecondConf is that I am unusually situated to jump in with both feet. I am unencumbered by children or a spouse and free of significant debt or long term commitments like a mortgage. I can afford to downsize my life, live off of instant ramen and peanut butter sandwiches and pursue my dream. I may end up pursuing my dream while living in a van permanently parked down by the river but at least it will be for a good reason. And, if I fail to make a sustainable business, I won’t be much worse off than I am now. A bit poorer, perhaps, but at least I will have gained valuable experience and hopefully have a body of work I can point to with pride as I apply for a job (one I will be happier at than the one I left).
April 15th is my last day at work. Since I will no longer be tied to Northeast Ohio for a job, I will be moving to Indiana shortly thereafter so I can be closer to my family. After that, my life is a gigantic question mark. That is simultaneously exhilarating and incredibly terrifying.
There is a lot to do as I head down this path. I want to form better connections with others in the community by blogging more, tweeting more (or maybe “micro-blogging” more), going to my soon-to-be-local CocoaHeads. I need to write and release both software and code to build a portfolio (and ideally a positive reputation as well). There are new technologies I need to learn, ideas I want to explore and projects with which I want to experiment. I expect to make a lot of mistakes while doing this. I expect to make big mistakes. But I also expect to learn. And grow. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get to write a blog post a year from now talking about how excited I am to begin year 2 of my adventure.
In the meantime, if you know of any opportunities for an experienced OS X and iOS developer eager to prove himself as a contractor…