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    DIY Small Business or Big Box Employee?

    I operate a small numbered corporation targeting mechanical contractors pursuing opportunities to design fabrication models c/w sleeving, hangers of all sorts, bill of materials, and the highest level of detail using Revit & Navisworks. Like most of you, I really enjoy Revit. I really like the freedom of working from my own comfy office at home. I even bought a Herman Miller $1,200 CAD chair which is amazing, but it's been a bitter sweet 2016.

    For the most part, working with the Foremen, Project Managers, and other disciplines via Skype/GoTo has been good. I model, export to Navis, clash detect, rename View Points to correspond to numbered bubbles on a PDF plan. Guys love it. I love it. Everyone's happy.

    But there's one problem. Contractors take forever to pay and their CAD departments constantly use low budgets probably based on India and a low view of "CAD". I tell them constantly this is not CAD, it's virtual construction and coordination - a big item with huge downstream implications. Regardless, I'd be OK with the low ball offers if they just paid.

    Currently started at a big company as Virtual Coordinator due to zero cashflow despite a mountain of receivables. This company is paying well, but honestly, I'm dead tired. Tell you why. It's exhausting trying to train brand new Revit modelers, while juggling meeting after meeting and the typical office events (parties, luncheons, etc.). When I'm at home, I make calls to friends and associates with my feet kicked up. I go downstairs to chat with my wife. I pick up my kids and I'm a husband and father. I designed, spooled, and prefabbed my own hose bibb reno this past summer in between work. In short, I had a ton of freedom. Now, I feel like a corporate cog.

    I hope this post doesn't come across as judgemental to those of you who enjoy working as an employee. There are certainly a lot of benefits, and if you're single (i.e. no kids) it can be fun.

    The reason for my post today is to get a feel for what you guys prefer, and if you have a story I'd like to hear about it. This OP is long, but your reply doesn't have to be. One line "tweets" are welcome, as are detailed posts.

    Thanks
    20
    SMALL BUSINESS
    40.00%
    8
    EMPLOYEE
    35.00%
    7
    LONE WOLF
    15.00%
    3
    TEAM
    10.00%
    2
    Last edited by koolair; February 8, 2017, 03:31 PM.

    #2
    Im not a genius, and i cant speak about LONG TERM being in business for myself, as ive only been at it for almost 2 years. Im sure Dave, and Steve Stafford, and folks who have been doing it a longer time, can chime in with better advice.

    But for me in the last two years?

    While it becomes a delicate dance of give and take, i dont let clients get more than a few weeks in debt to me, before they get invoiced. And the moment an invoice is late, im done working on the project until it gets paid. There are also certain clients of mine that are getting deliverables AND they are getting models... And they dont get models with outstanding invoices. The "making sure people pay" part certainly isnt easy, though.

    Regarding most of them being *cheap* and outsourcing work to other countries, i think its REALLY important that we dont all "race to the bottom" to get the work. I tell folks what the rates and fees are, and if they dont want to pay them (or if they can get it done cheaper) i tell them they should go get it done cheaper, and i wish them well on the job. If they are TELLING you they can get it done elsewhere cheaper, there is a REASON they are talking to you, and not JUST getting it done elsewhere. When they tell me the price is too high, i remind them of the quality i want to bring to their job.

    And to be clear, i had a (rather arrogant and snotty) email from a potential client this month who said they *fell out of their chair when they saw my prices* and that *they just cant believe people pay that.* Here is the thing: Sticker shock and disbelief are only an issue for the people experiencing them. Its not my issue if someone else doesnt like the price. Ive set it at the value i think my products bring to the table. And IF other folks ARE paying it, you dont have to sweat the folks who wont. Tell them it was great talking with them, and wish them good luck with the contractors offshore. Then wait for the folks who WILL pay for it.

    Big corporate jobs? I would do it again, sure. I miss being surrounded by people. But, i dont miss the drama, the politics, or (frankly) the inability to push the envelope and deliver MY standard of care. Im doing the best quality work ive ever done in my life, because my hands arent tied behind my back anymore. I would go work for a large company again (under the right circumstances) but ANY compromise in doing it what i feel is the right way, is no longer one of them*. Hence.... i dont work for a large company anymore.

    *unless something happened and i really NEEDED to, to support my family. Family comes first. Id go back to changing oil on cars at a shop, if it paid the bills and i needed to.
    Aaron "selfish AND petulant" Maller |P A R A L L A X T E A M | Practice Technology Implementation
    @Web | @Twitter | @LinkedIn | @Email

    Comment


      #3
      yeah, what Aaron says. Koolair, being self employed is always a challenge, especially when first starting out. It's the conundrum of "do I take the work for less than it's worth?" or "do I do without the work?". If you are good at what you do, motivated, and hard working then at some point you will gain customers that appreciate the value of what you provide to them regardless of the cost. I've been self employed a long time and have gone through having inside employees and outside subcontractors, and having to deal with the babysitting on the one side and the constant collection issues on the other, not to mention having to do the sales to keep everyone working. Over the years I have decided that I don't like the sales, collection, babysitting others stuff and some years ago went back to being just me here. I went from 40 to 45 customers down to two or three. And the two or three were culled out of the group based on what type of work they did (the type that I like) and the fact that they pay like ATMs. It took me a long time to get there though. Now, as my retirement approaches I am down to one customer and I only do about 50% of their Revit modeling/shop dwgs. I spend a lot of my time mentoring the new self employed Revit modelers that are doing work for my customer, teaching them about how to model curtain walls etc in Revit, how to create useful families, how to create accurate models and useful output. I think that while I will shortly give up the day to day modeling, I probably won't give up Revit until the day they find me with my forehead on the keyboard. I sort of like mentoring. Doesn't pay at all, but then I've got a penny pincher wife that has us in good financial stead so I guess it's time to give some back Good luck to you, regardless of whether you are employed or self employed. Revit Rocks!!
      I'm retired, if you don't like it, go around!

      Comment


        #4
        Koolair, so are you employed or are you on your own? I can't tell from your post. I have two very large projects about to pull the trigger on and I could use a guy of your expertise, and I pay quick.



        PM me if you're interested in discussing.

        -TZ
        Tannar Z. Frampton ™
        Frampton & Associates, Inc.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Twiceroadsfool View Post
          And to be clear, i had a (rather arrogant and snotty) email from a potential client this month who said they *fell out of their chair when they saw my prices* and that *they just cant believe people pay that.* Here is the thing: Sticker shock and disbelief are only an issue for the people experiencing them.
          Had this happen once or twice... I'm curious to know who it was and what the scope was.... if you don't mind sharing (PM or text).

          But I stand by your philosophy. I bring a certain value to the table and it's worth a certain amount. My 15+ years of experience isn't cheap, although I still consider myself competitive.
          Tannar Z. Frampton ™
          Frampton & Associates, Inc.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Twiceroadsfool View Post
            And to be clear, i had a (rather arrogant and snotty) email from a potential client this month who said they *fell out of their chair when they saw my prices* and that *they just cant believe people pay that.* Here is the thing: Sticker shock and disbelief are only an issue for the people experiencing them.
            To be fair - I choked a little when you told me the price for the door library :laugh: I know the value & quality of your content and time that was invested in making them, it just caught me off guard. :thumbsup:
            Revit for newbies - A starting point for RFO


            chad
            BEER: Better, Efficient, Elegant, Repeatable.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by cellophane View Post
              To be fair - I choked a little when you told me the price for the door library :laugh:
              Now I'm curious.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by snowyweston View Post
                Now I'm curious.
                Heck me too now lol
                Tannar Z. Frampton ™
                Frampton & Associates, Inc.

                Comment


                  #9
                  The price catches a lot of people off guard, and i'm okay with that. Building Revit or BIM Content isn't the business model i have here, and the content requires an extensive amount of time to maintain and perform quality control on. Hell, the V4 doors that are posted here for free have several hundreds of development hours in them, and they are nowhere near as nice as the new ones.

                  Here is the PDF on the new doors, as long as that's okay with the Moderators. If its not okay mods, they can remove the attachment. (Since you guys asked and i'm very transparent about my services, i want to answer, but i know that borders on advertising). The PDF is going to eventually make its way on to the website, i just have been slammed sinve getting the new website (partially) up and running. Also, i normally ask potential buyers to sit through the gotomeeting on the doors first. Because a lot of the features dont *show themselves* in the PDF, naturally.

                  Ironically, there are generally two coinciding thoughts that go along with the sticker-shock: The first is "Oh wow, if people get that much money for content, i should build content!" and "Wow, if they are that much, we should just build them internally!" And both of those are completely valid and good thoughts. Naturally (the basis for the v4 door thread) i encourage firms to embark on these sorts of things themselves.

                  Its one thing to build a Component for a Bookcase, and want to sell it for a dollar or two, and so on. And modeling very intricate things, that dont have to change sizes and options, is similar. Youre paying for man hours of modeling, but not the exponential man hours of Quality Control and testing. The number of options in the current version of the library is extensive. But a lot of firms realize, theyre talking about less than 2 weeks of billable time for someone at their firm. So... can they get the same results in two weeks? Its value, not dollars. =)
                  Attached Files
                  Aaron "selfish AND petulant" Maller |P A R A L L A X T E A M | Practice Technology Implementation
                  @Web | @Twitter | @LinkedIn | @Email

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There's an old joke/story about the value of knowledge.

                    Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice.
                    The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.
                    Good old Snopes has a rundown on the veracity of the story here:
                    Handyman's Invoice - Snopes.com
                    Dave Plumb
                    BWBR Architects; St Paul, MN

                    CADsplaining: When a BIM rookie tells you how you should have done something.

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