PDA

View Full Version : Thinking about joining consultant network...


choppedsui
Jun 23, 2004, 09:29 AM
Hi -
So I just graduated from with my B.A. and I am about to move from Bloomington, IN to NYC to become a freelance computer consultant. I have been a graphic design/DV consultant on campus for the last three years, so I have somewhat of a foundation to build on. But I have to admit, I am pretty nervous about the whole thing. I have been trying to read up on ANYTHING I can find regarding freelance consulting so that I can be as prepared as possible.
I have learned about Apple's consultant network and I was wondering if anyone here is or has been a member and what their impressions were of it. I am not interested in the ASC program, but rather the ACN. (I did a thread search and didn't really find any discussions on ACN) I believe they are different programs, but I could be wrong. It is about $500 a year to be a member - so it is pretty steep - but they claim all of these membership benefits like access to Apple hardware for demo and usage, discussion groups, blah blah....

Anyway, for anyone familiar, is it worth it? Do you gain $500+ in value as a member? Do clients actually use the database to find consultants? What are the hardware and software discounts they offer? Are they any good? Are they limited time or offered all the time? What about the "free" stuff?

Ultimately I want to know if this is $500 worth spending or not from people who have spend this $500. Also if anyone has an tips/suggestions/experiences they would like to share with me regarding freelance consulting, please feel free.

Thanks
Babak

aus_dave
Jun 23, 2004, 09:41 AM
Also if anyone has an tips/suggestions/experiences they would like to share with me regarding freelance consulting, please feel free.
My 2c worth:

- be prepared for your first 12 months to be slow while the business grows
- seek out regular monthly/quarterly jobs to provide regular cashflow
- be flexible and follow the market opportunities (i.e. money :D)

Some people would say at your age and stage you should try and get some 'corporate' experience before going out on your own (as an employee that is). There is something to be said for knowing a bit about the internal workings of companies especially if that is your target market (for example, what actually happens in a marketing department).

Good luck with it :).

<edit>I'm assuming you are a relatively young graduate hence the comments above. If you are a mature age student my apologies for presuming too much ;) </edit>

logicat2001
Jun 23, 2004, 09:56 AM
I wouldn't recommend applying to join the Apple Consultant's Network at this point. It sounds to me that you're expecting it to be a quick and easy $500 solution to finding some customers, legitimizing your endeavor and getting useful/cool discounts and free stuff to boot.

The ACN requires an application. You pay a one-time application fee and fill out their paperwork, then submit and wait for approval. If approved you've got to pass one Apple certification within 45-days. (I assume you've read through the materials on the ACN site; if not you should.)

More useful might be "Million Dollar Consulting" by Alan Weiss. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/007138703X/qid=1088002210/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-9873106-8477468) A whole lot less expensive and filled with good stuff that may really help out as you start.

Good luck! I've been working as an independent consultant for 9 months now. Every day is a day to learn something new.

1- Take care in NYC. Work through contacts you make and word of mouth and don't assume you're going to be able to publicize and get noticed. There are a whole heck of a lot of people in NY, and more than enough technology professionals (aka. your competition). (Out of curioisity, why NYC? Have you ever been/lived there? Do you have any contacts already? I was born and raised in Brooklyn for more than two decades. Now I live in Minneapolis, MN.)

2- Cashflow, cashflow, cashflow. Over the past 9 months I've learned more about how I do and don't handle money/resources well. I really wish I had taken everybody's advice and saved a big pile of cash before starting out. That being said, life goes on and if you're feeling scrappy you can still move mountains starting with a dollar and a smile.

3- Did I say kudos and good luck?

Let us know how it goes.
Best regards,
Logicat

choppedsui
Jun 23, 2004, 12:47 PM
aus_dave -
Thanks for the good tips. I anticipate at least a good 12-18 months before anything stable (read: full time) is established. I have worked under a number of different types of networks on campus, but I an appriciate your comment about having corporate experience. I find that I work very well with individuals, and I am always told that I explain things "normally" (layman's), so I have been seriously considering consumer/ home-office consulting. I think that will lead me to small business clients. I am not looking for anything large - I don't have the skill or the desire to admin a 20 rack-mount xServe. My specialty is in graphic design and DV. I figure most film production and design houses probably have an in house techie. I need to look out for the smaller guys.

logicat2001 -
I was hoping that ACN would serve more as a good resource of information and support as a new consultant. I know that it would not feed me clients or answers, but it could provide a dependable base of knowledge to help me during my first couple of years.

As for choosing New York, there are a number of reasons. I hope to pursue my masters in Media Studies at the New School starting in the spring of 05. I figure that consulting is something I could continue to do while I am taking some classes. That is one of the reasons I have decided to try consulting rather then a 9-5 somewhere. I know a boat load of people because of a 3 month internship at the UN, but that doesn't necessarily equal contacts. Word of mouth is really what I think I am going to have to pray on. I can't ignore the fact that New York is one damn great city to boot.

You are right - the city is full of techies, but I feel like this is something I am really cut out for. A lot of people know their *****, but if you don't have the personality or the communication skills, you got nothing. I could see how successful consulting comes down to 50% skill, 50% personality. (especially with consumers and small businesses) I have done a few consulting jobs in the past and all my clients have told me that the reason they call me back is because I have both of these qualities.

Cash-flow? That is a nonexistent adverb (?) in my life. Thanks for the book tip - I will see if I can hunt it down. Your suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated.

I was thinking the membership would be wasted money, but I just wanted to hear from others before I made my decision. Honestly I am still not 100% committed to doing freelance consulting, but it is something that I am seriously considering, more so than any other job. Any other insights and perspectives would be wonderful.

Babak