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[Discuss] how to contract correctly?


Market yourself ALL THE TIME.   Go to Church, and let everyone know
discretely you are contractor and willing to 'help' for pay.  Go to
networking do-good organizations and do the same.  Kiwana's is big in this
area.  Others have JrChaimber of Commerce, etc.  Stay active in opensource
projects, and don't be afraid to hang out a shingle saying you will help
customers use it (a former employer did this with Asterisk VOIP systems,
did well and had a direct line to 'developers' for priority support, as
well as a way to give back.  Employer sold white-box type VOIP systems.
 Business cycle dried up, so did my paycheck.  Still I liked the business

Get business cards, nice but cheap, and hand them out like popcorn.  When
meeting a receptionist, give them 2, on for their 'file' and another to
pass in to whomever you meet.  Yes, we all hate this, and most get trashed.
 But if 1 helps make a sale you have paid for a case of them.

If you have some slow/no pay customers, you MUST FIRE YOUR CUSTOMER before
they drag you down.  Even suggest a competitor that could serve them, so
leave them smiling, just not over taking your nickels.  This all goes to
keep track of expenses, payables, recievables, etc.

Get a line of credit, and use it just enough to keep it active.  Paying
interest to someone else is the last thing you need.  Be prepared to take
credit cards (Paypal or Square, allow you to have a 'free' swipe on your
smart phone.)  Don't overly encourage it just to keep your overhead down,
but if it is between taking their money and not, take the money.

Make friends with lawyer, banker, insurance dude, CPA, realtor, SBA SCORE
advisor.  They can help make a 'core team' to get good long term advice
from.  Pay them, you will need them all on your side long term (SCORE
advisor is free).  CPA can also act a a tax guy but other financial advice
(whether you can 'holdem' and stay in business or it is time to 'foldem'
and find a gig under some other employer (sorry for the bad refference to
the GAMBLER song)) can be worth lots of gold.  But they have to be people
you trust to work FOR you and not for their own bill padding (yes, I get
cynical, but being sceptical is not a bad trait).

Make friends of your competitors.  Know what they can do.  Sub to them when
over-booked, and get on their 'prefered sub' list.  Even head hunters can
be your friend and you can work (at a reduced rate) under their shingle, if
you don't have other stuff going on.

A old consultant friend of mine said he spend 50% of his time billing, but
no more.  The rest is in schmoosing, 'marketing', drinking coffee, passing
out LOTS of business cards.

 Get a MINIMUM of a cheap domain and web hosting just to have a place to
put your picture, and get 'private domain' email.  GoogleOffice was free
for small companies, now they charge a little.  It is OK, but you can  do
similar by bolting your own 'office tools' together.  Still you want
someone else (even Godaddy or similar) to 'host' the domain.  You need to
stay busy with 'solving customers problems', not fixing yours.

You can get incorporated cheaply online, but you still have local/state
fees that must be and stay paid.  Places like 'LegalZoom' (not a
recommendation, just a sample off the top of my head) provides cheap
paperwork to file, but no legal advice.  Some lawyers will work with you
and that, some won't.  Consider at least an LLC if not full Corporation,
and keep your corporate veil in place, it works.

Yes, I have started and stopped a few times over the years.  As always
YMMV, and we all wish you the best of luck.

Also, go to SBA.GOV and to to get their perspective.  MA probably
has some resources too!

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