Consulting - am I doing it wrong?
May 5, 2009 12:37 PM Subscribe
I'm just starting out as an independent network and systems contractor and I think I've agreed to a bad deal. What are my options?
This all came about as I got what sounded like a cool job offer and the recruiter offered to help me setup a contracting gig rather than hire me as an employee. But the more I learn, the less it sounds like I'm in a good spot.
Backstory: Senior windows/cisco IT guy, damn good, (mcse+messaging/ccnp skills, but no certs) 14 years experience implementing all manner of microsoft and cisco products in a midsize environment, done management and budgeting, like the job but hated the non-technical parts. I was let go last year and after failing to find a good fit locally I wanted to switch over to consulting in a new larger market so I moved to Washington DC a month ago.
One company responded to my resume within an hour (!) and I was asked to come aboard after a short phone interview on a sunday (!!) to bring up an office for a federal agency as a subcontractor the following monday(!!!). Sounded quick and easy on the phone last week. Well, things have been "held up" and there are no servers or routers except a leased line to a single hosted box. So I'm doing helpdesk grunt work for ~50 users with no end in sight.
So on to the help setting myself up. I was asked and agreed to quote a flat monthly rate (which now seems low (works out to be ~$200 for an 8-hour day, less the more I work)), at net 30, for this on-site support. There is no set end date. I have to be on-site 8a-5p every day unless I make arrangements for another guy from the same agency to cover me. I cannot leave if there is no work, but if there is extra I'm expected to stay until it's completed. If it matters I have no contract or SOW only an NDA, so I think I'm free to walk away at any time.
1) Is the money range low for my skill sets in the area?
2) Is this a normal contract structure for federal IT contractors or this area?
2a) How do I get a feel for the norm in this area without actually trying to hire people?
3) Can / Should I try to renegotiate the verbal deal?
3a)How do I best go about renegotiating without burning bridges? I'd like to do the actually implementation work if it ever happens, but I really want to get away from desktop support.
4) Where can I learn more about starting out as an independent so I can avoid these mistakes in the future? There were some links in other contractor posts, but they seemed aimed at designers so I'm not sure how much applies.
Any other resources or help with starting out as a newbie consultant would be greatly appreciated. A good contractor community site would be ideal.
Thanks in advance.
anon to avoid attaching my real name to the mess I've made. I'll happily followup in mefi-mail or with a mod if needed.