#5 - Understanding your value as an IT professional

About the guest

Eric Nims, Application Developer at Savage Arms Inc.

Eric has had an extensive career in information technology who most recently has held roles such as Chief Security, Privacy, and IT infrastructure, VCIO. Eric is known for his balanced perspective of technology and business and has saved companies money by getting products to market and in saving costs in daily operations.

Notes

Not everyone is comfortable with the business side of the software. Many people charge less than they should. You're providing the value to somebody, something that they can't do or won't do themselves. We take for granted the fact that we can do it.

All the pricing is done on the scale. Everyone starts at the bottom to build their portfolio. The more experience you get the more you can charge. Then you start thinking about what is it worth to your client rather than measuring how much time you spend. It's the value you're producing. Even though it's hard to put a price tag on innovation or estimate a project, it's absolutely necessary.

One of the reasons we may feel guilty charging more for our work is that it feels easy, we know how to do it. But if your work solves a big problem for a company, it's worth a lot of money for them.

Building software is a people-oriented industry because we're building software for other people. So, having people skills is crucial for your success. You have to have the confidence to talk to other people. You'll have an advantage over salespeople because you actually can do the job. Learn how to build, then learn how to sell and only then you will be successful. It's easy to have confidence in you're genuinely excited to talk to clients about their projects.

When clients start the conversation with a small budget, it's a red flag that the relationship won't go well. It means their shopping for the cheapest rate. And if you want to do your best work, it's hard to compete against the cheapest rates. Most of the time clients will regret it and may come back to you asking to re-do the poorly done website. Know what prices you want to charge and stand your ground. Be comfortable saying "no".

Be cautious when partnering with the client to accept the payment in form of equity. Make sure you agree on the terms and hold each other accountable because you become business partners. If you decide to do it, make sure you have a plan and you have a way out of the partnership.

Transcript

John 0:14

Welcome to PragmaticLead podcast, your hosts are Alex and John Masse. We have conversations with folks throughout the tech industry to get a real-world perspective on how people make things happen for their careers and businesses, check out PragmaticLead.com for more content just like this.

With us today is Eric Nims. Eric has had an extensive career in information technology who most recently has held roles such as chief security, privacy, and IT infrastructure. VCIO. And as I have always known and worked with Eric is application development. Eric is known for his balanced perspective of technology and business. And has saved companies money by getting products to market and in saving costs and daily operations. Eric has been a coach and a mentor for me early in my career. And we are excited to talk to him today. Eric, welcome. And thank you for sharing some of your time with us.

Alex 1:12

Hey, Eric.

John 1:12

Cool. So our episode today is we wanted to go back to the beginning of our careers, when some of us did not know how to ask for money for our work, stop back when we were happy with people giving us just paying something for building a website. So we're just really just grateful that someone was willing to pay us to do something that we had learned how to do. So Eric, jumping into the first question here. So when I started working as a designer and programming user experiences on the web, I was doing full-on projects for around $500 a pop, which looking back is I was grateful for but definitely wouldn't do that again. You always

Alex 1:54

I was doing that for $300. And coffee. Of course a good coffee.

John 2:05

Eric, he always told me that I was crazy for doing what I needed.

Eric Nims 2:09

Charging what little you work, because you gave yourself no value.

John 2:12

I wasn't sure what that meant all those years ago, actually, as a matter of fact, it was more of an emotional reaction. I was just really genuinely uncomfortable. But looking back all those years ago, what did you see that I didn't see?

Eric 2:28

Well, I mean, it was, to me, it was really clear, starting to work with you and seeing what you were accomplishing, taking ideas that people were throwing at you and coming up with your solutions, it was clear that you knew what you were doing, you didn't have the confidence, which was problem number one. Because you were just starting out. And, all I could see was, I had been doing it for some time before that. And, I had a good idea what people were getting for the same types of stuff, or worse, I should say, because, you had originally put out some pretty nice stuff that impressed me and impressed a number of other people. And, I know what it was worth, and I understand where you're coming from. But it's one of those things where you didn't have the self-awareness. And you were very uncomfortable about the whole money thing, you and I had always talked about, trying to just help anybody out to see, try to make their dream come true, so to speak, when it came to technology and getting them up on the web somehow. And we worked with a lot of people, you worked with a lot of people that just didn't have any money. But what you didn't understand was that it's such a beginning time in your career, or anybody's career, especially if you, like you showed right up front that you knew what you were doing. And you could produce nice things that, you were greatly undervaluing yourself because you're producing things at such an early time that other people were doing it that add a lot more years on you. And, you are uncomfortable because you were new. You didn't quite understand the money side of it and what something was technically worth. But I think what the problem was, you really couldn't see that you're providing something to somebody, and this is what the whole thing stems on. You're providing something to somebody that they just can't do themselves. You take it for granted, because you're like, Well, hey, I can go over here. And someone says, Give me a cartoon character that signifies this. And, and you can turn it around and that day you have, a couple of mock-ups of something that was pretty cool, inspiring to somebody looking at it from the other side as being their product, whether it was, a little tchotchke type thing or a design for a website or your marketing piece of material, whatever. You didn't understand that those people were Coming to you, because you could do it and they can't. And you took for granted the fact that you can do that I think everybody does. Whatever discipline they're working in, whether it's a technology field, or actually any field, really. I mean, you could be a car mechanic, small engine repair anything, whatever you're thinking of, especially if it's something that you technically are doing with your hands mean, people take for granted that, well, it's easy for me, I can do it. But you had the problem of not realizing that they came to you because they can't, and you can. So that was a big problem up in the beginning that, I saw that it was really probably just a growing thing. You had to get the confidence that you knew what you were doing, and it was valuable. Does that make sense?

John 5:45

Yeah, it absolutely does. And what's what was interesting is I never thought, especially early on that I would ever go beyond a certain dollar amount that this is how much like a website is $500 or $200, or whatever it was. I remember that we did some exercises, to say like, "Oh, well, how much time are we going to spend on this?" And that was the first moment. This is an hourly thing. I'm spending weeks and weeks on it. And it varies widely, depending on what we're committing to. So maybe I shared a little bit, Alex, I don't know, do you have? Do you have like a story? or What was it? Like when you were starting out? Did you feel the same way?

Alex 6:30

So I started doing websites, I want to say 2007, 2006, something like that. So I was doing first few websites for like 100 $200 $300 Max. And I felt guilty actually charging people because I knew there was like, so easy to build these websites, it's just simple HTML, or I could even get like a template off the web. Just whip up like a quick one for a client. And I felt guilty, like, "Oh, I'm gonna charge this person $300-$500". So yeah, that was like where I started. And then slowly and slowly, I started charging more, not because somebody told me that I should, it was the opposite. People were like, Oh, it's too expensive. I'm Like, why? Because I started spending more and more time on it, I started paying more attention to detail, I started to improve my craftsmanship, I started doing more custom websites went to e-commerce websites. So the complexity increased, and my time that I had to spend on these websites increased as well. So it's was a slow gradual realization that this is worth a lot more than I was charging in the beginning. So that's how I started.

John 7:49

And Eric, was it obvious to you at the beginning of your career?

Eric 7:55

Well, I started out in IT low level, the first rung of the ladder, so to speak. And as I progressed forward, right away, I jumped right into web development that dealt with some form of company-based software. So that was sort of like my, my jump into it. And in that time, looking at it from the perspective of sales, I didn't have to put price tags on it myself, because I was seeing how much these things were worth. And they were being dictated. They're saying, "Well, how much time you think it'll take to do this a thing?" And then say, "oh, X amount of hours or days", or whatever it is, and, so I got right out of the gate. I mean, I did see that something I would say, like, Alex was mentioning, and I think we've all seen it, that Oh, yeah, you start out because you just want to eat and you just want to get something to do. So you have some form of a portfolio, just like any design thing. But I was lucky for the fact that I was seeing, thousands of dollars for something that I was producing. And at that time, I wasn't overly worried about, because I wasn't in it for myself, I was working for people. So, I got to see what they were charging for it. And that really helped a lot that made me right off the bat, skip that whole phase of, this is only to me worth a couple of hundred bucks, because why would it be more a thing. And it's tough, but I mean, all the price, all the pricing is on a sliding scale for a reason. If you've already passed the whole $200 website thing or $500 website thing, you're still then you jump onto the next sliding scale for what you're going to charge for fees. And yet, it's all relative. I mean, I think we've all had that where, why is this guy charging 30-40-50 bucks an hour, and then you go down the street, so to speak, and there's a guy charging, $150-$500 an hour and you're like, that doesn't make any sense. I mean, yeah, they're a big company. But, what does that have to do with anything? And so yeah, I mean, it takes a while, but you get there. And it's a tough thing to hit. But because then you look back and go, geez, I should have charged so much more money. But it's a portfolio builder.

John 7:55

Yeah, I can see the benefit in that. So I mean, would you say, like, there's probably a period of time, at the very beginning of your career, where almost giving your work away for free is appropriate for both?

Eric 10:33

Yeah, I mean, really, at the end of the day, you do have to start out, not necessarily giving it away, but not necessarily making a lot of money either. Because, in order for you to get those jobs that are going to pay you, you do a website, and maybe it's 10 grand, in order to get that you have to have some form of a portfolio. And, as you guys know, I mean, every year it goes by that you guys are working, it's just another piece going into the portfolio or pieces going to the portfolio. So when that guy comes along and says, I need this, and, but I need to know that you can do it, you can say, Yeah, I got this catalog of stuff I've done. And so when you say to him, 10, grand, you're confident because that's what it's worth. And, John and i have always looked at, not necessarily buttheads, but looked at the idea of money. I've, I've taken the approach where I have a hard time with dollar figure per hour, or more of the guy who looks at is like, at the end of the day, what's it worth to them? is it worth $1,000? And is it worth your time to do it? Or is it worth, maybe you would normally charge somebody and this isn't taking advantage of anybody, but it's the value of the product that you're producing for this, this company or person or whatever, for example, John and I, we developed something that went onto Facebook, and because that wasn't something that was like, you can google and get an idea how to do it. It wasn't out there wasn't done. We charged the guy $25k for it, because it was, that's what we felt was fair. And, it seems ridiculous. But, at the time, and I are looking at it going, this isn't something that's out there, this is completely new. And what's that worth to somebody? And that's a big part of it, too, is Yeah, you can go by the standard stock stuff of saying, here's an hourly figure, but then it depends on where they what you're working with. Because if you're looking at stuff where you're coming up with new technology, or new integrations and stuff, beyond everything else that has its own value, and that's definitely in its own upper echelon of how you charge people. That's definitely good.

Alex 12:47

It's hard to put a price on innovation. Because by definition, it's innovative, that it doesn't exist anywhere. So you have to come up with an idea, you have to solve a really hard problem with technology that maybe not many people have experienced. So it's really exactly put a price on that.

Eric 13:04

Yeah, I mean, that's the thing. I mean, it's not about how much can you get out of somebody, but it's really, at the end of the day, you have to look at it, where, what is that technology worth, and there have been times where John and I have worked together, and I think it may have been on that same project that, we have this way of doing something that's extremely innovative, they're not willing to pay for it, well, they don't get it, simple. Maybe you don't get to write that code for that piece, because they're not willing to pay for it. But you can always write it on the side for yourself. And hopefully, the day comes that, someone needs it, and it's not already out there, and you can charge them money for it. And that's a gamble as well. But, it's very difficult. But, it's like you said, it's hard to put a price tag on innovation, because, you really, you really have no idea. And, even you don't even really have an idea of worth at that point. But you have to give it worth, you have to absolutely give it worth it has to hit like something that's new, and like, think about when Tesla came out, that was a totally innovative and that had value and, that's why they can get that money for those types of cars. Yeah, and

Alex 14:18

Also, one of the reasons why you can't or it's hard to put the price on innovation is because as an engineer, developer, person who does the work, you don't really know how much time you need. So it's hard to even estimate what it's going to take to solve this problem or come up with some interesting solutions that will work and provide value for that company or a person.

Eric 14:39

Absolutely. I mean, you're 100% right. I mean, you could think about it sit down with a group of people, and go Okay, now what do we need to do to solve this problem? And then you guys are three quarters away through you hit a wall, and you have because you don't know and you hit this wall and you have no idea how to tie something together. Next thing, you spend an extra three weeks on something that you didn't budget for. So yeah, I mean, it's extremely difficult. Absolutely. But it has to be, but it has to be given value.

John 15:08

Something. So guilt was emotional detail there. And actually like an Alex and I shared that for when we're trying to ask for more money. Do you think I'm wondering where is the guilt derived from? Or why do we feel guilty? Because we don't have a belief in the idea of the thing we're working on? Like, for instance, Oh, geez, I'm taking a lot of resources from this person to build this thing. They're asking me to build it. I don't even know if this is a good idea.

Eric 15:43

Well, I mean, you have two things there. One is just the guilt of charging for something. And I think that just stems on the fact of something that I had said earlier about, you take for granted, I mean, I think we all do and did take for granted that, we hear a problem. And, my first instinct when I hear problem is, how can I solve that with code. And, I can write anything to do anything I want. And, I take that for granted. And I know that you guys can do the same thing. And it's like, we take that for granted. Because we just say, Oh, yeah, we'll just do this. And whip something out. And next thing, we have a product, we take that and almost internally give it no value, because it's just, it's like, it's like breathing for us, it's not that big a deal. But for somebody else on the outside, like if you can produce something that solves some major problem in a company, whether it's just having, some form of a foothold in a market, or your online presence or, solves problems internally, because there's a software solution you put together that speeds up processes or whatever. that's invaluable to them, and so again, I mean, like your, well, geez, I feel weird. I mean, it's only going to take me a week to do this. And, I feel funny about charging all this money. I mean, that's the guilt, but it's because we don't, we don't think of it that way, like a surgeon, do they feel guilty, charging you what they charge? Because it's not like you're going to go somewhere else, you're not going to go to us and get a new kidney, what I mean? Like you, you don't mean like, we can't do that, but also that same surgeon as much as they make and everything they do, chances are they can't do what we do. So everything, it's it all comes down to value and just getting over that hump, of understanding that, it's what we do. Granted, it's not life and death, but it's just as critical. It means a lot and just as much to other people as it does somebody who needs a surgeon, just in different ways, obviously. I mean, there's that, and then, it the guilt, the guilt you're talking about with work, I mean, you have to look at it is we don't we're not all-seeing, we don't, we might have a 95% understanding what has to be done. And as we all know, sure. I mean, we have 95%. There's that small percentage that we really just don't understand how we're going to put that together, but we can fill those pieces in as we get there. So it's the cost of doing business, sometimes you're going to make out and, you're going to get done in three days instead of six days. And sometimes you're going to say, okay, and you budgeted for six days, and it takes you 12 days, that's just the cost of doing business. If it's something that you're discussing, that's, we've been talking about innovative, it has to happen, because you have no idea.

John 19:00

have your innovation, sometimes we forget that our work goes beyond just what's happening in front of the computer. If you're working on a project, it's almost like it's a part of you. Until it's till it's over. You're thinking about it at dinner, you're thinking about it at bed at night, you're thinking about it when you're in the shower in the morning.

Eric 19:22

We've had conversations that we're having conversations with our significant others. And it could be a good conversation or argument. And I'm still thinking, how am I going to code this? Yes. We've all been there.

Alex 19:37

Yeah. It's also for us, as engineers, as programmers, we don't really think about money as much about as code so we're not like salespeople or money people or business people. So we don't think about that side or the business. So for me, it always felt on the company. When I, the time came to talk about money and the price, like, Oh, I was like, I really want to do a good job, I really want to code it, I get excited. It's like money's really is not important to me. And that's the problem. And that's where, for me where the guilt was, like, I really want to do the work. And I don't want to worry about the money.

Eric 20:20

No, absolutely. But then at the end of the day, you got to eat.

Alex 20:25

You learn. You learn you have to charge more because you need to make money you need to live.

Eric 20:33

Right. Well, the other thing, too, is, you mentioned you're a classic programmer, no question. That's, that's very common with a lot of people to, write code. And what ends up happening is, you're just like you said, you're stuck in code mode. And, when you talk to somebody about a project, you're almost caught off guard when you're talking about money. Because, that's, that's not exactly what you do. I was very lucky because I have a pretty heavy sales background. And so like for, just to throw out one example, like when I was working with John, on this one specific project, we went in there, and we're, I think one of the biggest things when it comes to presenting your product, or the solution to a problem, and talking about money. John and I, we have, you have to be very confident. And I remember specifically, we went to this realty company, and we walked in, we're dressed nice, we come in, bang, shake the hands, big smiles, just sat down, we start banging out conversation, and it was very sales. And they didn't think we were the ones that we're gonna actually do the programming, they just thought we were like the sales guys. And it was very funny because we were told specifically in that meeting that, like, the people before us that they talked to, they said that they had a sales guy in there. And they, and they had their programmer in there. And this is what I mean about confidence. I mean, this guy could have been the best programmer in the world. But when you come across like this, it's difficult to go anywhere. Because, again, even though we're coding, what we're coding is for people, so it's a very people-oriented industry. So, they said, I had a guy came in, he's doing all the talking, you've clear the sales guy, and the other guy was just like, as they put it, like the statistical program, he's just sitting in the corner, like this all to himself going, Yeah, yeah. And I guess I can do that. And, he had like, no confidence. So we were more expensive than they were to put this thing together. But, we, we developed a very quick rapport with them easy to talk to, and, we end up getting the deal. So that's cool. But like that, that's a big thing. Like, you have to have confidence. And I know, there's a lot of people out there, that may not have a lot of confidence. But, in a lot of fields, it pretty much plays the part is you got to fake it till you make it. And if you don't have confidence, and you're having a struggle with that, you got to fake it, come up with a way, I don't care, just talk to people, you just get out there and talk to people bought anything. When it all breaks down, you're the guy that can do this. So you got to have confidence in that, and I think that's why John and I always did quite well when we dealt with people getting business because, one, we are always honest, we're always upfront. And, we also exude confidence. I wouldn't say we were like crazy cocky, but it was enough wherein a sales environment, we came across, like, we knew we were doing it didn't like you wouldn't have talked to us back then. And got the feeling that we just started doing this, which I think was an important step for John and myself.

Alex 24:01

Like they say, learn how to build, then learn how to sell and only then you will be successful. The one or the other doesn't cut so you have to have both.

John 24:13

The thinking back at those in those moments, I was meeting with people, I was actually excited to meet with them and talk about the work that they wanted to do with us based on we're just having a great time I was having a lot of fun working on these types of projects. And granted, a lot of them were really complicated. And they had their own difficulties. But I remember those conversations, but I was I think that was also something we brought. It wasn't just like, I don't think it was just confidence. It was that we genuinely enjoyed what we were doing.

Eric 24:46

100% I agree with that. Yeah, I think you're right. I think that we really, really betrayed love and passion for what we're doing. And I think that came through 100% clear every time we talked to people

John 25:00

So closing in on that entry time when we're getting paid with pizza to build things. When is enough? Like when should I say to myself, look, I've done enough of this pro bono or pizza work? When would you say it's time to start thinking it's time to move on from this and to get something a little bit more rewarding?

Eric 25:30

The big thing about it is this, you have a few sides to that puzzle because it is a puzzle, because it is a very, it's a little balancing act. Because you made your start on these people paying you in pizza. And, you did big work with people. And for me, it was pasta sauce.

John 26:00

I remember that.

Eric 26:05

I got pizza and pasta sauce, it was cool for a pretty good-sized company, actually a small pizza place, but a big company. It ended up being that it was great. They were extremely happy with what I was doing. And the relationship worked out really great. where I got some pieces that I could showcase, you obviously met a lot of people, then they start telling people, which is obviously what you want. Because then I mean, that's the best advertisement is someone saying this guy is the guy, if you need it done, this is the guy will do it. But the problem is, they're also having that conversation of, we pay him like this. You guys sell apples. So maybe you guys can give them some bushels of apples. And, that's, that's the part that you really run into you like, Oh, so it's a juggling act when it comes to that thing? Because, yeah, I mean, you always want someone to refer you Because obviously, that's the best way of getting business. But even though that, this guy was your bread and butter, because he helped you build, and you're getting that. I mean, I think it's when do you feel that your portfolio is enough to go out there and get work. Because there is going to come a time where you don't certainly don't want to burn those bridges. I still talk with those people. And I give them advice and stuff, but I don't do their programming or anything. But yeah, I mean, you gotta you got to find out, like, there's that sweet spot where you're like, Okay, I have enough catalog now where I can go somewhere and actually make money., and that's, that's critically important. And that's still that it'll never turn around. You should never be a person starting out and not be doing that some in some form or fashion. Because you've got to get that's the best way to get a portfolio. And more work along the way, because everybody knows somebody. But yeah, I mean, in the break-off is when you really do feel that you have this, this portfolio that's strong enough for what you're trying to accomplish. And that's when you would sign and say, Okay, I'm done doing the pizza deals. And

Alex 28:11

Any path to mastery starts with education and apprenticeship. So that's, that's your entry point. So don't feel bad for charging less or not charge charging at all, at all. It's a part of the education process and getting experience and getting into the industry.

Eric 28:29

Absolutely. Like paying your dues.

John 28:34

yeah. But for longevity, it's so it's okay. So it's good to go in knowing that we're paying our dues. We're developing ourselves, we're building our skills. We're learning, we're getting life experience. But always know that, keep in mind that another step is ahead of us. And we can really start. And that's really important to keep in mind to really reap the benefits of our skills. Because sometimes we could just give up. Like, I'm sure I'm spending so much time on this. Maybe I've done a dozen projects at this point. We've all been there. Yeah, right. Right. And we've I've only made like this amount, and I'm doing this and my full-time job at the same time. I'm just not realizing the benefits. And maybe I just quit,

Eric 29:18

How many times have you and I had that conversation? We've called me up and you're like, dude, I can't do this anymore.

John 29:24

Yep. It just gets so much. There's, it's um, but if you're, if you're keeping in mind that there is a reward in there and that you can grow something I wanted to run by you guys. And it was told to me by one of my managers A while back, he said he told me the story. He said, a woman walks into a bar and Picasso's at the bar, and she says, oh, you're my favorite artist. Oh, can you please take this napkin? You draw something for me? It means so much to me. Picasso takes a napkin, he draws a little doodle on the thing and he hands it to her and she says, Oh, it's beautiful. This is everything I want. And I'm so happy. Picasso replies great. That'll $1 million. "What do you mean? This took you 30 seconds to draw?" He replies it took a lifetime?

Eric 30:11

Yep 100%. And that will that that's in a nutshell that's value.

John 30:20

Yeah. So talking about clients Now, how do you identify a bad client? So in the beginning, you might have these clients aren't technically bad. They're just trying to get something a service out of you that, but not necessarily willing or able to pay for it? Sure. Which is fine. That's, that's fair. That's that's a catalogue of things. I can't go out and buy a Rolex because I don't have Rolex money. Right. So how do, like, if you're talking to people, and you're trying to make that next step into pizza money into a real career, and maybe you want to do this freelance? What are some characteristics on a client that you look for? Or maybe early signs that can warning that? Maybe it's not an exact fit? Or? Well, yeah, let's start there.

Alex 31:09

Sure. I've had, I don't think I've had a lot of bad clients a couple for sure. To me, a bad client always starts negotiating for a price. I think the cheaper the client, the more problems you're going to have that to me, that was pretty much true. When I started out, so the client started with the money. It's like, Oh, I just I have like 200 $300, or whatever, $800. That, to me was a red flag that that meant they wanted to have a lot more for what they were trying to pay. And they were shopping, they were calling probably different people, different companies, and just trying to get the cheapest rate. And when you work for the cheapest rate for the cheapest price, don't expect to have a fun, great experience, it's just going to be really, just to get the job done for again, for the for the cheapest price, and that will probably be a pain in the ass, they will probably going to be asking for a lot of changes for a lot more. Yeah, I was just gonna be a really tough, tough experience. So to me that was that was my experience.

Eric 32:20

Yeah, no doubt., that's, that's pretty classic. The one thing that I've, I've done and with with specially with John, even when we were together, is the first thing I'll talk to somebody about is what's your budget? And so it leads into what you're saying, if someone says I got 200 bucks, then by a guy I really that's not, depending on where you are, if we're just talking about forgetting you're new now. And just going clients, that's, that's a huge telltale, you're right., but I've dealt with a lot of people that said, Well, it depends, and once you hit that, right off the bat, it's probably going to be somebody that you can deal with. And because that's a pretty common response as well, it depends. And, and so that's fine. But, the way that I've found that really works for me when I talk to somebody about their project is one of the things I'll say upfront, and this goes hand in hand with some of the things that, John and I have worked on in the past, is that I've come right out and said, hey, we're not the cheapest, you can go out there, and you can get somebody else to do that job cheaper than us, I guarantee it. But you're going to get what exactly what you pay for with us. It's as simple as that. It depends on how, to me, it depends on how they respond to that. If they're going to come back and say, Oh, well, yeah, I understand. And, we're going to continue looking and stuff, that's probably not going to be a good client, because, they're not hearing why you're better and more money, what? Because I can't tell you how many times, we've or myself have gone into a project where, somebody says, Oh, that's way too much money, and you're like, that's, that's fine. You know, it's, that's what it is. And, no harm, no foul. And, if you found someone to do it for half the price, by all means, good for you, I hope that it comes out exactly the way you want. But I'll tell you more times than not six months later, a year later, those same people come back and they'll say, Hey, I made a mistake. I went with the cheap guy. I got a cheap product. I didn't quite get what I want. So you got to hold your ground anyway. But I think that's something that ties into exactly what you said is, understanding the way they answer some of those initial questions, really can identify someone if they come out and say before you've even really talked that all, I got I only got it To $300 for a site, that that isn't somebody you probably want to deal with, because if something like, I can't tell you how many times I have, and I'm sure you guys have to in the middle of a project you'd like, if we did this to it, it would be so much better, so much slicker, it would work so much better this way, and it would satisfy all these things. And it'd be, and but it's going to cost this much more money. You know, that happens all the time. And the guy who says to $300 per site, he's, he's gonna say, yeah, if you want to throw it in, and then, that sucks, because it's, it's good to be excited about what you're doing. And, and having that sort of creative flow going, and you're saying, wow, like having an idea and going back to them and saying, look, granted, I know, we, we, decided on X, but we can throw this in here too, and be really, really awesome. And, a lot of people are like, yeah, I never thought of that. But that guy. Yeah, you're 100%. Right. That's a tough client.

Alex 36:02

Yeah. So continue on this on this topic. I'm curious, how do you find the right balance? How do you research or come up with your price? How do you come up with what you should be charging? What's fair? So I know you so you can ask like, what's your budget and kind of go from there. But how do where that baseline? How do you research that? Since you both guys worked as sales/engineers, I'm curious how you approach that?

Eric 36:29

Well, it really comes, it's actually very simple, because of the fact that I have a, the sales side of it, too. So you're always thinking, a program to money, and whether it's hourly, by project or whatever. So if someone tells me, they'll go through the whole spiel, in the beginning, they tell you, this is what I want has to do, this has to talk to that. I want it to look like this, I want it to react this, whatever, they tell you, the whole nine yards, you can already think of in the back of your head, I could probably get that done in a week and a half, two weeks, or whatever the case may be. And, And to me, that's worth nine grand, and that's typically the way we think is, all in all, out like this is zero to 60, nothing in the middle. And that's like our best piece that they're going to get, but then they say, Well, my budget is around seven, it doesn't really change the project, except they're not going to get this, now they're getting kicked down to 50, or 40, or whatever, they're still going to get what they want, but they're not going to get some of the trick bells and whistles that we are able to put into a project. And it's not necessarily gonna be lacking, it's still going to do what they want, but they're just not going to get as much technology in it. Right? It just means that you can still accomplish the same thing, just with less time and less technology, and that and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. That's, that's kind of the way I look at it is, I always think of the largest possible bubble, and then I can squeeze it in from there, depending on the money.

John 38:12

Thanks, Alex. I've been trying to do you have to be willing to say no, though. And that something I struggle with. When somebody says, and they're asking me, I feel like they're asking me for help. With like an idea, oh, I there's this app, I want to build, it connects with all these things in the world, and creates this crazy summary that makes everyone's lives better. And you take a step back, and you're like, Okay, well, either a friend of mine or someone I know, when they're reaching out in some capacity, like, Well, do you have a budget for this? They're the first thing they say usually is, oh, well, maybe we can be a partner.

Eric 38:53

The old partner trick Oh, yeah. Oh, that's a classic one.

John 38:57

It is a sign there's something and, and a couple of times I've, and we've experimented with that a little bit, I think, are like, Okay, well, we'll take a share of whatever this is. But what are you accountable for? We're building all of the things and creating all of the ideas and realizing all those things and dealing with all that complexity. What's your part in this?

Alex 39:21

So, idea person, they come up with ideas, what are you talking about? It's worth 80%.

Eric 39:26

But that's not necessarily wrong., they are the idea person, but I don't think they have, because you get to run into a lot of people that don't have the respect for what you do. And I think that really comes down to it. They don't respect it. And, they've, they've gone, they've gone on a webpage, and they filled out the form with the WYSIWYG editor. And they think why I can do this, and they don't realize there's so much more to it, or, hey, I I was able to look at that Google thing and I was able to print out hello world on my page, so I can program. But yeah, that's brutal., that's, it's, it's a tough thing when, the guy doesn't have the respect, or woman or whatever. The idea behind, the partnership thing and all that. They don't understand that like, for a lot of these companies, you're making their business, and I ran into a situation where I thought it was, it was a crazy idea. But it made a lot of sense. And I thought it had merit. And so I was willing to take a piece of the company, run with it, and give them everything that they could possibly want more because now My name is in it. And I actually have a benefit in having them succeed, because I'll make more money. And my feeling was, Hey, if I'm getting a piece of the company, I look at the way the pricing structure is, and I can make far more money over time than what I would charge to make the site. The problem is then the actual owner, the head guy because he has the majority stake, he gets a little greedy, he doesn't respect what you do. And everybody's falling behind, and not doing their job, but you're doing yours. Because if there's a product out on the market, and that's the product is like something web-based, you're allowing them, you're enabling them to make money. And what ended up happening was it came to. You know, I said, Look, you, you're not doing any marketing, you're not doing any of this stuff. I have your site up and running. It's moving along at a snail's pace. And I said, you guys got to do what you're supposed to do, I did what I supposed to do. And he got the idea that they didn't need me they didn't need the site wasn't the business. And, oddly enough, we both parted ways, the site stopped being updated, it stopped being managed, and the business is no longer around. And it happened within six months., it was quick. So it's tough. But yeah, that happens a lot. And but you gotta you got to stand your ground., it's got to have some principles eventually.

Alex 42:14

People underestimate the value of well-executed software, running stable software, it's not zero or one, working or not working. There's a lot that goes into software, the well-designed software makes all the difference, and it makes some companies successful, and other companies failed miserably. A lot of people don't realize that.

Eric 42:41

I think that's the thing too. And, if you can bring a piece of sales into it, while you're discussing the project, I think that you tend to limit the number of people that just don't get it, you do get the greedy people who don't care, which is what I kind of ran into. But it's definitely that, like, what you're saying, and its part of our job is to educate the person we're working with as well, because a lot of times, they don't know. And if you can educate them and as much as possible about, the benefits of doing something may be different than they originally envisioned, because, they were also the experts net, so they kind of need to lean on us a little bit. So, if you can educate the person that you're dealing with, or the group or whatever, I think it goes a long way.

John 43:37

looking back at that story, you told Eric, and thanks for sharing that. I think we can all relate to it. Would you say that, like somebody's either fiscal or, like commitment they're willing to make to, to the people they depend on to build the stuff that they want to realize, like all also a measure of their commitment to the idea of themselves?

Eric 44:05

That's a tough one. That's a real tough one. Because, we ran into a guy that had every, like, granted, the idea was a little strange. But he had all of his bases covered, he had everything down. He knew where he was going to sell his product, he knew how he was going to sell his product. He knew how, the whole thing was supposed to work like you couldn't have gone to a place and deal with a company that had it down. As he did., that guy Ross, I've never met anybody who is more committed to a product in a project in my life. But that's the problem. You know, you're saying about, his fiscal responsibilities. And, basically how much money does he have to put into it is how serious he didn't have a pot to piss in that poor guy. But I thought he had a good idea. And that's when you have to make those decisions. You know, of how How far you willing to go. We were reluctant, but we floated a lot of money for this guy. And that's common as well that, once this thing takes off, where it will plan to be seeing some more money kind of thing, or pay as you go kind of a thing. You know, it's hard, but I don't know, if you can necessarily link the commitment to a product or project by money, I don't think he can do that. I think that something like that is more of an attitude. And what you've seen what, because before you come in, there have to be 100 steps or whatever, they have to be taken care of, before they're even talking to you. You're the last thing that they should be dealing with is bringing it so everybody sees it, so to speak. And if they haven't done those steps, and they're talking to you like first or in the beginning, it's probably they probably don't understand how business should work. And it may not be a good fit, either. Because it's the commitment, I think, is about attitude, and, what type of, a company it is or people you're dealing with, because it could be a great company, it could be a great idea. And the execution before you come in could be so bad, that doesn't matter what you do, it's going to fail. And I think that happens more than not, unfortunately. But so I wouldn't link it with money as a commitment.

John 46:30

Yeah. Well, it sounds like so what I'm trying to tease that too is, if you were going to make a partnership with someone, or if you have, if you're in a position where you can give away a little bit of yourself or take some of the risks of joining in on a project, what would be a healthy relationship look like versus something that would be unhealthy where you have unhealthy is, you're working on something, and you're just it's, you're just being taken advantage of it's you're just soaking a ton of your time. And there's not a lot of anything coming back. But there are good opportunities, we have startups. And these are people that are spending a lot of their own personal time diving into an idea that they feel very passionately about. If you're bringing skills if you're asked to join some, like a group like that, especially earlier on in your career, what are the characteristics of the environment? And you mentioned a lot with the previous client, where he gave you the impression that he had done his homework and he had a plan. And a vision. Would it be safe to say that ask questions about how they perceive the outcomes of the work before jumping into a relationship like that?

Eric 47:52

Well, if you're getting in into bed with anybody like that, you really do have to understand, like, you look back no cheese, I really could have saved a lot of heartaches, if I just did X, Y, and Z and knowing that now, it would have helped me a lot, I still wouldn't have changed it because it made me what I am today, the goods and the bads. But, you got to look at it this way, it doesn't matter if you're just starting out. Or if you're doing it for 30 years, it really doesn't, you still have to go in with the idea that number one, it's business has nothing to do with whether or not you like the guy, you don't you guys could be best friends on the outside, but inside its business. And when it comes down to it, if you feel that it's something that makes sense for you to jump into like that doesn't really matter about anything else, you have to make sure the boundaries are set, everybody has a specific job. And just like if you go to work for somebody, everybody holds you accountable for you doing your job, you have to speak up and make sure that everybody's accountable, and everybody's doing their job. And the person in charge of marketing is doing marketing and getting results. And if they're not then speak up and say why like, what are you doing wrong? or What Can somebody help you with? Or do you have a question or, because, when it comes to marketing, we're not stupid in that area, too., we have some knowledge in that as well. And, if you really just have to hold people accountable and just make sure that you can split that out is its business, because it's your time and money as well. So that's kind of the only thing I can say, say that that would help on that.

John 49:33

What do you think, Alex? Any partnerships that have gone awry?

Alex 49:46

Yeah, I usually tend to avoid partnerships in general, because it's a very confusing area for me to navigate in terms of the contracts, and like how do we split the share? How do I, how do I use my share? Like, what does it mean to me, it becomes very gray area, I've had a couple of those. And I don't think I've gotten any value out of those partnerships.

John 50:13

So a couple of things that I'll do test the waters with someone, if like the idea, and I think it might be interesting or holds water, and I personally want to explore it. But I'm not sure about this person or individual. I won't over commit myself, I'll use terms like, let's see where we go. I'll spend this much time on this thing. I'll sell you specific terms to say like I'm drawing boundaries, and then I'll set like mental milestones, I'll say how much I'm willing to commit my own personal time to understand what first what I'm getting into here?

Eric 50:50

It's a great point.

John 50:52

So the first thing I'll do is say, Okay, well, let me do some design comps. I can do that pretty quickly. I can throw some quick ideas together. I'll throw it out there. And let me see how this person responds to it. How long does it take them to get back to me? What's their response? Are they asking for specific things do they have? Do they care about the brand? If that's the first part that you're looking to establish? Or maybe it's not even that far, maybe I'm just going to mock up some system design coms, right, like, here's a, here's what you're worth the outline of how we can be distributed or deployments might work and what kind of applications I think we're going to need. What do you think? How long does it take to get back to me? How are they asking me any questions? Are they asking about how much money is, certain things are going to cost? And It's at the character of the individual that I'm thinking about engaging with. And I'm always prepared to leave and eject, that's almost like the first thing I'm doing is like, I'm trying to validate, I'm going in with Yes, but I'm trying to validate that I'm on a track that's going to be worthwhile for me, and the individual that has this idea. And I've been that's been tremendously helpful and just kind of finding soft spots. And I'm asking them, Hey, I'm relying on you to do this or to deliver this thing, and then seeing what their willingness or their capabilities are to deliver that with a margin of error, obviously, as well.

Eric 52:12

Absolutely, that's a great point., that's, that's a really healthy way to do it. Because we've had in the past were, I think everybody I'm saying we as everybody who does this type of work that, you had mentioned it earlier about, you got to know when to say no, and you have to be able to say no. And that's, that's critical. And I think the other thing, too, is, you got to get that thick skin because I know, like when you first started out, oh man had a really hard time with criticism, whether it was good or bad or whatever. And, like, you'd give you that a boy and you're like, Oh, well, thanks, man, I guess whatever. And then, then, you would say something like Dude, this is, this is terrible sucks. And, like, What are you thinking, and it was never about your program is, is usually, people critique your design, obviously, it's not like they're gonna, they have no idea how you program it. But, everybody has to learn, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you put out there, you got to have thick skin, you absolutely have to take criticism for what it is, you produce something. That's what the design is, you put it down there, it's your interpretation of what they wanted. And it typically has your flavor to it. And, when somebody tells you that's, that's friggin awful, like, what are you doing? Like, that's just not right. That's not what we envisioned at all. And people get really frustrated and can get pretty upset about that. And, people have to learn really early that they can't, it doesn't, it doesn't matter, fine, rip it up, throw it away, start over. It's not only that, as you probably know, in that same sequence, that guy doesn't like it. But this guy loves it. And you've already got it, or and you tweak it a little bit. So this guy is like, he's crazy about it. So it's never a waste of time. It just wasn't that guy's cup of tea, and it's hard to have thick skin, but I think that's a major problem in the beginning.

John 54:15

Hmm. So knowing when to walk away. That's also true if you're buying a vehicle. Walk away.

Eric 54:22

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. They'll come running after you. Yeah, knock $500 off it.

John 54:29

No problem. So client conversations, have been having conversations with clients that give feedback about how much you're charging like you're even midway in the project. And now your client is having a change of heart. Maybe that's been a couple of like a couple of weeks in or maybe you're three months and it's a pretty long project. And your client is trying to now come back to you and beat you down on the price and what you're asking for, how do you deal with that?

Alex 55:00

So the question is when the client wants to renegotiate the price?

John 55:06

Yeah. Well, you've been in that conversation before. You're like, oh, man, why you guys are just too expensive?

Alex 55:13

Yeah, I've had those conversations. Yeah. usually starts with, a question why what changed? Maybe they already spoke to another company, another developer, and they tried to renegotiate the price. So you have to, you have an honest conversation, what happened, and maybe they are not happy with the work, maybe they just short on money. So you have to, I think that you have to start with an honest conversation, what happened, and then kind of go from there, and you need to understand what the word the client is coming from, maybe you can, you can temporarily lower the price, maybe you can cut down on your hours or commitment, you say, okay, we can, we can pause here and, and come back maybe in a couple of weeks when you can raise another round of funding. So you have to understand what the problem is.

John 56:13

So it sounds like have a conversation. So that you're picking up on there's a state of mind that has been that has changed in the relationship, and to start asking questions to where it's coming from first, before jumping to any immediate conclusions about changing the price.

Alex 56:27

Because it can be anything could be they don't see a value in what they paid for. So if they let's say they paid 100 bucks an hour, if it's an hourly project, they just don't see that value. So it's not maybe it's not a return on investment that they were planning for. So it could be again, it could be a number of things. And you have to before you jump into conclusions and start kind of cutting down the prices, and doing anything, you have to have an honest conversation, it's an art of itself, like to kind of extract that root cause of like, what's going on from the client by asking the right questions by the kind of digging deeper into the problem itself.

John 57:05

So when first starting off and facing a conversation like that, there's an emotional reaction that can come out of us, right, sometimes it's sympathy for the client, we can start falling back into, like, regressing back into pizza time. Like, what, just send me tomato sauce again.

Eric 57:23

My idea behind that is totally different.

John 57:26

Oh, what is it?

Eric 57:29

I've dealt with it before, but I'm a firm believer that if someone comes Well, number one, typically the root cause of that, in my experience anyway, is they talk to so and so that no so and so. And they're a programmer of some sort, which usually means they don't know what they're doing. And, what'll end up happening is they'll say, oh, that guy charged you eight grand? I would have done it for five? No, you wouldn't. It's just a slimy way of someone just kind of hitting you with something. But. And I do find that that's typically the root of the problem. They'll talk to somebody else trying to sell them something and they always everybody can come back and say I would have done that for less no, that's that doesn't. And it's fine. But where were you anyway, but the biggest thing is, I would never reduce my price. Because I think that lends itself to the thing that John talked about, about commitment, they made a commitment to me, and I made a commitment to them. We agreed on a price, you don't want to get nasty about it. But, it is what it is. And I've had the conversations with people where, somebody brothers, cousins, uncles, nephew, would have done it for $3,000 less. And then I say to them, pay me up to right where we are now and go with them. Absolutely go, have at it. Have them do it, have them finish it for you, I totally I'm all down for that if you feel more comfortable doing that, but I'm not changing my price. And you'll find nine times out of 10 they're just talking to talk to see if you'll come down. But if you come down in price, they're going to do it again. Hundred percent every time. If you come back and say, Hey, what, I'm going back to pizza time. And I'm going to help these guys out. So I want to see the project get finished. It's you're doomed because that's the other thing too is you can never ever look at someone else's project is personal. Like John said, you have to know when to just walk away and, and not care, like, get what's coming to for, pay or whatever. It doesn't matter. It's just code. You can write it again 100 times in your sleep, just, move on because you're going to be taken really bad advantage of at that point. And But yeah, I would never reduce my price. And I encourage people to go elsewhere if that's the way they feel because they're not committed to me like I was committed to them when we agree on a price.

John 59:57

There's a connection between Alex something you said and Eric, what you just said now in regards to commitment?

Eric 1:00:03

Well, there is something that we both talked about was value. And one of the things is, I'm a firm believer, if someone comes back to you, other than somebody's cousin can do it cheaper, it sort of pops into what Alex was talking about, they don't see the value., my feeling is that if people are coming back to you trying to get something, the same thing done for less, we're not doing our job. And whether it's educating them on what they're getting, understanding of what commitment you're putting into it, and what you're bringing to the table, or what you're doing, like, if you don't set the project up correctly, in the beginning, you could potentially run into that for the fact that, you're in your mind, you're thinking of phase three phases, phase one, they're looking at it where, oh, well, this, this guy here, he's charging me all this money. And like, right now, all I have is a login page. It's been a month, like, I don't see anything, but I have a login page. What they don't know is what's behind the scenes. So like, if you set it up ahead of time, with an appropriate layout of the project plan, because that's your job, you have to, a big thing about all this is milestones. And if you're not laying the project out with the client, so it's 100% understandable to them that, hey, I'm going to take three months, two months at that time, you're going to see a login page, there's like nothing going on, that you're going to be able to interact with or do anything with. But then like on the next week on that, you're going to be able to just log in and it's going to do, everything they needed to be there is there if they don't understand that, that you're in for a world of hurt because they're going to think that they're throwing money at you left and right. And they're getting a login page.

John 1:01:53

Yeah, there's like that early, the early work, like they see something like oh, my God, is it gonna look like that?

Eric 1:01:59

No that's just placeholders.

John 1:02:01

Yeah. The thing, I'm attaching to our work, as software people, we genuinely enjoy the process. That's why we invested so much of our lives to learn how to do it and why we continue to practice. And when you're in a relationship with a client, you're kind of right, you have a business, a relationship there, and you start to care more about the work than the client does. can be a problem. Alex, what are do you have checks and balances that you have? Like, when you embark on a piece of work? Like, are there things that you're trying to are there, like parts of your character, like as a craftsman that you're trying to manage to make sure that you're not more committed to something? And it's really making sure that like paying attention to whether or not you're being taken advantage of?

Alex 1:02:51

Yeah, for sure. You have to be really, you have to be careful with without, because you can, you can fall into a rabbit hole like you, I just want to optimize this old piece, I want to write all the unit tests, I want to make it like really nice. And when I upgrade everything to the latest frameworks and make it work, make it responsive. And then like it goes on and on and on. And all the client, all the client needs is maybe a website for a pizza, so people can go and see the menu.

Eric 1:03:18

Right. So it can be scope creep.

Alex 1:03:21

you got your own scope creep. Exactly. So you got to understand what the end goal is, like, What are you trying to achieve with this software, because usually software is just a, it's a means to an end. That you have, it's a tool to achieve something at the end like a business, probably some business value or provides a value to end-users. So just understand that and understand what the end goal is, and then kind of go from there. And that usually good guidance for you to come up with the price when you just start estimating and charging because estimation is super difficult, almost impossible. I came to that realization years and years after like, to this day, it's like, it's impossible to estimate software projects. So yeah, it's it's easy to fall into that trap, where you start optimizing and start kind of mastering everything. So understanding the value of the end goal, and the value that the software is going to provide is good guidance.

Eric 1:04:15

Yeah, the thing that I can suggest, as I do this all the time, it might help you or anybody with, pricing a project out, is break it down into its simplest pieces, into tasks, so to speak. You know, like if you have a real estate, and, it's going to go into that you're like, Okay, I gotta, I have these hundred tasks that I have to complete. And then like, you're looking at like, one task could be okay, we got to establish a login. So what do you need for that, you need to have tables, you need to have the forms, how long is it going to take you to produce that? And, you come up with a time, okay, it's an hour or whatever because You're, you're banking on probably other things that you've already done. And you're just going to tailor it to theirs because it's just a login page. But like, if you can break it down into the sub pieces of the ultimate goal, you can really look at like, Okay, well, I have to do this tie into the MLS, I think I can get that done in like five hours. So then you can start putting real-time into the various tasks, and then add the tasks up. Sometimes you come back and you're like, holy crap, like, look how expensive that is. But that's what it is, and, and you have to accept that. But if you can break it really far down as far as, as far as you can break that project down, you're doing yourself a huge benefit, by understanding it, and you'll also understand the project better. But that, that'll give you a really helpful way of coming to really drill down on a good price to charge for it, it's just spacing it,

John 1:06:00

that's probably a good thing to start doing. right at the beginning, even when you're taking on your first few projects, even if you're doing something for like a nonprofit, or you're volunteering for something. And even if the client isn't going to engage with it, at least starting to understand what your time investment is. And even looking at things like what you said, Alex, like, Oh, I want to upgrade all my frameworks, I want to write unit tests for all these things, even the customer will never see those things, as a craftsman, they're important., I've spent time, I don't know about you guys, I'm sure you've had but have, or maybe I'll even sit like say it this way is like have you ever spent a bunch of time like doing feel-good work as a craftsman that, your client will never actually like, say thank you for doing, but you just kind of feel-good for doing it. But it took you a lot of time, like maybe took six 810 hours even to set something up a certain way, just because you knew it was either going to help you, or you knew it was the right thing to do.

Eric 1:06:58

Well, the other thing of that, too, is you're 100% right. And I think a lot of it goes into, the better you get, the more efficient your code becomes, and because you're also building off of other things you've done. But, what I think of one of the major problems is, is, you, as you would say a craftsman, you're you're putting together that code, and most people don't think of the next guy. And sometimes when you go back to something because you want to do it right. You know, sometimes you'll put something together like well, I'll come back to that. But it works right now. Sometimes you want to go back to that, because, maybe you're not the next guy in a year that's going to touch that. And then there's nothing worse to a client than when you walk in and go, I can't use this is Yeah, it works. But I can't really do a whole lot with it, it doesn't make any sense. There are no comments anywhere about what it's doing, where it's pulling from. I just don't get it. And so you have to start over, that makes you look like crap. And even though you're gone, people talk and, so it, there's a lot of reasons why you would want as you said, as a craftsman to hone that it a little better. But think we all do it. We all want like, think about how many times we've all today thought back cheese, I remember this project. And if I did it this way, it would have been so much better, so much easier. You know, like the because you're coding now is so much different and probably far more efficient than it would have been, 10 years ago. So, yeah, it's rough. But yeah, it's we've all done it.

John 1:08:42

So yeah, so Eric, so kind of putting a bow on, the entry-level person, maybe they just got out of school, maybe they're self-learner, maybe they just finished a boot camp, or a new program. So Eric, Alex and I can definitely share my perspective, too. If If you could go back to the beginning and race and kind of put yourself in the position of someone either out of a boot camp or just out of school and looking to start software development for the first time. What are some things that you would establish for yourself? Or how would you plan your development into a professional career where you're actually making a fair living?

Alex 1:09:27

Well, it depends on the goal. As an entry-level engineer, are you planning to find a full time job? Or are you going you're planning to start your own business

John 1:09:39

Okay, so you have to make that decision.

Alex 1:09:41

So you have to make that decision first, like, what's your goal? Like? Are you planning to work at Google or you want to run your own design Web Development Agency and then go from there because based on that, you'll have to make certain decisions like if you want to work at the company, then you have to start investing in Specific frameworks, specific languages, we have to have specific skills because those skills are completely different from from the skills that you need to run a web agency.

John 1:10:10

Or even the skills that you got in school. If you were in school, sometimes they're not exactly a match, there are pockets of things that just go missing.

Eric 1:10:22

It's one of those things wherein the beginning, looking back, I think that it really does come down to, putting, get yourself, whether it's because even if you're working for somebody, someone's still gonna need to know how much something's going to cost and time-wise, and all that, I think that if I had right out of the gate, come up with a plan to dissect the project down to tasks, I think that would have helped me out a lot, it would have saved a lot of aggravation. Because not only that, it establishes worth right off the bat, because you just took the whole project but broke it down, and now you realize, oh, man, I'm gonna spend the next two and a half months of my life, doing this, and I can't do that for $200. You know what? Like, so it doesn't matter, if you're working for someone or yourself, it really does come down to the whole thing about this is worth and if I could break that down in the beginning, it would have gotten me further faster. But also, I think that the approach that I took, I wouldn't necessarily change it, because it made me the way I am today, as a programmer, but don't worry, if you're not like if you're on your own or working for somebody, and, don't worry that you're not advancing fast enough, whatever, do it at your pace because you don't want to get in over your head and you'll end up going backward, you get frustrated, or, or whatever the case may be. And that happens a lot like someone, they know a little HTML or whatever because they took the class in high school or something. And, or they took a little bit of JavaScript, and they want to do some of the languages that like you're involved with John, and they're going to be way over their head, the learning curve is too out of control. You know, keep all the work. Within your wheelhouse is really the best thing that I can say is, what was great for us, I think, is what we kept it in the wheelhouse.

John 1:12:21

I think that's great. So the so even early on, if when working with a new project, or even as a pro something pro bono, consider breaking the project down and allocating at least estimating how much time your time you're going to spend. But that's really an exercise for your own benefit early on. And then say, Okay, well, if it's this much time, and they're only giving me $500, how much are they paying me per hour?

Eric 1:12:46

Exactly.

John 1:12:47

This kind of a z way? Yeah. Is this worth my time? Like, oh, wow, I'm really making $3 an hour actually happened us? Right? Yep. We broke it down. We're like, wow, we're actually making like, $60 an hour on this with how much time we're spending. Right? Is this and then some between the two of us. brutal? Like, oh, something happened with the scope that we just missed? Yeah, yeah, got out of control. But there's that I think that's really important, um, to do as an exercise in one to help us be honest with ourselves. And so but the other thing, too, is, I really like what you said about keeping your immediate scope within the realm of your own with the word feasibility, right, like, you're not spending so like, if you're going into a project, you can execute on it don't also throw in learning a new programming language. Exactly.

Eric 1:13:41

Because you're gonna or just getting involved with any technologies that you're not comfortable with., that's, that's going to be your downfall. Absolutely.

John 1:13:48

Yeah. Or at least knowing that, if you're going if a project is pushing into an area where you're gonna have to discover a lot of stuff, that you're also getting an opportunity, maybe you're gonna not make as much as you could have. But you're getting an opportunity to learn something new.

Eric 1:14:05

Yeah. And you can't charge them for that. They expect you to know that already.

John 1:14:09

Right. Right. I think some sometimes folks still charge for those things.

Eric 1:14:16

Yeah, they shouldn't. I don't think that's a good, good plan. But yeah, it's

John 1:14:20

kind of unfair. You're because you get to walk away with all the value while the person doing the learning. You get to walk away with a lot of value and anything else? Yeah. Right.

Eric 1:14:31

, it depends, though, if you're, if you're in a project and someone says, You know, I really want this to be able to, to connect with this and produce this. And you're already working with them. And you say, geez, I can configure that out, is as long as you're upfront and you say, look, I can figure that out. That's going to be time and money. And I think that that's okay, but yeah, you definitely don't want to start out that way. I think that's a recipe for disaster.

John 1:15:00

That's when the client starts wondering where, where or when certain deliverables are going to be.

Eric 1:15:05

Exactly,

John 1:15:06

exactly or didn't meet their expectations.

Eric 1:15:08

100%

John 1:15:10

All right. Well, I think we're about at the time. Alex, did you have anything else you wanted to ask or cover?

Alex 1:15:15

No, that's, that's pretty much it. The last thing I wanted to mention is that don't be afraid to, to learn on the job. But at the same time, don't be overconfident what you can and can't accomplish, and be realistic with yourself. If you can't, and don't know a certain thing, you've never built an e-commerce website before. And the client is asking you to build a website with an e-commerce shopping cart. Just be honest, I've never done it before. But if you're willing to work with me and kind of extend the timeline, and I can give you a break on a lower price, we can I'm more than confident we can accomplish it. It's just going to take a little bit longer using a learning tool. Yeah, it actually happened to me in one of the first websites, a person called and they needed the website for an e-commerce website to sell art. And I'm like, sorry, I can't help you. I've never built websites, e-commerce websites before and I almost hung up the phone. And the person's like, wait, wait, don't you want to learn how to do it? Like, yeah, and they like that's a good point.

Eric 1:16:21

That's a great point.

Alex 1:16:23

Yeah, exactly.

Eric 1:16:28

Yeah, it's really it just comes down to honesty. You got to just be extremely upfront honest with everybody you're working with, including, like you said yourself.

John 1:16:37

Yeah, so I think everyone or anyone listening, it's it's okay to feel like it's normal that you feel guilty, but you are delivering value. And if you are giving yourself away know how much of yourself you're giving and set some expectations, set some personal goals, some healthy personal goals like I should, or even look at Glassdoor. I think that was something. I don't know if we spoke about that last time when somebody spoke I spoke to they're like, Oh, I was getting paid x for something. Oh, no. There's another conversation I had with somebody else. Is that oh, I was getting paid extra something. But then I looked on Glassdoor, and I saw I was getting ripped off. Yeah. Yep. Right. Like you have to get a, you also have to have a sense of what the market demand is. And there's also some sensitivity to where you're located geographically short arm with being remote. There's a lot more opportunity in that regard to be a bit more flexible. Which is also an interesting vector, but awesome. Well, Eric, thanks so much for hanging out with us today.

Yeah, man. Do you have anything going on or anything you'd like to invite other people to maybe connect with you about?

Eric 1:17:45

Oh, don't connect with me. I'm too old. I'm out of touch. If you want to learn some basic programming language, please call me

Alex 1:18:00

for sales skills.

Eric 1:18:03

If you want to go sell vacuums, no. No, I everything. I don't really go out on my own that too much anymore. I've done it all. I've, I've done everything I really wanted to do when it comes to that. So but I appreciate it.

John 1:18:16

Yeah, man. Well, and thanks for hanging out with us and sharing some of the insights you've always been like I've said before, I've, you've always been a great mentor to me. And I've always appreciated the time we spent together. And also the exposure and different types of projects that we got to work on is was definitely a lot of fun.

Eric 1:18:30

Absolutely. Same. Awesome, man.

John 1:18:33

So with that, we'll, we'll close up. Thanks so much, and we'll see you next time.

Eric 1:18:37

Cool. Thanks, guys.

John 1:18:40

Thanks for tuning in to the PragmaticLead podcast. If you found this conversation interesting or helpful. We would appreciate your feedback. If you want even more content like what you just heard. Check out pragmaticlead.com. If you have a story to tell, send an email to pragmaticlead@gmail.com and someone will be in touch. Thanks again.