Any solo contract cad designers out there? wondering how its worked out for you. worth it?
I am currently doing it. I signed on for a year contract where I am now. I went from a full time position to contract work. It helps keep the work fresh and exciting. I also had a 78% rate increase doing so.
did you just start your solo venture?
Yes sir. I do not get paid for holidays or have benefits but with the rate increase I can miss a day or two in a week and still not be hurt financially.
Just curious, if you don't mind sharing.
What do you do for health insurance?
My wife gets it for the family. The main reason I made the move is because I didn't like the direction the company I was at was going. I also didn't see any types of advancement coming either. That along with being severely underpaid and no increase for 5 years it was time to move on.
I contracted for a few years. Learned some very valuable information along the way. The contract to hire is really a consult as a savior to some companies and at times as person who is less than an employee at other companies. I had some awesome opportunities to see how great companies work, and some not so great opportunities.
I learned how and why the major companies and little companies do things differently. There are engineering standards, and company specific standards (most of the time). Bring what you learn everywhere.
Even if it is a great opportunity, find out the reason the company is not hiring directly.
Companies are saving themselves lots of money hiring to contract firms because they don't want to pay into a health insurance program.
Be careful working on anything patent-able while working for a contract firm, your contract firm will see the financial offering from it (not you). Any work you do under contract, you do not own. EVEN IF IT IS PATENT-ABLE. Find out if what you are working on and protect your rights.
It is important to ask a lot of questions prior to giving up a real full time job for a contract.
If you are going to be a contractor or a consultant, be the owner.
With regards to patents -
If you are a fulltime hire you nearly always signoff the rights to any IP, patentable or otherwise. You are being paid in exchange for effort toward the ongoing business.
However, as a contractor if your goal is to benefit from a patentable idea be prepared to negotiate the rights into your engagement contract. That includes not taking contracts if the customer is not willing or able to allow licensing or ownership of IP external to their company if you really want to own the IP. Also get ready to pay a (good) patent attorney. IP doesn't come cheap and there are plenty of articles online to enlighten a person on the risks and benefits.
My consulting company has several patents and several pending so we give customers the option to use our IP or not. If we generate IP for the customer then we negotiate how that will be handled before hand. IMO a customer engages you to do your best work and that may or may not include generating patentable designs. If you demonstrate that you can generate that quality of work consistently you can bet you'll get more than enough work.
Yep, been at it for over 8 years now, mind you I've nearly thrown in the towel a couple of times. i'm really narrowing down who i work with now, and getting rid of the problem clients that cost time, money and energy.
It can be as hard or as easy as you make it - chase the bigger $$ - more risk, settle for lower rates, longer term contracts - less risk, but you get paid. Most times! Always hold onto the data/information until getting paid. paid this price a couple of times with pushy clients.
Every client is different with different expectations. Set the terms, expectations and deliverables quickly and concisely. Saves problems down the track.
If you don't agree to it, or you are too busy, just say no. don't worry about losing a job, there's always another one around the corner.
Has it been worth it?? Definitely. I have learned a lot of things about running a business, about how others run their businesses, new manufacturing techniques, materials and different technologies. I've worked across medical, product development, general manufacturing, architectural and construction. This was my main goal leaving my full time job of 13 years as i wasn't learning anything new.
Getting into contracting overall isn't easy, its a lot of work especially with the admin side (accounts, quoting, chasing work, late nights etc) but it can be rewarding. Highly recommend getting your CSWP at a minimum, and then the CSWE. This helped me a lot during interviews, and shows you have a solid understanding of SolidWorks. Also 5+ years experience in design and manufacturing is going to help a lot. leaving Uni and expecting to start contracting at premium rates is not going to work.
One thing i must add is that there's a lot of CAD jockeys out there, so be the one that stands out.
I'm just wondering how you guys got the contracts? by ref. network or advertizing?
Hi Jake, lots of ground work and networking.
I joined the local SOLIDWORKS user group, met with my VAR and chatted about contract work (turns out they get a lot of enquiries), and talked with a couple of agencies. Also follow the local adds. We have www.seek.com.au here in Australia.
I also studied companies in my area that matched my criteria. eg Medical/Product development - I found that these businesses had a high turnover of contractors as their project requirements exceeded how many in house designers they had. I searched the companies on LinkedIn and worked out who to talk to.
I did put up a website, but this has probably brought in 2% of the work over the last 8+ years.
My business mentor told me recently that it all bases around the followingCallsMeetingsQuotesLeads
Thank you for the info.
In summary - I tried to for over two years to do freelancing on the side. Spent a about a thousand dollars just on advertising in different ways and making accounts on free-lancing websites. Got two paying jobs in all that time, which didn't end well. I think I mis-advertised as I got a lot more calls from job recruiters and people asking me to make animations than to make designs and price estimates for small projects, 3D prints, or invention prototypes and patent applications. The latter is what I was trying to advertise for.
Hope you have better luck!
Oh, and for health insurance I started using a single payer plan. They are out there, just need to call around when open enrolment next comes around.
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