So today was a bit different. Tis been a year of reflection.
One of the first things I did as a business was approach it as a three legged stool 7 some-odd-years ago: Training, Work, Advertising. So there were several things I did – Became an ESRI Business Partner and then became an ESRI Authorized/Certified Trainer. So when I wasn’t working I was advertising, when I wasn’t advertising I was bidding for training jobs.
I remember the first batch of laptops I leased…I was still married. The laptops were delivered and as I was hauling them in the wife gave me a look that can only be best described as “die”. “I’ve got a plan” I explained. 6 years ago ESRI training was “hot”. It was fun. It was a bit of work but if you could land jobs and be somewhat consistent teaching – there was money to be made. My first “post lab” purchase was two carts from a local office supply store. Total cost for those was $30 dollars. My first training class – a small piece of plastic flew off and I thought “well – hold up for a year please”. Probably $10,000 dollars worth of leased laptops in two $15 dollar plastic crates.
Three years later I had jumped through a terrible amount of hoops to become a ESRI Certified trainer. The lease was up on the laptops so I shipped them back and leased another 10. The day the boxes came for those 10 I remembered back to the last delivery. I was already a year and a half single currently. I opened the first box to look at the Dell Windows 7 laptops and the phone rang. I answered and it was ESRI “Hey we regret to inform you but we’re shutting down the Training Program.” I think the next words out of my mouth are “I JUST LEASED 10 LAPTOPS” and profanity. So I had some time….and I kept working and advertising and training. I loaded the new laptops in the plastic cases and another piece of plastic flew off. “Well – hold up for one more year”.
About a year later I dropped the ESRI Business Partnership. I didn’t renew my ESRI Teaching Credentials a year later. I did get one phone call concerned on why I didn’t renew my training stuff from ESRI. I explained. The ESRI Rep offered me a free BP membership. I explained why I dropped that. It was rather disheartening. I can retell the story with some zest – but actually it wasn’t fun or wonderful. You could say that when I realized…well…..business had to change.
Two of my legs were gone off my stool.
I adapted. I changed. I started teaching QGIS to fill in when work slowed. I actually am pumped about QGIS if you couldn’t tell. I’m actually pumped about OSGEO. It’s something I’ve become intrigued with. Not that I’ve completely dumped ESRI out of my life…yet. I’m finding opportunity with GIS again…not ESRI flavored…not totally FOSS4GEO Flavored….but GIS.
The lease was up on my laptops and I carried them back to UPS today. $200 dollars later off they went. I didn’t renew a lease.
Am I still training? Yes. The novelty of having a lab is long gone. I think 80 to 90% of people I teach bring their own equipment. I’ve got some flexibility to lease equipment now. This leaves me leaner and reduces overhead. I’ve got a plan. A plan that is more flexible with less equipment….but better equipment. Better Offerings. More flexible offerings. Yes you may hear me say “Purchase ArcGIS” or you might hear what my last client heard “Download QGIS and lets get started”.
So I’ve got 10 USB mice, and two plastic crates now. Plastic crates with 6 years worth of wear and tear and stickers. My last Training class on ESRI Software (probably) was last week. As I emptied my car friday night and brought them back in another piece of plastic flew off the crates. “Well….you made it cheap plastic carts. That will do Pig. That will do.”