Sitting here

Feb 20, 2016 | GIS, Rambling, Small Business

It’s somewhat of a running joke with one of my clients. I call on Saturday morning and go “What are you doing?” and he generally replies “working” and I respond “same”. I don’t take much time off because I like working and it’s a small business. There are things to write, accounts to balance, things to learn, and clients.

I have been forcing myself to take more time off as of late. I went hiking one day. Yesterday I stepped away for a few hours. I’m doing some repair work on my canoe before the end of this month and I’m taking it out more.

I’m in the middle of taxes. I’m the book keeper as well as marketing person as well as about everything else. I ended up stumbling upon a date that was for lack of specifics “Spring of 2006”. That’s when this all started. It almost started Spring of 2001 and in the middle of planning and figuring I ended up buying a car and I figured out the people that wanted to dive in with me weren’t serious….plus I wasn’t that serious. So I waited another 5 years before making the leap. Well – really 7 because I moonlighted at this for a few years.

I always wondered 10 years ago what I would do at the 5 year mark and the 10 year mark. The 5 year mark I almost quit. I had really had enough of this as I found there was no separation from work and life. I pretty much got up and worked until I went to sleep. When I didn’t work I went for long walks where I thought about work. I dreamed about work. I ended up with a change of business focus in 2012 and it’s really taken me to last year to “find my voice” as a guy who is now almost 90% open source software and a business that wants to work with data and processes. I still have two full ESRI shops as clients. As much as I talk about everything else I still use ESRI software occasionally – but everything else is currently more enjoyable from GDAL to QGIS to PostGIS to Geoserver. I have separated from the fact that as a GIS = ESRI. GIS is GIS. ESRI is Software. QGIS is software. It doesn’t matter what you use – although I now have a nice set of tools from which to work that aren’t commercial.

It’s not been pretty. I’ve made some glorious mistakes. I’ve had jaw dropping mistakes with clients and friends. I’ve screwed up estimates. I’ve had clients blow up at me and I’ve blown up back at them. I’ve had months where I ate sandwiches. I’ve had months where I’ve eaten steak. It’s funny – it’s a lifestyle of sorts. Some aren’t cut out for it and that’s fine. I tell people I get up every day and scream for 5 minutes in the shower and then proceed through my day. Which is sorta funny. It’s more like 3 minutes. I had one person tell me last year “Man your job must suck”. I agreed slightly because I was sort of at a loss as to what to say. I think I may have muttered something obscene back.

Ten years later I find I worry less about clients. Either I will get you as one or I won’t. If I don’t I don’t. If a competing consulting firm “wins” and I don’t. Good for them. Onward and Upward. I’ve gotten less combative and more focused….I don’t think I’ve gotten less passionate but I have gotten more practical. I suffer insanity less. I will say “No” to work. I don’t do everything and I don’t want to do everything – but the things I do I will do well. I’ve had clients have fits and I’ve calmed them down with a “We can do this” and then we do.

I have people come up to me all the time and want to be a “small bidness owner”. Some make it. Some don’t. Some are wildly successful. Some disappear in 6 months. If I we’re less stubborn I probably would have disappeared after a few years. Good for them. I used to groan because I would worry someone younger and smarter would come along and cost me work. If they do they do – it means I’m losing an edge and maybe evolution is pushing me aside.

So what am I going to do this year for the 10th anniversary? I actually have no clue to be honest. I might call up some old friends. I might take a vacation. I might do something crazy on an upcoming job I have yet to announce. What? You never discuss specifics about clients. Well – I’m going to this time. I have to discuss this one. It’s huge.

10 years ago I was leaving the house and my neighbor had pitched a cat out and moved. This cat was small. I fully expected her to die. I had a few cats and I didn’t want another one. I ended up keeping her because at 3.5 lbs she didn’t take up much space. Two years later I ended up moving her into my office with a permanent heated bed. Last year she was getting more feeble so we traveled because she was better off being with me. This year she’s traveled less but has taken up residence on my desk again.

So Miso – We’ve been doing this 10 years. Let’s hope we do it till we can’t anymore. Rock on little cat.

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