This article was inspired by a request from Robert Sweeney, CEO at Facet, to describe what life as a contractor is like for me. Who should read this? Full-time developers who are currently employees, yet are curious about what contracting would be like. What has the transition from employee to contractor been like? Looking back, I guess I’ve always been a contractor in one form or another. A friend and I started software and website contracts in high school1 in 1993 and continued that throughout university.
The Facet Blog
On freelancing, entrepreneurship, and hacking.
I’m over a month late publishing our Q1 progress report, but here it is…finally. Financials When you create a financial model for your sales or revenue forecast, it will probably have a nice smooth-ish growth curve. Our forecast is smooth, but our actual revenue numbers are lumpy, in part because we bill by invoice. Every two weeks we send an invoice (or bill) via email to each of our customers.
In this post I’ll be sharing an update on our marketing efforts at Facet. We’ll talk about our marketing strategy, explain some terminology and give you a view of what it’s like to figure out a marketing strategy at a startup. This post may be a bit more stream of conscious since I’m analyzing our results as I write this. One of our goals for 2019 is to “Build a marketing engine that produces a steady stream of new clients.
In 2004 I was a senior majoring in Computer Engineering at Brigham Young University. The tech industry hadn’t yet fully recovered from the bubble bursting, so programming jobs were pretty hard to come by. I was applying for jobs everywhere, but just couldn’t seem to get an interview. One day, I saw a flyer pinned to the mostly empty job board in the Computer Science department. It said that Microsoft would be coming to the campus for a job fair.
Last week I was sitting at my desk feeling a little frustrated. A client had recently let us know that they were going to pass on an exceptional developer we had sent them. After a brief interview, they said he wasn’t technically strong enough. They had gotten it wrong and I knew it. A couple days later, he had multiple offers from several prestigious tech companies. Unfortunately, none of them were our client.
This year we should pass $15M in lifetime revenue at Facet. That seems pretty crazy. Just a few years ago I was an individual contributor software engineer at Netflix. Last year we did $2.2M in revenue, and this year I think we can do $4M to $5M. We’re building Facet the old-fashioned way — we are building a business that is self-sustaining and profitable. We’ve never taken any outside funding, and Facet employees and I own 100% of the business.
It had been 2 months since I left the second company I founded, Numetric. In just 3 short years I’d built the company from nothing to a working product, dozens of customers, 40 employees and enough recurring revenue to raise over $16M in venture funding from some of the world’s top VCs. And then I got fired. Getting fired from the company you founded sucks - but that’s a story for another day.
I’m not sure if I’m like most software developers, but I’ve always found that the product I’m working on mostly doesn’t matter. What really makes me happy, and gives me fulfillment in my work, is writing beautiful code. Whether it’s an operating system used by billions of people or a CRUD app for a small business, I can apply my love of software craftsmanship - minimalist, clean, easy to read and understand - it’s art that has utility.