The ultimate goal of some corporate programmers is independence ”first, perhaps, as a consultant and then as the founder of a firm. You have to look ahead and have good timing, Garry says. Let s say there were ten steps to where I am now. Between every step there were fifteen alternative avenues. I never took them, for whatever reason. For instance, I could have been an IT director, but I chose not to ”and I m glad I didn t.
Garry relishes the independence he achieved by founding his own firm. If you work all the time as an employee at a single company and you don t like those people, you have to leave the company to get away from them. But in our software development and support business, I might spend three days a week at a client, perhaps eight times a year, and I don t have to deal with them any more than that.
If a customer is really unreasonable and difficult, I tell him, ˜Why don t you people go away? Then they get scared that they won t have any support. That s what you can do when you own your own firm.
But risks come with the independence. Let s say our client has a $200-million business and wants a new warehouse distribution system. You do the warehousing design. But what happens if doesn t work smoothly and they can t ship for three weeks? That s a big risk. A consultant is always at a high level of exposure. But when you re successful, you re exhilarated ”it feels great.
You don t need coding genius to become a successful (highly paid) programmer. You must, however, have a clear goal that is vital to you, the willingness to devote fierce focus and long hours to getting there, the self-confidence to know when you re ready for the tough jobs, and the courage to take them on.