April 17, 2020
Last February marked the second anniversary of my consultancy company.
Instead of sticking to a full-time job where I get used for all kinds of projects, and a salary that is 1/5 what my peers are making in Europe, I wanted more.
So I embarked on a journey to find an alternative, something that I’ll be proud of doing while generating a good income.
Developers were praising them as the best thing you can learn in web development. Businesses and Startups were asking specifically for React when they wanted their apps built. So obviously I learned them both during my free time (After work).
While studying, I tried building my LinkedIn network (very valuable). I answered people’s questions about React & GraphQL and tried to be as helpful as possible for nothing in return.
I also started organising internal workshops at my full-time job, helping colleagues learn React.
Thanks to word-of-mouth, I was known as the React and GraphQL expert in the company. Colleagues would come to me for all kinds of questions, and I’d be more than happy to help.
I had a few offers from local companies who needed someone who can help them with their React app, but it didn’t feel enough.
This is the most important step, because your services don’t matter if you don’t know how to sell them.
I already had a few connections on LinkedIn and I thought that if I contact enough CEOs and CTOs of startups that use React, I might get a few clients.
Sounds easy right ?
I was wrong.
LinkedIn limited how many messages I can send, and how many people I can interact with using their inmail feature. Luckily, they have the Sales Navigator subscription which eases these restrictions, and it was a pretty good investment.
I messaged around 1000 CEOs and CTOs in a week and asked them if they needed any help with React or GraphQL, I told them I would answer their questions FOR FREE.
In sales, this is called Lead Generation.
A few people answered, some CTOs asked technical questions, while others wanted to know why their app is slow and what can they do to make it fast…
And I answered, for free. I even had calls with some developers to help them debug issues.
Now I needed to convert these leads into customers.
I suggested to some CEOs who responded if they want to try hiring a developer, they get to have 1 week as a free trial, and if they don’t like him/her, I’d pay for his/her time out of my own pocket, so no strings attached.
It was a risky move, but the reward that I could get from this was worth it.
I contacted a few of my skilled friends, asked them if they wanted some freelance work, booked them for technical interviews with me (they were friends, but I still had to make sure they fit the profile needed).
At the end I selected 2 candidates and scheduled interviews with the CTO.
CTO picked one, and because they liked him so much they asked for 2 other developers after a few weeks.
As soon as they picked the first developer and decided on the price, I rushed to form an actual consultancy company and do all the paperwork needed.
It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
The journey was long, and providing services for free to people isn’t easy.
I had to learn so many new things that I didn’t know as a software engineer, like managing teams, sales, marketing, handling clients…
I also met and partnered with some great guys that became very close friends.
During the first year, the company made approximately € 72k in revenue. And during its second year, it generated more than € 100k.
I’ve tried to keep this post as short as I can, but I have so many other things that I want to dive into, like how to hire developers that fit the client’s profile, how to plan for the payroll, how to invoice…. If you’re interested in such things, consider subscribing to my newsletter to get notified.
And if you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Twitter @rxassim