About a year ago, I left my job as a salaried mechanical engineer because I didn’t have as much ownership in my projects as I wanted. I wanted a career with more accountability and engagement with what I was working on, and I wanted more control of how I was spending my time.
So I decided to become a freelancer. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to start an engineering consulting firm (which sounds way fancier than freelancer).
Being a freelance engineering consultant means you get to pick your clients and projects and be flexible in how you spend your time. But being a freelancer also means that you don’t always know when your next paycheck is coming. That stress aside, you can make your freelance life much easier by following a few simple rules.
Engineering Consulting Requires the Right Tools and Materials
I’m a mechanical designer, which means that I make my clients’ ideas into physical things, such as an insert for a blender or a mountable light fixture. In addition to ideation, I design, model, and prototype, so to complete projects, I need access to a modeling program and a 3D printer. By joining a hardware-specific co-working space, I have access to those tools whenever I need them. Think about the tools you need and whether you have access to them. A few up-front investments in time or money can help you out in the long run.
Because I also make prototypes for clients, I need materials. Through my network of makers, I’ve discovered many raw-material suppliers and manufacturers (mostly local!) that are already vetted. Never underestimate the power of your network. You can also use the Internet; the Internet has everything.
Make Connections, and Follow Up
Knowing where to find opportunities is one of the biggest struggles for freelance engineering consultants. In my co-working space, I’m surrounded by people with ideas for physical products, so our needs often match up. But uncovering those needs requires interacting with people or—gulp—“networking.” Networking doesn’t need to strike fear in your heart. Going to industry meet-ups in your area is a great way to start. Look for meet-ups with people of various backgrounds; that way, you’ll connect with more people who may need your skill set.
Continue here to read the full article released by Redshift || November 3, 2017 |||