Being the I in Team: Working (Mostly) On Your Own 


We talk about what it’s like (and what’s needed) to run a business of (essentially) one. This one goes out to people moving into the wonderful world of UX (and related areas of focus).


Matt: I'll warn you. I'm not feeling very effervescent today, so.

Matthew: Oh, okay well.

Matt: Pardon my drab attitude.

Matthew: I mean I don't wanna oversell it, but I can easily match that.

Matt: Hey Matthew.

Matthew: Hello.

Matt: Hello everyone. Matthew and I have been talking a lot about things around starting up at your business. How to go about running your business, whether it be freelancer or otherwise. We thought this be good opportunity to record a conversation that we've been having and will continue to have.

Matthew: Yeah, we have. Like every three months.

Matt: Right, exactly.

Matthew: What are we doing? What's going on?

Matt: Why have we done this to ourselves?

Matthew: Right, I mean in a lot of ways it should be a recurring conversation. You should continuously be assessing where you're at and where you wanna be. So it's not bad to set up a company and three years later think, "Do I wanna go in a different path?"

Matt: So for a little background, even though Matthew and I work together on a lot of projects, we have our own independent companies. I've had mine for about 10, 11 years now.

Matthew: I've had mine for a combined 75, no I'm just kidding. I love those statements. StudioVO's been going for three and half years now? Obviously--

Matt: We need a little experience--

Matthew: We've both been doing this work for over 20 years now, but.

Matt: Right, but when we talk about the business side of things we've had to learn along the way. And we continue to learn along the way, as we just had to do about five minutes ago . So let's share what we've learned and some tips.

Matthew: Right.

Matt: That we've absorbed and shared with each other and others over the years.

Matthew: Yeah and obviously its all your mileage may vary but I think everything we wanna talk about today is stuff that we talk about with other freelancers, business owners and so it's not so unique that you won't find out a lot of this stuff on your own. Or, maybe you've already found it out and solved for it. Please tell us. So the first thing on the list.

Matt: Can I back up one moment?

Matthew: Oh, all right.

Matt: Sorry . A lot of these tips could be construed as general business tips, but we're gonna focus our tips around user experience, service design and those industries, just to put a little more focus on it and relay some of our pertinent experience in those areas as well.

Matthew: So as I was saying before I was so politely interrupted, finding your focus. Yeah and this is something that has come up recently for me where, do you wanna be a specialist? Do you wanna be a generalist? What do you wanna focus on, if anything? And I've resisted specializing for years.

Matt: It's a tough decision. Like you, I was very resistant to specializing. I thought it would limit my opportunities and I was finding plenty of work being, at the beginning I was focusing more on design and UX design and service design, those types of things. It was over time that I shifted to more of the research side. Partly to focus and to specialize and probably just to change up what I was working on 'cause I'd been doing the same thing for a while. But even that was hard 'cause I'd always done both, more on the design. Now I focus much more or most exclusively on the research side. But it was a hard decision to limit it and to say no to projects because I still have companies coming to me, former clients and referrals looking for work that I used to do. You have those boundaries set up where I politely, obviously tell 'em, I don't focus on that and explain to them what my focus is now. The decision, when we talk about starting out, this isn't a lifelong decision where you can't change your mind down the road. But it's definitely something that at least be thoughtful about, as you start to promote yourself and communicate to other people and potential clients what your services are.

Matthew: Right, but it is something that you probably shouldn't change your mind about two weeks in. This is something you've gotta give time to.

Matt: And along those lines is, what do you want your company to be? You're starting out a new freelance business? Are you starting out a company, company like an agency? Put some thought into where you wanna be in, let's say, three or five years. So you looking to grow into, let's say like a local agency or even bigger agency? Are you just gonna do it yourself and be a freelancer? And this where Matthew and I have taken two different paths. I've been a freelancer, solo, almost exclusively my whole time. I've dabbled in agencies and looked at doing that and found out it really wasn't for me. And I've stuck with most of being solo, other than working with other freelancers and partners.

Matthew: The path I started on was, I want to build a company, right. I want to have employees. I want to have a bigger impact on an industry by being able to take on more or bigger projects. I think to some extent I've been able to do that, but the company as an entity itself is still just me, but I have five or six people that I work with on a regular basis who get a fair bit of their work through me. Now and part of why this conversation is relevant, part of why you're continuously assessing where you at and where you wanna go, is I'm hitting that point again where I'm like, "All right, I think I do want this to become a bigger company." Rather than it just being me and the occasional person coming in like you, to help me out on projects.

Matt: Yeah, I definitely see both sides of it 'cause part of my brain is, yeah like you said, it would be great aspirationally to have something bigger. Bigger impact. Obviously more money. There's a lot more opportunities there, versus for me, when I think about my sweet spot and how I'm most comfortable working, it's usually smaller teams, it's closer relationships to the clients. I have, as Matthew knows, I have a larger version to subcontracting to people and trusting them to do work. So I feel like when I'm more involved, I have my hands on the actual work. I'm more responsible for it, which makes me just feel better and less stressed. So that's in part of my thought process into why I've stayed more solo and more working with partnerships than building out an agency. Aside from the other liabilities or logistical things such as employees, you start to look at payroll and insurance benefits and those types of things. Because once you start bringing in employees that raises the stakes to make sure they have enough work, that enough money is coming in to pay salary.

Matthew: Yes it does .

Matt: So there's a lot of things if you go down that path as Matthew knows, it creates a lot of other logistical liability that you have to take that into account. But for me, I've decided intentionally not to go that way, for my own peace of mind and sanity. But you do you.

matthew: You do me. Me and wait, me do me. You do you. I got that. Even thinking about it, even you just explaining right there, my stress level went up a little bit.

Matthew: Because I was talking with somebody a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about this, about how as an owner or founder however you wanna call yourself, you're really alone, unless you're also working with people who have the same risk level as you. If your employees are also going to lose their house, if everything goes terribly, like worst, worst, worst case scenario, then you're not alone, but that's not how these things work. The employee can go away at any time and you as the owner are stuck with all that risk. There's a lot of stress around that. It's not just, "How do I keep these people who are my employees, paid and working and happy?" But there's that other level of, "I have all the risk here." But then again, back to your point about the aspirational part is, I really do want to have the bigger impact. I really do want to be contacted by companies that have a bigger footprint in their own respective market places. We can come in and really make changes that are positive for their customers. I think that's probably, not always, because you know, I have both had projects where we've been able to do that on our own. But I think you tend to attract bigger clients if you're a bigger company.

Matt: And you just have more resources to handle larger projects.

Matthew: Right, you can do more of a project. We talked about we both have heavily shifted toward the research side of things. I'm talking to someone now about bringing them on to do a lot of design work, which I like you have said, "I don't do that. "I'll help you find somebody." But we'll start picking up more of that because they really like doing design work, so.

Matt: So I wanted to talk a little bit about money stuff. This is one of those things that isn't really specific to what we do. But just general tips that I found out as I got started back when I got started is, stuff that you have to do or should do. The whole bank account stuff. Any good accountant will tell you to keep your personal money separate from your business money. So separate banking credit card accounts makes that really easy. You just remember which credit card to pull out when you're taking your clients out for fancy dinners. That just makes everything easy. Just day to day as you keeping track, you don't have to go at the end of the month, or at the end of the quarter or year or go back through all your statements and separate everything. You can just hand everything over to your accountant, assuming you have an accountant.

Matthew: And you should get an accountant.

Matt: And you should get that accountant, absolutely. So this is another topic we're gonna talk about is your support system. And the account is a good stagway into that, is that you should have a good accountant. An accountant will not only help you handle your payroll, even if it's just yourself, you still need to do payroll, your taxes at the end of the year. But at the up front they can help you to decide what type of business you should create, whether it be a corporation or an LLC. I'm not gonna get into all the benefits of each one. You get with an accountant and they will help you make the best decision for you and your situation. What your goals are, back to Matthew's point, about how big you wanna grow, partnerships, all those types of things. That all placed into that decision.

Matthew: Yeah, when we first were setting up the entity of this business, I wanted to be a B Corp. Our lawyer was like, "Just be an S Corp that acts like a B Corp, because B Corp is a lot of work." And basically what he was saying is, make sure your company lasts more than a couple of years before .

Matt: Right, good advice.

Matthew: Spending a lot of time, money and effort on becoming a B Corp, so yeah.

Matt: I had no idea what to do when I had that conversation with my original accountant and he recommended S Corp. That's what I did. Can't complain. So even as a sole owner, that's worked out for me. But you should have some sort of mentorship. Matthew mentioned earlier about kind of being alone, which is daunting. So if possible, find someone, again it doesn't have to be someone in the UX industry, but maybe another small business owner that can mentor you as you get started, refer other service providers to you, like lawyers or accountants and just give you some support, someone to lean on, someone to anwer your questions as you get started. If you have a business partner like Matthew had, beneficial. There've been many times where I wish I had a business partner, just to bounce ideas off of. A lot of times--

Matthew: This vision

Matt: Matthew sometimes becomes my business partner like, "What do you think about this?" But it's daunting to make these decisions, even if it's just for yourself, because they could have big impacts. So you wanna think it through. So kinda get that support system set up from the get go so you have places to go to ask questions.

Matthew: It's always helpful to be like, "Am I crazy? "Should I say yes to this? "Should I say no?" And have that outside perspective who gets what's going on, even if they don't know quite the details of the matter at hand. And I mentioned lawyer a minute ago. I don't care if you're a sole proprietor, whose doing all your business through your social security number rather than a EIN, through a escort paralysee, get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawywer.

Matt: And this is where I don't take Matthew's advice because I don't have a lawyer, which people roll their eyes at me, I know it's wrong. But I'm saying it just to say, it's possible but not recommended.

Matthew: Yeah it is absolutely possible. You don't actually need a lawyer, especially if you got a really good accountant that can handle a lot of that stuff where there is overlap between what an accountant will do and what a lawyer will do for you, but I have benefited from getting a master service agreement, statement of work template, NDA templates that I can then use over and over and over again, that had been vetted to be legal, both for my benefit and for my client's benefit. And then when anything even untoward comes up at all, I get to go, "Here lawyer, you take care of it."

Matt: Let me call my lawyer.

Matthew: Let me call my lawyer.

Matt: Yep, yeah. Totally recommend, I just don't follow my advice on that one.

Matthew: That's right, right.

Matt: Full disclosure. Bad Matt.

Matthew: I mean if it's not a problem, it's not a problem, yeah.

Matt: Fortunately for me, I've had very few problems and that I was able to resolve myself.

Matthew: Fortunately for him because he's so great .

Matt: I'm also very careful about who I work with, not that you weren't but I'm just saying.

Matthew: There you go.

Matt: But I think that's one of the things that is important, is setting those expectations and understanding who you're working with and that can resolve issues or prevent issues from even occurring, where a lawyer might have to be involved. But we'll get down there. We'll get there in a moment. Another quick thing about getting started, I just want to mention is, think about as you're getting started, especially as a UX person or design person is, where are you gonna work? 'Cause I think it's important and people might not realize the benefits of having dedicated space. I've talked to some people and they're like, "Aah I just work at my kitchen table", or yeah, work on the couch, which sounds great and it can be great if you live by yourself. And you have a quiet space.

Matthew: Draw a big heavy line under that, if you live by yourself.

Matt: Right, I think that's the big thing. If you have other people that live in your home, that's easier said than done. They have a life to live as well. So, I strongly recommend carving out some dedicated, if you're gonna work out of your house, carving out some dedicated space, whether it be an office like I've got here. I converted a bedroom into an office. Some place where you can shut the door, have meetings without being disturbed. And barring that, I do recommend looking at coworking space. I know it's not cheap, but maybe keep it that mind as a goal after six months or 12 months, after you build up some savings, to look at coworking. Networking with other companies that are in that coworking location. It's a great way to meet potential customers and clients.

Matthew: I mean I work from my home office most of the time. Every few months I think, "Oh I should get an office, like out there in the real world." The thing is that a lot of the coworking spaces, the least expensive option is, sometimes called like, a hot desk or a floating desk, or whatever, where you're not necessarily guaranteed a spot, if everybody shows up that day. You don't really have access to walls and a lot of the work that we do, walls are required to put up posted notes or journey maps, or whatever and they need to stay up there for a bit. And for me that's always been the limitation of getting an office because the thing that I need is space where I can put stuff up on walls and it will stay there and not get in anyone's way and that is a lot more expensive.

Matt: And another thing to keep in mind, from a benefit of the coworking space is you get access to other amenities like, meeting rooms for example, which is really important. If you're meeting with clients, you can't always meet at a coffee shop or Starbucks.

Matthew: Or your home office.

Matt: Or your home office. That might be a little awkward. I usually just steer my clients, we just meet at their office, 'cause the people I work with have offices. Sorry. I meet them on-site, at their office or I do meet, you know lunches, or coffee shops and stuff. But that is something to consider if that's where you gonna want to go as far as networking and bringing in clients and meeting with them. It is nice that you get dedicated conference rooms. Actually saw one, they're opening a new one here in Atlanta. I forgot the name of it, so I won't even plug 'em. But they're trying to make it an upscale coworking place. Almost like an exclusive, like I'll say, gentleman's club. But it's not gender specific obviously. But it's a lot of dark woods. And it looked like Velour couches in the lobby .

Matthew: It's real Velour?

Matt: Right, and I think they had pool tables, like nice pool tables not like those cheap foosball tables you see. I didn't even know what they're charging, but they were really pushing on the whole upscale experience.

matthew: Do you have to like, constantly be holding a glass of Scotch and .

Matt: I was saying to a friend of mine, we were talking about it. It's like, "Yeah, that looks great, but you're gonna be working around douchebags all day." So, why would I wanna go there?

Matthew: But then I could be one of the douchebags.

Matt: That's right.

Matthew: No, no I hear it now, nevermind.

Matt: Right, should we talk about how to find work?

Matthew: I would love you to tell me how to find work.

Matt: That's kind of a next thing. It's great to start off. You make a cool name. You make a website. You print up your T-shirts and your business cards. How do you find work? People ask me that all the time and it's an awkward, it can be an awkward conversation to have because my answer is, most of my work comes from networking. That's what I tell people. I am terrible at marketing. I'm not great at sales. Or I should say, I'm not good at opening sales. I'm good at closing sales. Meeting the right people is really tough and fortunately I'm here in Atlanta. I've been here for, I don't even know, 20 some odd years in the same industry, so I've met a lot people. I've worked with some fairly large companies and agencies. So my network is pretty wide. I also run the local Lennar User Research Meetup group which helps me obviously as well. For just starting out, join Meetup's. Network with other people. Invite people out for coffee. Meet other practitioners, 'cause that's a great way to get work, is when people doing what you do, don't have time or availability, they can share work with you. That's the idea and that's the mantra I've always taken on. I don't try to be selfish with work. Obviously I wanna find work for myself, but if I'm busy or it's not something I'm interested in, I'm always fine to pass it on to someone else that I know is looking for work or you know that I trust is gonna do a good job. A place like conferences, obviously former co-workers, and that's all about finding other practitioners. Finding clients, it is a little bit harder. Again it goes back to your focus of, what type of work do you wanna do? And then understanding how do you find the decision-makers at those companies. An exercise I like to do is, visualize the theoretical or imaginary in sometimes, type of business I wanna do work for. Look at the industry, look at size, look at location, structure. And then think, all right, who at that business would I need to get in touch with to sell myself? And then again, you can use those same tools of LinkedIn, Meetup's. Maybe you don't wanna go to a Meetup around UX design, but you wanna work to your example in healthcare. Well you find a Meetup group where healthcare people hang out. Maybe you need to talk to a product manager at a healthcare company, wherever they hang out. Look 'em up on LinkedIn and try to narrow it down and introduce yourself.

Matthew: Yeah, like there's Meetup in town that's, I don't remember the exact name of it, but it's like biotech innovation. And so I go to that like once a quarter and meet with people who talk about things I have very little idea what they're talking about. But we've had continuing conversations with several people that I've met there and nothing has come from it yet. With the type of work we do, because we don't sell a thing you can take off the shelf and walk home with, the sale cycle is much longer.

Matt: Yes, it's not uncommon for it to take a year from first meeting a potential client to actually starting a project. Obviously sometimes it's, "Hey can you help me out next week?"

Matthew: Right.

Matt: That's like the short extreme.

Matthew: That definitely comes up. But it's usually more like six, nine, twelve months from, hello to signed contract.

Matt: Yeah, and it takes being patient. I would say persistent but not in an annoying way because you wanna stay top of mind, you wanna stay on their radar, but I've learned to use my tactic and personality is not be overly pushy but just stay in touch and remind them, "Hey, I'm here. Let's talk when you're ready", type of thing. Because potential clients do have jobs to do. And they're busy with other things. That tactic has worked well for me. And in another avenue, outside of finding direct clients to work with, is working with recruiters, I'm assuming most cities. I know all the ones I've been around in the here in the south east, very large contingent of recruiting firms that have all the connections to all the right people at all the businesses. Granted, they will take a cut of the money, but you're paying them for that job. I mean that is a service that I think is worth paying for, if you're having trouble finding work on your own. So I never turn my nose up at working with recruiters because they're providing a service that's valuable.

matthew: And this is where I'm gonna disagree with you.

Matt: All right?

Matthew:  Not straight-out disagree, but I see what you're talking about with working with recruiters is doing contract work.

Matt: Yes.

Matthew: Which isn't exactly freelance work. Which isn't exactly like project work. You may be contracted to work on a project, but often the idea is, you're working exclusively with that client on that project and you're not doing other things.

Matt: Correct.

Matthew: Which depending on the scope of the project.

Matt: And depending on what you want to do.

Matthew: Right, right. But my problem with it is, I see these postings for, "Hey we've got this research opportunity "and it's $40 an hour."

Matt: Yes, that's a whole other problem.

Matthew: That is a big cut being taken.

Matt: Absolutely.

Matthew: Yes, they have access to the jobs and they have access to the people who can hire you. But you're making $100 less per hour off of the work. So it's definitely something to consider and my pitch also is, nobody should be working for that little, given the impact our work can have on an industry.

Matt: And I agree with you on that. I think some recruiter's firms do take a larger chunk than they should, but I look at it as an opportunity. I don't wanna use the word desperation, but if you need the work and it's a good job, I try not to judge the people that take those jobs. Obviously, I wish everyone made more money, because that helps the whole industry.

Matthew: Yeah and I don't mean it so as draconian as that came out, but I also think that when everybody just accepts that is the way it is, then it's not going to change.

Matt: Right, the problem I have with recruiters, similar to what you're saying but it's slightly different slant is recruiters will take, let's say people, UX designers let's say for example, with not a lot of experience, maybe a year or less, and then sell them to clients as, let's say senior with five, six years experience and that hurts. That kind of hurst everyone because it changes the expectation of the client. Like, "Oh this is what I would get from a senior level strategist or designer, when they're really working a junior level person.

Matthew: Yeah and it's the recruiters just filling a rack and as opposed to, "Hey, we're going to help this client do better" at whatever the thing is that they need help with. Not all recruiters, but it's noted.

Matthew: Yep and back to the original point. If you need to find work and you're not finding it on your own, that's one avenue to go and just keep all these things in mind. You should definitely get paid what you're worth and what the value is that you're providing to the client. So don't short sell yourself, is I guess the advice. Anyway, there's some other marketing things, which again I'm not great at marketing, we mentioned URLs. Definitely have a website, even if it's something simple. I feel like it just adds validity when you're out talking to people. They can go to your URL and see your face, if you care to share your face. Just some high level, you know what your focus is, what type of work you like to do. And obviously use social media if you're inclined to do so. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, make posts. All around, just getting the word out there that this is who you are. This is what you're doing, This is the type of work you're looking to do.

Matthew: Most of my work over the past three years has been through the networking, through knowing people, through meeting people at conferences or whatever. I've had one project come through my website and I have one project come through because of a LinkedIn post and that's not nothing, but it's not the biggest draw for how I spend my time in figuring out how to get business.

Matt: Absolutely and I'm the same way. Like 98% of my work has come from referrals and networking. So once you get a client, what do you do? It's a broad question.

Matthew: Money please.

Matt: How do you get paid?

Matthew: Yeah, so this is a whole fix bid versus time and materials stuff, or fix bid/value-based pricing. You and I both, rarely, rarely work time and materials.

Matt: Right, I used to but I don't anymore. I learned.

Matthew: Hi Matt.

Matt: Hi.

Matthew: Why the change? Sorry, I'm setting you up to tell a good story here. Go ahead, go ahead.

Matt: I wish I had a good story.

Matthew: No.

Matt: You must know me better than I know myself. I think two reasons. First, as I eluded to you earlier, when I started out freelancing I was focusing more on design and design compared to research, design is a lot more open-ended. You can't always predict when a design will be done to the client's expectation. So that was one reason I was working hourly. Because I could say, okay if you wanna keep iterating on this design, it's gonna keep costing you versus fixed bid. Another was, I was doing a lot of work with agencies early on, and agencies for whatever reason, they like to pay the hourly and I couldn't quite crack that nut to have them pay me fixed bid. So those two reasons kind of pulled me into the hourly rate land. But as I got more experience and as the projects I was looking to do, changed into more project based projects, more research based projects, that became easier to scope and define, I switched over to fixed bid. I feel much happier. I feel my clients like it. They know what they're paying up-front. They know what they're getting up-front. I know what I'm making. I have been doing this a while know, that I have a good understanding of how long something's gonna take me to do. And it's one of those things, where if I can do it faster, great, more money for me. And if it takes me a little longer, oh well I might lose a little bit, but in the end I feel like it balances out. We were talking, I had a client I'd been wrapping up a project with not too long ago and they kept asking me to come back to do more data readouts, more research projects. They'd say, can you come down to the office and do one more. And I did because they paid me. It was fixed rate. I wasn't gonna say, okay for another $500 I'll come down and do another meeting. The whole idea of nickeling-and-diming doesn't make sense. It doesn't fit with my personality, my goals as a business owner. So I do those and it's a little value-add that I do but it's all under the umbrella, excuse me, of a fixed bid.

Matthew: I think the draw back to me of time and materials is, there's a weird thing around pricing, just in general. One, it's hard. Two, what seems reasonable to you will seem unreasonable to someone else regardless if you're doing fixed bid or time and materials. But I think for me, the time and materials thing is, I don't like those projects that don't have scope to them. To your point, you know, you don't necessarily know when then design's gonna be finished, when they're gonna sign off on it. So you say, time and materials and you just keep paying me to make changes. I want things to be done at some point.

Matt: Me too.

Matthew: And so you know, going that fixed bid route and saying, you get one round of revision.

Matt: Right.

Matthew: Or whatever the case may be.

Matt: And that does work pretty well. I did that at some points with certain clients who agreed to it. I think I would give them two rounds.

Matthew: Yeah, two rounds.

Matt: Of review and that did work well. And you know, it's really tough sometimes for some clients because they come in and look at things hourly. And they just look at the clock or the days. They're, "Oh well, this is only can take you three days." If we get into value-based pricing, probably do a whole show just on that. But it is hard and it is part of the sales process of explaining to them what they're getting. It's not just the number of hours you put into it, but it's the years of experience that you have applying to this project and it's showing them what they're gonna get out of the work you do, for the next five to 10 years maybe. And set them on a course to success, is what's powerful and that's where you can charge what you're truly worth and what you think you're worth and what they value. It's a hard conversation. Absolute fixed bid, even fixed bid versus value-based, like you said Matthew. Just to kick it one more time, the whole time and materials, I hate tracking my time.

Matthew: Yes.

Matt: I don't wanna spend my day and say, oh how many hours did I put on this? How many hours did I put on that? That's just not a good use of my time and effort. I was meeting with a client, a potential client recently, and we were talking about this conversation. He didn't know how I bill my projects. And I said I'll do it fixed bid. And he's like, "Oh thank God." He's like, "I don't wanna do it hours." He's like, "I want to pay you fixed bid." I'm like, "Great, we're on the same page." So that's a good client.

Matthew: Yeah, yeah.

Matt: It's like, "All right, we're on the same zone." So along those lines, I think another big thing I mentioned earlier is just being easy to work with. I think having that mentality you are in a service industry. I'm not saying the customer is always right, because I don't necessarily believe that. Having an understanding and empathy for your customers and your clients, like I mentioned, doing a couple extra meetings, just being accommodating to their needs because they have goals within their organization that they're trying to achieve and you should see yourself as supporting them to meet their goals. You obviously have your goals as your own business but at least for me, I see my business as making my clients successful within their business. So I take that mentality and just, you know do what I can to make them look good to their, either stakeholders or shareholders or bosses.

Matthew: Yeah, and to your point about the customer always being right, I think that's a really good adage for if all you're there to do is sell. But if you're there to help, like the customer isn't always right. Sometimes they're asking for things like focus groups, we talked about in the last episode, where you need to steer them down a different path. And if the customer is always right, you're like, "Oh you want a focus group? "Okay, I'll sell you that. "'ll sell you this. "I'll sell you that." But you're not necessarily helping them. You're just selling stuff.

Matt: Right, you're not being a consultant. You're just being a doer.

Matthew: Right, so.

Matt: You're a contractor at that point.

Matthew: Which if that's what you're doing, fine I guess. But with the type of work that we do, I think it ends up being a disservice.

Matt: And with that being said, I also think it's important to set boundaries. Whether you're expressing them to your client or they're for your own wellbeing, for me personally, I don't work 24/7. I will work weekends. I will work evenings when the time calls, when projects necessitate it. But I generally try to work regular business hours. I found early on, I wouldn't shut down. I was actually working from home. It's really hard to make that separation. And I'd work well past dinner into the evenings and eventually I just realized it was just silly. I didn't have to do that to myself. So I set boundaries, again more for myself, where I work business hours. I don't work weekends. Half-day Fridays, yeah. No work Fridays, yeah.

Matthew: No work Fridays, yeah.

Matt: But it depends on projects and what else I have going on. But I definitely try not to work all day everyday.

Matthew: Yeah, every new client I get, I tell them my business hours are Monday through Thursday and that Friday is set aside for internal. I've never had a problem with that. And I will break that rule for doing research and that participant can only meet on a Friday, or a Saturday, or a Sunday. That's fine because they're doing us a favor by breaking up their schedule. So it's not a big deal to spend a couple hours on a Sunday talking to somebody when it's in pursuit of that project being done. But by and large for me, I'm regular business hours Monday through Thursday, Pacific Time. And then I would say, probably more like, Mountain Time. 'Cause I have to talk to you on the east coast time and other people who are on the east coast and further east, so.

Matt: And along those lines of scheduling and back to the networking conversation we had early years, that's what I try to do is, I try to set up Fridays not to work but that's when I do my marketing. Fridays is where I do my networking and business development. So if I wanna set up lunches with people, I try to shoot for Fridays. Usually people like to go out for lunch on Fridays. So it makes it a little easier to schedule. And for me that's a nice cadence, where I work Mondays through Thursday mostly, and Fridays I do other things, like yeah, meet with other people. Do coffees, do lunches, those types of things.

Matthew: Here's my question.

Matt: Yeah?

Matthew: Should we go get real jobs?

Matt: I don't want a real job. I have a real job.

Matthew: I have a real job. No these are real jobs. I don't mean it like that. But we've been talking about this whole freelancing, owning your own business stuff and every once in a while I miss working with a group of people, over a long period of time on a problem or product or service, and you don't get that with the type of work we do.

Matt: Right, not often. You do get that sometimes.

Matthew: Yeah.

Matt: I've had that where I worked on projects with a group of people. I did one--

Matthew: Yeah, you've had that recently. That's right.

Matt: Yeah, and it was great because you do build a team and you work together for, yeah we were there for a year, better part of a year. And it was great but I missed this stuff as well. So for me I get a little restless in any situation, after a while, so I kind of flip-flop and I go back-and-forth. Definitely something to think about as we talked about in the beginning of, how do you wanna work? Do you wanna work by yourself? Do you wanna work with partners or a team? Because I definitely, I like working with a team. There are certain things that I prefer about a team. And there are certain things I prefer about working solo.

Matthew: Yeah.

Matt: So I kinda go back and forth. But I ran into someone recently at a networking event, another UX guy. And we were leaving. It was a group lunch. And he says, "Oh you going off to a business meeting?" And I said, "Yeah." And this is somebody who used to freelance and he just went back to full-time work within the last year or so. And I said, 'Yeah, I gotta keep New Biz. "I gotta go meet with the client. "I'm on my way, out the door." He's like, "Yeah, it's too hard. "That's why I had to give it up." We talked a little bit more. He's like, "Yeah, I just couldn't." He didn't feel comfortable living that life and constantly being looking for work and stuff like that.

Matthew: Right, yeah.

Matt: The security, which I totally get of you know where your paychecks come in every week for the next year or however long you gonna stay at that company. So you give up a little freedom, but you have the security. And that to me, that's the trade-off between what we do and working for a "real job" as you like to put it.

Matthew: Yeah, it's not to undersell the type of work that we do, at all. So that's how we do things.

Matt: Yep. How do you do things?

Matthew: How do you do Things?

Matt: Viewer.

Matthew: Single viewer. Hey, I mean, thanks to the episode we just put up with Steve Portigal. We've got a few new subscriber so.

Matt: Outstanding. Welcome to our new subscriber.

- Welcome new subscriber. Welcome new subscriber.

Matt: And we look forward to reading your email.

Matthew: All right, let's call it.

Matt: All right, thanks. All right, good show people. Good show.

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