yyrkoon

What is "our" time worth ?

36 posts in this topic

That gets me thinking about fees.

 

If a friend invites me to tackle his problem and I know that I have to climb a learning curve to solve his problem then maybe this would be one of those projects that ought to be done Pro Bono. 

 

If a friend invites me to tackle his problem and I know the solution already then this would be a project that I charge full price for.

 

Thoughts or reactions?

In my case, I'm doing work for a third party for whom a friend of mine contracted EE work from, and now they need a bit of software for hardware in their design. Or in other words, he put my idea into their design, because he felt it would be a good idea, and in hopes of making me some money as well.

 

As far as my idea goes, I can say that it is basically an MSP430 turned into a smart watch dog. It's actually more complex than that, but that's the gist. The rest of the hardware, I cant speak about . . .

 

@@zeke and yeah . . .my work entails software only, as well as "idea man" work I suppose too. Anyway, neither of these I do pro-bono for friends, family or clients. And actually I've done a lot of "ideas" in general discussion forums. I'm not sure I've done that much here, but have done it several times on the boeagleboarg.org google groups. In fact I've talked about "my idea" from 30k ft many times on the google groups.

zeke likes this

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Depends on the friend... :lol:

 

Joking aside I would probably take a best guess at the work/learning ratio and try and charge accordingly. If the work was two hours and the learning was 8, charge for 2 hours. If the work or learning took longer no change in the charge but if the work takes only an hour refund an hour.  My .02

heh !

 

So as far as charging for "research" . . . I think I'd charge for research, but not time I spend writing proof of concept code for myself. Which is probably the most time consuming for me. Writing code that I can live with. Usually, what that means for me is copying some example code, then morphing it into some semblance of what I want to achieve . . . at which point I'm usually confident enough for write my own code from scratch. Rarely do I  take code that others have written and drop it into a project. Mostly I think because I'm very picky with coding style, and if not done my way I'm not happy. Other times, I feel the code is just crap. Because it's not simple enough, not clear enough, or is just not what I feel is a good idea to do.

 

That not to say I think I'm perfect, but I do have my own preferences. As I'm sure we all do.

zeke likes this

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So have you spent more time thinking about what you are going to charge than it is going to take you to write this code? :) Better factor that into how much your real rate turns out to be.

 

Sometimes I wish I had become a plumber.  When someone's toilet or water pipe is broken they don't even ask how much. The just want it fixed and just fix it, now!  I'm not sure if plumber friends ask for free work but I doubt it.  I never have.  But I certainly have friends that think my computer knowledge is just something I should offer for free.

 

I tend to do fixed price bids.  It makes both of us happy. They know what they are going to pay and I don't have to go crazy justifying my time. I usually spend enough time up front to figure out what it is going to take and then I just multiple by my hourly rate and I stop sweating about it,  I always create a list of software deliverables and provide a time table for when they will be delivered. Most times I do different phases to give the customer something they can look at and also so they feel confident about my direction.  I also provide a grace period after the customer receives the code and typically two weeks to accept it or complain.  I build in the cost of any test jigs or code I will have to develop.  If I have to do research I do that on my time to be sure I'm going to be able to deliver.  I just roll that time into my bid.  Before I do any of that I'm pretty confident the customer is going to engage my services before I even bother.

 

As far as residuals. I've done it both ways. Low up front cost and higher percentage for me and also the inverse.  Unfortunately, my luck there has always been hit or miss.  Something I thought would sell a lot didn't and I got screwed and conversely things I thought were really stupid I missed a big payout when they did sell.  The bottom line, get enough money to make you feel happy either way.

 

-rick

yyrkoon, zeke, dubnet and 1 other like this

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Doctors, lawyers and tech guys seem to have one thing in common. They all wear a shirt that says: Free Advice, Ask Away! :lol:

spirilis likes this

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Doctors, lawyers and tech guys seem to have one thing in common. They all wear a shirt that says: Free Advice, Ask Away! :lol:

I've got that covered. You tell them "sure . . ." then you proceed to tell them how to fix their problem, like you were trading a baking recipe, or such. Usually after 5-10 seconds, the other persons eye glaze over, and then you never have to worry about that person asking you for advice again ;)

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I think there is a lot of good discussion here, on this subject.

 

@@Rickta59 although how you do things ( lists of deliverables etc ) makes my head hurt even thinking how one would accomplish that ;) Not that I think what you say is B.S. Quite the opposite actually, I just do not have the know how, or have the experience to make that happen- I guess. On some level I suppose I could do *something* similar . . . Talking about one large lump sum determined from a calculated hourly rate makes sense, and actually exactly how I'd do a lump sum probably. My problem there is that I'd probably forget to factor *something* in :/

 

How does everyone feel about code IP though ? I mean if you spend time writing code for someone( and getting paid ) does that mean they own the code you're writing ? Personally, I really hate giving away software IP . . .

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How does everyone feel about code IP though ? I mean if you spend time writing code for someone( and getting paid ) does that mean they own the code you're writing ? Personally, I really hate giving away software IP . . .

 

 

To me, everything is for sale but if the client doesn't own it until he purchases it.  In other words, the software IP remains the property of the one who wrote it until such time as he sells it. 

 

You ought to make this a condition in your contract agreement i.e.: "The ownership of the software remains in the possession of yyrkoon and shall not be copied, eaten, sold, resold, sacrificed or mimicked in any way for ever and ever and ever, Amen. But if you buy it for the low low price of $1 million dollars then you can blend it to your hearts content."

 

Don't let anyone make assumptions. Spell it out in excruciating detail so everyone knows what is expected of them.

yyrkoon and tingo like this

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So what wound up happening. I wrote the code for the MSP430, tested -> refactored, tested more -> refactored. Then my buddy tested it, told me what it needed -> refactored( a couple times) until we both felt the functionality was "perfect". There was actually a lot neither my buddy, or I thought about, until we actually tried using it in the system.

 

So that, including burning the binary onto each chip I wound up charging $5 per chip, they pay for the MCU. There is one feature that I would like to add to this device, that would make it far more useful. Which I think I'll probably end up eating the cost on. I'm fine with that, and in fact this feature will make this device usable in any system, as well as configurable.

 

Which led to me writing additional code for the main system for this same person. We had a long talk, I told him how I like to work, what I'm good at, and how I *don't* do business. E.G. I made my work ethic plain. Which he seemed to appreciate very much. So for that, I'm charging $50/hr to write code, and as a consultant for his in-house developer. But I wound up writing code to monitor various aspects of the system, wrote a few shell scripts to enable, and communicate with my device, got their in-house developer on track concerning a few aspects of the design, wrote a device tree overlay for the hardware . . . and it seems he wants to give me a lot more work in the future . . .

 

EDIT:

 

Just for completeness, I've burned around 60-70 chips so far. Meaning $300-$350. . . that's expected to increase in the future once production goes full swing. Right now we're still in a semi-testing state. With several board deployed nation wide. But their in-house developer has managed to really bugger things up a few times . . . which I've had to get involved in to correct. The stories I could tell, and probably shouldn't . . .

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@@zeke

 

So buddy, tell me what you think. I honestly think I did ok. I know that someone with more experience, and perhaps credentials could get more. But I'm really not a greedy person, and . . . I'm not sure what else to add, other than I know( or I'm convinced ) I will have more work coming based off my communications with "the customer". Who by the way, is ex military like me, also an ex programmer. Because his time is now best spent "selling" the product. He's literally been in the field for the last 3 months, prior to Thanksgiving. Getting things working optimally.

 

EDIT:

 

Need I say I'm pretty excited about this whole ordeal ? I wish I could give more details. . . but I really can't.

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@@yyrkoon

 

I am thinking of all kinds of things but the first is this...

 

Congratulations! You did it! You Delivered! Clients love it when you DELIVER! Good Job!!!

 

I am also thinking how you have begun to develop a process for doing various tasks. Things like this:

- How do I capture the client's requirements?

- How do I program a chip?

- How do I invoice the client?

- and so on ...

 

Once you have figured out one of those processes then I recommend writing it down immediately. Then you will remember how to do it next time. Also, you will be able to teach your employee how to do the same thing in the future.

 

I'm also thinking about liability. That is, this hush hush product is now out in the wild being used. Will it fail? When will it fail? How will it fail? Will someone get injured or die if it fails? If any of that happens then who will bear the liability for that unintended and unexpected event? For me, I have an insurance policy that covers me for "Errors and Omissions". That's the policy type.

 

And then I am always hunting for the next job or task. Who could or should I talk to to get more work?

 

I'm sure there are many other things that I could think about but it's important to celebrate the present successes first.

 

<fistbump>

Good Job!

 

This is awesome. Let's do some more of this!

LiviuM, dubnet and yyrkoon like this

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I think this job will keep me busy for a while. So, I do not think I'll be doing any work for anyone else while that holds true. My needs are rather modest . . .and I'll be meeting the company owner face to face very soon. Flown across the country to meet with the guy, to talk about the future of the systems software, etc. As well as play with their test bed.

zeke likes this

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