Your value would not be as a developer, but as a consultant. Given your background you understand workflows and business processes, risk management, project management,...
The technical skills in this sense are very important but secondary. They allow you to translate all of the above into a structurally sound, properly architected, scalable, robust and secure application.
If you can pull off both aspects of this then you will be worth your weight in gold. Most are good in one or the other, technical or non-technical. A really good consultant combines both.
So don't aim to be become a developer, aim for the consultant. It does mean getting really proficient on the technical side and keeping up with that (each new version brings new tools, every day people find new ways of doing old things - many of these you can find on these online forums). It takes a dedicated effort.
As per Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" and the concept of "Deliberate Practice".
Kobe Bryant it obviously very good as shooting the ball and hitting nothing but the net, but his true value is in being in the right place at the right time and enabling his team to do the same thing. Two different aspects, both equally important:
- if he was a poor shot, getting into position would not matter - hence the focus on practicing shooting (= the technical aspect)
- if he was a excellent shot, but could never get into position then he'd be no good - hence the focus on reading and understanding the other team (= the client), and understanding the flow (= the project management)
Having said all of this, not everyone is cut out to be good at both aspects and that's fine. You just have to find your space. identify it and own it.
I recommend going to a local user group if there is one near you...
If you are in the NYC area you are welcome to come to the nyfmp.org group.
We welcome walk-ins and almost always have an ask the audience slot.
Unfortunately, school wasn't free. I think I'm underpaid for the value I bring.
Be prepared to move around as you expand your skills. Once you get hired for skill set A but you expand into skill set A+B
the company that hired for your A may not be prepared to pay you for A+B, even though you deliver value in both areas. Once people have you pegged in a slot it is hard to get them out of their thinking.
Check out the book mentioned in the left column here:
Keep in mind that one of the oft-overlooked chores of being an independent consultant is the time and energy spent finding and dealing with clients. As someone whose been both an in-house developer and an independent consultant at times, I can assure you that they feel quite different on payday.
If you currently have a gig where you can continue to hone your FM skills, having a paycheck while preparing for your future can be a big benefit. Don't be in a big hurry to jump before you're ready to land on your feet.
You're a smart guy. You'd be in good company if you joined in here.
There are some within this community that do very well for themselves.
There are some within this community, with great talents but struggle to get along.
You're asking for advise where, in my opinion, there is none.
My experience is that those who can see themselves as a success in any given arena, somehow get there. So the question becomes not What Should you do, but What are you Going to Do.?
If you do you homework you may find that the FM arena is too small for what you have potential. But you also may see an opportunity that you can uniquely fill.
Good luck which ever way you go!
BTW: This is just one man's humble opinion.
On top of all of the other valuable comments here, one item to consider is where your comfort zone is on the spectrum from business owner to employee. Running a business, as Stephen notes, involves skills that don’t entirely overlap with pure consulting or development practices.
I had my own business for five years prior to joining IT Solutions, where I've been for 10 years. I found that my comfort zone is in working on teams doing business consulting with clients - not printing invoices and making calls to find out where checks are. I didn’t like that part of running my own shop, and I know I still wouldn’t. I like being in an office with a bunch of other people pursuing the same goals. Yeah, I miss the home office sometimes, but I like the camaraderie more.
The moving parts you have to manage when you’re part of a larger outfit can be focused on the things you’re interested in, whereas if you run the whole show, you’ll need to be motivated to learn about tax considerations, the P&L, AR/AP. It’s all on you, even the stuff you don’t like. Some people love that, but if you don’t, and you’re running your own shop - well, you have to do it anyway, or hire someone to.
Thank you. I've been researching consultant gigs and reading the Nomadic Developer book you recommended. It's an eye opening look at what I would be getting my self into. I love the idea of offering clients the technical project management skills involved in implementing a solution (especially if its in Filemaker). I think that the potential for its' use is unexplored territory in many businesses. Being put in a position where I can deliver these solutions is empowering and ties together a broad portion of my skillset.
I'm looking forward to getting more involved in the community and learning about the companies that are working in this space.
Thank you for the tip. I've signed up for the local community and will try to get involved through this avenue.
Thank you for the sound advice. I think that I could learn quite a lot where I am, but I like having a long-term plan. It seems like the more I can do that directly relates to achieving my goal, the better off I will be. Common sense, but I would hate to get caught up focusing on something that I really didn't care for.
I'm happy to see that there is an active community. That alone is telling of the demand and usability for Filemaker. It seems like there are a few leaders doing great work (360works, modular filemaker devs, etc.). This sparks my interest in figuring out Filemaker's limitations and seeing how it fits into the ERP and CRM world.
I've messed around with Ruby on Rails and Physical Computers like NI and Arduino. The new item Edison could be a cool marriage also. The added capabilities could be interesting. Are there any other logical addons that enlarge the arena?
That's a valuable point. I could see pros and cons to both. I've owned a small business in the past also and didn't care for the overhead work. It seems like retaining a fine balance of ongoing contracts and new work would be a constant battle. I'm not sure if interested in that challenge.