Judging from my email and phone calls, almost every SQL DBA wants to be an independent SQL consultant. However they do not want to give up the security of their 9 to 5 job.
Because I made that transition over 20 years ago and I am doing OK, they sometimes call me for advice in making the same transition.
Their call or email usually begins with an offer to take on my overflow work. They propose to do the work in their spare time and evenings.
What’s wrong with this picture?
- For starters there’s the client. I don’t know any of my clients who would tolerate not being able to contact their consultant except in the evening and never during work hours.
- How about the spouse and kids? How will they like daddy or mommy being busy in the evenings and in what used to be called “Family Time”
- What about your day job? What if the boss wants you in the Peoria office for a couple of weeks? Is it up to me to take the heat from my client you were working with?
You are juggling 3 levels of responsibility already and your part-time consulting job for my client is necessarily going to be your last priority.
This approach doesn’t work. You have to be confident enough to drop the day job.
It may surprise you that technical skills are near the bottom of the list of requirements. It is just assumed that you have excellent Technical skills in your domain or you wouldn’t be trying to be a consultant. I would only add that you should not have too many skills. SQL Server is a big, multi-faceted platform. I think it is a good idea to specialize and become the best in your niche.
Other Skills Required for a SQL Consultant
Recognize that in your transition from DBA to consultant that you have to learn new skills, management skills. You might even have to acquire a new personality. Your most important job will not be technical, it will always be to acquire and keep clients.
To do that you have to make them like you and feel that you are qualified. (and you better be qualified or you won’t be in business long.) Microsoft Certification is mandatory
If you don’t think you can juggle all these balls then you should keep your day job.
Promoting Yourself is a big problem for well-bred persons who have difficulty bragging about themselves, The jerks have the advantage here. But you still have to do some of that until other people start bragging about you.
The most important thing I have learned about self-promotion is be nice to Google and Google will be nice to you.
Learn something about how google works but do not try SEO tricks designed to make your site more relevant than it is. Getting banned in Google is the end of the line for a site.
We are all individuals. This advice may be helpful to some and worthless to others. Someone who wants to be independent and wants to run their own business is especially individualistic and may not need or want any of this advice. Others may find some of it useful.