Show Me The Money / Tales of Being a Coding Mercenary

Being a tech gun for hire can be a tough gig. I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart.

You have to scrounge for work in an industry where people will eat massive overhead costs year in and out, but balk at the notion of a pittance in outside contracts.

I’ve been very lucky in that regard, having great relationships with decision makers in a secure, robust industry. It has kept me reasonably busy and rewarded.

But of course I’m always looking for new engagements, and always keep an open mind, throwing a net out for interesting jobs.

Some of my pitches work, and I see engagement opportunities and proposals come my way. Among those proposed business opportunities are offers of engagements based upon future rewards. Variations of “We have an idea, and if you architect it and build it for us you can have some stake in its eventual success.”

If you’re someone who might have sent me one of these proposals, please don’t feel singled out: An average week sees from one to a dozen such offers.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong that. It’s a dynamic world, and such relationships work for some people in some stages of their career and life. Indeed, there have been times where I’ve done the opposite and brought fresh new ideas to potential funding sources, offering them the idea and its construction if they fund its development. It can’t hurt asking, right? Speaking of which, if you’re flush with cash and looking for some cool projects to spend it on, drop me a line.

The problem, though, is that often this desired arrangement — that I work for potential future reward — is shrouded. Given that I don’t have a sales staff, there have been negotiations where countless hours have been wasted before we get to the reality that the potential client has no intention, if even capacity, of funding work, and instead wants to do it on this future reward formula.

I’ll very likely decline. Odds are that I don’t want to own a part of your business. That I don’t want to provide risk capital for your venture.

Instead I want to provide valuable, competitive-edge solutions that put you ahead of your competitors, solves your operational and technological pain points, or simply gets a viable product off the ground and wowing sources of funding. In return I need to get paid from the outset.

Show me the money. If you can’t show me the money, it’s very unlikely we’re going to work together. I’m an unabashed code mercenary.

Like many of you, I have a mortgage, taxes, car payments, and the numerous costs of children. I can’t pay those on the promise that a client project might be successful somewhere down the line. I have social-good projects that I want to work on during downtime, and funded work is one of the ways I can set aside that time.

“But what about aligned interests”, one might say in retort, the premise being that if I commit my time on the risk that I am bound to the future success or failure of a project, it will guarantee that I’m committed to making it successful. To that I would say that my work is completely transparent and open, and always excellent, and that my motivation is doing such an incredible job that the engagement continues, and another happy customer is spreading the word about my work product.

I will do everything possible to make the project a success, as far as technology will allow. In return I need to get paid. If you really believe in your project and its potential, and want the absolute best, be ready to spend some of that raised capital, talk to your banker, your grandmother, or your loan shark, and then come and we’ll get you some brilliant solutions that make your venture a success. This pure arrangement ensures we are all talking the right language, and each know the motivations.