Having a dream and making it possible.
With the arrival of the Windows Phone platform in 2010, I fell in love with mobile app development. After two years, I was creating professional looking applications and was confident enough to contemplate creating my own company. However, there was always an excuse to not pursue this goal.
In summer 2013, the timing was perfect and I decided to go ahead and create a company and, more precisely, to incorporate it.
In this article, I want to share my experiences, my feelings and some tips.
First step: Find a name for your company
It might sound easy to do, but finding the name of my company was the hardest part in the process of incorporation. I literally spent a week figuring out a name.
The challenges to finding a company name are:
- Find a cool/unique name or combination of words.
- Make sure that the web address is available. You have no idea how hard is to find an available web address. It is even harder when your company name is short. Pro tip: buy your domain name as soon as you decide on your company name and before you tell anyone.
- Make sure that the name doesn’t violate any international or national copyrights.
- Verify that the name is legit in your city. I live in a place where the company name should start with a French word.
I ended up with “AppVenture Solutions Inc.” in English and “Solutions AppVenture Inc.” in French. Don’t look for my website, I haven’t built it yet.
Second step: Fill out the paperwork
When you want to incorporate a company, filling the paperwork is a complex and error-prone process. It is not a mandatory to incorporate, but my research and my friends’ recommendations led me to the decision to incorporate.
You have essentially three choices:
- Do it yourself. You can go to the local government employment office and they can help you out a bit, but they won’t fill out everything for you. You will have to do your own research beforehand. This option costs about $400 to $500.
- Hire a lawyer or a notary to complete your incorporation. It costs about $1100 to $1500.
- Proceed with online private services.
I choose to fill the paperwork with a lawyer. In Montreal, I attended a (paid) workshop at SAJE en Affaires about incorporating a company that included the actual incorporation by a lawyer. I was able to ask any questions I wanted. I found it very valuable.
The price is higher when you incorporate with a lawyer/notary, but the service is #1 for three reasons:
- You can get your incorporation in two days, because they have special access to a government portal.
- You can ask to set up the company to optimize your family situation. I will explain more below.
- You can get a binder with all the legal structures such as administrator roles, company rules, stocks, conventions and so on.
Third step: Find a contract
When your company is registered, you’re ready to start. Finding a contract is like finding a full time job. There are plenty of websites that offer contract work. However, when you have contacts and a good community around you, they can help you find work. One piece of advice is to stay engaged in the community and meet people live or online.
Always stay professional, you never know if a previous client would want to hire you again or even recommend you to other clients.
Last step: Closing your year
I don’t know the legislation in every country, but I suspect that most counties require you to do your annual report. Here again, you can fill your tax reports out yourself, but that’s another bumpy road. My advice is to hire an accountant for the first few years, so you can concentrate on what you are good at and be confident that your annual tax reports will be error-free. I suggest that you set aside $2500 to $3000 for the service of an accountant.
After my first year, I’m very pleased with the results and I don’t regret a second of it. As if creating a new company was not enough, I survived my first year being a daddy to a beautiful daughter. Like every job situation, there is a good side and a bad side to being a consultant. Here are some advantages and disadvantages when you are independent and/or working remotely.
Advantages of being independent
- There is no secret that being independent will give you a big boost in salary.
- You have more flexibility when managing your personal finances. When you have an incorporation, you are a shareholder by default. You can also be an employee of your own company. Depending of your strategy, you have full control on the amount that you want to give yourself as dividends and salary. This way you can reduce the amount of personal taxes that you need to pay to the government. You can also do income splitting with a member of your family.
- If you bill your client per hour, your overtime will also be paid. This is a big advantage, because when you are an employee of someone else, your overtime is not paid. You might be compensated later, but it will not be a one-for-one equivalent.
- If you don’t like working on the same product for years, being independent will offer you the freedom to choose the contracts based on duration.
- Between contracts, you can take as many weeks of vacation as you like.
- Items related to work as computers, tablets, phone, office furniture are treated as expenses and are tax-free (the taxes are deducted from the amount that you bill to your clients). It is good excuse to renew your equipment more often.
Disadvantages being independent
- You might feel insecure about what’s next. There is no 100% secure job in the world, but there are some companies where jobs are more secure than others. When you are on your own, you find your own contracts. Also, at any time, a client can abort a project.
- Between contracts with different clients, they might be a delay that you don’t want. Also, you might get many interesting offers at the same time, but less opportunities in other periods of time. You can’t control when contracts appear.
- You need to take care of your own benefits. If you want medical insurance, you need to find yourself an insurance company.
- You need to be more responsible regarding your expenses and revenues. You need to be prepared to justify every penny of your company at any time.
Advantages working remotely
- When you work remotely, most of the time, you can have a flexible work schedule. This is very useful when you need it.
- You don’t waste any time in traffic or transport. You have more quality time for yourself.
- If you have a family at home, you can spend some time with them at lunch and say hi during the day. I was happy to be able to see my baby growing up in her first year.
- You can work in any type of clothing.
Disadvantages working remotely
- If you are someone who likes meeting people in person in your day to day life, being a remote worker might not be the ideal situation for you. However, you can still create your company and be independent. In fact, most jobs are in the client’s offices.
- You need to be more disciplined at home than at the office due to the fact that there are more distractions in your home than in an office.
- You might feel guilty when there is a holiday and you want to take a day off. Since holidays are different from country to country, your client or team may not have a holiday on the same day as you. No work means no money for that day.
- If you don’t do sports after work, you exercise much less because you walk less in your day.
Thanks to my friends at RedBit that offered me my first contract. It was a fun and busy three months working in C# and WPF.
My second contract started at the beginning of this year and at the time of writing this article, the contract is still going on for a minimum to end of the year. I’m working for the mobile app development company Lextech, based in Chicago. This company is headed by technology strategist Alex Bratton who also wrote the book Billion Dollar Apps.
Aside from my great teammates and the awesome Windows project that I’m working on, I like that Lextech is using Sococo as a virtual office tool. It helps to increase communication within the team and you can easily see the availability of your coworkers. A big thumbs up to Lextech for treating their contractors as employees; we attend their weekly meeting with employees and have access to their internal documentation.
Pssst: Lextech is growing fast and they have open positions. App mobile development is the place to be.
Creating your company is very exciting and a great challenge. The future might be a little bit scary, but work a day at a time and everything will be alright. If it turns out that it is not your thing, you can always go back to being an employee. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from friends or mentors. There are plenty of entrepreneurs that succeeded and you can be one too.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.