Tim Dietrich

Custom Software Developer

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FileMaker Consulting: Push Through the Fear, Get Experience, and Build Confidence

I was working with one of my FileMaker coaching clients last week. FileMaker is one of many things that she does at her job. But she really enjoys the FileMaker work, and it's obvious when you hear her talk about it.

Like many of us, she's self-taught. But she's quite good at it. The solutions that she's developed for her employer are sophisticated, and have significantly improved her employer's productivity and efficiency.

Her goal is to provide FileMaker consulting and development services on a part-time basis, and eventually transition to doing it full-time. She came to me for training (especially with regard to data modeling) and coaching to help get her side business going.

Opportunity and Fear

During our session, she mentioned that she had her first opportunity to develop a FileMaker solution for a local business. It sounded like a great opportunity, and FileMaker seemed like a good fit.

But I could tell that something was wrong. I could hear it in her voice, and in the long pauses as she described the project.

"It sounds like a great opportunity for you. What's the problem?" I asked, hoping to get her to open up a little.

"I don't know, " she said. "I think I'm just scared."

And there it was.

"Okay," I said. "Let's work through this..."

Experience Leads to Confidence

I've seen this before, and I experienced it myself when I first started out on my own. It's a fear of the unknown. A lack of confidence. And if you let it, it will stop you in your tracks.

The good news is that this fear goes away, and is replaced with a confidence that you need to succeed.

That confidence comes from experience, and it just takes time. There is no book that you can read that can give you that experience. There's no course that you can take. Books and courses and coaching and blogs can help you prepare to do the work. But it's the experience of working on projects, and learning how to work with clients, that will build confidence.

We All Go Through It

"We all go through this," I explained. "You have the technical skills that you need to develop this solution. And what you don't know now, you'll learn as you go."

I went on to explain that after you've worked on a few projects, you'll have a nice portfolio of work to show and refer to. At that point everything gets much easier. Attracting prospective clients. Putting together proposals. Landing the work. Doing the development. It all falls into place. You just need to be patient and work through the fear.

Charge What You're Worth

I then asked her what she was planning to propose to the prospective client.

"Well, I'm thinking of offering to do it at a discount, because I'm so new to all of this," she replied.

"You could do that," I said. "But here's the thing: If you lowball the price, then you're setting the client's expectation for the future. You're good at what you do. Sure, you still have things lot to learn. There's always something new to learn and get better at. But there is value in what you can provide to them right now. You need to charge what you're worth."

We then went on to talk about pricing options (charging an hourly rate, using value pricing, fixed pricing). I've written about that before.

The good news is that I heard from her last night. She's landed the project! The first of many, I'm sure.

If you're starting out as a FileMaker consultant, and have a similar lack of confidence, my advice is to push through it. Get a few projects under your belt. Build up your portfolio. It gets easier.