This is a book I wish that I had many years ago when I spent 4 years as an independent software contractor. It is a down-to-earth guide to the fundamentals of working as an independent, covering everything from setting up the business to planning for retirement.
This is not a hokey ‘secrets of independent consulting’ book. Instead, it is a balanced guide, explaining pros and cons for many of the decisions that you will need to make. Fishman explains in detail the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of each of the major forms of business (LLC, S-Corp, corporation, individual, and partnership). He also points out the advantages and disadvantages of being employed by someone else vs. being self-employed. When first starting as a contractor it is easy enough to forget all the costs and risks you will need to bear: health insurance, liability insurance, retirement savings, self-employment tax (which is twice the social security tax you’ve been paying), office space, etc. Fishman lays it all out. He also gives some guidance on how to price your services: the short answer is ‘2.5 to 3 times your equivalent salary’, but he also gives more detailed guidance.
Possibly the most useful part of the book has to do with contracts. He covers the many pitfalls you are likely to encounter in the ‘standard’, ‘boilerplate’ contracts you may be offered, and itemizes the types of provisions that you absolutely need to avoid, and offers alternatives that would be more acceptable. He also suggests a number of provisions that should think about adding to your contracts.
Anyone who has contracted knows that it is hard to avoid late-payers and outright deadbeats. Fishman offers a number of suggestions to reduce the risk, and ensure that you maintain a good cash-flow.
The book covers many other areas of finance, taxes, insurance, etc. If you are planning to go independent, or even if you already are contracting, you need this book.