I wasn’t kidding when I tweeted this a few days ago:
Yesterday marked three years since my life changing decision to start DLM Consultants.
It’s been a good three years. And I suspect the next three years will be even better. https://t.co/TYyz8lXvox
— Alex Yates (@_AlexYates_) May 10, 2019
Every syllable of that tweet had been considered very carefully. The next three years will be very different from the last three years, and I’m absolutely thrilled about them.
In a few weeks time I’m going to become a dad.
I’m over the moon about that, but this isn’t the place to discuss it. I don’t use this blog to discuss personal/family stuff. I do use this blog to talk about DevOps and my career decisions. The reason I didn’t post my traditional Annual SMART Objectives post on January 1st this year is that I wasn’t yet ready to go public with the family news, which has been driving everything I have done since October last year.
In 2016 I wrote a blog post about quitting my job at Redgate. A few weeks later I wrote a blog post introducing DLM Consultants. Everything I wrote in both of those posts was completely true then, and it’s true now too.
But it’s also true that other circumstances in my life have changed.
For the last three years my wife has earned a regular and reliable salary. That paid the interest on our mortgage and kept us fed. If DLM Consultants went bust, we knew we wouldn’t go broke. Everything I earned with DLM Consultants was a bonus. It turns out business has been good for the last few years, but consulting life is famously unreliable. And with so much uncertainty at the moment it would be naive to assume it’s a given that the good times will continue indefinitely.
What is certain is that for the next year (ish) we need to plan to survive without my wife’s salary – without our safety net. What’s more, there will be three mouths to feed, not two. I’ve heard that babies aren’t cheap. I’m sure the next year will be wonderful, but also stressful, and tiring. I don’t want the additional stress of constantly needing to find the next contract. Negotiating over contracts worth three or four times your monthly salary is a lot more fun when you can afford to lose. And you are far more likely to be successful when you can throw all your energy behind it. Neither of those will be true for me in the coming months.
A few months ago I went out for a casual beer with my old manager at Redgate. He told me that he was desperately searching for a new pre-sales engineer because the team was understaffed. It turns out it’s really hard to find someone who can both sell software and implement an automated database deployment pipeline for SQL Server. Who knew?
I wrestled with what to do. I could easily have a 9-5 job, that’s walking distance from my house, that I’m uniquely qualified for, which I could do with my eyes shut, at a company that is famously AWESOME to work for, in a team with a bunch of my genuine friends. (And I’d be going back on very different terms than the ones I walked away from three years ago.) Many people would kill for an offer like that, especially if they had so much other stuff going on in their life. It would allow me to give my family the security, and the time, they deserve.
On the other hand, everything I wrote in my posts from 2016 is still true. I love running DLM Consultants. I love being my own boss. I love consulting. I don’t love selling.
I’ve been thinking hard about what to do for the last few months – and I’ve come to a decision.
Ultimately, I’m not ready to walk away from DLM Consultants. If I had to choose between a job at Redgate and DLM Consultants, it’s DLM Consultants every time. However, I am happy to sign a contract to give 40% of my time to Redgate for six months. That contract gives my family the reliable coins that my wife used to bring in. It gives both me and my wife the piece of mind that we don’t need to worry about money while Emma is off work. It gives me 5 days off every week, and I can either spend those at home with my family, or I can go consulting with other DLM Consultants customers. Most importantly, there is no financial pressure on me either way – if nothing else comes in, we’ll be fine – and I have a far better chance of being there when baby Yates takes their first steps or utters their first words. I can’t buy that with all the money in the world.
DLM Consultants is still going and it’s still fiercely independent and impartial.
For example, on Monday and Tuesday this week I ran a training class through DLM Consultants, which was attended by Redgate customers, where I taught all the attendees how to set up an automated database deployment pipeline using SSDT (Redgate’s primary competitor). The attendees loved it. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, I talked to Redgate customers about how to do cool stuff with their Redgate tools. They were syked about the possibilities too. The attendees of both got a huge amount of value.
My integrity has always been very important to me. I give frank and honest advice. If you are a customer of DLM Consultants you can always trust me to do just that. And that’s why I’m writing this post. I can’t, honestly, say that I do not work for Redgate any more. Two days a week I will work for Redgate, as a contractor through DLM Consultants. I want to be open about that.
However, the fact that I’m working for Redgate two days a week, does not impact the advice I will give to my other customers. My answer to “what tools should I use?” has always been “it depends”. But I’ve also said on many occasions that I genuinely believe the Redgate tools are generally the best (in most scenarios). I wouldn’t go and do two days a week for ApexSQL no matter how much they were offering.
However, if you are a Redgate customer, and you call your Redgate accounts rep, and they ask me to join the call – remember who is paying my bill.
My family will always come first. And I’ve very, very excited about the next few years.