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Working life
By Phage (Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 10:52:05 PM EST) (all tags)
So, with the business environment being the way it is, should I retrain as insurance against the worst ?

Update [2008-12-2 4:48:8 by Phage]:Now with poll !

I don't have the time to do the full-on study that serious coding would require, but I am interested in getting some 'service' quals. MCSE perhaps ? I could do those at home in my 'spare' time.

I am constantly working on the family PC's and networks and have become the defacto help desk for half-a-dozen families. (Apart from those 'artistic' Apple lot.) I quite enjoy the problem solving, and I'd like to be able to drag their web sites into the 20th C, and to know how to make their networks secure.

There is defintely money to be made in showing many locals how to properly run their systems, and it overlaps into my accounting and business skills. I understand that we're only talking about a few hundred here and there, but if I was to be made redundant, that is a signifcant sum.

Whaddya think ? A giant waste of time, or a good idea to broaden my skill base ?

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Ask HuSi | 45 comments (45 topical, 0 hidden)
The issue is opportunity costs... by Metatone (4.00 / 3) #1 Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 11:33:23 PM EST
What else could you do with that time? Maybe if you're made redundant there's more to be gained from extending your accounting skills towards liquidations? Or something else to help you pick up a new job? (No idea if that's practical, just an example.)

To take the M$ side as an example, while I did learn 3 or 4 useful tricks about small systems, the main area you learn thing you couldn't learn on your own from an MCSE is various points about Active Directory and IIS and Exchange. So unless they fall into your client base, I'm not convinced the MCP/MCSE is worth the time/money. Although the official course books are a useful read - they give you a sense of how things were meant to work in WIndowsland.

Practical network security isn't really in the MCSE... some say A+ is better for that, but I don't know.

Websites is best covered on a different course, one suspects.

(Some depends on how much you already know, of course.)

Of course, if having piece of paper helps and MCSE is your thing, T*stk!ng is your friend.

Damn good idea by Phage (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 11:46:41 PM EST
You're right. My other thought is not liquidations, which are surprisingly simple, but languages. I'd love to learn French and/or Italian. There's huge demand for bi-lingual people in business.

Websites may still be worthwhile. There is no-one within 50 miles who has the faintest idea. I won't tell you how much this cost. A+ is also worth a look.


[ Parent ]
I'd say that bi-lingual... by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 11:51:44 PM EST
and bi-cultural (because different countries have different conventions) accounting has a big future. There are already more and more businesses in the South East of England and North of France whose natural area of operations now covers two countries.

Big companies of course have this kind of thing more organised already, but even there, in terms of management accounting there tends to be a lot of cases/roles where being able to talk that $foreign_division makes things a lot easier for you.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm, <strokes chin> by Phage (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 11:55:40 PM EST
I can get Italian coaching for free. Well, for the price of coffee and biscuits, from my Italian cousins in law...
French would probably be more useful. I'll look into this. I think we're onto a winner.

PS how are you familiar with the difference between mgmt and financial accounting ? Got a dark past ?

[ Parent ]
Breaker's got a point... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:34:25 AM EST
I can see more and more people being thrown into contracting or pseudo-self-employment as companies contract.

Dark past, dark present and dark future...
Tremble at the thought... these days I could be classed as a management consultant.

[ Parent ]
AAAAAAAaaaaaaa..... by Phage (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:40:35 AM EST
I've stooped low myself. How's biz ?

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A bit shite... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:48:24 AM EST
Lots of people cutting back over the last six months. Especially in my best areas.
There's just one area of work left still ticking over at the mo, but it has always paid really badly...

Perhaps I should be looking for opportunities in professional downsizing... I seemed to spend my work career explaining to my best teams why they were being let go as the company sank... The trends is to get an outsider in to front up and take the death threats...

[ Parent ]
Isn't that 'Right-sizing' ? by Phage (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:58:40 AM EST
In our case, there was just an unsigned email, followed by a telephone call to pick up your envelope. No face required.

In my experience, you could be very gainfully employed in explaining how it's the best thing to do even though the payback is >18 months, and NPV about a Groat.
I did a lot of time in Strategy back-flling for decisions that had already been made. There will be signbifcant PR demand for people to explain how management are doing the right thing and getting back to profitability by concentrating on core business etc.

[ Parent ]
The theory is sound... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:57:37 AM EST
actual communication and respect for employees can help morale hold up when half are "let go."

Alas, the reality of the work is much like watching "The Office" so I don't seem to be able to pitch for it enthusiastically enough...

If I was making more money perhaps I could employ a salesperson to do the necessary lying...

[ Parent ]
I like it by Phage (4.00 / 1) #30 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:03:09 AM EST
Imagine the job ads...or better, the CV.
I've lied to the Pope and the UN consistently for the last 5 years, during which time I was able to reduce the congregation by half and convince them to join the Un instead.

[ Parent ]
Retraining good. by komet (4.00 / 4) #5 Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 11:57:35 PM EST
IT support bad. Especially in the MS arena, it is a young man's game.

If I were you, and currently an accountant, I would get specialized training in order to ensure you can survive offering independant accounting consultancy to medium and large business. Perhaps also international tax stuff? (I know someone who's made a fortune by knowing about 2 tax jurisdictions and working out how to juggle between them.) I don't know exactly what it is you do. But I definitely think that you should not enter IT, especially IT support, when most of the people I know who are there are trying to get out of it.

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.
Thanks by Phage (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:13:40 AM EST
Tax is hard to get into unless you have 'grown up' with the business. i.e. from one of the Big 4 firms who train tax consultants.

Might be an idea though, and feeds into the language idea. Just not tax, but import/export, accounting and business advice and books I can do.

[ Parent ]
IT Support by hulver (3.66 / 3) #6 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:08:24 AM EST
Home user IT support is a mugs game. To make ends meet yourself you'd need to charge at least £40 per hour. Very few people would want to pay anything like that, when the computer cost £300.

Small business support might be a goer. If you can go in and sort out their books and their IT, I can see a market for that. Then again, many small businesses hire a few young guys to do stuff, who are good with computers as well as their proper job, and rely on them for their IT support.

So there might not be much money there either.

I've been looking around as well (just in case) and there doesn't appear to be a lot of money in anything much anymore.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
Yes indeed. by Phage (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:18:07 AM EST
But I've seen what those kids do to small business networks and it ain't pretty. There's alwayts a cross-over too. I sorted out the VAT tax transition for the family business in approx two minutes because I knew how VAT works, and how databases use a lookup table.

And of course the manufacturer's website was very helpful. But the partners hadn't even thought of that. They were almost paralysed by the perceived size of the problem with 40,000 products.

There's not much money, but my strategy would be to get a couple or more sources of income, which, when added together, mean we don't starve.

[ Parent ]
Oh yes by hulver (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:25:42 AM EST
Diversifying is always a good idea. 
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
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I quite like the idea of bees by Phage (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:28:31 AM EST
I blame whassisface from K5.

[ Parent ]
Be cautious by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 05:38:06 AM EST
about small business. They're not always good payers. Ultra small (one person, such as myself) tend to pay quickly, but "small" with several (10-100) do not always pay. And stay away from doctors offices and lawyers, you'll never see a dime. Or a farthing. Or whatever.

The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
[ Parent ]
I've heard that by Phage (4.00 / 1) #37 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:18:23 AM EST
But I have some years of experience in debt collection. I'll sell their arse to an agency as soon as they stop paying. I'll get 85%, and they'll be hounded till doomsday. I won't have to use it too often. I know how to manage debtors.

[ Parent ]
Eh? Small earner? by Dr Thrustgood (2.00 / 0) #43 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 10:42:07 AM EST
Plenty DO pay £30/hour, and I keep going through phases of being tempted to set up full time.

Cash business, hours your own, only bad bit is the customers.

[ Parent ]
Insurance against redundancy by Herring (4.00 / 4) #11 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:39:22 AM EST
Have you considered embezzlement?

From what I gather, people employing an MCSE expect an incompetent youngster and the salary matches that. Support is also a nasty game because often you're only visible when you fail. Nobody ever calls IT and says "The WAN has been running without a hitch for 6 months. Well done."

Saying that, I do know a guy who makes a living doing support for local small companies. Not a brilliant living though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

That's what I was thinking by Phage (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:04:28 AM EST
Not a living but a few extra quid. but the barriers to entry are quite high, and the commentary here is definitely putting me off.

Embezzle what ?

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Embezzle what? by Herring (4.00 / 2) #15 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:24:44 AM EST
Well money is a popular option (I originally mistyped that as monet - which is only an option if you work somewhere like Southebys).

F'rinstance: if you have control of the IT budget, then get a mate who knows lots of buzzwords to invoice you for "consultancy". To be honest, it would be as effective as normal consultancy if not moreso because it would eat up less time.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
There's no opportunity for that by Phage (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:42:08 AM EST
There's no consultants/contractors/investment at all. And only 2/3 the perms there used to be.

We'd be better off with consumbales and small hardware/software items.

[ Parent ]
Home IT support by Breaker (4.00 / 4) #12 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:43:18 AM EST
I've had a look at it and it's more trouble than it's worth. 

Home users resent having to pay someone call out fees as it's "just a computer".  And they pay you once and then think they own you forever, and will not countenance a monthly support payment.  And want 24 hour support.

Small businesses are your way forward if you really want to go for it.  But as times get harder, they'll want to reduce their operating costs and probably won't have too much spare cash for a whizzy new website and it'll be cheaper (in their eyes) to buy a new computer than fix a broken one.

What I do see as an opportunity is cheap tax returns for contractors.  As layoffs increase into Q1 2009, I would think that by Q3-Q4 2009 big businesses will have realised they can't run their departments with no staff, but have headcount restrictions so want only contractors.  Offer a comprehensive accountancy service to these people and you should be picking up some work.

IMHO, anyway.

Another vote for tax ! by Phage (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:06:03 AM EST
I'd really hoped that I'd got away from that. But, you're right, it's the one service that never goes away.

[ Parent ]
thing is by gzt (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:06:39 AM EST
most of us don't know jack about accounting except that there's tax involved, so take our opinions for what they're worth.

[ Parent ]
Having set up a small company last year by Breaker (4.00 / 3) #22 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:10:05 AM EST
HMRC sends you some pretty hostile worded documents.  For people not of an accountancy background, it's less bother to just pay someone to make the problem go away.

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I did think of this by Phage (4.00 / 2) #24 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:35:35 AM EST
after your diary on the partnership accounts

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Breaker said it directly, while I only implied it. by greyrat (4.00 / 2) #26 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:42:20 AM EST
Contracting is the way to go, especially for old farts like us. See if you can find a large contract company and develop a relationship with them. The (supposed) beauty of working for a contract company is that they'll have already lined up your next gig while you made yourself redundant at the current one. That's the theory, but I'm not seen it put into practice as often as I'd have liked...

[ Parent ]
Definitely worth a look by Phage (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:43:58 AM EST
I'd like to widen my skill base so that I can do more.

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Penalties for misrepresenting company finances by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #32 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:04:12 AM EST
Are pretty harsh, and HMRC takes ignorance and genuine error as no excuse.

So, if I have paid an accountant to keep HMRC off my back, I have deniability on my side.  Worth the money, IMHO.

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Of course by Phage (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:14:15 AM EST
They have professional indemnity insurance.

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Yep by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #39 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:23:11 AM EST
And I can sleep at night knowing that HMRC's thugs aren't going to crash down my front door and march me off to chokey.

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Not for tax evasion anyway by Phage (4.00 / 1) #40 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:24:30 AM EST
Boom - Tish !

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Tut! by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #41 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:31:44 AM EST
Tax advantage, I believe it's called.

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Learn Java and certify as a developer. by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #23 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:15:08 AM EST
Also, learn Hindi and perhaps Urdu, and moonvine would suggest Tamil as well.

That's what I'm doing.

South Asia is so '90s by Phage (4.00 / 0) #25 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 03:41:25 AM EST
Eastern Europe is where the action is nowadays.

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Not where I'm at. by greyrat (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:02:54 AM EST
And Mandarin might be useful too. Eastern Europe is where viruses and phishing schemes come from.

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A sign of bored techs by Phage (4.00 / 0) #31 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:03:56 AM EST
TCS currently outsource a lot of work to EE.

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Unfortunately for me, I picked up some Cantonese by theboz (2.00 / 0) #33 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 04:11:33 AM EST
My Chinese coworkers don't really understand the words I say to them in Cantonese (they are not Taiwanese), yet my Japanese coworker does understand some of it.  For example, apparently the word for soy sauce (see-yow) is similar between Cantonese and Japanese.

- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
IAWWIWTSSWA by ad hoc (4.00 / 3) #36 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 05:49:37 AM EST
I agree with whoever it was that said stay with accounting.

My experience in trying to find someone willing to do small bits of accounting and tax advice is really hard. Everyone wants to be on some retainer. Small businesses with a few employees (one  in my case) sometimes need someone to do things like fill out a confusing tax form or generate a payroll. I took accounting classes at school, so I'm not completely out to sea, but most other people like me that I talk to have no clue what a debit or credit is, let alone understand the language tax forms are written in. The only thing I need an accountant for is to fill in my year-end form, for which I pay about $250. I have accounting software that I don't like, but at least understand, so day-to-day stuff isn't required, but it is for many people. (I just send the year-end printouts to the accountant and he puts the numbers where they're supposed to be on the forms - I think he has a software package that helps do it.)

I don't know the Britlander rules for setting up businesses, but with the economy the way it is, there will be a lot of people trying to go into business for themselves and will be in need of accounting and tax services to get that started. Seems to me you could get a nice accounting software package (like the one I have, although I hesitate to recommend it) that will let you keep track of multiple companies/businesses/people easily.

And if you really want to get into webish stuff, write your own website that will help you snag business from around the entire country.

The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
Good advice by Phage (4.00 / 1) #38 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:21:40 AM EST
Thanks. I think I'll look into that.
As an added bonus I can help Aus Ex-pats looking to set up as well. I've been here a few years and I know the ropes. There's plenty of people to help you get a visa, but very few help you run through the tax and paperwork.

[ Parent ]
barriers to entry by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #42 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 07:47:00 AM EST
There are zero barriers to entry to the IT field, and the quality of work and wages paid often reflect that, especially on the low end.

If you've jumped thru the hoops and earned a piece of paper proving yourself fit to be an accountant I say stick with it, at least you won't get underbid by some high school kid.

I've wondered about by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #44 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:51:47 PM EST
getting into data recovery. The idea is that it isn't filled with every laid-off tech worker competing with every "A+ certified" pimply-faced-youth. It presumably requires that you at least grok that the files really are just a bunch of "ones and zeros" on the hard drive.

The thing that scares me off are places like this that appear to charge $279 to resurrect the data off a dead hard drive. While I am pretty sure there is a scam in there somehow (just how fast can a clean room "engineer" work and still make that profit), I'd hate to have to prove it to each customer. (It looks like most of the issue is that it is hard to find how much they will charge you for the drive that your data will be on, and that you aren't getting the original drive back if you don't want to pay that fee).

Anyway, that is my idea for a promising niche in the IT field.


Specialism by Phage (2.00 / 0) #45 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 10:27:02 PM EST
Can be very good. I think you're right in that there is a definite growth in forensics and data recovery. Good luck..

[ Parent ]
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