After passing my Cisco CCNA exam, I left a soul destroying helpdesk job and moved onto a support role for Cisco TAC in the UK. It wasn’t high-end stuff. I started on the architecture team which was a posh name for supporting IOS upgrades, lost passwords and hardware issues on various models of router.
I eventually moved onto another team supporting frame-relay, serial links, and NAT. We dealt with everyone from the small business owner who didn’t know where to plug the Ethernet cable to CCIEs who wanted help troubleshooting certain issues.
It quickly dawned on me that many of the customers I spoke to were actually network consultants working on short to long term contracts or doing support as and when needed and paid on an hourly basis. Some were making upwards of $2000 per day which was what I was making every two weeks and yet I was the one giving them all the answers.
It Got Worse
It got worse as I realized that many of these self-proclaimed ‘experts’ didn’t know much at all. They didn’t know how to create a basic configuration for frame-relay or how to clear out a NAT translation table. It was easily CCNA level stuff. I knew I could do a better job than they could, but I wasn’t quite ready to quit my day job as Cisco Systems because I needed a steady paycheck.
I needed to branch into consulting but only when I was free which was evenings and weekends. I got a few business cards printed and added my logo for my CCNA. I started telling friends and relatives what I could do. There were a ton of early morning business networking events in the local area, so I started attending those and made some contacts.
For incoming calls, I found a call answering team who act as if they are your receptionist and forward you messages. When I called customers back, they would say “I was just speaking to your secretary.” If only they knew!
I told customers I worked the hour's other engineers wouldn’t which was more convenient to them because their network wasn’t being used during evenings and weekends. They loved the fact I was around to help out-of-hours. I started getting small jobs to come and fix access list issues, sort out backups of router and switch configurations (copy start TFTP). It branched into training, and I quickly found myself running weekend training courses teaching basic networking for upwards of $4000 for two days work.
I was often offered work I didn’t want to do or wasn’t qualified for such as database admin, but I usually farmed out such jobs to other IT engineers and made a commission.
As you can imagine. I eventually left my Cisco TAC role and ran my own company. Even with a couple of days work a week I was still making more money than I ever did working full time. I sold that company to a friend and then started an online IT training company.
It all started out with a few hours freelancing work here and there offering basic Cisco CCNA level support for companies who didn’t want to hire a full-time network engineer. The jobs were mainly:
- Installing routers and adding a static route to the ISP
- Configuring access lists
- Backing up configuration files
- Configuring VLANs
- Teaching users basic IT skills
If this is something you are interested in doing, then I’ve created an entire course on exactly what to do step-by-step based on everything I learned over the years. I include:
- How to moonlight
- Dealing with recruitment agents
- How to negotiate a high rate
- How to avoid legal problems
- Keeping your customers happy
- What to do before you quit your job
- Legal entities (company formation)
There is no other course like it out there. It’s $7 to trial but also comes with access to over 25 other IT courses such as Cisco, Microsoft, ITIL, CompTIA and much more.
See you on the inside
P.S. If you are already a member then just request the course via a helpdesk ticket.