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Your own company? You can do it (2011) (jacquesmattheij.com)
701 points by oliv__ on June 18, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 366 comments

To anyone considering starting a business I would recommend reading a book called "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber. It's 20 years old, but it discusses one point in particular which I think is particularly relevant for HN's audience. Many people who go into business fail because they operate the business with the mindset of a "technician" -- someone who is very good at a particular skill, and enjoys and prioritizes performing that skill.

The abilities of a technician can be very valuable to a business, but especially as it begins to scale the owner/operator(s) need to adopt different mindsets in order to succeed. In short, if you don't like the idea of spending most of your time on business or marketing stuff, you should find someone who can handle those, or perhaps be a solo consultant/contractor. (I think this is a large part of why YC encourages cofounders so much.)

Exceptions certainly exist--there was a time when tech was a magical world and you could do magic things just by being an expert engineer--but increasingly I feel they are getting rarer.

I don't think the book applies at all to the hacker news crowd. "The E-Myth Revisited" basically advocates turning every business into McDonald's.

That's fine if someone wants to start some kind of tech consulting business; but that's not the kind of business that I see promoted on Hacker News.

The "The E-Myth Revisited" describes how to plan a business where labor is low-cost and unskilled. With software, (and hardware, to a degree,) when you write a program, the program is done. Most of your labor goes into R&D that is not repeatable according to what "The E-Myth Revisited" advocates.

At least with hardware, the low-cost unskilled labor can go into manufacturing, but that is now mostly outsourced.

At most, "The E-Myth Revisited" can be applied to the sales and support part of running a tech business, which is what Oracle does very well.

> With software... when you write a program, the program is done. Most of your labor goes into R&D...

Not by a long shot! The vast majority of the lifetime cost of software is in the maintenance (daily operations, upgrades, new features, bug fixes, integrations, rewrites, etc).

If you think of skill as being the ability to operate the business, growth does in fact require you to hire people who are less "skilled" -- specifically technicians who are specialized in one area of the business' operations (preferably even better at it than you are), and who can handle that part of the business for you. Gerber goes into this with his description of how to support business growth by building out a hypothetical org chart even when you're the sole person in the business, and gradually replace your name next to most of the job titles with someone else's.

This is pretty much how you'd build out an engineering team of 50 or 500 people, too.

And within any kind of org - sales, engineering, support, whatever - eventually you're going to get large enough that you can be more efficient by sequestering simple work into simpler roles, which gets done by cheaper, junior people.

All 100% applicable to the audience here which is filled with people who are trying to found and grow companies.

Your comment implied that perhaps you think sales and support are low-skill roles, which makes me wonder if you have any experience working in those areas or managing people which perform those functions? I can assure you they take a very high level of a different kind of skill, and you would grow those teams more or less in the same way you grow an engineering team: starting with yourself, defining specific functions and duties, sequestering simpler work into lower skill roles for efficiency, and hiring people to fill those roles one by one. Exactly like Gerber describes.

I agree. I started out as a techie, and I now run my own business.

The engineers half-serious mock me for continually talking about money, billing, etc. But they do know that's how their salaries get paid.

the book has some good ideas in it, but 80% of it is filler / repetition / cross-sells to some of the author's related services. it's a bit crass.

save time and read an online summary of the book to cover the ideas quickly.

You don't need to read a book page-by-page, good readers recognize filler and repetition. I personally don't like reading summaries, they lack an element of "convincing" that immersing yourself into a real book does have.

That's pretty much every single "business book." You're better off reading history.

Another amazing book that greatly compliments Gerber's book is Sam carpenters work the system. These are two really life changing books IMO

E-Myth is one of the few books I wish I had found years before I did.

There aren't many challenges we're the first to face in the history of the world, or the first to ever think about.

A lot of wasted time can can be saved from accessing the experience of others, and learning what to extract for your own journey.

For comparison: same Amsterdam, about the same timeframe. No drive to start my own business (initially!), because didn't even know that was possible for regular people.

Started out when I was eight, I got into electronics. Read all magazines, learned myself how to design electronic circuits from library books. Kept my own, hand written, library card system describing the specs of all transistors, ICs I could get my hands on. Designed/built and repaired devices for other people who paid me for the materials and for my trouble. I was 15. When I was 18 I went to university, switched majors multiple times.

And then the Dutch electronics magazine published the Junior computer, based on the 6502. I spent all my money on it, and learned assembler by inputting hex numbers. After that came the MSX computer (I disassembled the BASIC interpreter to grok how it worked) and I started searching for programmers jobs.

Found a job at KLM where I got out top of the class and entered a special called SMART. For special internal projects. All of us programmed in IBM S370 assembler, they tested C but it was too slow.

I was 25 by then. The following years went downhill. In IT. I changed jobs multiple times, but the companies kept going out of business. I was flabbergasted at the amount of incompetence I saw in salespeople and at C-level. I had no idea, coming from a blue collar background.

Side note: in 4 years I had 9 CEOs, 8 of which left their wife for their secretary in the time I worked there! I had a lot of respect for the 9th until I found out a couple of years later he'd done the same after I left.

So I decided why not start my own business i was capable of going bust as well couldn't do worse as those guys. So I started the first commercial ISP in the NL. One thing led to another and many companies later I now pulled out of most and again starting as a founder and learning all the new hot technologies.

Nine CEOs ... what? That made my day.

Seriously though your background story is awesome. I haven't done electronics for a while, so this unhealthy "meh" attitude is starting to creep in ... but now I have an 8 year old kid to compare to (!) What's your startup about?

Could you please give me some advice? i'm a full-time developer with 10 years experience. I would like to start my own and have a few ideas to try out. I have savings that could allow me to survive for a year. Would you recommend I quit my day job or just work on it on the side?

Here are my simple tips:

- don't run out of cash

- make something you enjoy working on

- sell something people need

- sell something for more than it costs to make

- don't expect the people around you to be as excited as you are about your thing

"don't run out of cash"

Don't neglect this one. A surprisingly large number of small companies that go under are profitable. They don't go under because they're making a loss; they go under because they cannot pay today's bill. Cash flow kills small businesses dead.

A good way to watch a business evaporate is missing payroll. Or rent.

I'd add : never ever work for nothing (especially if you see your work as an "investment")

you must enjoy the job, because at some point your work under the pressure of a customer.

be very wary of intellectual property issues (IP issues are not very well understood and some people will think you steal their IP when you're not; and being stolen will make them very angry, like lawsuit-angry)

be ready to work according to someone else's planning : during your weekend, when you need to sleep, when you're sick, etc.

be ready to contemplate the fact that there are some people who take much and gives quite less.

Also be aware your own IP does not get stolen, or that people do not 'wiggle' themselves or manipulate you into owning part of your IP. I've had multiple attempts of people trying this. One outright stole my source code and rebranded and tried to market it, another, well, don't get me started.

There are a lot of bastards out there. Hindsight is 20/20, but there were multiple cases where things didn't feel right, I ignored that and went ahead anyway, and everything went sideways.

Always trust your spider-sense!

I started my first on the side, I was 33 and building a family, so I couldn't quit my day job. I hired an intern to handle marketing. Amazingly, he also did support. After a year the company made enough money so I could quit.

My advice: in general, do not invest your buffer in your company. You will be tempted to, but think of it as a buffer for when your life goes sideways, not your company.

PM me if you want, Google my username.

When you quit did you retain ownership and receive any income from the business so it was truly hands off?

Sounds like OP quite his day job not the new business he started

Keep a diary, whenever you see people complaining note it down. One day you will come across a problem which only you will be uniquely qualified to solve.

"I had a lot of respect for the 9th until I found out a couple of years later he'd done the same after I left."

Why is a divorce something that let you loose all respect for a person, unless you are hardcore catholic?

Not OP but deeply nonreligous and the idea of a CEO dating subordinates sounds very unprofessional and cheating on a partner sounds generally shitty. (Maybe that's not exactly how it went down, but if we take the "left their wife" line literally.)

Basically, it isn't the divorce that's the problem, it's everything else about it.

CEOs dating subordinates is hardly uncommon. Melinda French met Bill Gates while she was a product manager at Microsoft. That seems to have gone well for both parties. I've worked with a few executives who were employing a significant other in some form or another. Admittedly this sort of thing can go very wrong, but I think there are much bigger sins a CEO can commit...

The difference there is that Bill Gates was not already married. The difference there is that the role of product manager is much more skilled than the position of secretary. A product manager has the freedom to take the lead on big projects. A secretary is such a submissive and typically gendered role that companies have started to shy away from using the term at all. Now they are opting for "assistant" instead, implying a more equal footing between the employer and the employee.

FWIW, I'm not sure why infidelity is so stigmatized. With all the things going on in the world that seems so minor in the grand scheme of things. Also, presumably the secretary is an adult, so they're two consenting adults (yes, I understand the power differential issue but there's also the risk of being accused of sexual harassment, which I'd argue is more damaging nowadays). Relationships are so complicated I've learned not to pass judgment on anything.

I'm definitely not saying infidelity is good, only that I think it's treated way out of proportion.

To be honest, I think it sounds more shitty to unilaterally declare respect or lack thereof for a colleague based on their private life rather than their professional performance.

Take credit for work that's not yours, and leave with millions in severance after they've fucked up the company? Totally fine. Sleep with your secretary? Unforgivable (and the CEO's fault).

My comments about infidelity should be read from the POV of a young programmer, that knew nothing about entrepreneurship, starting or running companies, who looked up to C-level management, who's entire network was filled with people in blue collar, low paying jobs.

And who was stunned to realize: (1) they are ordinary people, (2) aren't supermen in any way, (3) that many of them valued themselves, money and power more than anything in life, and/or seemed to have no ethics whatsoever.

Cheating is an expensive and massive breach of trust for short term gratification. Not something you want from a leader.

Spot on. It says a lot about their true character.

good point

Divorce is fine. Lying to your partner by cheating them is not.

Yes, but "left wife for secretary" not necessary implys cheating. (even though it is likely)

I've done my own thing since high school with the exception of two years in offices (one as W2 and one as part time 1099). I'm now 35 and experiencing health issues and discovering that unless you earn "f$&! you money" group health insurance in the US is worth at least $75k a year in income. At least.

If you aren't in a country with proper healthcare and are not earning AT LEAST $300k USD a year (consistently), understand that all your years of work can be destroyed by one diagnosis. And plan accordingly.

I love my life. I've had a charmed existence moving to wonderful locales and doing what I wanted when I wanted; but the genetic lottery cannot be outwitted. You can be healthy one day and in debt the next.

Plan accordingly. Don't let youth and good health lull you into complacency.

It's completely possible and attainable for software developers to be independent anywhere on the globe, but understand the potential financial implications and limitations of the social safety nets of your country of citizenship/residence. Plan accordingly.

This is why healthcare should be decoupled from employment. Your work and your doctor should have nothing to do with each other. It distorts the market and limits innovation.

It also makes people slaves

In countries with at-will employment an old person with a long-term life threatening condition (e.g. cancer) is pretty much company property.


You'd be hard-pressed to find a country that as at-will employment besides the US.

In Switzerland the contract can be terminated at will by both the employer or the employee, with the same notice period (in general one, two or three months depending on how long the contract has been in force).

But health care although not free is heavily regulated and mandatory. Switzerland does have social help. And there is much less poverty. And most of the people living in poverty are not poor homeless poor. They just dont qualify because the avrage income is so big.

You cant compare it.

> You'd be hard-pressed to find a country that as at-will employment besides the US.

Where does that statement mention healthcare or any of the other things you talk about?

Context. The subject is in the comment above the one you quoted. Conversations diverge and reconvene, it's how they work.

Indeed. And my comment was in the context of someone saying that the US is the only country which has at-will employment. I was not comparing Switzerland to the US and I'm perfectly aware it's different in many aspects.

It was jump indeed.

What i was trying to say is that the fact that Switzerland has similar you can be fired at will laws as US. The situation is not at all similar because of the other factors.

I think you understand very well what i mean, so please lets not pick on words.

There's quite a few in my company that are only there for the health insurance. It's cheap but their meds aren't.

I would expatriate to a country that has good healthcare at much lower prices so you can pay out of pocket without being ruined. I did precisely that - for other reasons, not for the healthcare advantages. But now this is one of the big reasons I would never go back to the U.S., because of how easily I could be ruined by an unfortunate health event.

In my case hindsight is 20/20. If you don't mind me asking what country did you expatriate to? I've found that several countries I would want to relocate to do not allow permanent residency for people with existing medical conditions in order to avoid undue strain on their subsidized medical systems.

At least in Europe, I have never seen anyone ask for pre existing medical conditions unless getting specialized private insurance. I have never heard of any residency permit being based on medical history in Europe. I would imagine it to be illegal?

I'm currently in Italy myself, and my father was visiting me and got a nasty case of pneumonia on the way over. Here in italy care is (mostly) free,as is his hospital stay here in genova. While it may be not to the full American standard, his care has been great, and the staff wonderful.

I'm glad to be in a system here where Healthcare is good, and affordable, and that with this episode my father is not bankrupted or in considerable debt because of it, especially as an elderly patient. La dolce vita.

British commonwealth countries seem to have health assessment/medical history checks.

Germany requires immigrants to have private health insurance until they are granted permanent residence/citizenship. That insurance can have restrictions on pre-existing conditions and/or be prohibitively expensive.

If you are already an EU citizen the rules can often be quite different than as a US passport holder.

I am not a global expert in immigration law though and I'm now going to research Italy. ;-)

Thank you!

> Germany requires immigrants to have private health insurance until they are granted permanent residence/citizenship.

This is not true! I'm in Germany since 2012 and still don't have permanent residence permit, but have public health insurance from day one.

Well that is interesting. What is your original country of origin?

Not the person you are responding to, but my wife is an American living in Germany and we have public insurance.

I think you're conflating a few different terms and perhaps not fully understanding what is meant by public and private insurance in Germany?

Basically there are three classes of people: Those who need public insurance, those that need private insurance, and those that can choose between them. Who is in which class depends on many factors such as your type of work, income, and insurance history both in Germany and abroad. It does however not dependent on your citizenship or immigration status.

Thailand. They don't give permanent residency here anyway. The laws on the books make it sound as if they do but in reality they don't. So you have to find another way to stay long term. For young people they make it difficult unless you can land a job (few jobs for foreigners here) or start a business (expensive and designed to fleece foreigners, beware). Other ways are retirement visa, spouse support visa, education visa, long stay medical care visa. Staying long term on a tourist visa and doing visa runs every month is dumb and doesn't work anymore anyway since they cracked down on it.

If you can manage the visa issue then you can get excellent care at a tiny fraction of what you pay in the US. Over the years I have had surgery, been hospitalized for an illness, had a fair amount of dental work, and had thorough medical exams annually. It's not just the low cost. The service and hospitality is unlike what I ever experienced in the US.

To add some perspective on Thailand from a fellow resident...

> Thailand. They don't give permanent residency here anyway.

While the process is difficult and there are caps on how many people can receive it each year, people can and do obtain permanent residence in Thailand. I know a number of people with PR, they're all businesspeople who have been here for many years.

> start[ing] a business (expensive and designed to fleece foreigners, beware).

The Thai Board of Investment provides a number of attractive incentives, including a 5 year income tax holiday(!), to foreigners starting a technology business who are willing to commit to modest capital and hiring requirements. Doing business in Thailand is difficult in other ways (limited technical talent, limited and poor English skills, high compliance burden), but I wouldn't characterize BOI as a scheme to fleece foreigners at all. If you are incorporating without a BOI promotion then things are much less attractive, but most software businesses with an intent to hire a few employees will qualify pretty easily.

> you can get excellent care at a tiny fraction of what you pay in the US

True but with caveats. When it comes to affordable, good health care, "better than the US" is not a meaningful standard. The US is a shameful failure in this regard. That said, the cost and quality of health care in Thailand are pretty good--aside from a good private system, Thais and foreigners on long-term visas get free universal health care at government hospitals(!), some of which are pretty good. But it should be noted that private insurance in Thailand carries a number of limitations, such as maximum lifetime payouts and long lists of conditions which aren't covered. In short, the Thai system serves medical tourists very well, but if you're looking for lifelong, comprehensive coverage, things get complicated.

My personal opinion is that Thailand is trying in this area, but currently isn't the best place for most tech businesses to incorporate unless they want access to the Thai market. The main reason for this is the limited talent pool. For some businesses, BOI incentives and the low cost of operating here may make up for this. Either way, Thailand is still a pretty amazing lifestyle destination, and for freelancers/remote companies/very small biz level there are a few options to stay here long-term (Iglu, Elite visa, etc.).

"Thais and foreigners on long-term visas get free universal health care at government hospitals(!), some of which are pretty good"

That's interesting. What type of long-term visas qualify foreigners for universal health care?

Some of the government hospitals are good as you said. I had foot surgery at Siriraj Hostpital, Thailand's oldest and biggest government hospital. While the facilities are old and tired-looking the care was excellent and the doctor was outstanding, this guy https://sites.google.com/site/ankleclinic/aboutus. But I went during their "special clinic hours" which is the same facilities but different hours than when the universal health care patients are treated. Unlike the regular hours, during special clinic hours you have to actually pay for services.

What qualifies you is paying taxes, so basically if you're on a business visa you get it--if there are other visas which allow you to legally work and pay taxes, they might qualify you as well.

They assign you to a particular hospital when you enter the program, and you're entitled to free care at this hospital, if you need a procedure they can't perform, they'll refer you to another government hospital which will also be free. Waiting periods sometimes are long, so it's a good idea to have private insurance as well. Foreigners in Bangkok at the moment all seem to be getting assigned to a hospital in Phrakanong which has a pretty good reputation. You can change your assignment later, I've heard the Police General Hospital on Rama I is very good.

I've heard it's also possible to remain in the program after your employment ends if you pay a small monthly fee (maybe $15).

There is also a Thai equivalent of the USA's social security program, though the payouts are very modest.

Overall it is a good system, you just have to be aware of the limitations of Thai insurance in catastrophic cases (probably I will switch to an expensive expat health insurance plan in the next year or two because of this).

Thank you for the insight. I hadn't honestly considered Asian countries; which is silly since I have friends living in several.

Asia is a big place and I don't know much about other Asian countries. But Thailand works very well for me. It's not for everyone, for sure.

We've lived in Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea, and medical care has been fairly atrocious in each one.

This was the most pronounced in South Korea, because it is so advanced technologically but somehow still has that SEA feel of wanton medical incompetence. It catches you by surprise more.

Massive doses of antibiotics no matter what, IVs for no good reason, X-ray to check for head lice (!!)... fun stuff.

I heard medical care in Singapore and HK can be excellent though. Interesting to hear you've had such a good experience in Thailand, it was the opposite for us (GP, dental, surgical -- you name it, it sucked, even in ?top? places like the Bangkok Hospital). Where did you go?

My wife had surgery at Bumrungrad, one of the well known private hospitals - excellent in every respect. I had surgery at Siriraj, a public hospital - tired looking buildings and not luxurious like Bumrungrad but excellent care and results. Every member of the family has had at least one night in Bangkok Hospital (Pak Chong branch) due to various illnesses - always had good care.

I've had dental work at Bumrungrad, Bangkok Hospital and more recently been going to a small dental clinic near my home. Besides regular checkups and cleanings I had a redo of a root canal that was done in the US and went bad after moving to Thailand, got a new crown, and had some old fillings replaced - excellent care in all cases and particularly the dental clinic has the latest and greatest dental tech.

I have also been getting annual medical exams since moving here 15 years ago, at Bumrungrad, Phayathai, St Mary's Korat, and Bangkok Hospital (Korat and Pak Chong branches). They have always been routine and efficient. The weak spot is the consultation with the GP after all your results are in - some of them a pretty dopey and I would guess it is those guys that are going to be a bad experience if you see one of them for an ailment.

Those are all anecdotes, of course. YMMV.

Have you looked at Nordic countries? At least Finland's state welfare system says that if you already live in EU country, you can apply to get treated in here for the same price as what we (Finns) pay. You can still do walk-ins without an application, but you might be billed "the true cost" of treatments, which for an x-ray (which you mentioned down below) seems to be around 200 euros. Although, if you already know you need one, then you can just use private sector which bills you around 75 euros for one (x-ray). The legislation clearly states that you as a patient would be handled equally. The public sector can't either turn you away in any situation if they already provide the needed care.

The system here is a safe haven in other means as well. As a citizen, you are qualified for equal treatment and costs to those in your hometown in other EU countries as well. You can be abroad for up to a year and any medical emergency within the EU would be covered by the state. It's almost backward but I feel like my peers don't want to travel as much when they are young, partly because they know the medical systems in other parts of the world can screw them up.

Uruguay here in South America has free healthcare and a fairly generous immigration policy - probably among the most generous in the world, ridiculously easy compared to any first world country, and no background health checks that I know of.

Cost of living is VERY HIGH though compared to income and even in absolute terms (about the only cheap thing is healthcare :) though if you earn 70k / year you're set unless you want to live in an U.S.-sized house and drive an U.S. sized car) and bureaucracy is very bad.

Immigration systems are currently collapsed because of the flood of Venezuelan refugees, and thousands of Cubans and Dominicans are coming too, so you might have to wait 18 months for the government ID that gives you access to healthcare.

FR, DE, CH, NL, ES have very good health systems. Google "Euro Health Consumer Index" for more info. In general in Europe you can't be denied health coverage due to preexisting condition, at least if you're EU citizen.

In the US you can get ACA which limits your out of pocket.

Those out-of-pocket caps may be going away (in some states, at least) if AHCA becomes law.

Good luck, with the plans on ACA usually being God awful small carriers with crappy networks, you are going to be crushed by out of network providers if you ever have an emergency or serious disease.

Not nearly enough and, besides, who knows how long it's going to be around?

India - probably the hottest startup culture outside the US. World class healthcare at 1/10 the cost - medical tourism already exists. A large part of the economy is already built around software services.

Some would argue that Israel has "the hottest startup culture outside the US". There are 96 Israeli companies listed in NASDAQ, and only 12 Indian ones. http://www.nasdaq.com/screening/companies-by-region.aspx?reg... http://www.nasdaq.com/screening/companies-by-region.aspx?reg...

That's because India's domestic markets are large enough. In fact, the hottest startup culture is actually China - but those are closed markets.

When you build startups in India, you build for the fastest growing economy in the world. Yes - startups still do list on international markets, but that is a combination of Nasdaq, Singapore and BSE.

For example, the largest "unicorn" in India - Flipkart - is listed in Singapore.

I had to google that BSE is the Indian exchange, Bombay Stock Exchange.

Flipkart is registered in Singapore but not listed on the SGX (Singapore's stock exchange).

not yet - but that is the reason it is registered. Same for Ola IMHO. Its was the most regulatory friendly arrangement to allow for an international IPO while still operate things like wallets and multi-brand retail in India.

Then you can also argue CHINA has "the hottest startup culture outside the US", based on NASDAQ http://www.nasdaq.com/screening/companies-by-region.aspx?reg...

Also among the top 10 unicorns by valuation (http://fortune.com/unicorns/): 6 from US, 3 from China and 1 from India.

Of course, the answer really depends on what you mean by "startup culture".

you are right - I have mentioned that in my other comment. But China is a closed ecosystem. India's markets can be tapped by international founders. For example - look at Zoomcar. Literally impossible to do that in China.

India does not have world-class healthcare.

It is common for underdogs to claim they are world-class, and if you don't have the experience to know better, you might believe it.


> The Medical Tourism Market Report: 2015 found that India was "one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations, it offers wide variety of procedures at about one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the United States."

medical tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in India with American and European patients accounting for the largest share.

I'm not talking about cutting edge research here. Possibly there's no comparison there. But I'm talking about something that's practical, applicable and real medical care.

Any data to support your claim? From my anecdotal experience, having lived in both the India and the US, I haven't ever felt that there was anything lacking in terms of receiving world class healthcare in India.

That's because the US doesn't have world class healthcare either.

Unfortunately the western culture is slowly but steadily gaining foothold here and with hospitals like Max and Apollo the cost of medical treatment is steadily rising while health insurance is being steadily promoted as something you can't live without.

I'm guessing that within a decade these multinational companies who run these medical establishment as ruthless businesses will be able to get it to the same point.

This comment sharing more of my life than I'm strictly comfortable with and coming off as patronizingly preachy is my highest point earner. Go figure.

I thought it was salient and not at all preachy. I came to similar conclusions several years ago. The lack of social safety nets in the US is a heavy burden in the long run for independent contractors and eventually the burden becomes too heavy. I think every independent contractor needs to re-evaluate their business every six months or so and be realistic with their long-term outlooks.

Maybe(?) the comment is preachy, but the sentiment is borne of goodwill and of course, reality. It's a wake up and I personally need to get on to this.

What I really want to get across is that young entrepreneurs need to plan for aging/medical emergencies. The reality of where you live and the potential for unexpected medical expenses can devastatingly impact your life and business if you don't properly plan for those outliers.

I'd recommend you determine your acceptable level of financial exposure to disaster and get competent legal and financial advice to protect yourself and fully understand the potential ramifications of your self employment and/or startup decisions.

It was a great point. Once I realized that the writer was from emea, health care and social safety net were the first thing that popped into my mind. Your experience is valuable. Thank you for sharing it.

As I was reading ops post, I personally latched on to the writer having what sounded like a family that actively cared what happened to him. That's not something that everyone has. Going to bed hungry and not knowing where your next meal might come from will alter your level of comfort with employment risk.

You kept it real. HN appreciates keepin' it real.

welcome to show business. (your comment was fine, really)

A bit OT, but this post made me think: how do countries provide good health care? does it always have to be government sponsored, otherwise it would be not affordable? And how does the government pay for it, given that the money has to come from taxpayers?

Because otherwise I don't understand why the market can't provide good health insurance in the US? Isn't that a classic insurance problem, take a group of people and spread out the risk?

What is going on? Is medicine too expensive because of state subsidies, so private insurers can't compete? Or are there regulations preventing private insurers from entering the market?

I think that's how insurance works on a basic level, but when it is run as business you try to maximize the profit. Healthcare is one of the best businesses around because in the event your client gets very sick they are willing to pay pretty much everything to get better. You can design the insurance around these events and average customer does not really pay attention.

State run healthcare ruins the market by basing the cost of treatments to pretty much what they cost to perform rather than how much person is willing to pay for them. Of course it does not work quite so smoothly in the real world, but enough that countries with public healthcare seem to be cheaper.

In theory, competition should take care of the escalating costs, though?

In a "market" in which costs are unpredictable and not disclosed until AFTER care is complete, there is not truly competition.

Try asking a cardiologist or neurologist for a fixed price estimate before a test is run. If you press the issue you'll be labeled a "confrontational" or "hostile" patient and rejected from the practice.

This is what drives me crazy about US health care. Where I currently live the estimated costs are given to you in advance, even advertised on the websites of hospitals and clinics. But back in the US where I used to live it is just like you said - nobody will quote prices.

They will reject you as long as they have enough other patients who don't care about the price. Somewhere the systemic error is injected into the system. There has to be a way to fix it or improve it.

In some countries it's illegal to refuse service to customers unless they are doing something illegal. This applies to shops and restaurants as well.

The inresting thing is that it is very easy to get a detailed quote for any medical procedure that is not covered by insurance and payed for out of pocket by the consumer directly.

Or even a dentist.

Dentists are much easier to get estimates from, because they know most of their patients are paying out of pocket. My last visit they gave me an estimate for my checkup and cleaning without my even asking.

In addition to the price issues pointed out in a sibling comment, you can't pause mid-heart-attack to shop around for the best deal.

It's time to admit that not all problems are amenable to market solutions.

I am not yet convinced it is not amenable. For example who gets to serve a city with emergency services? I guess there could be bidders to the city council, offering services for a certain price. That would lead to competition.

Likewise, insurances would negotiate rates for certain procedures. Of course it is not the task of the patient during cardiac arrest to do so. But the patient would choose the insurance provider.

>I am not yet convinced it is not amenable. For example who gets to serve a city with emergency services? I guess there could be bidders to the city council, offering services for a certain price. That would lead to competition.

This sort of thing is usually fertile breeding ground for corruption and backhanders. The NHS has been dogged by scandals caused by this sort of pseudo-privatization.

It works for smaller and short term contracts, especially for things which the private sector also needs, but the larger the size of the contract the more likely it is that the price will be determined by backhanders and which ministers play golf with which chief execs.

For something the size of "supply a city with emergency services", you could practically guarantee that the city council leader's cushy post-political job would be determined by which company they picked.

tl;dr read up on the principal/agent problem.

But then how can it be solved? With the blockchain? (that was sarcasm, although, perhaps worth thinking about - transparency, at least)

Sure, governments/councils spending other people's money is always a fertile ground for corruption.

It's not that hard provided the government is motivated to clamp down on it: keep the contract sizes small, keep the contract durations short, make the transparency absolute and the bidding process transparent, open and fair.

Most privatization efforts come about as an attempt to inject corruption, however, so arguing that it could be done in a fairer and cheaper way is something of a moot point: if it were going to be cheaper and fairer they wouldn't be pushing for it in the first place.

"Most privatization efforts come about as an attempt to inject corruption"

Huh - citation needed? I've never heard that claim before. Corruption pretty much needs governments, who else are you going to bribe?

To me competition seems the only surefire way to keep prices fair/low. Yes, motivated governments in theory could do everything. A supercomputer could theoretically compute the perfect prices and allocations for everything. But no such computer exists, and markets are the only approximation available. You can not rely on governments to be motivated to be selfless and good. Even if perhaps some individuals are, in the long run the incentives are just not aligned, and it takes just a few bad apples to ruin the system.

> who gets to serve a city with emergency services?

It's worth noticing that most of ambulance services in the world are run entirely or in a good part by volunteers and no-profit organizations to ensure honesty and quality of the service.

> It's time to admit that not all problems are amenable to market solutions.

...to put it mildly. Applying the market law to medicine encourages the most inhuman behaviors.

Yes I agree. I don't know if this Charlie Munger musing [1] on how some fields figure out not to engage in cut throat competition is relevant here.


full speech


National health care systems are incredibly common outside the US, and they're often in countries with sliding scale income tax so it impacts the poorer much less than those well off. A lot of countries have hybrid systems where there is partial privatisation, but it's rare to see private insurance necessary for required treatments.

I don't mean for this to be antagonistic so please don't take it that way, but it seems so many outside the US see the US as almost a form of extreme capitalism, where an almost dogmatic belief in the ideal has resulted in sub-optimal infrastructure and services.

But why - I still don't understand what is causing the problem in the US? Even in the non-US systems, somebody has to pay, so how can they afford it, given that all other countries are poorer than the US?

In my view, insurance is completely compatible with capitalism. It is simply a business, based on statistics. So why should the US have a special problem with insurance?

"Insurance" and "healthcare" are two completely different things. To understand why this is, observe that the military run their own state-run medical system rather than requiring individual soldiers to have private medical insurance for any battlefield injuries.

Non-US manage costs by some combination of state price control, aggressive triage, reduction of bureaucracy compared to complex insurance systems, and lower labour costs.

Also, in re "other countries are poorer than the US": that may be due to the US having a few extremely rich people, it may be possible that the average or modal American is poorer than the average European. Especially if you account for healthcare.

The guardian a few days ago compared country's tax burden and for people in the lower tax band people in the USA paid more tax that the UK :-)

This one? https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/may/27/tax-britons-pa...

The one which has "US Tax rate 20.3%" and "UK Tax rate 18.9%"?

Even if we did pay more tax, how are you accounting for healthcare and other benefits? US state taxes? UK council tax, and the situations where you can have "negative income tax" in the UK (WFTC)?

And, as discussed, you're free of worries about whether or not you'll get healthcare in the UK. (You may experience a delay for non-urgent conditions, I'll give you that)

Its the other way around for those earning under £25k uk 18.9 usa 20.3

That's the same way round as I said, 18.9% in the UK is lower than 20.3% in the US.

> But why - I still don't understand what is causing the problem in the US? Even in the non-US systems, somebody has to pay, so how can they afford it, given that all other countries are poorer than the US?

Perhaps the issue isn't that the US as a whole can't afford it, but more that medical treatments are expensive and the rich aren't willing to subsidise for the others.

In countries where it's funded essentially via sliding scale income tax, the rich don't have a choice but to subsidise it.

That would be another issue than the "medical care is especially expensive in the US", though.

Are the numbers even known, I mean, how much would proper health insurance cost per person?

There are economic interests that have made sure that the information you are talking about isn't available. Its hard to get this across, because it sounds a little crazy.

There are economic forces in American life that actively misinform the public. Medical care is made to be expensive to protect those interests.

If all the money comes from one pocket - the government - the system is incentivized to concentrate on economically optimal treatment. In the US scenario hospitals are financially incentivized to fleece insurance companies for all they can. This is an exaggearation of course, but if a viable treatment can be done with a one doctors visit or two, the US system incentivies for two doctors visits and so on.

why would the money coming from one pocket incentivize economic optimal treatment? By what mechanism? Why wouldn't hospitals try to fleece the government (spoiler: they do, in the countries with public health care)?

> Why wouldn't hospitals try to fleece the government

In the UK most hospitals are owned and run by the state.

Compare the actual figures spent per capita on healthcare spend in single payer vs the us system and the outcomes and you'll find your assumptions are badly wrong.

Single payer works better, that's why almost all countries use it for basic healthcare.

Single payer may work better overall but I can confirm that in Canada they do fleece the single payer in exactly this way.

"Only one issue per visit" so they can charge for two visits. Making me visit to hear the negative results of a standard STD panel, again, just so they can charge for two visits. They charge for an extra visit just to renew prescriptions with no additional examination. Etc.

There are other reasons for one issue one visit - it helps them avoid long sessions which inconvenience everyone else though as soon as insurance companies are involved there are perverse incentives.

Also there are different structures for payment, insurance and pay per visit are simply not necessary with single payer though some systems use an amalgam of public/private.

Same thing in the USA. Trying getting a problem looked at during a physical; they want a separate appointment. Though since my insurance pays for physicals, I can see why they do it. Probably required by insurance company since my deductible is $5000.

> hospitals try to fleece the government (spoiler: they do, in the countries with public health care)?

(A) which countries do you mean here? Be specific

(B) Do you think hospitals aren't trying to fleece insurers and customers all the time? e.g. with opaque billing practices?

A) For example Germany (where I live). B) Why do the billing practices have to be opaque? In Germany, patients often don't even see the bills. It all goes directly to the insurance company. For public insurance, that is. For private insurance, the patient pays and then asks the insurance company for their money back.

The NHS as the only major buyer of drugs etc can bargain for price reductions

Regarding your last question: because the government gets to say how much its willing to pay for any procedure. It's the government that has leverage on what the price will be in a single payer system.

But the doctors decide what procedures are necessary.

Insurance is compatible with capitalism. I don't think anyone is implying that it isn't.

What we are trying to say is that in the US, insurance provides very little benefit while constantly driving up cost. They actually have every incentive to shield consumers and producers from having good levels of information about value and cost. If making money from the actuarial spread were the only thing that they did, they might not be so toxic. Instead, they partition information into silo's to further create arbitrage points. Every point where they serve as gatekeeper for information is a place in the system that extra profit can be made.

I think one of the things that you are assuming is that they have a single function in the market. They don't. As is often the case, simple capitalist models for ideal markets just don't match reality. They are also able to use their gains to game the system in their favor from a regulatory perspective.

But why can't they be disrupted? For example some people could be pissed off that they don't get information, and companies providing information could win them over as customers.

Obviously, things are not working out in the US. I am just not yet convinced that the market/capitalism is to blame, or if it is essentially corruption (including lobbyists bribing politicians to set up a system that allows the bad insurers to stay in operation).

Consumers don't choose their health insurance companies in the US. Their employers choose them. And when the user != the purchaser, you don't get a good user experience, you get corruption and a race to the bottom.

OK, but people choose their employers, to some extent. Would more transparency help them to demand the right health insurance from their employers?

I think in the industries and positions where employees have bargaining power you do tend to see excellent healthcare plans. But that's a minority of the workforce.

The corruption that you're talking about is just some parties reinvesting their gains in protection of future gains. I'm not anti-capitalism but I think that we need some way to talk about the failures of markets where power keeps being accumulated by parties like these.

In the U.S., insurers cannot be prosecuted for anti-trust violations under McCarran-Ferguson. care providers and suppliers tend to engage in anti-competitive practices, and the state does not provide price controls.

Also, EMTALA prevents hospitals from denying treatment for ER visits. People without insurance use these frequently as they have no other alternatives for care. ER visits are incredibly expensive and its a partial reason for price spikes.

Basically the US healthcare system is a patchwork of system tied to employment (which stemmed from wage controls during WW2). No one's been able to rework the system since there are too many entrenched players making too much money

It would be very interesting to see the actual costs of no-pay ER visits. Not the billed amounts, the underlying costs.

>In my view, insurance is completely compatible with capitalism. It is simply a business, based on statistics.

Insurance that is based upon a normal distribution is compatible. Insurance based upon a non-normal distribution is not compatible because you basically can't price it. You therefore usually get a few scenarios:

* The insurer prints money during the good years and goes bankrupt in the bad years.

* The insurer prints money during the good years and somehow caps their liability in the bad years (this is why homeowners' insurance typically doesn't cover flood damage).

Sometimes the government covers the difference (e.g. the government coughing up the money AIG owed to Goldman Sachs, the nuclear liability cap or NFIP), sometimes it doesn't.

You get non-normal distributions in a lot of situations - nuclear insurance, flood, earthquake, healthcare and insuring against default risk.

tl;dr capitalism is compatible only with high school statistics.

But lots of insurance companies operate on the risks you mention, floods, earthquakes. There are insurance companies that insure other insurance companies against outliers, for example.

Sure, there is no guarantee that the whole network can not go broke. But that goes for governments, too.

Also I think health care will always have to be capped at some point, because with arbitrarily high investments, you could presumably keep people alive indefinitely (heart fails - attach heart machine. Lung fails - attach lung machine...). That is why in the UK afaik they don't pay for dialysis once you reach a certain age.

"But lots of insurance companies operate on the risks you mention, floods, earthquakes. "

Where this does happen there's usually a fairly low liability cap, some sort of hybrid private/public partnership or a combination.

"Also I think health care will always have to be capped at some point, because with arbitrarily high investments, you could presumably keep people alive indefinitely (heart fails - attach heart machine. Lung fails - attach lung machine...). That is why in the UK afaik they don't pay for dialysis once you reach a certain age."

The UK is almost entirely communist (this is a description, not a slur) in the way funds are allocated. They base funding decisions on something called QALYs - quality adjusted life years.

The practical upshot is that expensive operations that will add 6 months of painful life for an elderly patient are not prioritized under the NHS whereas operations that could save a newborn child's life have virtually no funding limits.

There are all sorts of structural limits on providers entering the marketplace. Not just doctors, but hospitals and the like. In many states, opening up many types of medical facilities requires a certificate of need from the state regulator (exactly what sorts of facilities vary by state and some states don't require them).

Another factor is that many people don't shop for their insurance, they take whatever their employer offers (and if they have much leverage, they demand that their employer offer something with broad coverage and minimal copays and deductibles).

I am no doctor, but I guess when you run health care as a for profit adventure you will try to extract more money from your patient. Maybe not the direct way, but you might buy a lot of very expensive equipment and send your patients there even when there is another way of diagnosis that is cheaper. Or you might be even doing a lot of additional screenings just to be sure (you really want to be covered in case of some lawsuit).

I think many people also get unintentionally screwed by the insurance pricing model that demands to only pay at most 25% (an oversimplification) of the stated cost and doesn't allow discounts to insured individuals.

For instance: a hospital charges patients $300 for an X-ray if they pay directly in cash. However, insurer "X" has a policy that they only pay 25% of standard rate for all procedures. So the hospital states their standard rate is $1200 for an X-ray.

So now I (as an insurer "X" policyholder) get billed $1200, but my insurer decides it's a non-covered expense. Does the hospital adjust my bill down to their cash rate of $300?


That would violate their agreement with the insurer and potentially mean that the insurer would only pay them $75 per x-ray moving forward on ALL of insurer "X"'s policyholders.

So now I hypothetically am stuck with a bill four times as large as it would have been if I were entirely uninsured.

This is a product of the impersonal transformation of medicine caused by corporate ownership (and accounting) of local care facilities combined with the legal/profit seeking power of large insurance firms.

You can go to their accounting department and tell them you're unable to pay the full amount of the bill due to hard-ship. They will in turn probably reduce the bill down to $300 dollars. Either that or you walk out the front door and they get paid for nothing, and they have sell the outstanding amount for penny's to the dollar to a debt collector.

Yep, and the $900 difference is written off as a loss by the hospital. They must pay zero taxes.

This seems to be more of a problem with insurance - there often is little transparency and doctors simply charge all sorts of things to the insurer that the patient has no idea about.

I think that is one of the main challenges of health insurance.

In my country (Germany) I have actually shied away from switching to private insurance, because they pay doctors more, and doctors are known to do as many tests and procedures as possible (not always a good thing, but in the end it is a gamble - too many examinations/procedures or too few?).

The "public" health insurance is quite regulated as to what gets paid and how much. The downside is that doctors have to waste a lot of time on bureaucracy (every examination has to be entered into the computer to determine the costs), and transparency is still missing (patients typically don't even know how much their treatments cost). And some committee decides what procedures get paid. I don't trust committees. I trust the market (I mean I trust "in" markets, not necessarily any given market as markets can be broken by regulations, lack of transparency, all sorts of things). I have also spent a lot of money on things that weren't covered by public insurance.

One story I heard is that for example in the UK they won't pay for dialysis after a certain age. So public health insurance is not an automatic solution to every problem.

I think it is actually unavoidable that insurance will have to make a cut at some point, because medical procedures can become arbitrarily expensive. Perhaps even now for the right money, people could be kept alive indefinitely.

I would have no problem with a doctor trying to be profitable - just as with other businesses. I guess the classic assumption is that to be profitable, businesses have to provide good service.

> [I]n the UK they won't pay for dialysis after a certain age

This is completely WRONG, there are NO age-related limits for treatment like this in the UK. Dialysis is a life-saving procedure for those with kidney failure, and is available to everyone in the UK who requires it regardless of age. The same goes for heart surgery, bypass operations, stents etc. which are also sometimes claimed to be age restricted.

The fact that people actually believe that a cruel system like this (one that would cause people to die by withholding treatment just because of their age) might really exist probably says much more about the way US health care works and the perceptions surrounding it.

I am actually from Germany and heard the story about NHS dialysis many years ago, so it has nothing to do with US right wing propaganda or whatever. My apologies, though, if it isn't correct.

Nevertheless I think there will always be procedures that won't be paid for, in any health care system, because it would always be possible to incur arbitrarily high costs. As an extreme example, you could assemble a team of 1000 scientists to try to cure one person.

That's interesting, I assumed it was a solely US belief, and certainly there have been plenty of scare-story emails circulating there regarding NHS and ACA. Obviously NICE [0] (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) does make calculations about when and what treatment should be given or withheld, using a system called QALYs [1] (Quality Adjusted Life Years) to attempt to ethically and deterministically decide this, which will always cause some people to be unhappy, unfortunately.

0. https://www.nice.org.uk/

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-adjusted_life_year

> One story I heard is that for example in the UK they won't pay for dialysis after a certain age. So public health insurance is not an automatic solution to every problem.

A quick Google search reveals this claim is spurious, so maybe don't believe everything you hear.

Sorry about that - I heard it a long time ago. Nevertheless, health insurance will always be capped at some point, you can not guarantee arbitrarily high expenses for everybody.

What happens is: treatments are evaluated and declared either cost effective or not. They don't refuse people treatment because they've used more than their 'fair share' of some allowance.

> One story I heard is that for example in the UK they won't pay for dialysis after a certain age.

This is not true. In fact, most people getting dialysis are over 65.


> Kidney disease is more common as we get older, and although people of all ages can need to start dialysis, it most commonly affects people aged between 65 and 84 years. Figure 2 shows the number of people starting dialysis or going straight to transplantation in each age group and it can be seen that the age group with the most people was 65–74 for both haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In 2013, the average age of people starting treatment was 65 years and this has changed little over the last six years. The average age at start was 67 years for people starting on haemodialysis, 60 for people starting on peritoneal dialysis and 50 for those having a transplant before they start dialysis. In 2013, more men started treatment than women (63% male versus 37% female). Diabetes was the single most common cause of kidney failure (25%).

Here's a document talking about cost of dialysis for older people: https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article/18/10/2122/1807737/Cost...

The NHS Constitution for England forbids discrimination based on age, as does the Equality Act 2010.


> The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all

> It is available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or marital or civil partnership status. The service is designed to improve, prevent, diagnose and treat both physical and mental health problems with equal regard. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights. At the same time, it has a wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and life expectancy are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.


Sorry, I heard it many years ago and didn't double check. Nevertheless for sure there are caps on health care expenses.

Speaking of kidneys - don't they prioritize recipients of organs somehow? If age based discrimination is forbidden, an 85 year old person would be as eligible as an 8 year old to receive a new kidney?

Not saying it would be wrong, just curious.

> Nevertheless for sure there are caps on health care expenses.

Can you name any?

> Because otherwise, I don't understand why the market can't provide good health insurance in the US? Isn't that a classic insurance problem, take a group of people and spread out the risk?

No, your mistake is in assuming that insurance companies exist to spread risk and reduce costs. Insurance companies like most publicly traded companies exist to transfer wealth from customers to executives and shareholders. As a result, they will do whatever they legally can to raise revenue (increasing premiums) and reduce costs (deny coverage, push the burden to the consumer).

The other aspect is that healthcare in the United States does not lend itself to a free market solution. There's no transparency in prices, so you can't exactly shop around when you need a procedure done. In addition, you also have times when a person needs treatment due to a life-threatening condition. He is not interested in looking at alternatives, he's interested in staying alive, so he's going to take whatever provider is around. Well, if that provider is not "in-network", he's going to get hit with a massive bill. The United States is literally the only developed* nation that has the concept of medical bankruptcy.

* The United States is not truly developed. From an economic standpoint, we are, from a social standpoint, we're not.

I mean isn't one factor that healthcare simply costs more in the USA in the first place?

This is the main problem. American health industry (doctors, pharmaceuticals, etc) cost a vast amount more than in other countries, thus insurance is also high to compensate for this.

I've heard that a big part of this cost is due to the highly litigious culture in America that requires doctors to carry very high malpractice insurance, which they must then pass on in their patient costs. Americans love to sue, and this drives prices up.

I don't know if this is true, but its the one argument I've heard over the years that makes the most sense to me.

I once had a worldwide health insurance plan while living in Asia, and it covered all countries EXCEPT the USA, because of the absurd costs there.

Strangely enough my primary income is writing software for the healthcare industry. A significant portion of my firm's income goes to insurance and lawyers to ensure compliance/protection in the event of a lawsuit.

But why does it cost more, and how are employers able to provide health insurance anyway?

One reason it costs more: people with serious conditions may delay presenting because they fear the cost of healthcare.

And unfortunately, many serious conditions are dramatically more expensive, and potentially more lethal, when presenting late. It's a nasty piece of positive cost feedback inherent to the current US system, and one that disproportionately affects patients from lower income brackets.

Other reasons include the massive costs of running and staffing the billing infrastructure, cost of compliance & provider insurance, and uncontrolled drug pricing.

These factors are not present in most other first-world healthcare systems, or are present but minimised by effective regulation.

> group health insurance in the US is worth at least $75k a year in income. At least.

Would you be able to expand on this? The math isn't adding up on my end. At 35 in California, you'd be paying $350/mo for a Silver plan, with an OOP max of $6800/yr. So the max health costs for a year would be $11k. Plus you get a ~30% discount on premiums from tax deductions under your own company.

Out of pocket only refers to covered billing codes (originally said expenses). And that varies state to state by insurer. But in the case of blue cross blue shield Texas the SPEC test was "covered" but the injectible radioisotope was not. Nor was the injection itself. Or the IV catheter insertions. Or the related ECG. Etc etc.

Out of pocket only applies to covered benefits. Which in many cases are selectively chosen by the insurers.

Also understand the tax and benefits implications of various corporate structures. Being a C-corp vs S-corp in the US can have major tax implications in the event of a major healthcare expense or even routine premium payments. Talk to an accountant and attorney for advice relevant to your situation/jurisdiction.

That would certainly explain it. I've been lucky enough to not need much medical care, so I'm not familiar with the ins-and-outs of actually using my insurance.

Thank you for sharing your experience!

Is it really such a safe assumption that a group insurance plan would provide better coverage than an ACA marketplace plan?

Because that is what you are implying, that group plans are all better than the individual plans people are talking about.

Group plans are subsidized by your employer, which makes it cheaper than the ACA plans at certain incomes. Also the group plan I have has lower deductibles than the ACA does.

The ACA did do a great thing in controlling what insurers have to cover, which prevents insurers from being super selective on coverage.

The claim I question is the claim that group plans actually cover a great deal more than marketplace plans (to the tune of being worth $75,000 a year...).

I'm quite sure that the various mandates in the ACA impacted many group plans, not just individual insurance. Maybe places with strong unions had plans that already exceeded the ACA mandates.

Honestly that number was mentally calculated late at night based on my personal experience and actual costs including taxes.

Most group plans at decent employers have many, many fewer billing code exclusions. They also tend to offer better choice of providers than most individual plans (many individual plans use a limited selection of doctors who have agreed to lower rates, etc for the insurer). This can also mean less wait time for specialist visits and therefore less time with lost income.

Additionally being employed with group coverage you generally as a salaried employee will not be fired for being sick. So your income does not dip due to you being unavailable for work as you can continue to draw salary.

As a hypothetical example: let's say you are in an accident and can only manage to work 20 hours a week for six months after (not unrealistic). If you are the primary or only source of sales/billable hours/invoicing for your firm you have to plan for a loss of income during the recovery time. What taxation considerations are there if you have to draw funds out of the company for medical bills? If you're structured certain common ways they get taxed at your full income rate in addition to the corporate tax rate (if the funds have been retained in the corporation as profits).

When calculating all those externalities $75k was the off the cuff number I came up with. I don't vouch for its total accuracy.

But some of those things are just benefits of having an employer. They tend to come with group insurance, but it isn't the group insurance that decides to keep you on during the illness or recovery.

That's fair. The point I was hoping to make though is that being self employed or even running your own startup has significant non-obvious financial risks/externalities when it comes to emergencies and healthcare in the US. Those risks have to be offset with cash beyond what many people assume is sufficient due to non obvious factors. Planning and good advisors are key.

> If you aren't in a country with proper healthcare

One thing that surprised me is that healthcare in Thailand is exceptionally good. There are world-class hospitals and doctors, and people come here for medical tourism. The dentists are also very good, and very affordable.

I think I've actually had better treatment in Chiang Mai than in San Francisco. I have health insurance, but I've never had to use it, and I just pay cash for everything. I once went to the ER in San Francisco and ended up paying $2,000 for an x-ray and some medicine (that was after insurance, I think the total bill was something like $5,000.)

We've had a few x-rays and medicine in Chiang Mai, and we just paid $40 in cash (USD).

So I think it's definitely a good idea to live in a country with universal healthcare, or one where healthcare is very affordable. Of course, unless you have "f&*@ you" money, then it doesn't really matter.

You know you can buy health insurance, right? When you start a business, you will have costs. Health insurance, part of benefits, is one of them. You need to factor this into what you charge customers and clients.

It shows poor business acumen to assume that what you charge is what you make. You may be able to get away with that when you're doing side gigs, but if you start a business, you must plan for costs.

One of them is heathcare. If you can't afford it, maybe you shouldn't have gone out on your own in the first place.

> You know you can buy health insurance, right?

Assuming we're talking about the US market, this is currently true-ish with some caveats, the biggest of which is that there's a major political party currently holding all the power at the federal level working hard to take us back to a time when some people -- even some people with wealth -- could not buy insurance (natural consequence when insurers have every incentive to be selective about who goes in the risk pool), and even some workplace groups faced limiting choices.

My first full time job (in 2006) was with a relatively small company, but with hundreds of full time employees, and thousands of part-timers. I started right before a group policy was to be established, so every full-timer (including myself) was given a medical survey and a doctor was scheduled to come into our main campus for physicals.

Needless to say, we were denied a policy that any of us could afford. The average age at that company was over 50.

Thankfully, being young, I could stay on my parents insurance for one more year before having to get my own personal insurance.

I pretty much had to switch insurance every couple of years to higher and higher deductibles so that my monthly expense didn't grow. This was during the housing debacle, and no jobs and my current salary wasn't getting higher.

I kept my shitty insurance which wasn't ACA compliant until it was illegal to do so, and then I went without paying the fee the first year, then getting insurance through my wife's school the next year.

If the US goes back even 10 years, rates might be lower, but real care is almost non-existent.

I didn't get to have a stomach bug covered without months of fighting back and forth and medical collections calls until the ACA's pre-existing conditions clause went into effect, as I had a lot of stomach issues as a child.

I've been fully insured to the extent that insurance was available. Meaning that before the ACA I was generally uninsurable so large amounts of money were set aside and state high risk pools were applied to (those are a whole other can of worms).

As someone who has done this for fifteen years, my point is that anyone looking to get into this has to plan ahead financially for unexpected situations. Even with planning and insurance you can find yourself in a tough financial situation unless you consistently earn enough money to set aside large amounts for emergencies.

And for the love of god talk to accountants and attorneys about how to structure things. If you need access to funds rapidly you don't want to screw up your taxes by being forced to draw from penalized sources.

Obamacare/ACA changes this a bit. Your premiums usually won't exceed 10% of your income so you just have to have enough saved for your out of pocket max.

That said I would strongly recommend everyone who goes independent look into long term disability insurance while they're healthy. Freelancers Union has a decent group policy available to anyone for pretty good rates.

Please understand what "out of pocket maximum" actually means. It only applies to "covered" procedures.

If that experimental surgery isn't covered your OOP maximum doesn't apply.

Also please understand that insurance companies like to consider thirty year old tests/procedures/treatments as experimental/unproven and will consistently use that as an excuse to deny coverage and not apply them to your OOP maximum.

Hope you can afford an attorney if that happens.

Will this likely happen to you? Not at all. Can it happen to you? Absolutely.

All of these things apply to group insurance, as well.

Pre-ACA many plans didn't have an out-of-pocket maximum even for covered stuff, and most had lifetime limits on coverage as well.

I strongly second the long term disability insurance. Once you need it the opportunity to reasonably purchase it has passed.

The author is from Holland. It's safe to say that we ( I'm from Belgium) are much better off in terms of healthcare

Can confirm. Belgian healthcare is cheap and (mostly) reliable. If I need to get a procedure done, I can get it done.

I'm not convinced, even though I keep hearing this a lot:


Netherlands ranks #1, Belgium #5.

Well, everyone pays for excellent health care. When someone has severe problems, the problem isn't finding care/money. It's the disease itselve ( on almost everything)

I'm not a socialist, but I am a big fan of the system. And the cost of medicine is way lower than the US

Why is that?

Belgium has high-quality care that is accessible to all. Everybody contributes to social security proportionally to their working income (which in my opinion is not fair since e.g. capital gains are untaxed). In return, everybody enjoys complete health care coverage (and other protections, such as unemployment benefits, maternity leave, ...). There is a copay for doctors visits (e.g. 6 EUR for your GP, 1.5 EUR for people with low income) and medical procedures, but there is also a maximum amount a person can be charged for health care in a year (459 EUR for low incomes). Bankruptcy due to medical bills is pretty much unheard off.

According to [1], health spending accounted for 10.9% of GDP in Belgium in 2012, which is much lower than in the United States (which spent 16.9% of its GDP on health). Meanwhile infant and maternal mortality rates in Belgium are about half what they are in the US: 3.6 vs 6.1 per 1000 live births [2] and 7 vs 14 deaths per 100,000 live births [3], respectively. Anybody who argues that the free markets lead to better health outcomes than 'socialized' medicine, is ignoring the data.

By the way, dental care is included in medical care. So we don't have third world country situations like [4] in the US.

[1] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2VeNWmB...

[2] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_05.pdf

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2017/05/13/the-pai...

Their healthcare is - to American sensibilities - a bit "socialistic".

One word. Europe

Even in countries with 'universal' healthcare like Ontario, you still have to cover drug costs and dental yourself. Which can be really expensive.

This has even made me think about relocating back to the UK or Ireland before trying to start a business.

That is mostly a problem in the USA. You could get your healthcare in places like the Philippines and save 95% of the bill.

>understand that all your years of work can be destroyed by one diagnosis. And plan accordingly.

Outside of emergency, you can travel to cheaper countries for treatment.

Why not moving to another country?

I'm curious, were you living a healthy lifestyle before, or was it a condition that came about from bad lifestyle choices?


1) You can keep your job. Just always build things on the side. It keeps you coding for play and not just for work.

2) Try to sell the things you build. You don't need to be fully polished on day one. In fact, you shouldn't be and can't be because you need real customers to really understand their needs.

3) you can find the numbers online, but my saas project Cronitor had just $500mrr after seven months. You need patience and to adjust your work factor to match the available outputs. By letting it coast a bit while it picked up momentum we prevented burnout. When it started to grow faster we could pour some attention in and level up the product.

4) grow it while you work your day job. This is easy at first and grows harder. Having a partner is important here. Alternative: a business where a little downtime is not a big deal.

5) when it gets stressful, know your commitments. Your day job gets first bite and when you can't do that anymore you know it's time to move on and do it full time.

Most importantly the tldr is: quit your job after you've replaced most of your salary. And before you quit enjoy the incremental income.

One thing I noticed while doing a 40 hour a week software job recently (I'm not working now) is that your ability to work in the evenings and weekends depends on how much cognitive load you go through during those 40 hours.

I've had jobs where the load is moderate, but in this recent one, the employer wanted to extract work from every hour of the 40 hour perior. I was so exhausted, that I couldn't do anything in the evenings, would spend Saturday in a state of haze, and on Sunday finally be able to think straight. But then on Sunday you barely catch up with what you were doing last Sunday. So your progress practically comes to grinding halt.

This is the beginning of burnout.

Soon, you'll stop being able to think straight even into Monday. Other things in your life will fall to the wayside or disappear out of neglect. Monday will turn into Tuesday, Tuesday into Wednesday. You'll wonder why you even bother to show up.

Eventually, your employer will fire you for someone younger and cheaper, and you'll realize that you have no ability to maintain enough software development effort on your own to demonstrate to potential employers that you can do the work.

And even if you could, it's a sham, because you can't. You'll find that you end up being able to work ten, maybe twenty hours a week if you're having an especially good week. Your work won't be any worse, for quality, you just simply won't be able to force yourself to do it any more than that.

So, it's worth addressing that early.

I'm not sure why the mantra of HN is that "You just have weekend and side projects and stay up till 3 am while still making that 9am meeting and everything is great". Sure, that works for a while, until you hit your limits and your life falls apart. There's no road back from there.

Take it from me, you can truly excel, and nobody cares unless you can work 40, 50, or 60 hours a week. To PG's point from a while ago, "Nobody is willing to pay double for twice the work" - neither is anyone willing to pay half the rate for half the work.

Shit, that sounds like me. The weekends have turned into recovery from the workweek. I love electronics design, but my employer has ground me down over 20 years. I'd quit now at 45, but have 2 kids elementary school age with looming college expenses and a few years left on the mortgage. I'd like to quit and do it just for fun again.

I'd be happy to talk if you want. I don't have a bunch of help to offer you, it's what I've been living the last little while. My email is in my profile if you'd prefer to discuss privately - I have no shame so... here's my thoughts.

Take it from me though quitting doesn't solve the problem. It just means you're unemployed and burnt out!

I've been in therapy for quite a while now and really not seeing much in the way of significant progress, but things are getting better in an incremental way.

Is college really required?


It takes too long. It's too expensive. In the UK and US it's s a costly activity - students tend to take loans so when they leave university they are in debt. Hurray! You got a degree, now you have to work to pay off your loan...

I have nothing against education and learning. You should always learn. If you really think that going to university is something you really have to do: * Take a gap year first * Be sure what you want to study * Don't pay for it: scholarships, or maybe a different country with free education? (you may need to learn the language first)

I made several mistakes in my approach to university. Probably the biggest one was sense of entitlement - because I graduated from the top degree in the top high school - I thought I'll get new jobs easily.

> Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work.

University could be good in terms of making friends, expanding your network but... I bet you can make friends anyway.


I'm not sure what solution you're suggesting. Can you please rephrase?

I am suggesting that, if the environment you work in leaves you with no energy at the end of the day, you need to either change it or leave.

(Not that you should use that free energy for programming. Use it to build your life, not software.)

It's probably true that not everyone can pull it off, but many evidently can.

You don't need to excel at your day job, you just need to work hard enough to hang on while exploring your side project.

Speaking of, I don't think I've met a programmer without some kind of side project, so it's just a matter of how much effort you can put into it, and how good the idea is. If you have a family this will depend on how understanding your wife is, but I think it's safe to assume that anyone can but in an hour a day at least. Americans watch some 3 hours of TV a day, so time is not lacking.

Parent is not working 60 hours a week. He is working 40, but he does not slack around, so he is tired after that.

I don't think that being exhausted at the end of the day should be accepted, or considered normal.

Sure, everyone has bad days.

What happens if you're working to your utmost, absolutely everything you've got has to go into the job, and you hit a rough patch? A cold, a breakup, God forbid a death in the family.

You have to build that into your routine. You're not going to be a superhero every day, so you need to spend some of your time managing for that, setting things up in such a way that when you have a bad day, you can compensate for it, rather than falling apart.

If you're putting out more than 90% of your 'best day' effort every day, you're sitting in a very precarious place. You need to be proactive about resting and rehabilitating yourself.

> I don't think that being exhausted at the end of the day should be accepted, or considered normal.

Indeed. Being physically exhausted can be healthy in most cases but mentally exhausted is completely different. You don't recover from it with a good sleep.

If you are too exhausted, whether physically or mentally, then it is bad. However, if you come home full of energy and work four more hours, then you likely slacked at work - regardless of how much time you spent there.

I know how you feel. I'm currently technically doing a 37.5 hour week - but it FEELS like a LOT more and it's killing me. A lot of those hours are at odd times and I seem to work more and then take it up in time in lieu but it's entirely recovery time not doing-things-time.

Try explaining to your boss, "We need more staff because although I consistently meet all targets I'm just working TOO hard".

I get gas lighted when I do so. They insinuate I'm doing something wrong and need to take more breaks. Uh yeah but then the work doesn't get done, and day by day it builds up, and everyone is clamouring for it, and then you make it seem like I'm at fault again?

I started keeping an Excel spreadsheet of what I do every day just to see how much time I "waste". It turns out I'm doing 6-20 different things a day. Which is what I've been telling them, the load of constantly switching between so many different demands on attention and doing stuff "which should only take a minute" but can turn into hours spread out over days - all the time goes.

I'm extremely sad every day. I'm definitely depressed. But the pay is good and it pays my mortgage. So I feel very trapped.

And yeah when I get home I do nothing. I used to do stuff and blog but now I'm just too tired. All day every day I'm working and making decisions and stressing out - I have no capability to function outside of hours. I can't even make dinner so my partner does it. I find it hard to decide on even simple things and if anything goes wrong I'll break down into tears.

I hope writing that down helped. Because that is not sustainable. I tell developers that I interview that I don't want them working long hours because it leads to bad code. Go home. I want you to have a life and one you enjoy.

You bring up an often overlooked point. The friction of switching tasks. Some people (non-technical managers especially) don't understand the price. They think "oh, I'll just have them jump on this for 15 minutes, then that for half an hour, then the other until lunch". Wrong. You don't get 15 minutes + half an hour + whatever until lunch. You can take 30% + off the top for the switching. This holds true in non-technical fields as well.

The ideal workday is doing just one or two things. That's where a person gets the most return on effort.

Let the work pile up. Who cares if they insinuate you are doing something wrong. Don't take it personally. Resourcing issues are not something you should be worried about.

I wouldn't worry about them replacing you if they don't understand what you do either.

Take more more breaks. The big picture is that you are hard working person and the amount of work assigned to you will go up until they find your limit. So, slow down to speed that is long term sustainable (e.g. dont slack, just slow enough so you are able to function normally in the evening). If you don't, you will burn out and risk ending up all resentful.

The other part of big picture is that what you need is to learn some negotiation and organizational skills. Them clamouring is negotiation and "making it seem like you are at fault again" is particularly ugly negotiation tactic. Treat them as such. By organization, I mean don't do all "just one minute taks" immediately, put them into tracker, group them more effectively so you dont switch attention constantly. So it is more visible that you are really working all the time and that it piles up. Basically, create system in which it is easier for you to tell "later".

If you can't explain it to your boss, just stop shielding him from the consequences.

When you can't do all the work without getting exhausted, prioritize it, do what you can, let the low value work pile up and people complain. If you can't switch all that fast, don't, or if switching is more valuable than your main work, do prioritize it adequately, what means pushing the attention requiring work down.

And do care about your healthy. Make sure you exercise, get some sun, and control your caffeine intake.

Been in a situation as that, it was ugly. At another job it was also like that, just I pulled in 70-100 hours a week.

They did not care. I spent time thinking about it all these years about it, and also talked to various managers.

If the job is being handled, almost 100% , you won't get any help.

The symptoms sound like burnout. Don't ignore it, because not only is it worsening the quality of your life, but also those around you.

What worked for me was to take a long break, a sabbatical. Think deeply about whether you want to stay or move on when you return.

What I personally found is that the days when I go straight home, have some food and then get coding, I get nothing done at home. Instead I feel stressed and it's no fun. Not a good way.

When I instead pass the gym on the way home and work my body hard for an hour it works much better. Then I go home hungry like a wolf and devour a meal, and I feel more inspired for my projects than I did during the "regular" work day.

My conclusion is that sitting life isn't how we evolved - and when I fix my body-use deficiency I unlock all that potential.

This isn't normal? ... f*ck.

What kind of software job leaves you with enough mental energy at the end of the day to let you work and code on your own projects? (Serious question, I feel like it's either work or hobby for me!)

Most I would say, definitely so in Northern Europe. We all have side projects.

But how? After about 6 hours of work my brain is mush!

No, it's not normal at all across the world and especially throughout the last century.

Nice, but many employers lay IP claim to everything you do, even on your non-work time, and also forbid working for anyone else. Mine is one of them. Can anyone actually name a tech employer that has a written "moonlighting-friendly" policy?

If it is on non-work time, without using any company resources, then they will have a hell of a time proving that they own it.

Microsoft, surprisingly, seems to have a rather friendly written moon-lighting policy, excluding situations where you sit on the board of directors of a for-profit company. The main stipulation is to avoid competing with Microsoft, having a conflict of interest, or using any confidential/proprietary/secret information (including what the employee in question and their colleagues are working on).

Google's policy is very open source friendly but they want to own it (e.g. you add Google copyright notices) rather than spend lawyer time determining whether or not it is safe for Google to disclaim ownership.

Some are very restrictive. Google famously so. Many others cannot afford to care if you are meeting your obligations and not competing with them or taking advantage of the situation.

If you think you're building something you want funding for then you should quit first, but that's not really what I was talking about.

GNU has example exemption forms on their site. If you explain you contribute to open source projects many employers will grant exemptions as long as it's not competing with their products.

I don't think this is legal anywhere in Europe (is it?). I've also read that it's illegal in California, USA. In what regions is it allowed?

Standard at pretty much every company in Australia. Generally impossible to get a complete exemption, but you can often carve out exceptions. When I was at Cisco it was 100% of anything made at any time, other places have been slightly less encompassing.

I'm always full of respect to people who break the law - it takes a lot of courage.

So far - 10+ different employment contracts - every single one explicitly forbid working on the side.

Bonus question - how do you do this with 2 young kids?

So many "how I did my own thing" stories out there remind me of that old "How To Draw An Owl" meme[1]. It's always: 1. I quit my job one day and decided to [do a startup | independently contract] 2. Fast forward a few years and [I sold to Google! | I've got 5 contracts and I set my own schedule!] I mean, great work, and congratulations, but I think you skipped a few steps there.

1: http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/000/572/078/d6d...

First study wildlife drawing, then practice sketching birds in your spare time a few years. Get a job in the pacific northwest for a famous worldwide bird-sketching platform. They only want you to sketch goldfinches all day, but that's okay, it's a job. Every now and then you draw two larger circles and wonder what might become of them. In the fullness of time you'll level up, get really good, be a level eight Director of Finch Sketching and the pay and options are really flowing. Save those up, you'll need them.

Then, someday, an owl will come along that, you realise, you have to draw, and that if you don't at least try drawing this owl, you will regret that omission the rest of your life.

Then, and only then, do you quit your high-paying job sketching finches and spend the next two years on the damn owl.

No, he didn't. This is how you get from two circle to an owl.

"All the money I made that didn’t go into the rent of my 1 room apartment and food went in to computing hardware and books. No world wide web back then to get information from. And computer gear was expensive back then! A 160K floppy drive? That’s 900 bucks please! Aka 4 months of savings."

So this guy in Amsterdam happens to be a prodigious programmer who reads lots of books and lands a sequence of full time jobs due to people seeing potential in him. After several years, he quits his well paying job to start a business at 22 much to the vexation of his mother.

This feels like the ending to Jobs (2013). Where's the rest of the story?

You describe him as if he happened to be a genius who was discovered by the right people. My interpretation of the article was that he worked hard to become skilled at code and through persistence and determination managed to convince people to take a chance on him.

Exactly this. He applied for all jobs he could find for 2 and a half years. If this is not determination I don't know what is.

It's not about the steps only, the alleged lessons to draw from these stories are often based on survivorship bias. Successful persons often have no clue why they were successful and they also tend to overestimate the influence of their own skills and work and underestimate the influence of random events like meeting the right person at the right time.

This is a great comment, and after thinking about your question, I think the answer is: acquire a mentor to teach you how to draw an owl. "You should found your own company, and I’ll give you a couple of hints."

(That's actually actionable, and maybe I should look into that...)

I mean, sometimes you just have to draw the fucking owl.

People want a nice little checklist of how to start a business, but that isn't how it works.

Having started five-six new organisations by now, there is in fact a checklist I use these days. The first item is: do I have a salesperson I trust to work with onboard as collaborator? Without this I don't do anything. Viable ideas I am never short of. Then the rest of the checklist starts. But I am on mobile, and not able to easily elaborate right now.

I'd like to thank HN for that. HN gave me a bunch of information/reflex/frameworks to understand how to create a company and how to understand various signals, and my first solopreneurship has been successful for 4 years.

Or the Feynman method of problem solving:

1) Think about the problem. 2) Write down the answer.

Isn't there a "write down the problem" step? I think it's immensely important.

Yeah there is! No wonder it never worked for me.

The Feynman method is a deeper form of rubber duck debugging. If you remove the rubber duck, it won't work.

I think the owl drawing image is an apt simile for starting a business. Because the part in between is not something you can really teach. It takes lots of practice and erasing and rework and trial and error. If you want a step by step process, join a franchise.

Doing contract work isn't that hard.

I simply quit my job, searched for job websites which also had contract projects, wrote a few emails and got my first project.

This I repeated when I was half through the project.

Where is the big jump here?

>> Where is the big jump here?


>> I simply quit my job,

"Quit my job" is not a thing most people would prefix with simply.

What else could be said about this step? Either you quit or you don't.

This is not good advice for hard-working, dedicated programmers who wants to start their own company. Foregoing a salary is scary enough that you don't need to discourage wannabe entrepreneurs even more.

One doesn't have to. Start part time?

That's actually great, but not always possible.

Maybe save by living frugally for a while, as the OP did?

I think the point people are trying to get across with those stories is that quitting your job is by far the most important step.

I'm pretty sure that's extremely well know. I still wouldn't advise ever quiting your job and starting a company. The risk to reward ratio is so far out of whack the math will never work out.

I, and many other bootstrappers entirely disagree. The only risk you run is missing one year of income, typically. You can uh, usually just get another job.

> The only risk you run is missing one year of income, typically. You can uh, usually just get another job.

I left a great job to strike out on my own. After years of effort, two business plans, one failed partnership and moderate success with the second attempt, I would much prefer to have a steady paycheck with good benefits again. It's harder to break back into my previous career path due to the gap this created on my resume. It's not safe to assume that you'll find work as soon as you're ready to switch back to a corporate gig.

Is there some way you can spin that "gap" as an advantage?

Indeed, "CEO of failed 2-4 person startup" got a friend of mine all sorts of opportunity, now he's CTO of a more promising startup.

And then "CTO of a failed 10-15 person startup" will get him an even better position.

Is your local job market that bad? I basically took a 1 year and a half break and I got a job within 3 months, after interviewing with 6 (I think?) companies.

And this is in a small (albeit rich) European city of about 400k people.

As fellow southern European, with regular trips to the Mediterranean area, I would say even here that would be quite bad for anyone on the south or eastern countries.

I'm not sure I understand your comment. Are you saying that finding a job in 3 months is bad? Maybe I need higher standards :)

Might be, depending on what savings one has and which running costs need to be paid each month.

In any case, maybe I expressed myself badly, however I don't know anyone personally, that was able to get a job in less than 6 months after being unemployed, some of them took even a bit longer than that.

I see that people downvoted my original comment, oh well.

I did find a job quite easily, IMO, after 1 year and a half out of the job market. Maybe I was really lucky or my local market is really robust. Dunno.

except Romania, you land a job in IT in less than a week if you have minimal experience. The OP can confirm, he lived a considerable time there ( not sure where? Bucharest maybe? )

So how to search for a IT job in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia and get one in less than one week, specially when living outside the capital?

Because I want to share those tips with a few friends still looking for one after several months unemployment.

Let me reply to this too. The lands you mentioned are excelling at other things: tourism. Normally 10-30% of the workforce serves tourism in this countries. Romania, while being a gorgeous land, full of virgin places of untouched beauty, is more known of the horde of programmers ( and crackers, script kiddies too ) that are now earning a boatload of money because they are just that good. So in IT hubs like Cluj or Iasi ( even Bucharest ), they are always in demand.

I don't really suggest to leave that countries and move to Romania to pursue an IT career, but unless you want to waist time or move to tourism, it is an option. UK was an option, now is kind of gone. Germany is really in demand but the language barrier is really hard to pass, same with France and or Netherlands. Romania is wasy because you are expected to speak just English and for the daily life is a Romance language, you can learn it quite fast.

That is all fine and dandy when one is single, young and willing to leave the country.

If your job market is really bad, not much you can do locally.

However, in IT we have flexibility:

* try freelancing

* create an OSS portfolio

* try remote companies

* try jobs for which you're overqualified

if it really is that bad.

And if it is that bad for IT folks, I pity most non-IT people, to be honest.

It is really that bad.


Between 10 and 23% for the countries I mentioned.

Also getting an IT job currently might mean having to move into the capitals, as other cities have even less offers available and obviously there is not enough jobs on the capitals for everyone.

Bucharest. What gave me away? :p

The city I was mentioning is in Western Europe, though. I think that if you have work experience and you're decent at presenting your skills, most employers don't really care about gaps in employment. Just have a good story ready for the gap period.

No you can't, not every place of the world is a Silicon Valley hungry for developers.

Many of them is already quite hard to even have one in first place, let alone getting back with a hole on the CV not 100% related to the bullet points they are looking for.

But Silicon Valley is so hungry for developers, there are ample remote opportunities for capable developers.

Which requires:

- broandband internet access

- having to work on a completly different timezone

- having to care care of social security and other regulations on their own

- bypassing the local work laws regarding vacation days and work hours

None of those are major obstacles (and I speak from experience as someone who does remote work for clients in Silicon Valley, while living in a completely different timezone), but regular Internet access of some kind is required.

Depending on the structure, that isn't true, though. To start a business, the most important part is the starting of that business, even if you stay at your current job at the beginning.

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