Interview: Bidsketch Founder Ruben Gamez On Business, Freelancing And Teamwork

A while back, I reviewed the wonderful service Bidsketch, a tool for creating successful, highly professional bids. Today, I’m thrilled to post an interview with Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez. While working full-time as a software developer, Ruben harnessed psychology principles to build tools to help create bids to close seven- and eight-figure deals. Ruben eventually built Bidsketch as a premium tool to help take the pain away from the proposal process, and turned it into a full-time business. Ruben answered my questions about how he got started, why Bidsketch is so cool, and what he’s learned in the process of building his successful company.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez

Sarah Brown: Why and when did you start Bidsketch? Was it a sudden decision or had you been thinking about it for a while?

Ruben Gamez: I was working full time when I started Bidsketch. A friend of mine asked me about web design proposals. He had never written one and was about to go to his first client meeting. I searched for templates online and found a product that allowed web designers to create proposals. Unfortunately, it was an old-school downloadable software plugin for MS Word. I couldn’t find anything that was web based so I decided to build it myself after doing some keyword research to measure demand.

Sarah: My blog focuses on b2b digital marketing news and insights. Why should marketers use Bidsketch to help get clients?

Ruben: Customers tend to use Bidsketch to cut down on the time it takes to create proposals and help them land more clients. We build Bidsketch with those things in mind. Of course, it’s not a great fit for all businesses, but if you’re creating client proposals (instead of product proposals), I think it’s worth checking out.

Sarah: Is your team made up of contractors? If so, have any of them applied through Bidsketch?

Ruben: Most of the people that I work with are technically contractors (and one full time employee), though I treat everyone like they’re part of the team — because they are. I’ve actually worked with several people that first started out as Bidsketch customers. Often, I’ll get into conversations with customers and sometimes that results in us working together on important projects.

Sarah: How do different types of freelancers/agencies/etc. use Bidsketch differently?

Ruben: Freelancers generally tend to send out less proposals than Agencies. So often they’ll use it in batches — heavily for a month and lightly for a couple of months after that. Some agencies send out proposals on a daily basis so there’s a major need to collaborate and cut down on the time it takes to write them. In all cases, they benefit from the online features like electronic signatures and instant notifications when a proposal is viewed.

Sarah: What’s the best success story you’ve ever had from a Bidsketch customer?

Ruben: There have been some great success stories, but my favorite is a customer that used it to close his first million dollar deal. He emailed me and was very excited and mentioned how Bidsketch helped him close the deal. It’s great to know that people are paying a few dollars a month and are closing deals in the tens (or hundreds) of thousands. I love that.

There have been some great success stories, but my favorite is a customer that used it to close his first million dollar deal. – Ruben Gamez, Founder of Bidsketch

Sarah: How has being a part of Bidsketch changed you as a person?

Ruben: That’s a good question. I think I’ve always had the attributes that I have now; the biggest change is in how I get to spend my time. Nowadays I spend my time working on things I love, and get to spend a lot more time with my family. My schedule is much more flexible than when I worked for someone else.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez currently resides in Spokane, WA.

Ruben Gamez: “Stay focused, take massive action, and you’ll get there.”

Sarah: Do you have any life philosophies or strategies that motivate you?

Ruben: I think the biggest thing for me has been to stay focused. New opportunities come up all the time. That’s why many of my competitors have gone out of business. They get distracted and start doing something else then wonder why their business suffers. This works for pretty much anything that you want to get really good at: Stay focused and take massive action, and you’ll get there.

Sarah: Where do you currently live, and are you active in your local tech community?

Ruben: Right now I live in Spokane, WA. There’s not much going on as far as tech is concerned here. That said, I do go to tech conferences and have a couple of mastermind groups that helps me stay connected. We’re also going to be moving to the Seattle or Portland area soon.

Sarah: Anything else you’d love to share?

Ruben: Since we’re on a blog that focuses on b2b marketing, readers might be interested in checking our free eBook that goes over several simple marketing tactics that will help them get more clients.

Thanks again to Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch for taking the time to share his insights! If you haven’t already, definitely check out Bidsketch and see if it’s right for helping your business. Follow Ruben Gamez on Twitter: @earthlingworks.

Six Ways That Being An Independent Contractor Transforms You

I was drinking my coffee with almond milk and stevia this morning and was thinking about how I have changed a lot since becoming an independent marketing contractor several years ago. After chatting on the subject with some of my fellow independent contractor friends, I’ve confirmed that there are indeed some universal things that we all go through when we make the transition into being full-time freelance. Here’s a short list of ways that being an independent contractor transforms you:

1. You begin to think and exist in multiple time zones.

Working remotely and simultaneously thinking in various time zones.

At any given moment, I know what time it is in Palo Alto, Dallas, Calgary, New Delhi, Johannesburg, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and, of course, my hometown, Boulder. I cannot help this. After repeatedly coordinating with contractors and companies spanning multiple time zones and continents, your brain begins to automatically convert to various times even without consulting world clocks. I have discussed this phenomenon with various independent contractors with whom I’ve worked, and they have each had the same thing happen. You can’t shut it off, and you wouldn’t want to if you could, because it’s so useful.

2. You become more in tune with your natural rhythms.

morning13n-1-web

Are you a morning person? I am. I vaguely sensed this during my years when I was working in-house for companies and nonprofits, but now that I set my work schedule, I’ve discovered that I do some of my best work far before the 9am crowd sits down to get to it. I also get a second wind in the early evening. Instead of being forced to end my work at 6pm like I did before becoming an independent contractor, I can pick up where I left off for an hour or two when I feel my freshest. The result? I work primarily when I am totally focused and on, because I have the freedom to allow myself to take off when I need a break to grab a bite, hike a mountain, or go to the gym. Marie Forleo has a great post on the subject. Other contractor friends need to wait until the sun goes down to transition into high gear productivity.  Because I am committed to working when I naturally feel inclined to, clients benefit because they get my best work, all the time. It’s a win-win.

3. You form meaningful connections with people you’ve never met in-person.

Online friends

I have many clients and fellow independent contractor friends I’ve only ever “met” on Skype. I’ve shared the joys of a new puppy adopted by a graphic designer co-worker in South Africa via Go-To-Meeting; I’ve shared genuine laughs (and done great work!) with a website designer based in Calgary; I regularly talk about local events going on in the Bay Area with a client even though I haven’t lived there for several years. I worked with a client in Los Angeles and finally met most of the office team after several months working with them remotely. When the company flew me out to meet the team, it felt like I already knew everyone–because I did. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to work in the same office to share a deep respect for other human beings with whom you co-work. That’s a weird thing to explain to those who are used to only networking with in-person offices, but you learn how to work around it and genuinely connect with those you haven’t met face-to-face.

4. You learn to become very skilled at conveying what you do and why it’s valuable.

Value proposition is something independent contractors must convey

Every single successful independent contractor I know has had to learn how to convey the value of what they do with others on a frequent basis. Though I’m versed in digital marketing and showcasing the value of the solutions I deliver to clients, and most of my work comes from referrals, each of my successful graphic designer, UX/UI and developer friends have had to learn how to sell themselves and their work services. It’s another thing that comes with the turf. I like Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers blog post on the subject.

5. Your beliefs about retirement change.

Retirement

I believe in investing for retirement and planning for it in the traditional sense, but when you’re an independent contractor, life doesn’t feel like it’s leading up to an eventual goal of being able to retire to finally do what you want–that’s our reality, right now. It’s a powerful place to be in and one that changes you on a deep, and I’d dare say even spiritual, level. FastCompany’s recent article is a great long read on the subject.

6. You develop a great sense of self-reliance and also learn how and when to ask for help from others.

Getting help as an independent contractor

It can be daunting and somewhat unnerving to not rely on anyone else to take care of everything for your work concerns. As an independent contractor, you have to figure out how to set and keep a budget, do your taxes (and plan for them), find and purchase health insurance, host and maintain your portfolio and website, manage your billing and schedule and client relationships and tackle various other tasks most people in traditional work settings don’t have to think about. You learn how to manage each challenge, and when you have trouble, you learn that you can and must seek help and guidance from trusted sources and fellow contractors who’ve been through the ropes. With Freelancer’s Union and other free resources available online, it’s not too difficult to solve challenges. You just have to be willing to ask for help.

Closing Thoughts

This list isn’t exhaustive–I wanted to share a few ways my independent contractor colleagues and I have changed, and would love to hear others’ thoughts about this topic.

Are you an independent contractor or business that hires independent contractors? Have you noticed anything else that should be on this list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.