You are thinking of becoming a consultant. Should I incorporate? Is setting up as a sole proprietor better or forming an LLC? How do I pay myself? How to save taxes? Should I hire an accountant? Is social media the best option to promote myself?

Fear no more. Come and attend our Freelancers Forum. This half-day forum provides freelancers and those hoping to learn more about starting a business the opportunity to get an intensive education on how to be successful. With everything from nuts and bolts specifics to advice on how to network, this event is a can’t-miss chance to get your business up and running.

Our speakers include an IRS representative, a CPA, and several experienced business owners who have done it all. They are all eager to share their knowledge with you!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 - Golden Gate 6-7

Time Presentation Title (click for description) Speaker(s)
8:00 - 8:10 AM Introduction Raymond Lee and Margaret Hung
8:10 - 8:25 AM Why Incorporate is Smart Business Margaret Hung
8:25 - 8:40 AM Comparison of My Experience Between an Independent Consultant and an Employee Kriss Harris
8:40 - 9:00 AM Soft Skills to Master as a Freelance Consultant Kirk Lafler
9:00 - 9:30 AM Record Keeping Alexa Lam, IRS
9:30 - 10:00 AM Break  
10:00 - 10:20 AM Do's and Don'ts of Being an Independent Consultant Raymond Lee
10:20 - 10:35 AM How to Promote Yourself Josh Horstman
10:35 - 10:55 AM Pros and Cons of Freelance SAS Programming Pradeep Bangalore
10:55 - 11:05 AM Rate Setting Josh Horstman
11:05 - 11:35 AM IRS Audits - How to Beat Them Larry Pon, CPA
11:35 AM - 12:00 PM Open Floor Discussion - Tips All

Presentation Descriptions

Why Incorporate is a Smart Business
Margaret Hung, MLW Consulting
8:10 - 8:25 AM

Reasons to incorporate your business; pros and cons of different entity types – Partnership/LLC/S Corp/C Corp and Sole Proprietorship.
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Comparison of My Experience Between an Independent Consultant and an Employee
Kriss Harris, WCG Clinical Endpoint Solutions
8:25 - 8:40 AM

Are you curious about becoming a freelancer? Have you ever thought of working overseas? I've been a permanent employee for 8 years and a freelancer for 10 years, and I have worked in the United Kingdom, and in the United Arab Emirates. In this session, I'll share with you my experiences of the benefits and drawbacks of being a freelancer compared to a permanent employee.
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Soft Skills to Master as a Freelance Consultant
Kirk Lafler, sasNerd
8:40 - 9:00 AM

Soft skills represent an important set of skills that the freelance consultant should be aware of, develop, and apply in the workplace. In contrast to hard skills like programming and data analysis, soft skills comprise a combination of people skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving just to cite a few examples. This presentation will focus on what soft skills are, why they are important, and the the top ten soft skills to master as a freelance consultant. 
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Record Keeping
Alexa Lam, IRS
9:00 - 9:30 AM

Good recordkeeping is critical to managing the health of your business and staying in good graces with federal authorities.  Join us for a session focused on record keeping for small businesses, featuring IRS Stakeholder Liaison, Alexa Lam. Alexa will review basic record keeping requirements essential for every small business.
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Do's and Don'ts of Being an Independent Consultant
Raymond Lee, Ray Information Systems, Inc.
10:00 - 10:20 AM

When someone becomes an Independent Consultant, one would need to understand the shift from being a client over to being a vendor although still working in the same industry. As a vendor, there are some Do’s and Don’ts and some examples will be discussed.
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How to Promote Yourself
Josh Horstman, Nexted Loop Consulting
10:20 - 10:35 AM

Once you've decided to strike out on your own as an independent consultant, you need work. Without it, you can't stay in business! In this session, we'll discuss various tools and methods you can use as an independent consultant to market your business and generate work. As you get established and gain some momentum, your clients will find you and you'll enjoy a steady stream of work that will provide the revenue your business needs.
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Pros and Cons of Freelance SAS Programming
Pradeep Bangalore, Cesta, Inc.
10:35 - 10:55 AM

Freelancing as a SAS Programmer/Analyst has become an increasingly popular career choice in recent times. This shift in work patterns are driven by technological advances(Secured remote logins/seamless communication modes), demand for SMEs in CDISC compliance/Graphics), and evolving work culture. This presentation aims to provide a balanced perspective by highlighting this career choice's potential rewards and challenges.
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Rates Setting
Josh Horstman, Nested Loop Consulting
10:55 - 11:05 AM

How much should an independent consultant charge? It's a tough question and the answer is … it depends! As a consultant, you want to remain competitive but also don't want to leave money on the table. This session will discuss a number of factors to consider when trying to come up with that elusive hourly billing rate.
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IRS Audits - How to Beat Them
Larry Pon, CPA, Pon & Associates
11:05 - 11:35 AM

As a small business owner, your odds of an IRS audit are higher than most other people regardless of your income.  We will talk about what triggers an IRS audit and how to beat them.   If not handled correctly, they can be quite painful.
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Presenter Biographies

Pradeep Bangalore

Pradeep Bangalore is the Co-founder of Cesta Inc., which provides Software Solutions and IT Consultancy services to the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and CRO industries. In 2008, by capitalizing on his vast number of years of data analysis experience, he co-founded an analytics consulting firm, and has developed it into a recognized center to enable clients in their effort to excel.

Kriss Harris

Kriss Harris worked at GlaxoSmithKline for almost 6 years from 2005 to 2011 as a Statistician supporting drug discovery. Whilst at GSK he developed an increasing passion for teaching and taught SAS Graphics to SAS Programmers, Statisticians and Scientists. Since then Kriss has moved on to become an independent Statistical Programmer and has consulted at Eli Lilly and Eisai. Currently Kriss is working at WCG Clinical Endpoint Solutions and helps to automate the process and develop edit checks.

Josh Horstman

Josh Horstman is an independent statistical programming consultant and trainer based in Indianapolis with over 20 years’ experience using SAS in the life sciences industry. He specializes in analyzing clinical trial data, and his clients have included major pharmaceutical corporations, biotech companies, and research organizations. Josh is a SAS Certified Advanced Programmer who loves coding and is a frequent presenter at PharmaSUG, SAS Global Forum, and other industry conferences.

Margaret Hung

Margaret Hung opened her LLC biz after working as a clinical data programmer in a major pharmaceutical company at RTP, NC. She has been involved in PharmaSUG since its inception in the early 90’s. She is also an active IRS Enrolled Agent.

Kirk Lafler

Kirk Paul Lafler is a SAS, SQL, Python, Excel, and data analytics educator, developer, programmer, and consultant; a lecturer and adjunct professor at San Diego State University (SDSU); an adjunct professor at University of California San Diego (UCSD) Extension; and teaches SAS, SQL, Python, Excel, and data analytics courses, workshops, and webinars to users around the world. Kirk has been a SAS user since 1979 and is the author of several books including, PROC SQL: Beyond the Basics Using SAS, Third Edition (SAS Press. 2019) along with papers and articles on a variety of SAS topics. Kirk has participated as an Invited speaker, educator, keynote, and section leader at SAS conferences and education forums; and is the recipient of 27 “Best” contributed paper, hands-on workshop (HOW), and poster awards.

Alexa Lam

Alexa (Lexa) Lam is a Stakeholder Liaison and is currently the relationship manager for California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA), California Certified Public Accountants (Cal CPA) Chapters, and various industry organizations in the San Francisco, San Mateo Bay Area and the state of Idaho.  In this position, she connects the chapters and organizations with the IRS policies, practices and procedural information they need to help them support their clients to voluntarily comply with federal tax law matters for properly filing and paying. Lexa’s position provides opportunities to speak at organization meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops, both face-to-face and via webcast, on tax-related topics that are relevant to the given audience.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee has a Master's degree in Mathematical Statistics from UC Santa Barbara. He has over 30 years of SAS programming experience in the pharmaceutical and health care industries and became an independent consultant/advisor after ~20 years of hand-on management experience.

Larry Pon

Larry Pon is a Certified Public Accountant, Personal Financial Specialist, Certified Financial Planner, Enrolled Agent, United States Tax Court Practitioner, and Accredited Estate Planner in Redwood Shores, CA. He has been in practice since 1986 and enjoys helping his clients reach their financial goals. He frequently speaks on tax and financial planning topics to tax professionals, financial advisors, and the general public nationally.