Six months have elapsed since I started my own business and, despite the fact it feels like six weeks, I thought I would reflect a little on the experience to date. First and foremost it is extraordinary fun. A complete absence of corporate frustration and an ability to ruthlessly focus on tasks and projects means that although I’m working harder than ever it doesn’t feel like it. Combine that with regular exercise and a healthier diet for the first time in years and I’m finding more energy and more hours to realise more opportunities.
So what stands out – in no particular order ?
The Cloud - trust the cloud (although I always have one copy of the document on a hard drive or USB somewhere) and you will always have what you need whenever, wherever. It’s keeping me organised and reducing a bad habit of printing out and carrying reams of paper. Skydive (soon to be renamed by Microsoft) and Office 365 allow me to use any computer as if it was my own.
LinkedIn - I’ve always been a fan but now I use it more than ever. I pay for a premium version but I’m the first to admit that, if they increased the subscription I would keep on paying. It’s an incredible tool and rapidly becoming an information source which you can hone depending on your needs.
Time Zones - Time Zones are my friend. If you have the stamina then every day has 24 hours – it’s energizing to be able to have three components to the working “day”. For me those are Singapore, London and NYC in that order.
Skype - I’m a late comer to Skype but sometimes that means the enthusiasm is all the greater. It’s free and it works. On every device.
General Tech - tablets, superfast connectivity, apps that raise invoices, track expenses, serve up relevant content. The costs and barriers to doing business have never been lower. The secret is to do a “digital audit” and work out what you need.
Money spends differently - not being a PAYE employee and being responsible for all of my business expenses and investments is strangely liberating. Attending conferences and seminars which you have personally paid for focuses attention like nothing else.
The daily routine - every day you have to (a) to work (b) identify new work (c) learn something (d) say something to your target group (e) stay on-top of admin. EVERY DAY. The secret is to make some or all of those tasks pleasurable – then it doesn’t seem like a chore. And, if you’ve picked a business which you enjoy (I have) it’s not difficult.
An absence of meetings - within days I realised that how much of my previous corporate life had been taken up with meetings or preparing for meetings. Now I have much more time to actually do. It’s resulted in a strong focus on delivering. For the client and for me.
Clients - nothing would be possible without clients. Having been one for over 20 years I must admit I’m enjoying answering their needs. They come in many guises but all share a passion and operate in a space I enjoy which makes it double the fun. Some of their entrepreneurial traits are rubbing off on me so I expect I might well become a start-up client myself with something more tangible than the marketing and communications specialisation I offer at the moment.
The Hopper - keeping that hopper filled with business and potential business is key – maintaining relevancy and contacts is vital here.
And the downsides ? So far there is none (I’ve even got a great accountant so filing taxes is not going to be too much of a burden) but there are sure to be bumps along the journey but they will be the responsibility of me, no one else, and that’s a very liberating feeling.