5 years ago I decided to leave the safe world of salaried employment, structured working hours and guaranteed Friday afternoon drinks. I started up my own business. This had been a dream of mine for at least a decade but as with most things like this, there was always something that stopped me doing it.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked with a wide range of companies and people, who I would have never met if I had stayed on my safe journey. The experience of running a business, the mistakes you make, the lessons learnt are invaluable. Of course, it is a hard journey that I do question more often than I should. So if you’re considering the change, then I hope this article will help, or at least provide some stepping stones for when you do.
1) Think bigger than just ‘you’
Set financial targets and act like a bigger business
This doesn’t mean pretending you have 100 employees and making up titles for them all in your creds and website.
It does mean that you need to think bigger than your last role, where you were part of a team, part of the machine that functions as a whole. Yes, there was a reason why you moved away in the first place to become independent but you now have to wear more hats and think with more depth about what you’re delivering for clients.
Whatever your skillset is, you’re essentially a consultant now, an expert in your field, but, with experience to know how your part integrates with the rest of the solution and business. Your client will expect this of you.
Thinking big also means you need to have a strategy for your business, where it is going, and what you want it to become. I like the organic growth and seeing where opportunities arise from, but every year I still set financial and non-financial targets and goals that I assess.
Keep track of your own and employee hours (yes, timesheets) even if you charge at a project level. It’s very easy to spend more time on a project than you wanted to.
I track performance against target and last year: