I cannot quite believe that I have been going for 6 months, and boy have I learned some lessons in this first six months. It really is an enriching experience but it isn’t without its challenges!
Lesson 1: Everything is to do with people
I have attended all the major trade events since the start of January, and even without appointments it has led to business opportunities. Make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to speak with your network of contacts. I’ve ended up having productive conversations with people I worked with 15 years ago!
Lesson 2: Administration is the equivalent of school homework
When you go solo you have a myriad of administration options to get through in terms of sole trader, limited company, VAT registered, not VAT registered, use an Accountant, have an office, phones, expenses etc. This can take a lot of time, and be overwhelming. Put time in the diary every month, and get it done. Remember school home work – you want to go out and play but it has to be done!
Lesson 3: Time really is money!
As you develop business many people reach out and want your experience. They think a couple of meetings before payment discussions is acceptable. They don’t consider your travel, your time, and the opportunity cost of these meetings. You have to establish your ground rules otherwise you can do a lot of unpaid work – everyone goes through this phase apparently!
Lesson 4: Getting paid can take time
You’ve done the work, and you’ve raised the invoice. Where’s the payment? Surely if I’ve done my bit…you are going to get paid on time. Sadly its not the case, and then you have to become the proverbial annoying chaser! For something you are owed fairly! This is the worst bit. It makes you appreciate your clients who pay on time so much more.
Lesson 5: What value can you put on managing your own time?
In an employed environment everything you have to do is justified through the receipt of that salary slip. I missed the kids play, sports day, first day of school, and those social events whilst I worked away. Now I have no payslip but I’ve made it to both my sons’ end of year shows, and I’ve been there on their milestone transition days to Junior and Secondary school. I had no concept of the value of this but I do now which has a very interesting impact on my future goal setting.
Lesson 6: Nothing moves as fast as you want it to
I haven’t lost any of my drive and hunger to achieve my goals but as I have gone from the bureaucratic challenge of working in an organisation of over 200 people to a team of one my ability to get through a volume of work is only impacted by awaiting feedback from clients or partners. Pitch and wait…then you seek out other opportunities…then you find you are inundated with requests. It certainly isn’t a linear process so you’ve got to be ready to react as the client demands come back to you!
Next topic to share
I’m going to write a piece about my MBA study trip to Zurich as I took so much out of it that I think people need to think about foreign travel as a learning experience. As my trip was badged as “study” I looked at it with a fresh perspective.