Its a tough old gig this self employed malarky. Don't get me wrong we never thought it would be a walk in the park and 18 months in we've actually done pretty well. If you had told me we would be helping out a Ukrainian general insurance business in Kiev 18 months ago I probably would have laughed. But we did, and it was a great experience on many levels. International consultants no less.
We surrounded ourselves with mentors before we started this thing, not having huge amounts of working capital meant we could ill afford to make many mistakes and this was a really shrewd move. Cash...is definitely king in this game. I don't believe any independent consultants are busy all the time. Quiet periods go with the territory and these can be tough. I am really glad we did this as a partnership, someone to gee you up, give a different perspective on the world and to share the inevitable highs and lows with. I can see why so many businesses fail in the first year, especially if you go alone. One bad meeting, a long train ride home from London and plenty of time to convince yourself why this was a stupid idea in the first place. By the time you get home you have updated your CV and joined every recruitment company known to man. Resilience, tenacity and bottle are some of the characteristics you just need to have. For what its worth these are some of the things we have learnt in the last year and a half:
- Get your proposition crystal clear and focussed as a main priority
- Write a business plan
- Stockpile cash like your life depends on it (it may at some point!)
- Invest in a good website, even if its not a performance engine for you
- Don't over value your pipeline
- Don't force the issue and try your best not to over think EVERYTHING!
- Figure out your commercial model quickly
- If there is more than one of you hold each other to account, be responsible for a monthly invoicing value for example
- Develop clear roles and responsibilities
All been told though, and I know a bit of a cliché, there is no better feeling than creating and running your own business. Yes its tough, really tough actually at times ..... champagne and razor blades ..