Today marks the end of the first month of working for myself. A month of AMJ Comms.
It is hard to imagine how it could have gone better.
I have two fantastic clients. I am having great conversations with others about future opportunities. I am doing fascinating and stimulating work for organisations that do things that matter greatly to people. I am working with some great people. And most of all I am enjoying it. Lots. And lots.
I am achieving the perfect balance between home and work, with home always coming before work. The chance to work flexibly, spend lots of time working at home, see my daughter and wife in the morning for breakfast, often during the week for lunch and every evening for dinner is something you cannot buy and something you cannot place a value on. The lifestyle change I wanted has happened and it feels great.
On a practical front, what have I learnt so far about running my own business?
- You can spend more time on the front foot – being proactive – and working on stuff that makes a difference to you and your clients. This is because you are not forced to spend so much of your days reacting to others and their agendas – no barrage of emails, no internal meetings, no political organisational noise, no massaging the egos of more senior people in your organisation and dealing with their insecurities and inadequacies and no transfer of stress from your colleagues to you as they come under pressure to deliver something they care about but you shouldn’t have to.
- The lead-in time to move from initial conversation to agreeing to do work and then starting it always takes longer than you might think – and not always with an obvious reason why. Developing a varied pipeline of work with many irons in many fires is very important. This was true when I worked for big consultancy firms but the difference there was that you got paid at the end of every month regardless of how successful you had been!
- Having a brilliant accountant – which I have thanks to a recommendation from a fellow business owner and great friend – is essential. It takes the strain out of budgeting, tax planning, expenses etc. Thank God for the Accounting Crew!
- The gap between sending an invoice and getting paid is more than 24 hours! Patience is a vital ingredient in running a successful business and planning ahead to know that things – almost everything – takes time.
- HMRC send lots of letters which seem to say the same thing in different ways – I guess this falls into the category of ‘hold the front page’ or the toilet habits of bears in outdoor tree-based areas!
- My MacBook Air is my new best friend. It is the most fantastic piece of kit ever. I have found the best laptop in the world and my Apple obsession grows by the day!
- Costa Coffee in Victoria station makes good skinny lattes but not quick good skinny lattes – don’t try and grab a coffee on the way to train if you are in a rush!
- Like everything in life, every day is a school day. Being open to learning news things, reflecting on how you do stuff and trying to do it better is a hugely satisfying effort. I am a better business owner today than I was 30 days ago and will be better still in 30 days time if I carry on thinking, listening and learning. It is great also to have the time to do that – to invest in getting better at stuff and not just getting stuff done.
One month in and I couldn’t be happier. I feel lucky that it has gone so well so far but am reminded of the great Gary Player’s famous quip when accused of being lucky for holing yet another bunker shot; “It’s funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get!”