The older you get, the fatter you get
Self employed or shelf employee?:
So, you turn up for work one day and your boss decides that he’s going to be nice and ‘let you go’ and after the inevitable, drawn out TUPE negotiations you finally clear your desk.
And what do you want to do when you get sacked, Johnny?
There are many options and paths that you can take, and from here on you need to look at the situation as the biggest opportunity to do what you want, rather than what you have to do.
Working for yourself or shelf stacking for Aldi, which pill you gonna take?
Spend the next 6 months trying to get an interview only to be told that you’re ‘over qualified’ or grab your nuts, take a deep breath and prepare for overworking and under paying yourself.
Mehh … first things first, a bit of telly then flick through the IKEA catalogue … ooo, that’s a nice desk.
Start how you don’t mean to go on:
You wisely decided to stick it to the man and go it alone … Day 1 of unem … I mean self-employment and you’re raring to go.
First jobs, clear the dining table, get your 1and1 webs(h)ite sorted and order your vistaprint cards. Done.
What’s next … ermm … I know, get social media presence sorted, get some brochures designed, what about the business plan, financial projections, branding? STOP!
All you need to get yourself going is a laptop and a phone.
At this stage, you don’t need funding so don’t waste your time chasing investors so you can sell your soul just for a few ‘dollar signs in the eyes’ fakery – even though a computer that doesn’t crash while you’re saving your most fadey/ zippy, bullet pointed powerpoint would be nice.
Hold fast – the day will come when your company is worth a fair bit, and you decide to sell, only to realise that you actually only own 0000.1%, after tax, of your totally bastardised son of a dream.
The key at this point is to grab a share of your industry, not share out your idea for a few quick bucks. Get business coming in, not your company going out.
So, get on that phone and start booking appointments, get out and network and push your product into everyone’s face.
Right, lunch … time to clear the dining table again.
I need to pee:
If something needs doing, do it now. If you need to call that hot lead, call. If you need to grab something to eat, eat. If you need to pee, pee.
There’s nothing worse than having a mental nag to do something so put it top of the list but, remember, if you actually can’t do it then maybe it’s time to start looking at outsourcing.
Can you lot please shut up, I’m on the phone!
But don’t rush into any decisions, get out and meet people, learn about them and let them earn your trust before you let them rip your most important project to date apart.
Damn … computer has crashed again … reboot.
Where’s that form I needed to send off yesterday?
It’s all about focus and getting shit done as concisely and professionally as possible. So do it but remember, if you can’t do it properly, don’t do it at all.
And now you’ve gone for a pee, you had something to eat (obviously after washing your hands), now what? Get your accounts sorted of course.
Nah, it’s fine … I’ve got a month before they need to be done. Might pop along to IKEA to check out the desks and oh, I might as well pick up a small filing cabinet … that would be nice. Hot-dog anyone?
Money in, money out:
Congratulations, you’ve now got to the point where you’re pumping out projects like they’re going out of fashion. You’re confident as a company and you’re ‘constructively’ living off dividends.
Problem is that you’re still working 30 hours a day, your accounts haven’t been done and your computer keeps crashing.
Thankfully you’ve managed to rack up a few good contacts and can start outsourcing but to ensure projects run smoothly you need to start putting processes in place which take time and money but that’s ok as you know the guy who can sort that out for you, and he does mates rates. Sweet!
In fact, you’ve a load of other work he can do so why not employ him full time. He’ll need a desk, and a machine and business cards and a phone line … and a funny thing happened at the weekend, I was out drinking and my mate said that his cousin was just setting up a new business and needed to buy your product. Sweeter! So you win the contract and take on more staff, who obviously need desks and phones and machines and wait! Your prices need to increase. You’ve now outgrown the shed so you need to start looking around for a proper grown up office, which needs someone to source a good deal for you as you’re way too busy and after 6 months they find a perfect place which needs desks and proper lighting and a pool table and a slide and it’s time to invest in a proper photo copier and you need a PA who needs a desk and a machine and a phone … and maternity leave … and BANG! You’re VAT registered and have a huge client in New York that needs you to fly over to sign a new contract … and BANG! time to put up your rates again.
Keep it lean, keep them keen:
It’s all very well growing a business and carving out a life for yourself that you’re proud of, and best of luck, but the trick here is to remember that the market dictates what you can charge, how much someone is able and prepared to pay for your services and that there’s always someone that can, and will, do it cheaper, and sometimes better, than you.
Of course, never compete on price but there will be a time when you really, really want to work with that company you admire or on that project you simply adore, but, because your business is now so fat you have to consider the costs involved, the people that your decisions affect and the time involved. Long gone are the days when you can pull an all-nighter, long gone are the days when you can just scribble notes down on a piece of scrap paper – everything needs to be ratified, discussed, objected to, form after document over signature.
To survive in any business you need to be lean and adaptable and that means not growing so big that you need more projects or orders than you can handle just to pay everyone’s mortgage.
Consider the implications of signing that 10 year lease before you damage your integrity and health and most of all, ensure you can step away from the business without the proscenium arch crashing down all around.
If you want to do your friend a good deal, do it. Don’t let stakeholders restrict you from doing yourself proud.
Maybe now’s the time to pop down to IKEA and order that new desk you’ve had your eye on since day one.