This week I spent some time interviewing friend and now supplier of my firms book-keeping services, Ben Didier about starting his own business earlier this year.
Why did you choose to go it alone?
I have always wanted my own business, ever since I was young. For me it was the plan from the start – College then Uni then business and management experience – then my own business! It has been far from plain sailing but that is near enough the route I have taken. I actually wrote down the reasons for taking the step when I started, as I knew there would be tough days ahead and I needed to be clear about why I was doing it. Here they are:
1. Create something of my own that I can build and develop. I get a real sense of achievement from that and hopefully, eventually it will produce a strong income.
2. Set my own terms of working. I want the freedom to choose my own projects and working methods. On the other side the responsibility and risk that comes with this it is not for everyone and not all circumstances – sometimes you can’t afford to take the risk.
3. Direct risk and reward. I want to get the direct benefit of my actions and decisions, and am also prepared to accept the consequences of those when it doesn’t work out. Employment can shield you from both sides of this, to an extent.
What attitude do you think you need to go it alone?
The single most important part of starting out on your own is – Wanting it. Resilience is the first quality of business – because if you give up before you have had chance to make it – then you wont. People outside of business often focus on their service or product when thinking about starting up, rather than about winning work. This can prove a shock when starting out, as business is primarily driven by winning customers – and looking after them! Winning the work requires determination as it takes time, people aren’t always ready for what you offer at the time you offer it, and there are always many set-backs. If you can’t get beyond those mentally, then business may not be for you. As a bookkeeper I would always say you need to be interested enough in the figures to ensure that more money is coming in then going out!
What was the scariest thing about doing it?
The unknown market –“ is there the appetite for the services I want to provide in the area?” You never really know until you actually start. I had planned to get a part time job if the clients did not materialise quickly enough, and had cut my personal outgoings to the bone, so I had considered the risks carefully. I knew sales may takes some time and wanted to survive long enough to be able to build a reputation and client base – the low overheads were crucial to this.
How you are getting on?
Fantastically! Having started in January this year, after 8 months I now have 8 clients I provide services for every month and have worked on some other interesting projects. I am independent and self-sufficient which is great. One good thing about bookkeeping is the regularity of the work, this reduces pressure to get new sales all the time, so I can focus more on looking after the clients I have. A commercial perspective on internal finance in producing the figures is really helping the owners I work with to make more informed decisions – so there the feeling of delivering something of value which I also get a great deal out of.
Now Your Thoughts
Have you made the leap from a stable job to a startup? Want to add anything to the post that you’ve learnt along the way?