#1: Fear = energy. There’s nothing quite like the fear of failing – or an empty bank account (see point #3) – to motivate you into giving your all to your fledgling business. Early starts, late finishes, working through lunch, you’ll find yourself compelled to do what it takes to deliver a job that you’re proud to stand behind.
#2: From day one, people become obsessed with your pyjamas. Despite you giving your all, other people will picture you sitting in your pyjamas watching daytime TV or outdoors enjoying any burst of sunny weather.
#3: You gain a new appreciation of your old salary. For one thing, it appeared as if by magic in your account in the same amount and on the same date of every month. For another, it was someone else’s responsibility to make sure it stayed that way. Oh the days.
#4: Building up your client base is a bit like having a family. You spend months worrying that they’re going to arrive safely then when they do there’s an initial moment of euphoria followed by the constant fear that something might happen to them – or worse, that you might lose them altogether.
#5: It feels less like a profession and more a way of life. Evenings, weekends, bank holidays – no matter how inconvenient the timing it’s incredibly difficult to turn down work when you’re trying to build up a business. Think ‘doctor on call’ (only less well paid).
#6: Having a dedicated office space helps. Separating your office space from your living space helps you to close the door on business at the end of the day or week. Otherwise, it’s just too tempting to keep working on… and on… and on.
#7: It’s a juggling act. You need to do the business, manage the business and chase the business all at the same time.
#8: It can get lonely. At times you’ll thank the Lord for friends and family checking in on you by email, text, Blackberry Messenger or even in person. Then at busier times, you’ll marvel at how much more you can get done without colleagues around to distract you or you distracting them.
#9: If you want to get better, ask people who already are. Even if you don’t take on board their suggestions at the time, more often than not you’ll find their experiences and insights immensely useful in the long-term.
#10: It’s a constant learning curve. Every year that you are in business, every project that you do well, every project that you think you could have improved upon in some way brings its own lessons on how to do things better going forward. Quite simply, the more you do, the more you learn, the better you get.
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