In February 2020, I realised a long-held ambition of starting my own consulting business. Having been employed in corporate roles for the last 20 years, this was a big step. I’d be asking big questions of myself: Will I find customers? Can I build a clear and attractive offer, and can I thrive without the normal support services you take for granted in a bigger business?
Well, I’m 12 months in, and I’ve put pen to paper to share a few thoughts about my journey. I’m still at the early stages, but I’m a hell of a lot further forward than 12 months ago.
Enjoy the blog.
They say you can’t walk on water until you’ve stepped out of the boat. I found this to be true: when you take on a bold challenge, you surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
Here are a few reflections on what I loved and what I’ve learned.
Great things rarely happen alone. When minds come together, ideas flow and we move forward. It’s been a real privilege to understand customers’ businesses, their challenges and desires and to work with them to find creative ways to make big steps happen. I’ve always loved doing this in my past roles – I now do it more often!
When you’re wholly responsible for your success, you’re 100% invested in making you, a better you. I soon recognised that I needed to invest in both my mindset and skills to make sure that I’m the best version of myself! Developing my mindset has been critical. Starting a business in a pandemic is tough; you have to start each day with optimism, passion and energy, even when it’s a dark February morning in lockdown. This does not just happen, but by working on your mindset, you definitely get the ball rolling. One tool I’ve found really helpful was Brendon Burchard’s High-Performance Habits course – can’t recommend this one too highly – it’s changed my view on the world.
I knew from the off that I did not have all the skills in my toolbox – I needed experts to help me on the journey. Early on in my journey, I enrolled on a sales training programme, with a mentor, James. This was one of my best decisions. James challenged, supported and helped me get those first few clients on board.
However, it’s a team effort. If you work with a number of people, you’ll get different perspectives that will help you solve your own puzzle! Past connections, new connections and subject experts have all been invaluable. There is an army of great people out there who want to support you and be part of your success – but you need to get out, meet lots of people and you’ll find your A-Team.
Then there are your close family and friends who stick by you and help you keep going when the road is rocky. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful wife, two amazing children and a great extended family and friendship group. They have been a rock for me.
We all know that we’re at our best when we get that right mix of challenge and rest. But it’s easy to be so focused you neglect yourself. Don’t! Reading the fantastic book Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness was a real eye-opener for me. It unpacked the science to show me the importance of both focused work and rest.
So, I’ve worked with real energy and focus and then had great times off. I still have fond memories of flying down Dartmoor hills in the fading light watching other riders’ lights dot the hillside on an evening cycling club ride. Bring on summer and those lighter nights.
It’s fair to say that I feel happiest when I’m in nature and sharing the feeling with others. Working for myself has given me my most outdoor focused and adventurous year ever – even with a lockdown.
Whilst starting a business during a pandemic seems tough on paper, it’s actually been a help. Networks opened up and I joined an awesome morning group, The Empowerment Group, which made all the difference. Thanks to my friends Vic, Rachel and Ashley for making this happen. I also spent less, which has to be a good thing when you’re starting out.
In summary, here are the key principles which have helped me so far. I still have a huge way to go, but the journey has been started.
Show up every day, really every day. Sometimes, at the end of a day, you may feel only a footstep further forward, especially in the early days. But little by little you build, and, in time, you move a long way. There is no other substitute; bring your whole self to the work each and day and, in time, good things happen.
OK, it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Thinking through how I can serve with excellence in each situation and for each client has made all the difference. I have to watch out for over busyness and tiredness here because it’s easy to start just going through the motions if you don’t recharge and reflect.
I’ve always found learning and developing myself to be inspiring – working for myself has taken this to another level – and I’m happier and more effective as a result.
I hope you’ve found this blog interesting and useful. Thank you for reading! And if you’re thinking of making the jump – DO IT!
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