So here we are with the first proper blog entry. So I thought I’d write a little bit about the beginning of Bee Productive.
The first step was to do my research, not into whether there was a gap in the market that I could fill, but at a more basic level, whether I really wanted to be self employed. New skills need to be learned, and amongst them finance and tax aren’t subjects which excite me, and so I had to start really from square one and figure out not whether I was capable of the maths involved – my maths is pretty good – but whether I would be sufficiently interested in completing the necessary tasks involved in keeping a business afloat or whether I’d be better off remaining an employee and actually working full time on audio for a living. I had to look at the implications on house and car insurances and other normal household expenses and see if starting my own business was financially viable.
Having decided to take the plunge the next stage was to take a look at possible markets and find a niche – or niches – that I can fill. This for any business is an ongoing process. The search for customers is a permanent task, but at the beginning of any business has to be the forming of an idea of what your products or services are and who you can sell them to. Step 3 is figuring out how to get your message to the ears of those you think will want to buy your services. Advertising is an expensive business, and whereas you can’t afford not to do it – especially as a start-up – you lack the capital to scream your company from the rooftops.
These kind of things were new considerations for me as a new company, but there are plenty of books and websites dedicated to getting new businesses over these hurdles. What I think there is less focus on is the changes in lifestyle that inevitably come with the change in employment status.
There is a rhythm to being employed. You have set working hours (to a greater or lesser degree) you have a (metaphorical) in tray and out tray. You have a commute, you have colleagues. For the newly self employed these things are missing. The freedom from a boss brings about a liberation from the shackles of the working week, but they also bring a freedom to fail. At the very beginning you have no rod at your back and no customers, so an extra 5 minutes… 10 minutes… 15 minutes in bed on a morning won’t hurt, and that TV won’t watch itself! There’s a lot to do, and a good proportion of setting up will be things that you’re not primarily interested in doing, you just have to do them if you want the mechanics of your business to function. The temptation is to not bother, to concentrate on the bits you want to do. To run your own business is to be disciplined. Your freedom needs protecting and nurturing and you need to attend to every aspect of your business at least until you’re at a point where you’re successful enough to take on an employee to do the bits you don’t want to do. And what about those out-of-hours calls from customers and potential customers? Can you/Should you/Dare you turn your phone off? To run your own business is – in many ways – to be even more shackled than you were as an employee.
If you work by yourself from home it’s possible to not have a single human interaction all day. Sometimes that sounds like heaven, but can you put up with it for days on end? A commute to and from the office brings a clear delineation between work time and home time; but what about when you work from home? How do you make that separation? How about meeting your clients? Do you want to bring them into your family’s space? If not where do you meet them? These kind of questions will work themselves out over time but at the beginning they can be as much of a struggle as the bits people write about.
Starting your own business is always a gamble, it promises you nothing but hard work. but watching it grow is as great a reward as the increased finances your growing business will bring you.