One of the best things about going it alone is the opportunity to pour your heart and soul into something you love, every single day.
That was certainly the catalyst for me when I decided to leave my corporate role at Sony and share my passion for unlocking exceptional business performance. I wanted to show organisations just how incredible performance can be when managers and leaders invest in their people.
Fast forward two years and my passion has become my business. Here are some of my lessons learnt from starting up from scratch:
1) Be very clear about you want
This sounds incredibly obvious but you need to consider very carefully what you are expecting to achieve. Is it about spending more time with your family? Is it about taking your talent to a new level? Is it about making more money? Each brings its own set of challenges. If you want more time with your family, for example, and only work ‘school hours’, be realistic about how much you can achieve in a 25 hour week.
2) Keep focused
There’s no doubt about how tough it can be at times and sometimes an opportunity will crop up that doesn’t neatly fit the box. Tempting as it might be to grab the opportunity, this is when you need to be balanced in your focus. For example, being rigidly focused on a limited product offering might potentially limit the opportunity to open up new revenue streams. Being too scattered in your focus and grabbing whatever work comes your way can compromise the passion and drive that makes you so good at what you do.
3) Be patient
As fired up as you might be to get things moving and pull in the business, your customers and contacts might take a little while longer to catch up with you! For example, the other day I received a phone call out of the blue from a manager who had heard me speaking at an engagement conference nearly six months earlier. She hadn’t been able to progress anything with me at the time but she’d remembered my speech and looked me up on Linkedin.
4) Hone your network
My network is incredibly important to me and I use it as a source of information, support and insight. But like all good relationships, you have to invest time and effort. For example, after I delivered a webinar recently, I made sure I added further value by sending some useful resource to each of the 200 delegates. One of those delegates loved it so much, she got in touch and we are now working together on a training programme for her company.
5) Play to your strengths and invest in your weaknesses
Again, this sounds obvious but often when people go it alone they try and do everything themselves. Often this is because of the need to keep costs low but the reality is being a sole player can ultimately be your downfall if you’re not prepared to get support where you need it. When my partner joined the company a few months ago, he was able to bring his expertise in developing and testing a new profiling tool for managers. Without his input, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver a new phase of consultancy that we now use to train managers to be great engagers. Bringing new talent, ideas and perspectives into the business is crucial if you want to grow. I made sure I used freelancers who were able to bring their fresh input – as well as some brilliant contacts! Consider attending networking events and relevant conferences that can all help fuel ideas, too.
Setting up The Culture Builders hasn’t always been easy but it has certainly given me the opportunity to gain a more family-orientated life-style and not just an income. Being able to spend time with my daughter whilst she is so young is a massive motivator, but so too is being able to say ‘yes’ to exciting projects and opportunities that can stretch my own talents and thinking to new levels. My passion has never been stronger.