This post isn’t meant to be braggy, but more about passing 2 years owning a business and that it’s not as daunting as it seems to transition from working for someone to working for yourself.
I’ve been a “solopreneur” so far in my venture with Nevis Technology, so all of my experiences may not match up depending on what you’re doing or want to do. The term solopreneur means that I am in full control of my company, so much so that I don’t even have contractors, it’s literally just me, myself, and I. I do it all from accounting, billing, taxes, to customer service and client expectations, programming, testing, design here and there, research and development, and everything in between. Though that may seem like a lot, and it is at first, now that I’ve got the hang of things, it’s not bad at all. While many other blogs may mention to pay for this service and that service and hire contractors to do the work you bring in – it’s possible, but you’re opening yourself up to more cashflow issues, especially when you’re as small of a company as I am, every penny counts.
The first 6 months of Nevis Technology, I was sending out feelers and I got work right away, return business soon after as well. But that was it. The past year and 9 months, it’s been all return business and word of mouth. Word of mouth is BY FAR the best and cheapest advertisement you can get. And you get that by doing quality work and making sure the client is happy.
As far as finding the work, I did things a little different. Instead of going to job boards and looking for the immediate work – someone with a one-off project, I looked for more consistency. I looked for companies that would routinely have incoming work or changes, like marketing companies, or someone who runs an affiliate business. Marketing companies do what they do well, but building custom features on a website isn’t typically one of them. The affiliate business has also proven good for me, and it makes sense – they bring in monthly income, their affiliates expect certain thing and I’m the one that provides those advancements. In both cases, I don’t have to deal with the proposal, agreeing on price, going to meetings, etc. All of the things that I hate, and that take a lot of time away from billable work. I do the work, keep a detailed record of what I did and how much time I spent and bill monthly.
Once you get over, or get used to, the change in how your bank account fills up, you’ll be good. You don’t necessarily get a paycheck every 2 weeks on the dot, though you could work out a payment schedule like that, there’s still always going to be the delayed payment. I get paid every month and make it last.
I’ve got some really exciting things planned for Nevis Technology in the future. First is the continued development of the Financial Symmetry Client Center, Pre-Plan My Funeral Questionnaire, Pet Passages, the work from FatCat Strategies clients, and the development of a web product for emergency services that I hope will grow from my connection to North Greece Fire Department through Mark Neusatz.
It was scary to turn down job offers, or even projects as Nevis Technology grew, but that’s part of the overall plan. Don’t take the easy way out and get a job if you’re someone like me, because you’ll just be thinking about your business – and don’t work with clients in your business that will prove to be more of a headache than anything else. Keep your stress low.
These are 3 tips that really allow me to function with getting paid once a month, especially since it’s not consistent, and payments can be delayed.
- The first thing is you have complete control over what you spend, but not what you make (not as much control, but way more control than as an employee). Don’t blow it. Have a nice bubble of cash (it takes a while to save it up, so prepare for that). Chances are there’s a cheaper way to do something you routinely do now – for example, instead of buying lunch out, make lunch. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a wife that does meal planning and keeps our grocery bill low, but we still get a wide variety of meals.
- The second thing is you need to keep your monthly liabilities LOW. What I mean specifically is your mortgage, car payment, other loans, etc. Along with your flexible spending patterns, like grocery, entertainment, etc (this is step 1).
- The third tip is to know how much you’re actually spending and create a plan. My wife and I figured out what we need to jointly put in our account on the 1st and 15th of the month that covers all of our bills – mortgage, AT&T Uverse, electric, water, HOA, groceries (for the most part), etc. If we’re running low, then we don’t buy anything else, but if we have a little extra, we might buy something for the house out of that account – and it feels free. I kept my expectations low and figured if I can at LEAST put in the money on the 1st and 15th, even if I had nothing left over, I’m doing OK. I’d figure out the rest later.