Anyone who has financial responsibilities needs to weigh up whether employment with a steady (& for the most part) guaranteed income is better suited to their circumstances than risking the possibility or financial hardship, or failure in setting up their own business. From students just starting out to twilight go-getter’s & all the ages in between, we all require money to survive.
Twenty years ago those employed in the Forces, Education or Care industries generally felt they had “a job for life”, like wise most Civil Servants however; changing government policies on pensions, savings, taxation - not to mention banks crashing, financial & economic downturn, fewer employment opportunities & few employees able to remove the smudged imprint of their face from the glass ceiling of promotion prospects, have seen a rise in those willing to take the plunge, “fly solo“ & strike out as self-employed.
The downside to this self employment solution is that more new business’ fail in the first year than survive into their third. So what questions should be explored?
- Why do I want to be self employed?
- Do the benefits to my reasons outweight the potential pitfalls?
- Are my skills currently effective & sustainable through self development?
- What, Who & Where are the markets for my skills?
- Is competition for my skills in demand or decline?
- What can my business offer that my competitors may not?
- Is there potential for growth in my business?
- Can I survive financially while I develop my business growth?
- Is my personality strong enough to survive as I develop my business?
Common responses; (not necessarily in line with above bullets)
- To be my own boss, with flexible working hours
- Ill be concentrating on doing something I enjoy
- Being more content, even if my stardard of living is lower
- - & I can always apply for another job if my venture fails
- My skills are suitable, broadbased & have scope for development
- Many small business like me, will benefit from my services
- Competition between like companies is fierce, but I will offer more services
- My business will provide a complete service by outsourcing to others like me
- I can bring a fresh, open & honest approach to this business area
- Technologies in my field are constantly changing, expanding & developing
- I am prepared to work part time to fund my business development
- My personality is disciplined & motivated enough to survive self-employment
The fact that the majority of new business’ fail is a prime reason why people can be put off trying, closely followed by lack of experience, - which - could be gained (with a secure wage) working for somone else. Obviously Im a mature student so my perspective may differ from someone younger who’s just leaving Uni.
I am also one of those with financial responsibilites for a mortgage & two kids & Im the sole provider for those & I’ve worked for companies & am now self employed. I appreciate both sides & have experienced plenty of the ups & downs self employment brings.
I decided to fly solo after five years working as an IT trainer. I loved my job but not the way a new boss was taking the company. My skills were vey broad, I taught forty-eight different classes (beginner to advanced) across four OS platforms, at a time where companies were investing heavily in IT Training for staff, but I hated having to teach Excel & Access *shudder*.
I just loved building websites, 3D programs (Bryce & Poser), Photoshop 4.5 & the then “Macromedia Suite” (now Adobe Flash etc). After five years I felt burnt out & jaded with an industry I’d once felt really cool being part of. Over the Christmas break in 2002 I decided to quit my job & go it alone.
- to be honest, & ten years ago there was a lot more business & far less competition “out there” - the internet had not yet become saturated with template companies such as Monster, Wordpress hadn’t been invented - hell, neither had Facebook! I started out creating websites with basic functionality, but my skills in Photoshop made them look eyecatching & my clients were happy with my work - word of mouth pretty much funded my first two years.
Im self taught anyway & so kept up with self development, some cool tricks in Flash & that set me aside from my competitors. Year three (2005/6) was a good year for Flash developers, I had clients in the USA, Canada - & felt it was all really working out well. I wasnt buying a condo in Marbella anytime soon, but I was covering my bills & able to run a car.
I started getting into e-commerce sites & that’s where working alone started to show its huge downside. I’d built a good reputation for doing all the work myself, - clients knew the consistent quality I offered set them apart from their competitiors, but suddenly I was faced with bigger clients wanting e-commerce sites with 300+ products & the hours I worked were horrendous.
I tried outsourcing a few times, but couldn’t guarantee the quality my clients had come to expect. I wasn’t earning enough to pay premium prices for substandard work just to get the job done within deadline, your 40hr week quickly becomes double that. If you set out with high standards in your work, for your own company very few outsourcing people will actually care enough to work to the same standard as you do fo a lesser slice of the commerical pie.
Being self-employed is also very insular. I discovered as the years went by I spent less “face to face” time with clients & generally communicated over the web. It might sound idyllic at first, but if your client is in the US, you have to be available to them on their time & after a while I really began to miss the feedback & bouncing ideas between colleagues.
That’s an issue in Digital Media so much of it can now simply be done online; you forget the art of conversation, what its like talking to “real” people, in the real world.
I’ve found that most clients have champagne tastes on a lemonade budget. Unless the client understands the work behind the scenes, most think all you do is type up a Word document & chuck a few images in there. Clients are loathe to pay for the time you spend researching their competitors, finding (& paying for)stock images where they can’t supply suitable photos & all the time you will spend tweaking, uploading etc, to ensure a quality end product.
I had a client last year who wanted to include thirtyfour A4 pages in his website. Trying to explain that even his own clients would simply not read that amount of data on a website, however he was insistent - until I told him how much it would cost for me to type up thirtyfour pages of text. Oddly enough I never heard from him again.
Digital Media is still not as well understood by “Joe Public” - even after the invention of Google & it becomes as much about explaining to people the in’s & out’s of what the internet is capable of as building their site.
Many clients will proffer examples of “what they want” & provide links to Coca-Cola, Nike & Audi & trying to explain that these sites cost more than two Mars Bars & a cup of luke warm lemonade is difficult, especially when they generally want the site up & running by next Tuesday.