Starting out

(This article was first posted in the May 2015 issue of Switch On To Business)

It’s the 28th May 2013 and I’m on my way back to the offices of a prestigious advertising agency after a good meeting with a happy client. Laptop, papers and coat dumped on my desk and I’m quickly ushered into a boardroom with my Manager and Department Head. The initially friendly jokes seem at odds with their furrowed brows and so somehow, I know what to expect next: 

“We’re going to ask you to leave.” 

In truth, I’d been expecting this for quite a few months; and it’s easy to deal with as it’s not my first time being pushed out of the boat, I’ve rocked quite a few in my time. We all have different stories of why we decided to go it alone and work for ourselves; and for me, it’s an extraordinary ability to do a great job and yet still irritate my employers.  So having decided it might just be easier to be my own boss rather than behaving like it when I’m actually not, I saw a need that I could supply and so set up my own stall catering to that demand. 

I’ve always been a very visual person, even as a child I gained a huge amount of happiness from drawing better pictures than the other kids at school and as an adult, I’m pretty much still the same. Having a background in digital advertising I’ve witnessed the rise of the online marketplace and the increased demand for quality images needed by online retailers. Devoid of the usual other sensory qualifiers such as touch and smell, online shoppers buy primarily with their eyes and so quality product imagery has never been more important for retailers. This is the market my business speaks to, putting quality product imagery within reach of start-ups and growing business; the bonus is I get to do something that I love while providing a much needed service to small businesses.

So what advice would I give to someone thinking of starting their own business? I’d say go for it. You’ll have to work for your dream; and it’s hard work.

It really is. For those whose dreams of running their own business looks like stress free days, taking long weekends in the Maldives and driving an Aston Martin to the office each morning; the reality slap that comes with starting up can be a little hard. It’s 6am starts, evenings and weekends given over to working, it’s the never ending worry that comes from the uncertainly of where the next payday is coming from, and it’s a roller coaster of emotions from enormous pride and joy of winning that really big contract, to the desperate lows of deciding whether to buy milk or bread because there’s no way you can afford both; and if you really, really want that Aston, it’s becoming slightly obsessed with your work to the despair of friends and family all around you.

But there’s also no greater achievement than being Master and Commander of your own ship; no fuller sense of pride than watching your own ideas turn into a working reality and no greater feeling of entitlement when you’re able to buy luxuries with money that you have generated. 

It’s hard, but running your own business is as fulfilling as it is addictive. Whatever path brought you to the point of starting up, stay on it. Listen to the advice from others who have walked it before and accept that you will often feel like taking an easier road. But always in the back of your mind keep that dream of stress free mornings, trips to the Maldives or whatever reward drives you to do what you love; the tracks of your own business will lead you to it if you have the determination and courage to stay on course.