2018: Midway point
In the words of the great man Jon Bon Jovi, whoa ho we're halfway there (half way through 2018 that is). It seems like 5 minutes since Christmas.
This month's blog is brought to you from a very sunny lakeside retreat, I love this time of year in Northumberland.
2018 has been a turning point year for me, as things were tough in the first few years after leaving a director level job, I have got my earnings back up to and beyond that of those when I was employed.
I have also managed to get my hours worked in check and now don't do any work on weekends other than check email and do some planning etc. My years of working in the leisure game took its toll on my body clock with late nights and late starts becoming the norm, I struggled to get back to being a morning person for years after. I decided to bite the bullet and start getting into work for 7.00am in order to get 2 clear hours in before the phone and emails start coming through. This has proved productive and offsets the slowdown on an afternoon when my glass fronted office becomes a greenhouse and too hot to produce much work.
My inbound marketing is steady. I certainly get my fair share of local work, although I am now in the position of luxury where I can pick and choose the work I want more. I have also targeted a few clients directly who I would like to work with or feel I could do a lot for. This has been quite successful and 4 of the last 5 clients I have signed up in June were full-service business development/VCFO type jobs, which I really enjoy doing. My commercial skills have also seen me become a bit of a hub for artisan type producers who are looking to grow beyond working in their sheds and garages.
In my advisor network I have an excellent social media marketing company and I also have a good e-commerce client who can fulfill 1000 orders per day. So what I have done is join together so I can put a growth plan together, and do numbers, social guys boost awareness and marketing and e-commerce guy fulfills orders, leaving artisan to focus on products and converting sales. So far we have had some decent results and I could us having a few success stories out of it.
Mark Telford's recent blog about when to niche hit a nerve with me. Picking niches/specialist areas is far more succesful for me now, than in year 1. For me, you find your own niche over time with what work you like and the people you like working with. Starting off with predetermined unproven ideas will likely just see you chasing rainbows, when you need clients on board paying you fees.
It doesnt get any better than working with clients and make beer and chocolate either, I am a slave to my profession and need to test all products to get my buy in.
There is a lot of brew house/distillery type bars opening up locally so combined with my leisure knowledge I think I could bring a lot to that type of business, so may knock on a few doors for a way in. I could definitely see me as a specialist to the gin producing fraternity.
Accountex was a funny one this year, my only software requirement was to finally nail a PM solution, the 100% right one does not exist but I am trialling a few currently which should do about 80% of what I need. I am also still dealing with calls from Accountex and I am almost trialled out until next year. A lot of the software is very good but the entry level is often very high where you need 20 clients to sign up before its affordable which is a high entry point I feel for the sole trader.
I attended the Gap workshop which was interesting as it was not just software which is all we seem to hear about these days but a full end to end system for delivery business development to clients. It fits in with what I want to achieve. I need my house in order a bit first as I have been signing up a lot of work from spreadsheet/Sage desktop jobs which has proved very challenging, getting info from outgoing accounatnts, doing the last set of accounts, bringing current stuff up to date then get into Xero going forward. I have under quoted on a few jobs but they are good fees going forward so I have taken that on the chin and learned from it.
I am now a lot more glass half full and more confident in what I am offering and to who I am offering it to. I have some very exciting projects and cleints I am working with who have great potential.
A short listing in the Accounting Excellence awards was also a bit unexpected but I am hoping to capitalise on the profile that will bring.
Heres hoping 2018 finishes as well as it began.
Anyway got to dash as Queen tribute act "Eddie Mercury" is on at the clubhouse, apparently its for one time only and not to be missed.
Enjoy the weather folks.