Yes indeed: companies have birthdays too! Socius Associates Ltd was incorporated exactly a year ago, which makes today’s date a little bit special.
So, what’s been happening in that first year? As anyone who has set up their own business will tell you, the first year is one of steep learning, investing and lots and lots of firsts.
Here are some of mine:
Landing the first client
I was lucky enough to land my first two clients before Socius even existed, which I took to be a good sign!
Landing the first client is a real boost to your confidence, so my advice to anyone thinking about setting up a new business is to put a lot of work in before you launch it. Tell everybody about it as soon as you can; ask their opinions; truly take on board their feedback and advice, and offer them an attractive rate in exchange for being the first to hire you.
Commissioning the Socius brand and website
The website is very important, because it is Socius’s shop window. I took my brief for the website and brand to the brilliant designer Rachid Taibi from The Upright One, who has designed beautiful websites, materials and brands for me before.
I am delighted with the result myself, but most importantly, people who know me and my business well, tell me the brand and website are a very good reflection of Socius’s method, approach and values. Getting this right was a real milestone.
Getting commissioned by my previous employer
Being asked to deliver a meaty project by my previous employer was a huge pleasure, because I’d enjoyed working with my colleagues there over time. Perhaps most importantly, it was a vote of confidence on their part, which matters greatly, considering how experienced and knowledgeable my former colleagues are themselves.
Finding my accountant
After I incorporated Socius, I received a letter from a fancy Oxford accountancy practice addressed to
Mr Flo van Thor, Esq.
CEO, Socius Associates Ltd.
Needless to say they didn’t get my business. Instead I used my professional network to find my accountant – credentials are important, but references matter even more!
What nobody tells you beforehand
Then there are those things you find out on your own, because nobody could possibly tell you about them if they tried. For me these have been:
Weekends cease to exist
This is not as awful as it sounds. You see, I really, truly love what I do any day of the week. I have preparation to do the day before sessions, so I will often be doing work on a Sunday. Conversely, if on a weekday I’m not due anywhere and things can wait, I’ll be running errands that would test my patience on a Saturday. Or get a book and enjoy the sunshine!
It’s OK not to network all the time
By the way, sometimes not networking can be very effective too. At a workshop in April I was simply in learning mode, even while I chatted about the course with my fellow delegates. Afterwards several of them asked for my card, while I’ve struck up a great collaboration with the trainer, the brilliant Shelley Rostlund from social media experts My Social Intelligence.
Inspiration hits when it does
I don’t go anywhere now without a notebook and a fully charged phone, because inspiration tends to creep up on me!
My 8-year-old nephew Jimmy Joe is slightly obsessed with the game Hay Day. So I play too, and we have in-depth conversations about pricing, managing stock levels and when to invest in a larger barn. It’s talking shop without the jargon, which makes no difference to the end result. The things a child can teach you about business without even trying!
A huge sense of fun
It’s not just the freedom everybody tells you about; it’s the sheer joy and hilarious things which will inevitably happen: slightly mad conversations at networking events; trying out a new coaching tool with a fellow coach while sampling carrot cake in Café Coco; getting invited onto Stuart Mabbutt’s Going Wild with Wildlife radio show to discuss the smell of cow pats in the morning, once we’d covered the seasonality of my coaching and mentoring business.
Share your tales
What about your first year in business, what do you remember above all about starting up and getting going? And what thing do you wish you’d known at the start of your second year? I’d be very interested… for obvious reasons!