Articles / Ten tips for my tenth birthday

Ten years ago, a wise man suggested to me that it would be a good idea to have a fallback plan - separate to the company I both worked for. At the time, my team was going through a lean period - “lean” in the sense of not having much work coming down the pipeline…

So, in May 2006, I registered Wyver Solutions Ltd at Companies House, and began offering consultancy and web development services.

Initially, as this was alongside the day job (with the blessing of my manager), the work was quite small scale - like building websites and providing Moodle advice and training for local theological education institutions.

This ran nicely for a few years, during which time I learnt a lot about all the necessary bits and pieces that you need to do to keep a company going - book-keeping, PAYE, making sure you save enough to pay the corporation tax bill etc.

Then, in 2012, I got the offer I’d been looking for… a contract that would allow me to kick-start Wyver Solutions properly, and leave the comfort blanket of corporate life!

From then on, it’s been busy but lots of fun. We’ve worked with some great people from around the world, and some really interesting organisations.

So, on my tenth birthday, what are the ten things I have learnt about running my sort of consultancy business?

  1. Before you go full-time, spend a lot of time building and maintaining your network. It’s that which will sustain you in the first few years.
  2. Working multiple projects simultaneously across multiple time zones is really hard, and to be avoided if you value your health!
  3. Get an accountant who will give you proactice advice (thanks Richard), and an accountancy software package that speaks English (thanks Kashflow).
  4. You are going to be spending a lot of time doing paperwork, so build processes that you can replicate, document and then give to someone else to do.
  5. Join the Federation of Small Businesses. Their legal advice and documents library is excellent.
  6. Expect to need help with contracts. Keeping on the right side of the IR35 legislation (see advice at Contractor Weekly) as a sole contractor takes effort. It becomes much easier when things develop so you can bring in people to work alongside you.
  7. Make sure that your past and potential clients know you’re still around. Don’t forget them in the busyness of your current projects. Work that network!
  8. Life is not all about work. Don’t feel guilty when you take time off to get in some exercise, or just enjoy seeing daylight again! Build down-time into your week, and into your pricing model. You’ll need it.
  9. Make sure your pricing allows you to create a financial buffer for those times when paid work seems thin on the ground…
  10. Maintain your network - you never know when all your contracts are going to end at once and you’ll need to rely on it!

Posted: 23 May 2016

Tags: Business