I launched BOKAC in 2011 whilst working in Financial Recruitment and have since always run it on the side of ‘full-time’ work. Running a business outside of another job is hard. You sacrifice lie-ins, evenings and weekends but it’s worth it for the satisfaction that growing and providing a service that people enjoy brings.
I’ve always had the ‘what if?’ question of whether BOKAC could be my full-time focus running in the back of my mind but the fear of not earning a salary or what might go wrong has held me back.
In 2014 I was accepted on to the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF), a 12-month programme which equips budding entrepreneurs with training workshops, career coaching, business mentoring and a network of incredible contacts. Largely due to my time on NEF so far, my confidence has grown enough to ‘take the plunge’ and give working on BOKAC full-time a go. If it works and I can support myself through the business, it will be a dream come true. If it doesn’t, well then at least I tried and I could always go back to other work.
My self employment began yesterday, Monday 2nd February, 2015. I have decided to blog about this year partly because I don’t have a co-founder (and therefore need someone to talk to!) and partly to motivate me to make enough happen so that I have something interesting to write about on a weekly or perhaps even daily basis. I am now sitting at my desk in full blogger mode (apple laptop, scented candle burning and a pretty notebook with ‘make it happen’ embossed on the front) – ready to do this!
This isn’t actually from today but it looks very similar!
As Day 1’s go I would say yesterday was a success. I am an early riser so managed to get a lot done by way of admin in the morning and then spent the afternoon with my website developer which is always a pleasure because he is a lovely person (I would say we’re friends now as well as business acquaintances – James would you agree?!) and he is also fantastic at what he does and knows BOKAC just as well, if not better than I do. We’re having problems with the website framework at the moment and it turns out it needs a complete overhaul which isn’t going to come cheap. It’s a bit of a blow to start off with even less money than I thought I had but it’s got to be done and it will just mean juggling some other plans around for now (I launched BOKAC with savings and have always invested whatever money is made back into the business).
In the evening, I met a business mentor who I was introduced to through NEF. He is not officially my mentor but kindly said he would meet me to share some wisdom. I came away with some great action points including:
- Master the art of PR: I will learn how to craft a press release and how to approach journalists in the hope of generating some press around me/BOKAC
- Seek advice from our biggest competitor: Not something I would have automatically thought to do for fear of them telling me to take a hike. However, I can now see that to them, BOKAC is pretty insignificant and they can hopefully offer me some valuable advice on pitfalls to avoid or what worked for them when they were starting out
- Tips on digital content marketing: Creating a tone of voice and personality around BOKAC to market the business in a consistent way that speaks to our customer segments
- Consider seeking investment: This is a sticking point for me as I am nervous about parting with my hard-earned equity but I am beginning to realise that I am never going to be able to grow the business at the rate I want to without funding. The way he put it is that in 9 months time when the business is going through a tough stage and my pot of savings is rapidly dwindling, I will probably kick myself for not having some money behind me whereas if I do secure investment and the business experiences real growth, I probably won’t regret giving away 15-20% in order to get there.
I am often amazed at how helpful people are willing to be to virtual strangers and with no sign of ‘what’s in it for me?’. I left the meeting feeling positive and full of ideas to implement. As this wise man said – You’re going to have to learn all of this stuff at some point, you might as well start now.