Monday last week, I attended a founders seminar sponsored by the Work Agency. I already knew most of the seminar content, but the exchange among the participants had been interesting. I even could talk a bit about my experiences from my former shots at self-employment.
When my new tax consultant told me on Tuesday what amount of tax return I can expect for 2008 (cough), I could not help but wonder why I didn't get help with my taxes earlier.
Many hours this week went into my talk titled "Drupal in the Cloud". I held it at DrupalCamp which took place in Essen over the weekend. Judging from the questions I got from the audience, I hit an interesting topic. After the talk, I had conversations with several Drupal service providers that I had start thinking about moving their hosting to us. This and the praise I got for my presentation made the journey worthwhile. If only the storm on Sunday wouldn't have disrupted train traffic so thoroughly that I ended up at my brother's place at midnight because I just couldn't make it all the way home.
Regarding my new business, the last week was quite short because I went to visit my girlfriend and my daughter at their health resort at the Baltic Sea on Wednesday.
I've decided to change our web meeting service provider. Up until now, I'd used GoToMeeting to do webinars and online trainings. It worked okay; only an audio problem that made people sound like the Chipmunks when I used an USB headset on the Mac had been annoying me for some weeks. Not until Acquia recently switched from GoToWebinar to WebEx, I realized that an important part of our customer base couldn't join our webinars in the first place: There's no Linux client for GoToMeeting. It didn't take me much more time to decide to switch to WebEx, too.
For starters, we won't incorporate. I discussed my plans with my tax consultant and she advised me not to incorporate early on but start lightweight as a sole proprietorship company.
The more things change...
"... Anyone who wants to can see a list of all the events you are planning on attending? It's like a stalker's delight."
— Comment about Upcoming.org from September 23, 2003, six days after launch
"It's bad enough we're using real names and telling people where we've been. Now it's like prepping someone for the best times to try robbing your apartment."
— Comment from June 2005
Further back, from the Montreal Gazette, September 1983...
From 1977, don't list your weddings or funerals in the paper, unless you want to get robbed...via waxy.org
I've been very busy working over the last weeks and months. Busy working on a new (ad)venture: My own business. I decided to pull my old freelance business from the back burner and go full-time. Because I thought that the experiences I'm making along the way could be interesting to some people, this will be the first of (hopefully) many articles about my starting up.
How did it come that, amidst a recession of all things, I decided to leave my corporate shelter to start my own business?
One could assume I got tired of commuting every day for more than two hours. But the opposite is true: My one-hour train ride to and from the office often was more productive than double the time in the office. I have noise-blocking earphones, so on the train I got interrupted at most once an hour. Try this sharing an office with two other people. Salary reasons then? Well, there certainly are people getting paid a lot more for doing less work and having less responsibility. But no, I got enough to get along fine, and money isn't my top motivation for sure.
The real reason is that I felt I wasn't growing any more, speaking in a professional sense. I realized that certain conditions to further develop my skills and talents had vanished over time. (Maybe I'll describe those conditions a bit more at another time.) I felt a growing incompatibility with my work environment and when I had the opportunity to sign a dissolution contract in October, I decided to take it.
Since then, I've been doing a bit of freelance work from home (or my "office desk" at Starbucks). More importantly, I caught up on the paternity leave I didn't take when Amalia was born. It feels so great to have quality time with my family and at the same time enjoy the freedom to work on the things I have a passion for!
I've thought hard about my next steps. Shouldn't I look for another job providing me and my family security? Oh shoot, it's 2010 and job security a thing of the past. Going into another employment has virtually the same risk as starting your own business nowadays.
But working hard in IT management would at least grant me a decent salary over the next few years, wouldn't it? Yes, it probably would. But why work hard for other people's wallet when I could do the same for my own -- and towards my own goals and to my own rules?
After reading an informative book on how to properly start a business in Germany, I read "Crush It!", "Escape from Cubicle Nation" and "Meconomy". And then I decided to go on a new journey of personal and professional growth by starting a full-time business.
Now, what kind of business? I've been thinking hard about that question and also talked about it with some friends. I still haven't finished my business concept yet, but it'll certainly involve the things I'm passionate about: high performance information technology, open source software, consulting and training services.
It'll also be about finding new ways of doing things. That's why I chose "Freistil Consulting" as the company name.
What lies ahead
As I said, I'm working on the business concept. I've done a rough business model, but the detailed business plan sketching out all the strategic and financial points will still require some effort: exploring my strengths and weaknesses, checking on chances and threats, talking with my tax consultant, my financial advisor, and, most importantly, with potential clients.
The number one condition is already met, though: I have the official support of my family, for which I'm very grateful.
At the same time, I'm working on the technical side of things, writing concepts as well as building a basic IT infrastructure. I finally understand the general enthusiasm for Amazon EC2.
From now on, I'm going to write regular posts about my experiences growing (with) my business. Having just discovered Weeknotes, it'll probably be in a weekly format. Is there something you're especially interested in? And please tell me your thoughts in the comments, I'll highly appreciate it!