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!
Just like "good writing comes from writing and not from good writing tools", good thinking doesn't come from good thinking tools. But tools can help you concentrate on the task at hand instead of the environment you're doing it in.
The creative congregation of the Church of Mac seems especially interested in which tools help in getting things done. Summing up many conversations I had on blogs, IM, Twitter and in real life (gasp!), I put together this mind map of the tools I use to collect ideas, thoughts as well as important documents I need to refer to.
In another article, I'll describe my work and data flow when I use those tools.
Take a look and please tell me in the comments what tools we have in common and what your recommendations are!
Instead of holding on to your old notions of how computers should work, take a look at what the new offers. The iPad is a half inch thick device, with multi-touch, forever connected to the internet, simplified, focussed, affordable, and most importantly, can be superbly productive. Sure it won’t be just as efficient and productive as your desktop or laptop, and that’s why they will continue to remain production machines, but given the iPad’s size and mobility, I think the lack of traditional multi-tasking is anything but bad design.
The typeface will always be a sign of good taste. :-)
I found this VHS cassette while cleaning my office this week. This "Found Footage" comes from a video tape I received from Apple back in 1984 when the original 128K Mac was introduced. It was part of the authorized dealer training videos given to each store to help them become familiar with the Macintosh. You will see a very young Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Phil Gibbons, Mitch Kapor, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.via tuaw.com