The First 3 Months of a Startup

It's a startup world! But, do you know where to begin...?

For anyone thinking of making the jump to self-employment, here are some recommendations from my experience during the first 3 months of Rogue Penguin.

Build a network of incredible people

I couldn’t imagine starting a business without first establishing a solid connection network. My network was the difference between Rogue Penguin flying or struggling to get off the ground. These people provided support, advice, introductions and (importantly) work – they were (and still are) my biggest advocates. Thank you!

Get a good Accountant

If there’s a business process that makes me feel (more) like a fish out of water, it’s the accounts. Early on, this is something I knew I would need help with. I met a great accountant at a networking event a few months before starting the business (not thinking I would ever need their services) – thanks again network! I’m now a Xero user but leave most of the heavy lifting to the experts.

Understand your rate

It’s one of the most nerve racking questions to answer when first starting out – what do you charge? It brings into focus too many self-doubting questions. I got some unexpected help with this in one of my first contracts. I proposed an hourly rate to a potential client and their counter offer was 20% higher, as I was “underselling myself”. I will be forever grateful to this person for (literally) helping me to value myself.

Tell people what you’re doing

If you’re self-employed, no one is better at selling what you do than you. Tell everyone, regardless of whether you think they will use what you’re offering. It’s good practice for working out your elevator pitch.

Cover yourself

Insurance may be a set-and-forget purchase but take the time to look into it. Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Income Protection – these are all things that should at least be considered, after talking to a professional.

Healthy body, healthy mind - able to work

I have never valued the ergonomic setup of (most) corporate offices as much as I do now. My work involves me travelling between client offices with a laptop, or working after hours from home – on a laptop. It took 2 months before my neck gave up. I was off work for a week, at regular physiotherapy for 6 weeks and have never been in that much pain. One gym membership, a personal trainer and a big screen later… I’m choosing to invest in prevention rather than treatment.

Prepare for things outside of your control

What would you do if you couldn’t access your computer, or files, or colleagues, or office? Many companies were forced to answer this question after November’s earthquake – and are still reeling from it. The importance of being able to work remotely, even if you don’t, has never been so important. Thanks to file sharing apps like Dropbox and collaboration tools like Real Time Board, this is getting easier.

Narrow your personal scope

Starting out, I was open to anything – mainly due to professional interest but also being terrified about not getting any other work. This constant saying ‘yes’ meant I was over committed and, at times, doing work that did little to inspire me. Had I not given it a go though, I would have missed out on discovering the work that I now jump out of bed for. Narrowing down the work you love, also involves identifying the work you don’t.