Lessons Learnt From 5 Years On My Own

It has been 5 years since I left the employee status in a large corporation. I resigned in November 2011 and started my consultancy business on 1 Feb 2012. What an adventure with many ups and downs!

Jeremie5 years and 5 companies founded on 2 continents later, with quite moderate but sustainable success, here are some experiences I would like to share from this journey:

  1. Going on one’s own is not for the faint-hearted. It is tough, and requires a lot of dedication and effort. A lot of people I know do fail.
  2. Family support is essential, as is caring for the comfort of the family.
  3. Pay yourself fairly, while keeping enough in the company for growth. The money you own personally is your freedom.
  4. Commercial skills are essential. They are worth a lot. I am still learning as it is not really my background. In reality I cover most of my companies’ commercial development. Develop these skills early if you can.
  5. Do not start on your own. I made the mistake to start by myself alone. Now that I have experience having ventures with partners and working with teams of people I like and respect, I see how much more comfortable that is, even when it’s tough.
  6. Highs will be high and downs will be very low. Brace for uncertainty and change. Keep reserves and be conservative in accounting.
  7. Clients will not always be fair or follow previous agreements. Protect yourself with enough written stuff. Keep reserves for the unexpected (see 6.). And don’t follow the example of your clients: stay fair to your partners and contractors.
  8. Small is beautiful. In today’s world it is possible to bring substantial change from a small structure. I am perfectly happy to keep my companies small but very ambitious when it comes to their impact to the world.
  9. I am very proud of providing an opportunity to the people that work in the companies I am controlling, having been able to keep them as much as possible through the downs and this a great motive of satisfaction.
  10. Having the freedom to experiment is an essential motivation. We don’t have the means to do a lot, but we can still experiment at the limit of technology some new services for our clients. It is a great motivator.

As you can see the positives far exceed the negatives. If you consider such a move, plan it well in advance. But do it, it is worth it.