2010 was a good year. I quit my day job, started a business, moved house, bought a puppy, got married and was only two years away from my first decent haircut since I was a wee lad.
Fast forward to the present day, the summer of 2014 is flirting dangerously with my delusions of the summers from ‘back in the day’ and I’m celebrating four years in business.
According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn.
Chickens. I’m not counting them just yet and probably never will. It would be incredibly naive of me to think that it’s a clear road here onwards. It’s not and it won’t be. Business just doesn’t work that way. You’re only as good as you’re last project and it could easily disappear as quickly as it arrived. I still have that fear of failure. In fact, I use it to keep a clear perspective of the future. Regardless of client or project size, each one that comes along still feels me with a mixture of excitement; fear and an overwhelming need to prove myself.
Running a business is definitely a rollercoaster ride. The highs are fantastic, but subconsciously I bring myself down soon after. Perhaps it’s an internal way of staying grounded or keeping my personal and professional ambitions in check. I don’t know. But I’m addicted.
In 2013 I found a large proportion of my time was spent managing projects just as much as being hands on with them. This was frustrating by all accounts but the minute I accepted that this is what it is, I learnt to deal with it. Of course, I would much prefer to be at my desk all day and design/code sites or apps.
The time has flown by, it genuinely has. In the four years since westfourstreet was officially founded I’ve moved home four times, had two amazing children and seen my football team get promoted to & relegated from the Premier League. So what have I learned in this time? What’s changed?
- 1. There is no such thing as 9-5 anymore
- 2. You’re 25% designer, 25% developer, 25% account manager and 25% administrator
- 3. The projects are bigger and more time consuming meaning more focus
- 4. No project is ever too big. Aim high. Really high
- 5. Enjoy any success, but not to dwell on it
- 6. The risk of failure is motivation to succeed
- 7. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know
- 8. A good accountant is worth their weight in gold
- 9. You’re only as good as your last ‘sign off’
- 10. You no longer take ‘The Apprentice’ seriously
I spent five years learning how to design and develop websites. I’ve spent the past four years learning how to run and manage a business. So I’d say that makes us just about even.
So I’ll have a quiet celebration on this particular anniversary and enjoy the moment but it will be short lived I’m sure, as there is work still to be done.
A massive thank you to all my clients who have, and still are a pleasure to work for. In 2013 I took on clients such as the NHS, Cognita and The Home Retail Group. Really well established businesses and naturally I’m delighted to be able to call them customers.
And finally, a special mention to my wife Robyn, my daughter Halle and my son Austin (AJ). I graft for you guys, every single day.