From large enterprise to entrepreneur – striking out alone

Three years ago, I launched my own digital marketing consultancy: Wild Orange Media. I’d spent almost 20 years working in marketing roles for large enterprises gaining fantastic experience – but all the while I knew this wasn’t the way I wanted to work forever. I was determined that the idea of starting my own business was going to be more than just a dream.

The transition from an established role with a large company into the world of working for yourself is far from easy. I had plenty of concerns about launching my own business; in particular, fears around being able to provide for my family and how I would fare building a brand-new business from scratch.

The minute you strike out alone, any feelings of ‘job-security’ fly out of the window – so before all else, it’s important to be prepared for this. Planning ahead is vital in order to deal with the uncertainty that comes with leaving an established role to start something new. I spent a few years planning my own finances before taking the plunge, making sure I lessened the risk to my immediate financial security.

Someone once told me that there were three things I’d need to do if I decided to run my own business: find the work, do the work and get paid for the work. I soon found that he was right.

First came finding the work – the idea of sourcing brand-new clients and then having the confidence to ‘sell’ my world-class consulting support gave me many sleepless nights! But overcoming obstacles always comes back to good old-fashioned hard work, putting in the hours and doing the best job I possibly could.

Then, doing the work – I’ve certainly worked harder over the last three years than ever before, and yet, I’ve enjoyed every moment more than any other stage of my career to date. There’ll always be pressure, but I now have the confidence to know I can handle whatever the business throws at me.

And finally, getting paid for the work. I play the long game. Making sure I’ve done the very best work possible for each client makes me confident I’ve given them dozens of great reasons to yearn to work with me again. Knowing that every invoice that gets paid is a direct result of your own hard work feels really gratifying. I never felt that direct connection between effort and reward while working for someone else’s company.

An important thing to note about these three pointers is this: they each take roughly the same amount of time, and it’s practically impossible to do all three – and do them well – on your own. With this in mind, I’ve taken on help with aspects such as bookkeeping, accounts and organising travel plans, allowing me to focus on the parts I do best.

Taking the step away from employment and into entrepreneurship and seeing your own business do well is a wonderful source of pride. It’s not an easy ride, but if you thrive on the ambiguity of entrepreneurship, as I do, the highs and lows are truly exhilarating.

Allister Frost is the lead speaker at Venturefest Wales 2015. He is the founder of Wild Orange Media and the former head of digital marketing for Microsoft.

Image credit: Michal Ziembicki