Every business manual that you come across, every small business advisor you meet and any experienced and successful business person you see sweating inside their suit will emphasise the importance of planning.
But I ignored them.
Because planning is for other people.
It is vital for people trying to build larger businesses. It is crucial for those who aren’t as clear about their skills as I was. It’s important for people moving into a new field.
But, for me Tommy, planning was a waste of time ((And the war was over)).
Who cares about cashflow forecasts when you won’t need to buy anything and you won’t need to employ anyone.
That’s what’s brilliant about freelancing you see. It’s so easy. You already have the tools, most of them anyway, and you don’t need to spend any money on marketing because everyone knows you.
One call to the HMRC and you are self-employed, freelance, a small business person.
People banging on about business plans are always also going on about doing market research.
“Phone potential clients up”
“and ask them what sort of freelancers they hire. Ask them how often they hire freelancers. Ask them what they pay”.
Which is likely to be a pretty tedious and, lets face it, probably unpleasant way to spend a few hours.
What I always say to people is this
“It doesn’t matter how big the market is because there’s only one of me. And I don’t need much work to keep busy”
Which is very much how I became an expert in how to fail at freelancing.
There are people who spend a few days thinking about what skills they have, what people want to buy and what is the best way to market themselves.
But then there are people who go through their bank statements line by line each month.
There are even people who complete their tax returns on time.
People like that, people bound by the petty restrictions of convention, people who have probably never done a spontaneous thing in their lives. People like that are not the same as you and me.
OK, they’ll be able to feed the cat and pay the mortgage.
But will they truly be free?
I was warned. My employer hired a couple of clever people to work with the managers in the organisation to make sure they had the right skills to support their teams through the merger. One of these gurus spent a bit of time with me.
I explained that I was leaving to go and work for myself. He asked a question that I was ill equipped to answer
“What are you going to do?”
I looked at him I like he was a bit of an idiot.
He looked at me like I was a bit of an idiot.
“Have you drawn up a business plan?”
I had not.
A look of pity crossed his face. He asked me another question which, I can now see, I should have reflected on in a little more detail.
“Are you independently wealthy?”