It's been one year since I registered for an Ontario Business Number and dubbed Envirolum Consulting as my operating name. For that, I would like to take this time to thank my supporters and mentors and share with you the lessons learned in my venture.
To my fellow consulting colleagues: My "go-to" people during the times when I needed a second opinion or to run a thought by. Thanks for letting me think out loud.
To my clients: Whether it's subcontract or direct, loyal returning clients and new alike, thank you for your patronage and trusting me to work with you. I look forward to working with you all again as I venture into the 2nd year of operating Envirolum Consulting.
To friends and family: Thank you for your tremendous support and for believing in me. You are my cheerleader. It has been an amazing year in my career and I wouldn't have been able to do it without all your support!
What better time to reflect back on what I've learned about working solo.
Here are 5 lessons learned over the past year:
1. Invest in your business (and yourself)
I live an active lifestyle, and I consider myself young & healthy. So why would I need healthcare benefits? When it comes to health, it is not a topic I take lightly or would want to gamble with. If I have "health" insurance for my car and my house, why would I not insure myself? I did my research and found the best healthcare plan for an individual is offered through my very own alma mater. In fact, it is a group benefit plan for most universities and colleges and is available for all alumni.
I am also currently completing a Master's degree in Environmental Practice. This has always been a personal goal of mine and running my own business has made me realize the value in this investment.
2. Never Stop Learning
Further investing into your own business is to never stop learning. As I continue to develop my business, I have learned to wear many hats. Not only am I an Environmental Consultant, I also make up the finance, business development, sales, human resources, and administrative departments. I am constantly learning new skills. Now I make more effort and time to go to relevant workshops, seminars, courses and webinars.
New challenge? Yes, bring it on!
3. Build Trusting Relationships
It is more valuable for a growing business to develop a trusting relationship with clients and colleagues.
4. Adjusting to Financial Uncertainty
Unlike corporate paycheques that were directly deposited into my bank account on a regular bi-weekly basis, getting paid by project completion becomes much more sporadic as it depends on length of time to complete a project. It's like Christmas morning every time I check my mailbox and find a cheque in the mail. A good method to adopt is to offer the client an incentive for upfront payments.
5. Filling the Social Void
Now that I work from home for the most part, I often find that I miss the office environment for the social aspect. This is where joining an industry association, local chamber of commerce, or making the effort to attend a monthly meet-up group becomes a bonus. Never pass up an opportunity that is presented to you for networking and personal development.
I look forward to continuing my relationships with you all in the new fiscal year and seeing this list grow as I continue to learn.