Year 1 business owner: no Grinch, community, wisdom of Quincy

About a year ago I went out on my own to become a business owner with a range of clients in different industries. Here are 12 things I’ve learnt, am still learning or intrigue me…

  1. Mind yourself:

    It’s a lovely Irish turn of phrase, and the name of a charity whose flyer I picked up at an Irish Embassy event. You’re no good to your clients or yourself if worn out and low in spirits from too much work and not enough time to recharge your batteries.

  2. Chat over coffee:

    Business Network International may or may not be the networking arena for you. I’ve enjoyed going to a few meetings either as a guest or a substitute.

    I admire the constant encouragement for business owners to have one-on-one meetings. Understanding each other’s businesses and swapping ideas about how to reach your goals: who can argue with that?

  3. Community counts:

    Contributing more to my local community was among the reasons I wanted to start my business. I’m proud to be getting involved with Penge Traders Association to support my local high street. (Watch out for a new website,, launching soon.)

    Am I now Mother Teresa of Penge/Anerley borders? Hardly. But it’s a pleasure to do what I can and to be getting to know more people in my neighbourhood.

  4. Nurture your network:

    In my case that includes Croydon Chamber of Commerce, Cooking with Scissors in Dulwich and Beckenham Business Association. Eventbrite, of course, has a sometimes overwhelming choice of networking events too. How can we help each other to achieve our goals?

  5. Invest:

    The greatest Grinch would struggle to begrudge a penny of the investment in a stylish website or a logo and business-card design that sings. Next up for me is to add video to this website and develop a YouTube presence.

  6. Meet your mentor:

    I got chatting to an accountant of a certain age at a breakfast event. He had to head off to prepare a meeting with his business coach later that morning.

    It’s a fool who thinks he has nothing more to learn, as the crusading L.A. coroner Quincy once said from his high horse. Speaking to that accountant encouraged me to find a mentor/coach of my own.

  7. Your life, then your business:

    At a recent training session put on by Croydon Chamber, business coach Alan Sellers said he insists his clients are clear on their personal goals first before looking at how to achieve their professional ones. Makes sense to me.

  8. Less is more:

    Going out to events, meeting people from all types of industries, swapping ideas and experience. What’s not to like? However these days I’m trying out going to fewer events and doing better follow-up.

  9. Clone that client:

    First and foremost, what do you want your clients to say about you when you’re not in the room?

    So, this ideal client. What is it you like so much about them? Perhaps they:

    • work in partnership
    • are open to your ideas and suggestions
    • share your values
    • are an example to follow in business and in life
    • value your skills and experience.

    Identifying why your client and you are such a great fit may just help you to find more like them. If you’re stuck on how to do this, why not ask for outside help? Someone in your network is bound to have faced or be facing the same challenge.

  10. Try it out on social:

    If it feels right to you and fits with your own and your company’s values, give it a go on social media. Comfortable with LinkedIn and Twitter? (The light on the church caught my eye, for instance; that got a few retweets.)

    Why not try posting the occasional photo on Instagram… You can also use an image to encourage more eyes on your blog posts. In the next month or two I plan to engage more with Instagram and understand how people use Snapchat.

  11. Give feedback:

    After leaving Bloomberg I retrained and worked as a primary school teacher for about five years. Was each lesson like that rousing final scene in Dead Poets Society? Perhaps not, but I understand a thing or two about a “learning journey”.

    As a business owner, I still have plenty to learn. When I attend training, I try to give specific feedback on what I liked and suggest how another session could be even better.

  12. This is meant to be fun:

    Can running your own business be challenging, maddening, discouraging? Of course. But the positives often outweigh all that.

    Flexibility is among the aspects I enjoy the most.

    Recently I was able to work, including appointments with colleagues I know very well, while looking after a family dog.

    If you have or can borrow a Scout, she too will enjoy a morning snooze while you press ahead with building your own empire from the kitchen table.

That’s it for the first blog on my new website. (Hearty thanks to White Heat Design: brilliant!)

I’ve commissioned, edited and ghost-written plenty of other people’s blogs, but writing my own is a different pair of shoes – as a German colleague used to say. In a year’s time I may well look back on this and cringe.

“If you’re not embarrassed by your early efforts, did you start soon enough?”

I heard a wise business advisor say the other day. Time will tell.

6 comments on “Year 1 business owner: no Grinch, community, wisdom of Quincy

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot Damian, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Getting my full website launched has been an exercise in teamwork. A real pleasure!

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks Stephen, yes it’s great to see the logo we created together feeding in to the look and feel of the website.
      We have White Heat Design to thank for that too, of course, also Sartoria Lab for informing logo colour choices. Teamwork indeed!

  1. reinhard krause on

    Very useful read with a lot of insights. Like specially the local networking part. That’s very often overlooked and always the best starting point. Hope to hear more very soon!

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks very much, Reinhard. Yes, local networking is worth investing in, for sure. In fact I’m thinking about writing a blog focused on community soon…


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