Back in 2016 I started a boutique web design agency, well this boutique web design agency; Digital Technology Labs. I did in fact transition to full time from a fabulous full time job at a large UK-based Fintech company in the city of London. What follows in this blog, I hope is a combination of the motivation that led me to quit, how it went, what I’m doing now and some lessons learned from the entire experience – I feel I have become a much fuller and well-rounded person from the experience.
I confess that I have had the longing to have my own business, or start my own business for years. And it all came to a head at a technology conference in March 2016 – where I realised I couldn’t keep putting myself through the idea of starting a business, I had to JFDI – and make it happen. So my resolution was to quit immediately on returning to the UK.
On returning to the UK, and sharing my plans with some close friends, I came to the realisation I should put my finances in order, to give myself enough coverage to not be making money for a while if I quit – so on that respect I remained in full time employment for a few more months! However, on not reaching my target ! I decided to take a risk and proceed anyway!
How it went
It was amazingly successful on many levels – however not really on a financial one, through the whole experience I failed to make much money from the whole enterprise. However I took some massive learnings from the experience, and met some amazing people. And I did in fact generate a quite humungous backlog of work post Christmas which would have kept me extremely busy. It is the importance of people, networking and meeting people that was the biggest take away I learnt through this experience. People are everything, if you don’t offer a service that people need, or do not fix a problem that is a pain point for people then you haven’t got a business – or at least a viable one. Building trust and networking is a long game, but building trust and relationships with other businesses and business folk that have complementary skillets or services means magic can happen i.e. you can help each other and each others business by providing value to each other by doing things quid pro quo.
I did a lot of quid pro quo, and it helped my business, helped other’s businesses, and help me learn, expand my portfolio and develop further skills.
What I’m doing now
I continue to operate Digital Technology Labs as a fun side project, where I have a wonderful and unique set of customers that I still work with, and I offer a very focussed and well defined service – specifically beautiful websites built on WordPress or eCommerce sites built on Shopify. I offer advice on a variety of other topics and associated services and areas, but prefer to hand clients off to people with more expertise in those fields. I’m always happy to take on interesting, challenging or quirky projects, and I still do some bespoke stuff (if persuaded!). Please contact us if you would like our assistance with your business or project.
Oh yes, and I’m back in full time employment, and friggin loving it. I continue DTL as a hobby, and I’m very happy with that. And by significantly reducing my costs, I’ve turned it into a boutique enterprise with a on-going gradual income, which is very much a delight, compared to the famine and feast that I was existing on in 2016.
Okay here’s my top 10 lessons that I learned during the experience (in a sporadic and non-order of importance):
- Networking is one of the most important part of building a business
- As is people, do stuff quid pro quo, that’s what free really means; exchanging complementary services with other businesses
- Keep your out-goings and costs at an absolute minimum!
- Use project income to invest in marketing and gaining new customers that will buy on-going services
- Choose to offer services that incur monthly income e.g. hosting fees, content update fees, to ensure small regular incomings
- Volume is important, the more small regular incomings you can earn leads to greater income, when they are all aggregated
- Automate as much as possible, from having everything even documents as templates that can be re-used as ‘cookie cutters’ for new customers
- When starting your business you will get an awful lot of emails offering you the service you are trying to offer (rather than genuine customer enquiries) – don’t let this get you down
- Try and focus on everything that you will get renumerated for, or that you are doing quid pro quo for others, minimise things that don’t add value or don’t generate income
- Except for things that are critical to the operation and growth of your business of course!
And what’s next
Well my hopes are that I can offer my services to some wonderful new customers, we offer affordable beautifully designed and built websites that we can create with you in person, rapidly (or take away your requirements and do offline). We’ll take the pain away from building a website (and maintaining a website) – and you’ll have a beautiful ‘shop front’ that you will be proud to share with your customers. Go on reach out and discuss your latest project, we don’t bite!