Over the next several weeks I will share with you a series of “mini stories” that reflect on my TCFP journey to date. I hope my experiences can help others and I am very happy to talk to anyone thinking about “going it alone”, just get in touch.
Check back again soon for further updates.
Part 1: Why did I start TCFP?
I started TCFP to save humanity from me being an employee again.
I am a terrible employee, a righteous pain in the arse – arrogant, rebellious and argumentative. It took too long for me to realise this, but I haven’t looked back since.
Maybe I was envious of the great employees that surrounded me? Well done to you if you are thriving, I’m happy I’m not disrupting your working day. And you are too!
I think it boils down to paying attention to what does, and does not, work for you. One size does not fit all and far too few are encouraged to do their own thing.
Kudos to those that have a vision, invention or passion that leads them to being captain of their own ship.
For me it was a mercy call.
Part 2: Being a business owner is not intimidating
I work in a highly regulated profession with lots of barriers to entry. On top of which, financial planners and advisers are often treated with deep suspicion by the public – occasionally with just cause – and poor practices, although diminished greatly, still exist.
Financial planning is not an obvious choice for setting up on your own and having a rewarding and life affirming career.
At the start I was shocked by negative stories I heard about going alone. However, I realised pretty quickly that a lot of noise does not mean bad things happen. And that has proved to be the case.
Knowing all I really had to do was the best thing for each potential client I was sure the outcomes would take care of themselves.
And the outcome is a £1m+ turnover business inside 8 years.
If you’re good at what you do, why not give it a go? After 6 months it will be clear if you can make a good go of it. If it isn’t working out, you can always go and get a proper job.
70% may be good enough as an employee but not as your own boss. But why try if you are not going to give it your all? What is 6 months out of 40 years of work?
That doesn’t sound risky to me, if it does to you then you already have your answer.
It’s not a stroll in the park by any manner of means, you need your wits about you and to fully commit. But, if it does work out, you’ll never look back. You might even remember having read this!!
Part 3: The journey (so far)
I’m not saying starting a business is a cake walk, it’s anything but – there are many hard yards. What I do say is that, if you know you’re good, and your only aim is to serve others, you will succeed.
Success can be slippery, sometimes factors outside our control scupper our best intentions. You may have to try more than once. Not giving up is a key attribute of successful entrepreneurs.
In my own journey this is clear – what we do now and how is worlds apart from what we were doing at the beginning. We have adapted to circumstances, seen which way the wind is blowing, taken on new ideas. Being too idealistic can be a hindrance, success and flexibility go hand in hand.
But the baseline is to do you best every day, honestly and with sincerity and karma will reward you. Keep your chin up, don’t dwell on mistakes and setbacks, learn and move on, and up.
I went weeks with rejection after rejection and then purple patches when everyone said yes. There was never a pattern to success or failure, which led me to accept that I could only control the input, not the outcome.
I focussed on the input and it worked. I gave the best I could in every meeting and let the dice fall where they did. It was liberating not to be attached to an outcome.
I never let rejections get on top of me or successes go to my head, I simply moved on. That is important mentally – if you dwell, by definition, you are not moving forward.
I could have analysed everything over and over, but that takes up a lot of head space and can lead to paralysis. I wouldn’t recommend analysis, I recommend turning up, being present, giving it your best with honesty and integrity. Giving up analysing every “mistake” led me to giving up plenty of other things too.
I was assailed with tips and techniques. I recommend ignoring most although, every once in a while, there is a belter, just right for you. However, remember, this is your furrow, only you can plough it – the more present you are, the more authentic you will be and the better the outcomes.
Eliminate distractions, take your craft, your art seriously, like a matter of life and death and people will respond positively. To this day people I spoke to years ago come back and say “Jeremy, we liked meeting you before, sorry we have not been in touch since, but now we are ready. Can we work with you?”
To move your business forward outsource everything you can, as intelligently as you can, as quickly as you can. But take your time – pick the right partners for bookkeeping, accountancy, HR, admin etc.
You are none of those tasks, your clients are not paying you to do them – free your mind from them and the rest will follow….
Another mistake repeated was “marketing”, or what I thought was marketing. There are many ways to spend £500 – £1,000 on “marketing ideas”. Adverts, branding and sponsorships etc., I have done more than I can remember, convincing myself each time that one new client to make it pay. I never got a single client.
I gave up and simply focussed on doing more for my clients and, hey presto, our clients started recommending us to their friends, colleagues and family more and more.
It’s rarely a linear journey, if it appears so I suggest you might be missing something. Too good to be true is exactly that – things that were always a challenge become easy and vice versa, and then they switch back again.