For some time in February I was cut off from the outside world. Plenty of time to work peacefully, without disturbance or the distraction of daily routine. I am sorely missing those days now. I may well be the boss from April 1st. The real question is ‘the boss of what exactly?’ A heap of spreadsheets and word documents and ideas rattling in my skull. Read on to see how well I was doing in February…
Tuesday February 21: While the Tasmanialainen blog is cruising along quite easily and I’m finding enough things onboard to write about, this page I’ve left alone. In the main because I’ve been too busy to blog that part. The business plan is taking shape quite nicely. I’ve finetuned the overall description for the umpteenth time now, although I am quite sure that this is not the final version.
For the last two days I worked on products and services. I enjoyed that very much. I could imagine driving through Helsinki and the sort of spiel that might accompany such a drive. I could imagine the look of wonderment that would appear when we stopped at one of my lunch places (wish-list item at this stage of the works). I could even imagine the bus driver, guiding us through Helsinki and describing their city in glowing terms. Okay, yes I got a little carried away, still after I wrote the first product detail description things started to feel right!
I now have 6 core products that comprise my summer business. I need to work very hard on creating some opportunities for the off-season now. My off-season will be 7 months long. That’s a long time not to have any income coming in, although it does provide a wonderful block of time for development: markets, products, leads, and new opportunities. This will be the majority of my trading year and I hope I can maintain the momentum.
Have I mentioned EnterpriseHelsinki * previously? The night before we left Helsinki I logged into my business plan that I have started building there. I printed all my pages to PDF format, and saved them in my Evernote (remind me to tell about that great little tool one day!). I upgraded to premium as it allowed for offline folder and file access. This is exactly what you would need when you are literally in the middle of the ocean and satellite internet services are slow and prohibitively expensive. I should have read the instructions properly. Nothing was available where I thought it would be. Help was of no help because I wasn’t online. So I bit the bullet, opened the internet and quickly printed my PDF’s again. This time I saved them on my computer. There will be time to work out why my Evernote didn’t perform as expected when I get home and have proper internet again.
The goal is to complete all ten pages before the ship arrives in New York. I have one week left and only two pages 100% completed. Best I get back to it!
Wednesday 22: Yesterday was a bust. I’m finding it very challenging to describe my customers. I look around the ship and imagine that some of these cruisers are my passengers, yet actually describing them in an adequate way that I can direct marketing towards is proving elusive. My first customer group sounded a lot like me. Hmm.
23rd Thursday: The customers have been categorized, although there is much more work to be done. I’ve moved onto describing the competition and doing my PEST analysis. Political, Economical, Social, and Technological factors. This will sit next to the SWOT analysis inside the final business plan document.
Friday 24th: Small panic setting in although I have achieved more in the last week than in the last 6 months. Now I’m getting into the nitty-gritty, financials, insurances, company structure etc. Reality has just struck. My first trading period will end 30.9.2013. The second one will start 1.10.2013. Now I have that terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What have I started? Is it too late to withdraw that resignation and go back to working for the man?
Saturday 25th and now there are only three full days onboard left. I am not going to panic as I should be incredibly proud of the work done so far. Now I’m getting into the financial part and for a lot of that I need to be online. I have plenty of work to do once I’m back on terra firma next week. Back to my spreadsheets. Safety note: all my files were backed up onto memory stick yesterday. Just in case.
I have reached a point where I can go no further without access to high-speed internet. Regretfully this means I now have to wait until we return the Helsinki. The good part, all of my spreadsheets and documents are ready for cutting and pasting into the business plan builder! Yippee. Sunday and Monday shall be days of rest and recreation. Tuesday is a day of travel and Wednesday we arrive in Helsinki in perfect time to go back to work.
* Check out the tools I use page. Enterprise Agencies have been established around the country to assist budding entrepreneurs in getting started. They offer advice, consultation contact, mentoring and training courses.
My circles have expanded somewhat in recent months. I’ve made more of an effort to get out there and meet people and do stuff and be involved generally.
When you meet new people quite often the initial conversation will go along the lines of ‘what do you do?’ or ‘where do you work?’ Subsequently I’ve been saying well I’m working for this company until the end of the month and then I’m going off to DO MY OWN THING! The key word here of course being OWN.
So why do people insist on throwing business ideas at me? Three times in as many weeks I’ve had new acquaintances mention that they have a really great idea for my business. Despite my earlier explanations of tourism, visitors to Helsinki and similar clues. So thanks but no thanks. I am not interested in being a distributor of all-natural products from a scheme that seems to benefit no-one except the person at the pinnacle. Similarly sitting at home sending out emails definitely doesn’t cut it (is that even legitimate?). Finally, opening up my home for family day care is so far away from me being me as to be just plain ridiculous.
I do have to accept some responsibility. With fresh acquaintances there are many unexplored trust issues. Plus you don’t know who they know. Helsinki can be frighteningly small on occasion, so until all of my ducks are lined up or the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed I am going to be not 100% forthcoming about my future plans.
Seriously though, if you are going to start a business doesn’t it make more sense to take something you love doing and work with that? There is a forum for foreigners in Finland, called Finland Forum funnily enough, and a couple of weeks ago some one posted a question asking “what kind of business to start-up?”. So he’ll be fresh out of college, with all of this theory and a heap of cash (if his claim of 100,000 € start up capital is true), and no idea of what he wants to do. I find it really odd that this person was prepared to put his whole future in the opinion of complete strangers who knew nothing about him.
He could, of course, invest in yours truly. Except, I’m not looking for that sort of business partner!
On a not so unrelated point. 10 days of paid employment remaining.
… and then the idea grew a little more, and then I said that idea out loud. Once you do that, there is no going back!
This blog will be about my journey from ‘working for the man’ to ‘working for myself’.
It’s been a long 18 months since I first told all my friends and family that I was leaving Foreship to go and do my own thing. The end is in sight, even if some parts of the puzzle are still falling into place.