Flying solo can have its moments of doubt and despair, as in, “What the heck was I thinking when I decided to start my own firm? Who’s going to pay the mortgage?”
But, luckily, there can also be moments of happiness and sheer delight when you accomplish a task, land a client or otherwise make a dent in your business plan (which, hmm, I still have to complete).
Two projects I’ve been working on have come to a happy conclusion at about the same time—getting business cards printed and building a website.
A few days ago I received by UPS my first box of business cards for JMC. The cards had been beautifully designed by Andi Harris of Spectrum Creative (thanks, Andi!), but seeing Andi’s design printed for the first time rather than displayed on my computer screen as a PDF was definitely a “thumbs-up” experience. The design was just as clean and crisp as I had hoped for.
Business cards are perhaps a small thing in the larger scheme of startup tasks, but for me it was a symbolic and psychological achievement. Those cards said, “I have a name, I have credentials, I have an identity!” Now at meetings and networking events, I could leave a card rather than make excuses about “just getting started.”
A website, in a way, is a larger calling card. It, too, says who you are, what you do and, hopefully, conveys a sense of personality. While I plan to add more to the JMC website, I’m very pleased with the way it turned out and not at all afraid to have it “out there” on the Internet for all to see.
As with any endeavor, it is good to build in little “victories” along the way. They create momentum and instill confidence that you really can succeed.
My two victories were also learning experiences. I learned that compromises are an inevitable part of the startup process. Since I have given myself a really tight budget for establishing JMC, I decided to print my business cards through Vistaprint, an inexpensive online printer. Sure, the cards arrived promptly and were dirt cheap, but I think I would have been happier with a regular printer.
Building my website has been a great learning experience, too, as I continue to gain confidence with web tools. I again used the WordPress platform (which this blog is built on) but upgraded to a “premium” theme designed by StudioPress. I also am self-hosting the site through HostGator, so I’ve had to learn how to access the server, upload files and tinker (sometimes disastrously) with the style sheets. The other day I managed to crash my whole website with just one inadvertent change to a PHP file. Thankfully, I was able to restore the site on my own.
While I am happy with the StudioPress theme I’ve chosen, I have learned there are limitations to what it can do. Down the road, either I will need to learn more code or hire a real web developer. But for now I am happy with the beginnings of jmcomllc.com.
Building a website from scratch is no mean feat. It’s not like you’re improving an existing site or simply updating pages. You are creating out of whole cloth something entirely new. And that’s pretty cool. Definitely one of the pluses of flying solo!