I am tentatively thinking of leaving my job to set up small consultancy. The problem is that I have this huge fear that I will make a huge song and dance about it to everyone I know and then not be able to get a single client! How embarrassing would that be?! I know all the stuff about using your networks etc but how else have people won that elusive first client? Are leaflets worthwhile or a waste of time? How about ads?
Any stories of how you got going would be really appreciated!
My first client was from telling my contacts. One of them mentioned to somebody they knew etc...
I am not sure you need flyers, but you will need to be proactive. If you are already well networked a message out to LinkedIn contacts might be all you need to get some work. A basic website gives you an online business card, so worth thinking about.
I would work out what sort of money you need to earn in the first 6 months and then work out how many clients that equals etc.
I wouldn't worry about what if it doesn't work out. You can always spin a reason "I was approached about a job I just couldn't turn down. So even though I enjoyed may aspects of my running Francescarose's Consulting, I just had to take this job".
There are few people that will gloat at somebody who had the guts to give a go running their own business...
I started doing homers first, which built up my confidence that I could make it work. Both my first jobs were friends starting new businesses. Then when the redundancy fairy came calling I took the plunge - obviously having the redundancy package behind me gave me some security. My first client was my previous employer, my second client came from a recommendation from an ex-colleague. And its grown from then. I still don't have millions of clients, but I do very well out of one in particular and pick up other bits as I go along.
I went p/t at work to 'study' when i was setting up freelance (i was studying, it wasn't a lie, but i gave study as my main reason at work). I was asked for advice in my work role which i gave happily but then added, "btw. if you need somebody to come in and help you i also work freelance". I cleared it with my line manager and worked freelance and for my last employer for three months. (I was coming to the end of my contract for my employer rather than resigning so they couldn't complain too much).
It was an old colleague/friend who got me going. I had taken redundancy and was being a SAHM while I worked out what I wanted to do, she asked me if I fancied doing a project for her in the meantime as they needed somebody with my skills. I could work from home with occasional office visits, fit work around my kids. Without her I wouldn't have got started and might still be a SAHM or looking unsuccessfully for a job. Instead in the past 12 months, I've earned more than I did in my last year as an employee, all while working around school hours mainly from home. And it has all been old friends approaching me rather than me having to sell myself.
My plan this year is to actually try and win one project proactively myself rather than it just coming from an approach. Will definitely try through my network though rather than with businesses I don't know. The most terrifying thing for me is the networking. I can do the work, I just don't like the idea of selling myself.