I meet people who have created new businesses and start-ups all the time and I’m one of them, I run my own consultancy in a service industry, possibly the hardest start-up to try to create, especially as you have no ‘product’ as such.   I have never worked as hard, for so long, for such little return, yet it’s been an amazing experience so far and I don’t plan on changing it.

“It will take at least two years to get established” was a phrase I’ve heard more than once, now almost two years on, it really has taken this long with still a long way to go.

Trying to be every department in the company, all by yourself, is a very steep learning curve, however wide your previous experience, in my case most of the work appears to happen once the little ones are in bed and the working day seems to start for me about 8pm. During daylight hours you’re chasing every opportunity, each one requiring attention, focus, care and quality – all of which takes time.

The impact on sanity, mind and body, not to mention loved ones, should not be underestimated, weekends have only just started to reappeared in the calendar. If you are considering travelling a similar path, take off those rose-tinted glasses and prepare for the reality. Running your own business provides a great deal of flexibility, you set the timescales and define the workload, there is no sharing the load, you simply have to find the hours in the day, which work around your lifestyle and commitments. For those of you that get late night/early morning emails from me, those are my hours.

I am currently working with a wide range of companies, a manufacturing company looking at the processes and owning of orders through the system, working with a company considering expansion, merger, growth and evaluating options, a new product company, planning the route to market, evaluating the market options and creating detailed plans to move forward, as well as a service company looking at new premises and how to invest in the growth of the business. Each client different, exciting and challenging.

My role now is to help established businesses to grow and overcome challenges, I help business owners and leaders to be strategic rather than just operational. I’ve always been a problem solver throughout my career and now what I have learned from all the highs and lows of setting up my own business has added to that experience and understanding.

My top tips to help the process to be successful

*Find a mentor. The journey will be lonely.

*Search for your support network – create a group of people around you whose opinions you trust and who will give you honest feedback.

*Create simple plans, prioritise and focus on what is critical – it’s better to deliver your top five things well than scrape the top 20 things across the line with only an acceptable level of quality.

*Look for start-up support and programmes – these can help you focus on your business model, your value proposition and learn to set your own goals.

*Identify the areas of running the business you don’t do very well and consider getting help - it will be invaluable.

It will be hard however, making your own decisions, choosing how you want to spend your day has a value it’s hard to put a price on. The variety and surprising opportunities that come along and the amazing people you will meet along the way will more than balance the head-in-hands moments.

For me, it’s been worth it so far and the journey continues.

PCH Business Support - Provides Business Solutions, Innovation and Project Management to help businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Paul Holmes - Director - PCH Business Support Ltd