Welcome to the first of my series of interviews with fellow freelancers. These will run every Saturday, and are aimed at sharing our experiences in setting up and running our own businesses, whether creative, service-orientated or selling products, whether they stay as a one-person business or expand into a multinational company employing ranks of people. This does also give people a chance to showcase their businesses, but the main aim is to share and encourage. Each interview includes the same questions, so we’ll be able to contrast people’s responses over the series. I’ll also be revisiting my interviewees a year after their original interview is published, to see how things are going.
My first subject is Shamus Doherty, who contacted me via the 4N networking site. Shamus founded Shasar Telemarketing – the website can be found here – and talks about the lessons he has learned in setting up and running the business over the past five years.
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
The business is called Shasar Telemarketing and has been going for about 5 years.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I was made redundant during paternity leave.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
For years using the phone to generate new business was one of my main activities and beside everyone else’s attempts I was clearly quite good at it, so felt it was a natural step to continue to do so.
Had you run your own business before?
No; it had always been a thought, however the redundancy gave me the kick up the backside to do so.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I launched full-time, working from home as costs were kept to a minimum.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
To start sooner. Plus that it would take time to develop, so to start with funds were stretched and there were initially a few worrying moments.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Shout about it loud and far. Marketing works when done on a continual basis, that way you remain at the front of people’s minds whenever they require your service/product or indeed if they are asked if they know someone who does XYZ.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Aside from starting sooner and ramping up the marketing there isn’t much I would do differently. Those two in itself would have given me a better chance of gaining further business.
What are you glad you did?
Made the jump. The job I was made redundant from paid well, however I wasn’t enjoying it, hours were longer and my time spent travelling was on a bad day close to 4 hours.
What’s your top business tip?
When you have made a plan, double the length of time. It’s far better to be conservative and exceed expectations than to be gung ho and feel down when you are below target.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
As yet I haven’t diversified, however I have a few ideas up my sleeve which I hope to develop over the coming months. Its been a steady flow of work, however there is always room for more, and I have made some very good contacts so if there was a huge surge in work, outsourcing or maybe even employing others could be a viable avenue.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I would like to have a full diary and a couple of people working for me, albeit not at my home – so in our first office.
Thank you for being my first interviewee, Shamus!
Shamus didn’t provide any further updates after this first interview. As far as I know the website is still live as of September 2013.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.