Welcome to my second interview with a fellow freelancer. These are running every Saturday, and are aimed at sharing our experiences in setting up and running our own businesses. This does gives people a chance to showcase their businesses, but the main aim is to share and encourage. Each interview includes the same questions, and I’ll be revisiting my interviewees a year after their original interview is published, to see how things are going.
Today we’re going to meet Carl Nixon; I first came across Carl on the 4Networking forums and he’s also on Twitter. Carl is based in Wales and his business, Excel Expert, has been going for 2 years, so it’s about the same age as Libro.
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
It is called Excel Expert and we are just coming up to our 2nd birthday.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Mainly being bored of my job. I worked for Admiral Insurance for 10 years setting up and maintain their systems and procedures for the elephant.co.uk brand. Once all the bugs were worked out there was very little challenge left so I found myself just turning up for work at 9, wasting my day and going home at 5. I should have left years before but it was a genuinely good place to work and I was a part of a great team
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I’ve been a geek and a lover of all things maths all my life so it was almost a no-brainer. I could have equally gone down the database route rather than the spreadsheet route, but I chose spreadsheets because there was less competition. It’s really strange, because databases are becoming our main focus.
Had you run your own business before?
Prior to working for Admiral I ran businesses for other people but never my own.
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 started out with the aim of starting part-time and going full-time when I hit a certain turnover. However I was never going to hit that threshold because I never had the time to produce that much turnover. So I just bit the bullet and went for it.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Expect to spend several times more money and time on marketing than you plan to.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Spend more time on marketing and concentrate earlier on eliminating the marketing, working, marketing, working cycle.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Not left it until I was 40 to start up a business
What are you glad you did?
Making the leap from part-time to full-time. It is a big leap of faith but it just makes it so much easier to get your business really going.
What’s your top business tip?
Has to be fail fast – As soon as you see something not working or going wrong, get right on it. Either fix it or bin it.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We tried to diversify but it was a nightmare. By offering more core services you dilute your marketing message and as a result it becomes weak and doesn’t have so much reach and impact.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Hopefully employing people so I can take on more work.
Carl’s website is here and you can call him on 029 2125 1450
Thank you for joining in with the interviews, Carl! The information on going full-time from part-time was particularly interesting for me, and I’ll be interested to see how things are going in a year’s time, as we’re in fairly similar lines of business but with different expansion plans. Here’s how Carl is doing two years down the line …
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