Welcome to a brand new small business chat interviewee – Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. He’s the son of a friend of mine, which makes him sound about 12 – he is a proper grown-up, I promise, and he’s made a very considered and planned move into self-employment, leveraging his experience in a particular area but keen to branch out on his own. We had a chat early on and I was impressed at the careful way he was going about things (in fact my post about starting off well in self-employment could have been written about him, too, in many ways). Matt’s been on a learning curve since he started in October last year, and here he generously shares what he’s learned so far …
Hello, Matt. It’s good to have you on the interview list! Let’s get the basics out of the way first: what’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Prestige Quoting Limited, and it was formed on 1 October 2015.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I had at been at my previous employer for 10 years. I was getting a little bored and had started to enjoy my role in that business a bit less: I felt it was time to work for myself.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I had been working with QuoteWerks software for 10 years and saw the value it provides to other small businesses. Seeing companies going from manual systems to an efficient database-driven system gives me great satisfaction. I was encouraged to form my own business by the developer of the software and the UK distributor and had the support of my partner.
Had you run your own business before?
No, well, I helped out at the school tuck shop 15 years ago; does that count?!
Um…. Moving on, how did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
Looking back, it was perhaps a bit rash. I gave my 30 days’ notice and then went into my new business full-time. As I’m now, technically, in competition with my former employer, doing this alongside would not have been a viable option.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Don’t be afraid to outsource tasks.
Looking back, the hours I spent over trivial things that would’ve taken someone more skilled in that area mere minutes was considerable. I was (rightly?) penny-pinching, but as soon as I found http://www.fiverr.com I’ve used it for lots of small pieces of work [fiverr.com is a place where you can hire people to do small pieces of work for $5 or larger pieces for a negotiated price. I use someone I found on there for my book cover design].
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Don’t forget to enjoy it and don’t undersell yourself.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Managed scope-creep with my first half-dozen clients. Perhaps I was so happy to be receiving orders for work, nothing was too much trouble. That non-setting of expectations is as confusing for the client as awkward it is for me, now that I have to realign their expectations.
What are you glad you did?
Made the leap! I’d been thinking about it for a number of months, but the time was never right. Looking back, the time is never right.
What’s your top business tip?
Be honest with clients and yourself.
From my experience, a client is willing to pay more for your services if you’re honest. I originally turned two projects down, because I didn’t think I could deliver the client’s scope in the time-frame they required. Both of those projects were subsequently booked in when the client was willing to wait a little longer.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I had a business plan (well, business ‘guesses’ and the ‘plan’ was all in my head; which is something I will rectify) with broad numbers and I hit those within 3 months of starting the business. That was very encouraging (and relieving!)
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I’d really like to be in a position to consider taking on a 2nd person.
Managing scope creep and expectations is a key business skill when you’re self-employed, but it’s the kind of thing that you have to learn from experience, unfortunately! I find that customers are willing to wait a little bit longer than you think for a job well done and not rushed, and if you’re honest from the start, things should go fine. I tend to under-promise and over-deliver – far better that way round! I’m sure Matt’s business is going to grow and develop well, and I can’t wait to see what he’s up to this time next year!
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 (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.