Happy birthday to Ruthless Research, one year old on 1st November 2011
It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap
Wow, a year of working for myself, I can’t believe it! Happy birthday to Ruthless Research.
Working for yourself is the easiest thing in the world, and the hardest thing in the world.
The ‘work’ is the same as I have been doing for years. Research, consulting, project management, budgets, communications, new business development. I’ve been doing this for long enough now that there aren’t really any new skills involved in doing for myself what I used to do for other people.
The difference is it’s all about me. I am not representing something or aligning myself with the values of my employer. I get to pick my own direction and ethos and ways of interacting. I can do what I like and say what I like and wear what I like. Which is great! But it is also very exposing – it involves you digging deep and deciding what and who you want to be, laying it out in the public domain, and hoping some clients will like you for it. If they don’t like you, you don’t win any projects and therefore you don’t get any money.
Linked to this the other difference is it is all down to me, I can’t hide behind my colleagues or my employer. If it works, I did that. If it fails, I did that too. As a result, the highs are higher and the lows are lower.
But it has gone OK, I’m satisfied with my ‘brand’ and I’ve won new business through contacts, networking and competitive tender. Some days it’s tough, and the cashflow is lumpy. But I like it.
I can take holidays and work flexibly if I feel like it, I can always get a dentist or hairdresser appointment because I am not restricted to evenings and weekends, I can wear my PJs all day and watch Glee at lunchtime, I can sleep til 9.28am and still be at my desk for 9.30am. However, taking all this into account I would say I put in at least as much time as I did when I worked for someone else.
And the projects are great – I get to work on things I’m interested in and care about. This year I have been delighted to work with my lovely clients Engage, Fife Youth Music Forum, Forth Sector, Loc8er, New Struan School, NHS Tayside, and Traditional Music Forum.
But that’s only half of what I’ve been doing:
- I’ve been ‘putting myself out there’ at various different conferences, seminars and events. And judging their canapés.
- I joined LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing as a Trustee and am lucky to be working with such a fun and passionate bunch of people doing some really interesting and valuable work.
- Through my various clients and contacts I have benefitted from training courses on disability equality awareness, Deaf awareness, working with people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, HIV and Hep C awareness, and religious identity inclusion.
- I spent a week in August working as a runner at BBC at the Fringe, just because I could.
- I provided a guest lecture for the Saltire Fellowship entitled How does market research really work? and a presentation at the Fife Youth Music Forum annual public meeting on Finding Funding.
- I wrote an article that appeared in ArtsProfessional magazine, and an article that has been accepted for submission for the International Journal of Market Research.
- I have a personal stake in couple of new business relating to a scuba diving and a household product, and I have another business idea that I have been scoping out and still might do.
- And I’ve been writing this blog – thanks for reading!
Over the year I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of ex clients and colleagues and in particular Ros, Ivan and Janet who have all bought me hot chocolate/lunch/cake and given me ongoing support.
I have very much appreciated input from business-minded friends who have offered (solicited!) criticism and in particular Andy, Emily and Sandra who helped me with my online communications.
Most of all I am immensely grateful for the support of my fantastic husband, who encourages me to pursue work that I love in areas that are important to me, and makes it easy for me to take paths in life that are neither obvious nor straightforward. I couldn’t be doing this without him.