When I first started working in Maastricht, I remember that a stylish corner office was one of the early thrills. Glass furniture, territorial views, a personalized nameplate were all pretty exciting perks for starting the new position with confidence. I gave that all up, of course, opting for a substantive workspace befitting the modest beginnings of my new enterprise. Outplacement assistance provided an office, really more of a room (?), no, actually a table in a hallway, free for six months. So, I have a nice big workspace, live internet connection, communal coffee, and a fair amount of quiet in a second-floor loft in the central Wyck. The temperature control isn’t great, the window faces a brick wall, and the firewall blocks e-mail and Facebook, but its home each day from nine to five.
Time is evenly divided between building business structures and completing work for the first client. I have a notebook of thoughts and questions that is rapidly filling with ideas, arcane drawings and scattered sentences culled from friends, books, and podcasts. The cash-flow diagram finally simplified to something that could be reported to the government for my first VAT accounting, and the logo got its first public airing in my first invoice for payment. Things feel pretty humming and happy as the new week gets underway.
I had a really good conversation with a member of my fledgling board of advisors last weekend, a group of august grey-beards (even the women) possessing vast experience and endless patience. How do I delegate tasks effectively; how do I avoid over-managing my contractors? If there are opportunities to grow beyond the hours I have to put into it, how do I find and manage help (without taking on employees). What should the business become when it grows up, and what jobs should I refuse along the way? Should I become known beyond my circle of friends and, if so, how do I brand and market to my audience? While I can hypothesize about all of these answers, it really helps to have folks to bounce ideas and alternatives off of. A little interaction energizes me for the week, and the fertile space of the Stone Bridge Global HQ gives room to find the answers. I am doing a lot off little experiments and seeing how things turn out, how they feel. Then I talk them over, press the best bets, and grow new shoots from there.
I don’t know if this is how professionals set up new businesses, but so far it’s helped me to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made with the last few attempts.