Performegy is open for business. I always thought about starting my own company, but I never had the kick in the pants to do it. Job elimination is a great motivator. After 23+ years with Bank of America and its predecessors in the Boston area, I received the proverbial pink slip (really, just a 3 minute phone call and a huge stack of papers via FedEx the next day). It was so freeing.
For the first two months, I job searched, enjoyed the forced sabbatical, spent time with the family and walked the dog a lot. The thought of starting my own company also crossed my mind. I figured I could make both good and bad decisions just as well as anyone who managed me, so why not assume full responsibility for my actions?
I read books about developing a niche, and books about not limiting myself to a niche. Some advice included billing by the hour, other by the project. I quickly realized there are many conflicting opinions.
As part of the process, I also realized that if I wanted to help companies develop IT strategies aligned with their business, I must practice what I preach to establish credibility. Here is my business strategy:
- Network and learn about others’ successes and failures
- Survey my network to determine where they see or seek value
- Focus on my experience with developing IT strategy and roadmaps, and improving processes and performance
- Leverage my experience as an Examiner in the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
- Produce meaningful content. Become an expert
- Network, network, network, find clients, network, network, network, repeat
- Enjoy the experience, especially the learning
I also needed to get organized, a daunting task. Here is how I progressed:
- Focus on security, both my own and for my future clients.
- Setup encryption on my laptop
- Decide how to securely backup information – offsite preferred. Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Carbonite, others. What would be best for my clients? (I’m still deciding on this one, and would appreciate any recommendations)
- Mobile Phone – my screen locks and requires a pattern to unlock, and I use Cerberus to protect my phone if I lose it or it gets stolen.
- Accounting – I looked at several cloud services from QuickBooks, Wave Accounting, Xero, Freshbooks. I settled on Wave Accounting because my requirements could be met (for now) for free. I like that I can email receipts to my account, save and categorize them. Paper free.
- Get a name – It had to be interesting and available as a domain. “HW Consulting” would have been easy, but boring. My wife and I kept throwing words around, or she’d text me with some ideas. We finally came up with Performegy, a combination of “performance” and “strategy”. It was amazingly available, and I am now the proud owner of the .com, .net, .org, .us, and .biz domains.
- Design a logo – I’m not a graphic designer, so I found a highly-rated one on Fiverr.com. Check out this site for all kinds of services that start at $5.00. My logo cost more than that, but it was not a ton of money, and I like it. The experience was surprisingly good as I communicated through Fiverr with the designer. I had my finished logo within 10 days.
- Formal establishment of a business – An LLC in Massachusetts is easy. Fill out an online form, pay $520, and you are truly in business. I also went to the IRS site and established an Employee Identification Number (EIN). Others need to decide on their own if an LLC is best. Do your research and speak to an attorney or accountant
- Banking – setup an account that provided inexpensive online services
- Professional Services Insurance – a lot of research on business vs. professional services insurance. I ultimately decided the additional money was worth the peace of mind. Shop around, quotes vary
- Setup the website – I decided to use GoDaddy, as they have good support, the ability to integrate and build WordPress sites (like this), and it was not very expensive. What I’ve learned about building a website could fill another blog. I can see why there are so many consultants and contractors who do it for a living.
I’d love to get your feedback, your experience opening your own business, what I’ve done right or wrong, and any other suggestions. Feel free to reach out to me through the “Contact Us” page on the site, leave a comment, or send an email to my firstname.lastname at performegy.com. Please share this with others as well.
Harold Waisel, President