A diary of a new business (the power of pieces of paper)

A diary of a new business (the power of pieces of paper)

I cannot pretend that 2013 was an easy or enjoyable year. Progress towards my goal of hanging out my shingle as a freelancer felt agonisingly slow and muddled at times. And yet, by year’s end, I had to admit that progress had been made. During September, October and November I completed a Certificate 4 in Small Business Management and (via a Recognition of Prior Learning process) a Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment*. I found the Cert 4 in Business straightforward and easy – one of the services I plan to offer is small business planning after all and I have a history in doing this. I did enjoy the chance to bang out my own business plan during the course and was comforted by the fact that a lot of the research and thinking I had done during my slow year proved to be of use. The Certificate 4 in TAE I am more ambivalent about. As a qualification it seems to be highly thought of, but I have to admit to finding it a very dry and bureaucratic process, and somewhat alien to the way I instinctively train and mentor.

So, by the end of December I had come to the conclusion that 2013 seemed to be the year during which I attained 2 pieces of paper that proved that I do know some things that I know. I feel somewhat odd that these little courses, these circumscribed fenced off areas of instruction, should carry such respectability and gravitas in the eyes of the world. Mine has been a scrambling mad progress through life in which I learnt my skills in order to survive some adventures, create some dances, dodge some bullets, help some people. I am not overly turned on by spouting didactic knowledge at folk, or barking out accepted wisdom (while happy to acknowledge that sometimes the wisdom is accepted because there’s something to it). Mine is not the voice of the expert, but rather the voice of the survivor, and a curious survivor at that. This is not an admission that I am dumb or lacking in experience, by the way. But my history has formed me into a creature that is compelled to explore, adapt and invent, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes as a cheeky response to boredom. Asking the right questions is more my thing than giving lectures, but I feel that hard dried certainty is more the admired style these days (I love Twitter but sometimes I feel as if my Twitter feed is an echo chamber full of experts shouting truisms at each other). I must admit to feeling a little sad and strange that my rollicking history apparently counts for less than the 2 pieces of paper I acquired last year in the eyes of many folks I encounter. I guess that my challenge is to find a way of marketing myself so that this history, and the things it showed me and taught me, comes to count for more.

* I also managed to pick up regular training work from Springvale Learning and Activities Centre and a little role playing work from Deakin University. I most definitely do NOT recommend doing 2 Certificate 4s at the same time as part time work.

A diary of a new business (December-February)

A diary of a new business (December-February)

I have decided to write a little blog reflecting on the process of starting up this business. I am aiming at writing something every month or two from now on; this is the first of two blogs about the first 3 months.


Happy New Lunar Year of the Horse!

Here I am in the third month of my little business. Month number one (December) felt busy, maybe because I was tired after a hectic but productive few spring months, partly because I was doing some work for the Springvale Learning and Activities Centre (SLAC by acronym, but not SLAC by nature). Like most community based learning centres it’s a bloody interesting place. I was teaching some units in SLAC’s Diploma of Community Development course to a most glorious group of people; glorious because they were an interesting and interested small class of people who, despite diverse backgrounds, worked together as a strong mutually supportive unit.

January was the month in which I felt privileged to be able to work at home, hide from the weather and dodge the necessity of commuting in the extraordinary heat. As month number 2 in the business, and as the notoriously quietest time of the year, I did not expect to get work from clients. Instead I used the time to get my house in order and organise the mess of documents I regularly use, create some more training materials, and play around with some draft marketing materials.

Having done that, February is now the month I start producing those marketing materials and getting them out there. I seriously expected to have no clients this month as well, so I am delighted that some of the marketing I undertook at the end of last year has paid off and that I am getting a little work coming in. Nice interesting work, too, with nice interesting people.

So, steady as she goes. I am where I roughly thought I would be (both in terms of budget and action plans) and that’s a good thing. For now. And mildly surprising – unexpected events have a way of ‘finding’ me; I have some weird rogue furtive impulse to pull them towards me and this is both a blessing and a curse. The challenge is to keep on getting my house in order so that when something zooms out of left field I am in a position to respond to, and even enjoy, it.