"When I decided to go it alone, it was the height of the recession and many were telling me not to, but it's at just these times when businesses and consumers are looking for value from their suppliers and as a small business or one man band, this is exactly what you can offer.
<---James on his front porch
In fact, today's nimble start-ups can actually benefit from some considerable advantages over larger, more lumbering organisations with outdated legacy systems and inefficient modes of working. It's not unrealistic to be able to set up a profitable home business for less than a grand, that allows you to work from just about anywhere with a wifi connection. Web applications and data stored online (cloud computing; think Gmail and Google docs) are replacing traditional software and data stored locally on your computer or business server. For start-ups, the advantages of the cloud are enormous and include e-commerce, collaborative-working, customer relationship management, simpler data security, reduced maintenance, social media and the social graph, mobile technologies, analytics, reduced equipment, lower costs and access to talent from across the world. I keep in touch with partners and clients wherever they are, using applications such as Skype, Hangouts on Google+ and Join.me for video conferencing and screen sharing.
Open-source web design software such as Wordpress, Drupal mean sophisticated websites; (your shopfront to the world) can be built at minimal cost and just an investment of your time to get used to the applications.
Having staff used to require substantial office space, but now your telephone receptionist, PA, accountant and partners (all outsourced) can be in another country entirely. Modern web applications ensure that you can work together and communicate for free, as if you were sitting in the same office.
In my previous employment, I was used to dealing with some very demanding clients and these were often the least valuable for the business. Instead, I cultivated and focused on a few high value customers that I could also offer real value to. In effect, I managed to reduce the number of poor quality clients that I worked for, the ones that don't pay on time or that are unnecessarily demanding and came to be working with clients that are a pleasure to work with. Work out who your best clients are, what commonalities they share and look to cultivate more of these kinds of clients by attending networking events, building your communities on social networks and making your website more appealing to these kinds of customers. By connecting with your communities and journalists via social networks, guest blogging and writing online articles that will get you and your business noticed, you can build your business and brand without expensive advertising. In fact, I regularly invite guest authors to contribute to my online magazine, which is a win-win for all concerned.
I believe that it's our right to design a lifestyle that works for us. I turned my life around by setting goals, making deadlines and taking action. When you go it alone, you're sure to face opposition and uncertainty, but you can worry about what people think, or you can get things done. You can't do both."
For advice on doing better business for less, visit TheRyanJamesConsultancy.com.